Everyone has a theory on how to be successful — work hard, save money, make careful decisions, listen to your parents, don’t listen to your parents, be true to yourself, get a college degree, follow your heart, don’t be risk adverse and on and on. A good argument can be made for every single idea.
BUT… after reading about Penn State’s president, Eric Barron Ph.D., with credentials in geology, oceanography and supercomputing, I was moved and enthused by his approach to life.
First, it might be helpful to know that before taking the job at State College, Dr. Barron spent two years at the University of Texas building the Jackson School of Geosciences, another two years as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and four years as the president of Florida State University.
Everywhere he worked, he approached the task like the scientist he is, with countless hours individually interviewing key people and then facilitating these people to get together to continue the discussion. Only after all the data was in did Dr. Barron make his OWN decision.
On first thought, this doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but just another logical approach.
On second thought, it really is a big deal. It’s what good leaders and parents and psychiatrists do. Listen. Understand the issues. Validate other points of view. Work together to find a solution. It’s all about evaluating data, both conscious data and unconscious data.
Whatever the goal, if you evaluate what is needed, what a company wants and needs, what your spouse wants and needs, what your child is struggling to say, you will surely be more successful than doing everything in your power to prove how smart YOU are and how much YOU know. MOST people don’t like know-it-alls. Most people love it when they are heard and respected, even if they are proven wrong.
Dr. Barron is a gem and Penn State is fortunate to have such a man leading the university. Also, and the main point of this post, is that we have the opportunity to learn from Dr. Barron and from people like him who are willing to learn from others and use what science and practical experience have to offer. Not knowing something can always be corrected. In fact, knowing you are weak in a particular area is a good thing! Now you know what to focus on…
Art Smukler is the award-winning writer of Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.