Leadership and creativity
Engaging our community is not always easy. Every day we must decide whether to put our contributions out there or keep them to ourselves. New initiatives and ideas can feel risky. But leadership is worth it when our voice makes a difference, when we put our ideas on the line and make the lives of those around you better. How can your voice, ideas, leadership, and creativity have a larger impact on your community and the lives of other?
“The who of the teacher is important, because we teach who we are,” P. J. Palmer (1997).
Our personal perceptions impact how we and others will respond. If a principal at a school, for example, concludes that the department’s budget problems result from overspending, then they will cut expenses. If they see the problem as inadequate allocations from central administration, they will lobby for more resources. If the principal believes the budget crisis stems from inattention to revenue generation, they might turn to new program development. If it is embezzlement, a call to the [campus] police is in order. (Bolman & Gallos, 2011, p19). How community leaders see the world impacts them and those around them.
This also applies to us (each student in this class) as well. We are all conservation leaders in our communities. Our communities are impacted by who we are, by how we see the world. Because our perceptions of the world (for example, hope versus despair) affects our personal realities and, by default our behaviors, they also impact conservation in our communities. We need to be aware of this.
Have you considered how you see the world? How your vision may be affecting conservation in your community? Please take a moment to read the story below before engaging and answering this week’s readings. If you have already answered before reading this post, consider the ‘who you are as a conservation leader in your community’ idea for the follow-up answers.
A story on perception
The importance of perception can be captured in a story told by Frank Koch in Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute. Below is an embellished transcript of an allegedly actual radio conversation of a U.S. naval ship with the Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. This radio conversation was allegedly released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95, though later the authorities denied having done so.
October, 1995. The fog was thick as Naval Officer, Captain Noname, maneuvered a US fleet, in a training exercise meant to bring the US fleet down to the seas south of Iraq and prepare for potential military action. In the middle of the maneuver, as night fell, the visibility got poorer, with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye out. Shortly after nightfall, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, “Light, bearing on the starboard bow.” The captain used the radio to contact the boat on the starboard side and ordered the boat to divert its course 15 degrees North to avoid collision with the massive US fleet.
Light Source: Negative. Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
The captain, upset by a request that would have him maneuver such a large fleet, repeated, “This is a US fleet under official business. We order you divert your course 15 degrees North to avoid collision.
Light Source: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Light Source: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course, 15 degrees South.
The captain, now upset, replied, this is Captain from the US Aircraft Carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the united states Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand you change your course 15 degrees North. I say, again, that is one five degrees North, or counter measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this fleet.
There was a brief pause, before the light source replied: Captain, we are a lighthouse. Your call.
This shift in perception experienced by the captain – and by us as we read this story – puts the situation in a completely different perspective. We can see how a change in our perception can modify our reality, and how managing our perceptions can impact who we are and what we will do (Covey, 1989).
Bolman, L. G., & Gallos, J. V. (2011). Reframing Academic Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Palmer, P. J. (1997, November). The Heart of a Teacher. Change Magazine, 29(6), 14-21. Retrieved from http://www.couragerenewal.org/parker/writings/heart-of-a-teacher
Swaisgood & Sheppard (2010) make a point that there is an ongoing trend of despair in conservation biology and a need to learn to balance hope with reality. Clayton and Myers (2009) believe cultivating this vision of hope is critical for motivating conservation change. Webb (2005), believes finding hope in ourselves is required to fight for conservation. A whole bunch of literature points to optimism.
Our attitudes change our lives. The way we view the world controls our perception, and our perceptions modifies our personal realities. We can choose to see possibilities and hope in our vision, or close our eyes to what positive beauty is in front of us. Either way, as leaders in the conservation community, we carry this vision with us and use it when we engage the world.
Can you challenge yourself to see global environmental changes as a positive possibility? Can you use this vision to impact others, as a power to bring the world with you toward saving our Earth? Jones Dewitt thinks so. Please take a moment to view this video before engaging in this week’s discussions.
Clayton S, Myers G. 2009. Conservation Psychology: Understanding and Promoting Human Care for Nature. Wiley-Blackwell.
Swaisgood, R. R., & Sheppard, J. K. (2010, September). The Culture of Conservation Biologists: Show Me the Hope! BioScience, 60(8), 626-30.
Webb, C. O. (2005, February). Engineering Hope. Conservation Biology, 19(1), 275-7.
During one of my classes we had a presentation that included research on Native American culture and history. Here, I learned about many myths and stereotypes that still exist about the first people of this land. Native Americans are said to receive special privileges. This is what Russell Means (Oglala Sioux) has to say about this:
“…The people from Europe in the guise of Christianity conquered us, and then they attempted to Christianize us and told us thou shall not kill. Then they proceeded to wipe out 56 Indian nations from the face of the earth. The Christians also told us, thou shall not steal, and proceeded to take our land… [They said thou] shall not lie and they proceeded to do away with indian treaties with fraud, coercion, deceit, and misrepresentation, and thou shall honor thy mother and thy father, and then they forced us into their schools and taught us not only to disrespect our tribe but our elders.”
It is deeply American to pay reparations for civil and criminal offenses. Is the Native American population receiving special privileges? Or are they owed a lot more?
The platinum rule: Place God above all things.
The golden rule: Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.
The silver rule: Do not do for others more than they are willing to do for themselves.
The copper rule: You can only do what you can do. Give the decision back to whom it belongs.
The bronze rule: You don’t know what you don’t know.
Any other rules you know of or can come up with?
Percentage of USA jobs in 2018 that will require a postsecondary education.
Source: Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, June 2010