Tag Archive: Excellence

Decision for Excellence



The vision statement for our School of Education, Health, and Human Services at SUNY Plattsburgh contains a goal of our graduates modeling excellence in their careers. The path to excellence is not about perfection, but about continuous improvement and striving for excellence; walking this path is a decision that conveys a chosen attitude.  Achieving excellence happens during class time, during advisement and mentoring sessions, and during opportunities for leadership training. The path to excellence has many obstacles, including mediocrity, fear/anxiety, and lack of self-discipline. Here are a few topics and quotes you can share with students to help them manage these obstacles.


  • Help students define clearer short-term and long-term goals.
  • Make sure there are no mental health issues impeding motivation; ask about depression and anxiety and seek appropriate supports is necessary.
  • Ask, “In what ways are you currently accepting mediocrity in your studies?” “What is one thing you could do to overcome this?” Adapted from Randy Gage
  • Share with advisees that each semester they learn new skills to be successful, greater potential is possible for the next semester. The skills build on each other and evolve to make greater success in each new semester a possibility. Ask, “What are you doing now to develop these skills?”

Fear and Anxiety

  • The greater the distance between the “real self” and the “ideal self,” the greater the anxiety. Help students focus on acceptance of the current “self” with well-defined steps for meeting short-term goals.
  • Help students reframe some degree of fear or anxiety as a normal feeling if they are growing; we don’t grow when we are comfortable.  Discuss the difference between non-productive anxiety and productive anxiety.
  • Talk about expanding comfort zones, as described by Susan Jeffers, by “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” Courage is the key, a great topic for discussion.
  • “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” Eleanor Roosevelt


  • “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Jim Rohn
  • “The most valuable form of discipline is the one that you impose upon yourself. Don’t wait for things to deteriorate so drastically that someone else [or a policy] must impose discipline in your life.” Jim Rohn
  • “Self-discipline is the ability to do what you think you should be doing rather than doing something based on how you feel.” Brendan Baker
  • In our society, things happen at increasingly faster speeds with greater connectivity. A conversation about delayed gratification is important (e.g., shutting off your phone and focusing for 30 minutes, not allowing yourself to check social media or email for 30-45 minute periods when studying, etc).

There are additional obstacles students face when they have made a decision for excellence such as roommate issues, financial concerns, and family problems; however, addressing mediocrity, fear/anxiety, and self-discipline during advisement and office hours provides a clearer path to success. Help students make a decision for excellence and let them know some lessons that have been on your path. As Sheldon Kopp once remarked, we are not gurus, we all are pilgrims on this path together.


EHHS Shared Values Highlighted

  • Excellence in Teaching
    • Helping Students Achieve Goals
    • Lifelong Learning/Growth

Image (n.d.) Retrieved on March 18, 2017 from: http://refe99.com/quotes/excellence/

Gage, R. (n.d.). Fighting mediocrity. Retrieved on March 18, 2017 from:  http://www.randygage.com/fighting-mediocrity/

Jeffers, S. (2007). Feel the fear and do it anyway: Dynamic techniques for turning fear, indecision and anger into power, action and love. Santa Monica, CA: Jeffers Press.

Kopp, S. (1980). If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him: The pilgrimage of psychotherapy patients. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books.

Rohn, J. (n.d.). The Key to Getting All You Want? Discipline. Retrieved on March 18, 2017 from: http://www.success.com/article/rohn-the-key-to-getting-all-you-want-discipline

Second Image (n.d.). Retrieved on March 18, 2017 from: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ralphmarst104215.html

Success: It’s No Secret


There are many people throughout history who have provided poignant comments about success.  Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”  Booker T. Washington said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which [s]he has overcome.  Eleanor Roosevelt addressed success by saying, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Abraham Lincoln said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”  Malala Yousafzai, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke of the success by saying, “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world.”

I’ve been reflecting on several aspects of success following the successful reaccreditation of six program areas in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services over the past three years.  The most recent was Teacher Education, reaccredited last week with no weaknesses or stipulations.  Counselor Education, Communication Disorders and Sciences, Nutrition, Nursing, and Social Work, along with Teacher Education, all had stellar reviews from site visit teams.  I could not be more proud.  Mediocrity is not an option for us, something that is true for each program in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services.

Success evolves from the collaborative work of many with a clear focus on purpose.  Our purpose, which is to prepare students for academic, professional and personal success, is clear and we meet this purpose daily with a commitment to excellence.  There are ways of being we have had to overcome to achieve this goal.  Robert Haas, a former CEO of Levi Strauss, cared about the values and culture of his company.  Sonnenberg (1993) shared Haas’s perspective on the importance of overcoming conditioned ways of being in order to be successful.  Robert Hass said it is, “difficult to unlearn behaviors that made us successful in the past.  Speaking rather than listening, valuing people like yourself over people from different genders or from different cultures or parts of the organization,  doing things on your own rather than collaborating and  making the decision yourself instead of asking different people for their perspectives.  There is a whole range of behaviors that were highly functional in the old hierarchical organization that are dead wrong in the flatter, more responsive, empowered organizations that we are seeking to become” (p. 18).

Success champions our ability to become an increasingly more responsive, empowered organization where continuous improvement promises an even stronger tomorrow.  This exciting perspective is one that requires continuous growth beyond older and possibly more comfortable ways of operating.  We must be willing to stretch beyond our conditioned comfort zones and conditioned behaviors to achieve our goals at the highest level.

There is a lot in the media today questioning the value of college.  I sleep well at night knowing our programs are giving students the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to make a positive difference on others’ lives.  Our ability to work together toward the focused goal of helping students be successful would rev up Henry Ford.  Our resolve to help students succeed would make Abraham Lincoln proud.  Our ability to discuss great ideas and to develop new programs would cause Eleanor Roosevelt to pause and take notice.  Booker T. Washington would appreciate how we have overcome and learned from obstacles and would be respectful of the way we face new obstacles.  As for Malala Yousafzai, we can strive daily to live up to the power of her words.

Bonus: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese proverb

EHHS Shared Values highlighted in this article:

Excellence in Teaching

Helping Students Achieve Goals



Howard, R. (1990). Values make the company: An interview with Robert Haas.  In Sonnenberg, F. (1993). Managing with a conscience: How to improve performance through integrity, trust, and commitment (p. 18).  New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Image (2004). Retrieved November 1, 2014 from: http://www.bloggang.com/viewdiary.php?id=moonfleet&group=218

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