Tag Archive: Purpose

Smooth Seas Do Not Make Skillful Sailors

image                  Pic by Christophe Launay

Storms and rough seas come in many forms and are part of life.  With deep purpose and a clear vision, storms can be weathered together and rough seas will not throw us off course; in fact, they may embolden our resolve and hone our skills because we are resilient.

In the School of Education, Health, and Human Services (EHHS) at SUNY Plattsburgh, we pride ourselves on our deep sense of purpose where students are prepared in dynamic learning environments to work in careers where they will serve the diverse needs of others. This is a grounding purpose that does not waiver.  The most important resources we have to achieve this purpose are the hearts and minds of the faculty who educate our students, hearts that give in a way that help students discover their potential and minds that model critical thinking and inspire development of knowledge and skills.

We achieve our mission, our purpose, in EHHS through excellence in teaching and professionalism, while embracing inclusion and cultural responsiveness. These core shared values are the foundation for HOW we achieve our collective purpose. Additionally, our moral courage promotes progress and builds community though essential shared values including honesty, collaboration, social justice, respect and empathy.  Exploring the full depth and achieving the actionable qualities of these shared values is a pursuit that honors our commitment to lifelong learning and growth.

We know the future is promising as we graduate ethical and culturally competent students who will thrive in their careers and model excellence.  Rough seas will not deter us from our mission or obscure our vision.  Our graduates’ ability to champion the education, health, and personal growth of our global citizens makes the light rising over the horizon of our future brighter.  With each graduating class, we enjoy the warmth that comes with seeing students’ successes and are inspired by all they are doing to make a positive difference in our world.

Pic by Jason Frye


Image (2009). Retrieved March 8, 2017 from: http://www.gettyimages.com/photos/yacht-race excludenudity=true&sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=yacht%20race

Image (2017). Retrieved March 8, 2017 from: https://twitter.com/interior/status/850491714049626112

Light on a Darkened Path


Maya Angelou spoke of the tenacious human spirit in her poem And Still I Rise. Viktor Frankl wrote about a choice of attitude in stories about his experience in a concentration camp. Malala Yousafzai speaks about the importance of our voices when others attempt to silence them. Mother Theresa’s actions spoke louder than her words. There are multiple examples, historical and current, that bring light in times when you perceive a gathering darkness.

imageDouglas Abrams’ book, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, contains dialogues between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The wisdom shared in the dialogues from one man who lost his country when exiled from Tibet and the other who was the chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, is sagacious, healing, and empowering. Here are ten quotes from the book:

“As one of the seven billion human beings, I believe everyone has the responsibility to develop a happier world. We need, ultimately, to have a greater concern for others’ well-being. In other words, kindness or compassion, which is lacking now. We must pay more attention to our inner values. We must look inside.” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

“Too much self-centered thinking is the source of suffering. A compassionate concern for others’ well-being is the source of happiness.” Dalai Lama

“Then after 1959, when I left Tibet, I started thinking, These people are just like me, same human being. If we think we are something special or not special enough, then fear, nervousness, stress, and anxiety arise. We are the same.” Dalai Lama

“Too much fear brings frustration. Too much frustration brings anger. So that’s the psychology, the system of mind, of emotion, which creates a chain reaction. With a self-centered attitude, you become distanced from others, then distrust, then feel insecure, then fear, then anxiety, then frustration, then anger, then violence.” Dalai Lama

“If you really feel a sense of concern for the well-being of others, then trust will come. That’s the basis of friendship.” Dali Lama

“…the more we heal our own pain, the more we can turn to the pain of others. But in a surprising way, what the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama were saying is that the way we heal our own pain is actually by turning to the pain of others. It is a virtuous cycle. The more we turn toward others, the more joy we experience, and the more joy we experience, the more we can bring joy to others.” Douglas Abrams

“But this being on earth is a time for us to learn to be good, to learn to be more loving, to learn to be more compassionate. And you learn, not theoretically, you learn when something happens that tests you.” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

“If we can have compassion for ourselves, and acknowledge how we feel afraid, hurt, or threatened, we can have compassion for others—possibly even for those who have evoked our anger.” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

“The way through the sadness and grief that comes from great loss is to use it as motivation and to generate a deeper sense of purpose.” Dalai Lama

“You show your humanity by how you see yourself not as apart from others but from your connection to others.” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Our collaborative purpose at SUNY Plattsburgh is focused on the success of our students. Doing this well during rancorous times in our country will take a mindful approach to modeling in words and actions. I wish each of you peace, purpose, and joy as we continue to create a caring community and world together.


Bonus: Maya Angelou shares the importance of words we speak in this 1 minute 27 second video.

EHHS Shared Values Highlighted
• Respect and Empathy
• Lifelong Learning/Growth
• Inclusion/Culturally Responsive
• Social Justice
• Broad Minded


Abrams, D.C. (2016). The book of joy: Lasting happiness in a changing world. New York: Avery.

Light image (n.d.) Retrieved November 13, 2016 from: http://www.rabbisacks.org/the-road-less-travelled-published-in-the-islamic-monthly/

Book of Joy image(n.d.) Retrieved October 30, 2016 from: https://www.amazon.com/Book-Joy-Lasting-Happiness-Changing/dp/0399185046/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477839575&sr=8-1&keywords=The+book+of+joy

The Power of You

Dr. Baker

Recently, I was at my Alma mater, Wichita State University in Kansas, where I gave a speech on Leadership.  I spoke about developing shared values, perception and perspective, and conflict management.  Before the speech, I took a few moments in a quiet room to focus on some of the points I wanted to make.  The story of our shared values is a powerful one and I was excited to share how we developed them and how they are used.  As I prepared, I read over the following quote from Christine Feldman’s book, Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World, that was to be shared when discussing perception and perspective.

By nurturing compassion, you also take responsibility for your own heart and mind.  Each one of your actions leaves an impression on the hearts of others.  The clarity or confusion, the love or resentment you cultivate inwardly makes its mark upon the world.  Every single thing you think, speak, or do has consequences and creates ripples of effect.  Understanding this more and more deeply, you learn to take care with your thoughts and actions (p. 56).

Finally I reviewed information about conflict management in groups.  This would be the most substantive part of the speech that I later found out hit home for many; if you work with other people, there will be conflict.  Planning ahead for how to have conflict is one of the keys to success.

After reviewing all of the major points, I headed to the theater-style auditorium to speak with people who were gathering and to give my speech.  As I got out of the elevator and rounded the corner, to my shock and amazement, there stood Dr. LaVerne Baker; I’ve told you our story before in my blog entitled, Are You an Advisor or an Advisor-Mentor? (As a reminder, she was one of my professors when I was an undergraduate student.  She also was the first African-American woman to graduate from Wichita State University with a Ph.D.).  I was awe-struck and had tears of joy and gratitude in my eyes.  The full strength of her amazing spirit was standing in front of me with a smile that lit the room.  We have communicated in recent years, but I had not seen Dr. Baker for more than 30 years.  There she stood as radiant as ever.  It took my breath away.   I honored her during my speech and said I would not be there that day had it not been for Dr. Baker and that is not an exaggeration.

Following my speech, the interim dean of Wichita State’s College of Health Professions went up to Dr. Baker and asked her how she recognized my raw talent all of those years ago.  She smiled and gave her quite little laugh and told him, “It was mighty raw.”  That was true and I am thankful she had faith in students’ potential.

My relationship with Dr. Baker exemplifies the positive use of power and privilege we all have to make a difference in students’ lives.  Cristina Feldman’s words quoted above capture the depth of the approach that will build our students’ belief in who they can become.  This is something we cannot afford to forget as we finish the last two weeks of this semester.  It may get harder to honor these words with the stress that comes with the end of the semester, but it is one of the most important things we can do.  Take a deep breath, focus on our purpose, and take a balanced approach that affords a few extra minutes here and there to share supportive words with our students.  If you do this well, there will be students who will remember what you did for them more than 30 years from now.

Shared Values Highlighted: Helping Student Achieve Goals; Professionalism

Feldman, C. (2005). Compassion: Listening to the cries of the world. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.

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