As a college president of 22 years, there were many successes and failures. In reflection I have become convinced that most of my failures were from not passing the baton correctly….lack of clarity, missed assignments, too many distractions and even selfishness. How could I have done it better?
To find out, I interviewed Lisa Staton Dyer who was an All -American track star at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. I asked her what was the greatest accomplishment in her track career. She told me she never dropped the baton in a relay race. How could that be? So, to the track I went with her to learn how to pass it so perfectly. She showed me the lines I had to stay within. She taught me how to reach back. She let me feel the baton being placed in my hand while I had already started running. And then she shared the secret, “Bill, it is all about trust!”
Wow! I immediately remembered the time I announced a gift in public and the donor corrected me for not being accurate on their intention. Or the time I assigned a task to our phone-athon staff director but wasn’t clear on the outcome I expected. I was passing the baton (an expectation) but my hand wasn’t stretched far enough to make the pass successful.
What have I learned?
Horizontal: Signed gift intention documents are important
Vertical: Pausing to get clarification is always worth the wait