Longnecker: A better 2014Written by Clinton Longenecker | | email@example.com
For the past 30 years of teaching in the College of Business and Innovation at the University of Toledo, I’ve always had my students fill out course information cards at the beginning of each semester, just like every other professor. Students perform this obligatory task out of reflex and without thinking as they provide their names, contact information and the like.
But about 15 years ago, I started asking my students to turn the card over and on the back provide some additional information about themselves. This gives me an opportunity to get to know each and every student a little better and have some additional insight to help jump-start our working relationship.
As part of the process, I ask them several questions, including a very simple and yet profound one: “Please tell me one specific thing that you are doing to make the world a better place.” The purpose of this question is fairly obvious in that I want to get my students thinking about the fact that they are on Earth not just for themselves, but for a greater good, and I am always encouraged and motivated by their responses. Right out of the gate this is a great opportunity for me to learn from my students and generate some great classroom discussion about servant-leadership.
Here is a smattering of the things that students shared with me in the fall semester:
To make the world better, I …
- Smile a lot and always try to stay positive even in negative situations.
- Always drive the speed limit.
- Try to be friendly and nice to strangers.
- Led a team in my sorority to raise $10,000 for autistic children.
- Skip a meal once a month and donate the money to the Cherry Street Mission.
- Never, ever litter.
- Foster shelter animals that have been abandoned.
- Am dedicated to my spouse and to keeping our marriage strong.
- Set aside money out of every paycheck for the United Way.
- Lead with absolute integrity.
- Work hard to leave things a little better than I found them.
- Am a passionate fundraiser in our community for noble causes.
- Perform my job with great passion, professionalism, and do so with a minimum of supervision.
- Teach Sunday school class to junior high and high school students.
- Belong to Alcoholics Anonymous to help others get and stay sober.
- Volunteer at the American Cancer Society.
- Always put the needs of other people before my own.
- Let my friends and family know that they can depend on me when they need help.
- Tutor three times a month in an elementary after-school reading program for underprivileged kids.
- See a problem and work hard to become part of the solution.
- Support a child in a Third World country through Children International.
- Make people laugh and I am always ready to tell a good and appropriate joke or story.
- Work hard to stay positive and not complain.
- Always have something nice to say about everyone and I never gossip.
- Have the goal to be the best dad in the world to my two children.
- Always tell the truth.
- Step in when people look lost or if they need help.
- Try hard to make wise choices in every area of my life.
If you begin 2014 discouraged by what you see in the world, take the time to identify and develop your plan for making our world a better place by your daily choices and actions. When enough people act in this thoughtful way, this good can have a real multiplying effect on other people, organizations and communities! And as you live and execute your plan, what an awesome opportunity and privilege to be able to say, “Today I really helped make our world a better place!”
Clint Longenecker is the Stranahan Professor of Leadership and Organizational Excellence in the College of Business and Innovation at The University of Toledo. He is an educator, author, consultant, motivational speaker and community servant. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Alcoholics Anonymous, American Cancer Society, Cherry Street Mission, Children International, College of Business and Innovation, course information cards, litter, professor, recycle, Stranahan Professor of Leadership and Organizational Excellence in the College of Business and Innovation, Sunday school, Third World, United Way, University of Toledo