June 3, 2020
“Twenty-two thousand days, it’s not a lot, it’s all you’ve got…” said a powerful voice from my laptop screen. Arizona State University’s Dr. Michael Crow quoted this song from the Moody Blues. Like an inner switch, I was instantly reminded of our finite time on earth. Time is of the essence, “How can I make things better?”
The Arizona Virtual Module on leading change and leadership development – the first-ever virtual module for the Next Generation Leaders program – had taught us the importance of foresight, design mindset and adaptability. Sitting in front of a computer for prolonged periods was not easy, but beyond the migraine and the discomfort, I gained invaluable knowledge from innovative leaders. ASU had seamlessly transitioned to the online platform, because it is ready. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, its leaders have the foresight to prepare the institution for the future they have designed. The organization had easily adapted to the “new normal” of digital learning and running a huge organization through the online platforms.
Back home, for a time, the courts of justice have physically closed while systems and processes are being put in place to arrest the spread of the deadly virus. Schools were closed, as well and the rest of the vital institutions.
Design. Future-casting. It is reverse-engineering the process. Build the future then start the process of achieving it. For me, I had a paradigm-shift from the ordinary course of doing things. Lay down the vision, put out the design, then start creating the blocks to make it happen.
Learning from the “Master Learner” Dr. Crow and his team of trailblazing leaders is an experience in itself. When he said we measure success by whom we include and NOT whom we exclude, my heart skipped a bit. In a field where the norm is exclusion (Ivy League schools are competing who has the lowest acceptance rate and get immense pride in it), a leader boldly declaring and doing the exact opposite show great courage. His aspiration to change and challenge that norm – and succeed – is a legacy.
There is much to be done. Today, we already have less than 22,000 days. What is the story you want to change? What is your aspiration? How do you design and build the system to make it happen? How do we lead and empower people?
Our days are numbered. Make each day count.