This past week has been one of exceptional transition for me on multiple levels: physically, metaphysically, emotionally, personally and professionally. I am sure I left out a few other relevant words that also end in “lly” but you get the idea.

After realizing that an “employment experiment” into which I recently endeavored was not a fit for me, instead of postponing the inevitable, I made a conscious decision to recuse myself before things became untenable. After a reasonably painless, but seemingly too long final two weeks, my last day was this past Friday.

I am now filled with an empowering sense of pride and excitement. Interestingly, this feeling lingered in the back of my mind on and off for several months, but never found a conduit through which it could blossom. However, it began to emerge during New Student Orientation (NSO) at Fielding Graduate Unviersity and has been a constant undercurrent ever since.

UC Santa Barbara: 1109 North HallSomething about the experience really “flipped a switch” and confirmed to me that teaching is the path I need to pursue.  After NSO I felt as if I had to heed this call; nothing else would satiate it. I primarily see myself as a classroom teacher and secondarily in a corporate training role, although these two incarnations of the same concept are not mutually exclusive: I can envision serving in both capacities concurrently.

Beyond being inspired by the whole NSO experience on an emotional level, I also experienced tangible changes happening on a more physical level. There was positive energy in action. From connections I made during NSO to my interviewing with and being hired to teach at UC Santa Barbara Extension on the same day NSO ended,  there was a palpable energy in the air that finally seemed to be connecting all of the right dots for me. It was as if NSO — and by extrapolation Fielding — was a conduit of opportunity for me.

I have “gone out on my own” before, but my efforts were focused on a skill, not a strength — and that has made all the difference. During previous attempts I tried to stake my claim as a marketing consultant specializing in website design — and while I always had “some” work, I was never fully able to get into gear. And, even when I did get some kind of rhythm going, I wasn’t fully engaged by it. I still enjoy working on websites and see it as an incomparable medium for education, but now realize that my calling is not as a freelance web designer.

I am now committed to and focused on opportunities that seem to be continuously revealing themselves to me, recognizing how long I waited for this to happen and how fortunate I feel to finally be at this point.  Ironically, I enjoy teaching marketing and find some humor in the fact that it is where my interests still are. But, I realize now that with learning as my top strength, I need to focus on teaching as the expression of my intention.

When I initially made this decision, I had a few opportunities locked in, but it was far from a “safety net.” However, in just a few weeks, the stars and planets seem to be in alignment. I am again teaching online writing and communication courses for Axia College of University of Phoenix and will start teaching in the marketing professional certificate program of UC Santa Barbara Extension in January.

In the coming weeks I am expecting to be teaching writing and possibly business courses for another private university. I also plan to work with younger students in need of specialized instruction through Kaplan K12 Learning Services where I was invited on Saturday to participate in teacher training after an “audition” on Thursday! I still have a few other options in progress, and am just trying to be careful not to over-commit. After all, I still need time for studying of my own!

I think the icing on the cake came tonight when I went go get some books at Barnes and Noble where they gave me an “Educator’s Discount Card.” To paraphrase Pinocchio’s statement to Gepetto: I’m a real teacher now!

What if Columbia University invited Adolf Hitler to speak?

Columbia_University_LogoThere has been a great deal of attention paid lately to Columbia’s invitation to have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, participate in a Q&A session with faculty and students on Monday in an event sponsored by the university’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

John Coatsworth, dean of the school, released the following statement about the event and the school’s decision to not rescind the invitation:

“Opportunities to hear, challenge and learn from controversial speakers of different views are central to the education and training of students for citizenship in a shrinking and still dangerous world. This is especially true for SIPA students, many of whose careers will require them to confront human rights and security issues throughout the globe.”

Later, in a television interview, Coatsworth explained that if Hitler were alive the school would have no problem inviting him to participate in the same type of event. As much as I am open to exploring different ideas, I am concerned, yet also conflicted over the school’s stand in this situation.

To endorse Ahmadinejad’s world view legitimizes his opinions as academically sound. Ironically, Ahmadinejad would likely send every faculty member of Columbia to prison for thinking anything other than his party line if the school were in Iran.

Giving him a soapbox to proclaim his position is misguided; I further doubt doing so will actually substantiate his standpoints. I liken this choice to the desire of people after a violent incident to understand “why” the violence was perpetrated. But, would the rambling words of a sociopath make any sense to those with a rational mind?

Conversely, a colleague of mine shared with me the following thought earlier today:

“Whatever we repress comes back to bite us. When you shine a light in a dark place, there is no longer darkness.”

Grounding this in a human developmental and psychological theory, my colleague’s point is that simply ignoring something doesn’t keep it from becoming a problem.  By confronting it you can deal with it directly . I understand this approach and, to a degree, feel there is value in confrontation and interaction.

So then, should there be limits to academic inquiry or should every experience be seen as one from which learning can occur? This opens a Pandora’s Box of who is empowered to decide what is and what is not academic inquiry. Frankly, I don’t know if I am comfortable giving anyone that power.

Are you?

Attached is a paper titled “H.I.G.H. O.C.T.A.N.E. – Ten Additives that Power High Performance in Organizations” that I originally conceptualized in the fall of 2006 during my first of two semesters in the Pepperdine University Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership program.

I subsequently co-wrote the paper with classmates Fa’auliulito H. Meni, Jill A. Peck, and Wayne J. Stickney-Smith — all of whom are still enrolled at Pepperdine.

I later presented the paper in March 2007 at the annual conference of the International Academy of Business Disciplines in Orlando, Florida. I am considering making this the focus of my doctoral dissertation or perhaps an area of significant academic inquiry.

The abstract from the paper is as follows:

Organizations are similar to cars: both require fuel to power them and a driver to direct them. In an organization, the fuel is its culture and the driver is initially its founder and in later years its current chief executive.

Just as cars require fuel to function, organizations share key cultural factors in order to exist.  Uniquely, some organizations are able to elevate themselves beyond basic existence into a coveted realm of high performance.

Doing so is difficult, and requires ten additives that convert a group’s culture into a H.I.G.H. O.C.T.A.N.E. source of power that can transform it into a high performing entity.

I welcome your comments, questions and ideas to doctorious [at] generative [dot] com.