Spirited Believers

On his first day in office, the President of the University called one of the faculty who he had worked with in the past. “I need you to facilitate a team of faculty, students, and student life professionals to give me recommendations on what I can do to improve students’ experiences on campus. We need to change the image of the University. And I need your recommendations in 30 days.”

What seemed impossible became a reality 30 days later as the team presented its report containing 155 recommendations to the President. Some recommendations were small while others were large and could be game changers for the University. One of those large ones was building a Student Recreation Center. The rationale was that such a center would give students an alternative to the bar scene.

The President accepted the report and asked the faculty leader of the team to “keep him honest” in making sure the recommendations were implemented.

In the months that followed, the recommendations were implemented, but the student rec center was stalled. Every week as the President and the faculty member met, the topic of the rec center came up. “We’ll get to it,” was the President’s standard response. Thankfully the President and the faculty leader’s relationship was strong enough that the constant nagging about the rec center didn’t become contentious. But the nagging didn’t stop.

One day, the President dropped by the faculty leader’s office and said: “Jack, let’s take a walk.” They walked outside and up after about 50 yards the President stopped and pointed to a vacant field which had become a dump site for the physical plant. “Jack, that’s where the new rec center will be.”

“I want to thank you for never letting this go. I’ve been reading a book about change and the author contends that no change will ever occur without spirited believers who will keep nagging those in power. Just think of the Civil Rights movement, or women gaining the right to vote. Those took spirited believers to bring about change. So, thank you for being a spirited believer. I must admit that you annoyed me at times, but it was your constant nagging that made me realize the importance of the rec center idea. I know that you wouldn’t have persisted if you didn’t really believe in this. So, thanks.”

Spirited believers are the backbone for making change occur. They made a difference by difference by standing up for what they believe in. Their courage and passion are their leverage for change. Spirited believers become the voice of others who are too timid to speak. Spirited believers can only be effective if what they advocate for is based upon personal values and beliefs that lift up rather tear down.

*   *   *

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” – Mahatma Gandhi

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.