A class I had in graduate school still resonates with me. It was a research methodology class and we had just completed reading a series of research articles about educational leadership that, seemingly, didn’t provide many fresh or new insights on the topic.
In class one evening, a classmate of mine spoke up to our professor and stated, “This research is fine. But all it does is confirm what we already know.”
Our professor took a moment and then responded: “You think you know. But the work these researchers did provided evidence. They actually did the work.”
It can be tempting to reflect on someone else’s efforts (a colleague, another institution’s advancement program, etc.) and opine on how easy or simple it was for them. We can look at their work and suggest that they had some built-in advantage that we don’t possess – they are bigger, more resources, different giving culture, wealthier donors, etc. We can even promote the idea the work didn’t really accomplish much or wasn’t worth doing at all. Or that, “it wouldn’t work for us.”
Or, we can cast aside our defensive and envious tendencies which keep us beholden to the status quo. We can commit to learning from others. And we can roll up our sleeves and do the work ourselves.
Every day is a choice.