Tuesday, May 24, 2011


My sister very kindly pointed out to me that I haven't blogged in a while. She knew the date of my last post. While we were in the car. Driving. No computers around to check the date or anything. So, I guess that means I need to get back to posting. My goal for the summer is about a post a week. I mean I'm not taking classes, I don't have any crazy long class reading list, nothing that should keep me from writing more often. So, now that I've made the pronouncement of a post a week public, I can be held accountable for it.

Maryland's School of Public Policy graduation ceremony was last week. I was so excited when I heard a few weeks ago that ADM Allen was scheduled to be the keynote speaker. The first thing my friends at school asked me when the announcement came out was if I was going to go. Umm...OF COURSE!! Not only to see ADM Allen speak, but also to see my friends walk across the stage. I don't think I've been to a college spring commencement before (I graduated in the winter).

The School's Dean graciously sent out a video link of ADM Allen's address, which I highly recommend watching because it is a truly amazing speech! Black swans, wicked problems, leadership, management and governance, collaboration, conditions for trust, unity of effort, "an analog government operating in a digital world"...I could go on. There were a few familiar concepts I recognized from his All Hands communiques over the course of his tenure as Commandant. Lifelong learning, caring leadership, adapting to a changing world--that kind of stuff. While he talks to the graduates of the School of Public Policy as future leaders and public servants, I took to heart his charge of "creating the art of the possible where none existed before" by using our leadership skills, curiosity (which I think can extend to ingenuity and creativity), tenacity and compassion. It applies to all of us.

Side note: in a conversation with Dean Kettle after the ceremony, he said that very few organizations spend as much time, energy and focus developing their future leaders as the Coast Guard does. That made me feel good.

But my very favorite part of ADM Allen's speech was at the very end, when he charged the graduates with facing their future, "...be insatiably curious. Be life-long learners. And when you inhabit that world in the future, and you're presented with that problem, create the art of the possible where none exists. And walk among giants, and do not feel small." (Emphasis added, because that part gives me goosebumps.)

And then he got a standing ovation.


Azulao said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Azulao said...

Yeah, sorry about that.

What I wanted to ask was, how does the Coast Guard encourage people to maintain the humility to keep learning? It's not something we do well in academia; one-ups-manship is our favorite game.

Just a Girl said...

I think the rank structure helps with the humility maybe. And the evaluation system. There's always someone more senior willing, ready and able to smack down an individual that may be getting too big for their britches in their own mind. And because our assignments and promotions are based pretty much solely on our performance evaluations, being able to add in stuff about continued learning makes a difference.

Oh, and I think the main thing that has been done in the Coast Guard is that the leadership has actually *said* you need to keep learning. The performance evaluation guidance that has been put out for the last few years has always made a point of emphasizing the importance of life-long learning.

So leadership support and evaluation accountability...that's my answer.

Azulao said...

God, I was hoping for a silver bullet! Leadership and accountability?! Day-um.

Just a Girl said...

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not :)
You asked a great question, though.