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Things My Mentors Taught Me by Catawba College President, Brien Lewis

By Brien Lewis, President of Catawba College

 

At this year’s Opening Convocation, I shared some maxims that my mentors have imparted to me over the years that often advise my decision-making and how I react to situations.  Several people have asked me to share these, especially for those students who were not able to attend Convocation. I hope they will be as useful to you as they have been – and continue to be – for me.

“Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

It is always helpful to realize that one’s role or responsibilities require you to take into account several factors that may not be apparent to someone else.

“Don’t ascribe maliciousness to that which can be explained by inadvertence.”

The truth is that in many situations someone was not out to “get” you or make your life miserable – there was simply an unintentional side effect of a choice or action.

“When hiring, the most important question is ‘Are batteries included or not included?’”

The energy and attitude you bring to a task – or a job – are often as or more important than your expertise or skills.

“Don’t write anything you would not want to see on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow.”

Especially in the age of social media, do not react impulsively or rudely – be aware that it can be read and attributed to you for many years to come.

 

“If you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” (Benjamin Franklin)

People and organizations need to continually adapt and evolve to succeed.

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” (Brene Brown)

Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Success usually only comes through repeated effort and experimentation.

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” (Lorne Michaels)

Surround yourself with people who have talents, insights and experiences that are different from yours and, hopefully, even stronger.

“If you don’t sacrifice for what is important, what is important becomes the sacrifice.”

Family, work, life – they are all about choices and priorities. Understand that there are usually trade-offs and focus on what is vital to you.

“What would you tell your best friend to do if he or she were in the same situation?”

Simply a great piece of advice for trying to answer a tough issue you are wrestling to solve.

 

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