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February 8, 2018
A group of Wake Foresters gathered over lunch in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on February 8, 2018, to discuss Career Development.
During our conversation, we learned much about each other and our first experience in what was or felt like the “working world.” From washing dishes to serving as a bank teller, babysitting and many things in between, our group experienced a number of firsts during a formative time in our lives.
We bonded over the autonomy that many of us felt in these experiences. Whether is was the ownership of a new task, such as making phone calls for overdue books, starting our own babysitting business, or simply the newfound responsibility that came from holding our first job, we pushed forward, gained understanding and made mistakes along the way.
Many of us quickly learned about the importance of adapting to change, both in the workplace and in expectations that others have for us. We also spoke of another essential type of change – the kind that happens within ourselves. We discussed how this relates to where we find value, establish boundaries and how we make decisions for our future. One of the many things from our lunch that resonated was the question “What are you working on when you forget what time it is?” This was something many of us could relate to, as we realize that certain jobs or tasks bring us great energy, while others seem to stretch for days without end.
We found common ground on the building of interpersonal skills in areas such as customer service, working with others, building community, listening and problem-solving. It was also during our first jobs that we learned the importance of simply showing up, following through and completing a task, a bar easily surpassed by those who seek success. It’s not surprising that these are some of the same building blocks that bring us success in our jobs today.
Above all else, we learned that what we do in each day brings value to our lives and to others, even if it isn’t immediately realized. Taking the time to evaluate our talents, weaknesses, stakeholders and priorities will serve us each well as we move forward in our careers.
A group of Wake Foresters gathered over dinner in Washington, D.C., on February 8, 2018, to discuss Leadership & Character.
We were all enriched by the stories of character shown and the people whom displayed it. Everyone at the table shared person examples of character by telling stories of individuals including a brother, senator, boss, co-worker, session member, NASA Director, father, Wake Forest classmate, Nancy Reagan and in everyday activities big and small. We learned it is the choices one makes and how one puts others first that ultimately shape, develop and affirm character.
Through stories and comments, our group demonstrated that character most often comes out of actions requiring empathy, grace and providing space for others. We heard about Major General (Ret.) Astronaut and former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s ability to heal his organization through opening a conversation at NASA HQ in the main auditorium during a contentious time in our country. His care for his coworkers led him to sit on the edge of the stage and invite all to express how they were feeling during a time when the DC/Baltimore area’s communities and police relationship was severely strained. Through years of authentic, individual interactions, General Bolden earned the respect from the employees at NASA which provided him the authority to rightfully care for and mend their worries.
We heard two examples of character from our public servants which shed light on the importance of running a clean race and using an “acute” display of power to combat bullying. When a write-in candidate had the opportunity to pursue personal attacks against her opponent, she resisted. She ran a campaign based on her courage to know she was right and the strength of her convictions instead of tearing down the opponent. And she won. Another Senator saw a staffer’s son in the office and asked why he was not in school. When he found out the son was bullied and afraid to attend, he checked his schedule and saw it was free. He then used this window of time to summon his motorcade, invite the boy in his car, then escort him to his school. The senator, with the boy (and his detail) walked in the classroom with the student and simply stated, “This is my buddy”.
Another set of stories shared about fathers reminds us all that you do not necessarily need to be a public person to influence and display character. One dad spent his life loving his family and raising his children, keeping quiet about his work. It was only during the later days of his life that the family learned of his countless acts of supporting the unsupported and guiding the unguided in financial matters. Through his role as a bank manager, he quietly yet permanently, positively altered the lives of many in his community by providing access to capital to those traditionally marginalized. May we all remember the power of wisdom spoken in care and the opportunity we can provide others as we widen the circle of access to a table historically set for the few.
A group of Wake Foresters gathered over dinner in Richmond, Virginia on February 8, 2018, to discuss Leadership & Character.
Our moderator asked the members of the group describe an occasion on which they had observed Character in Action. Common themes were selflessness and deep concern for the welfare of others. Accounts included examples of bravery, self-sacrifice and focus on the needs of others — even in the face of sickness, injury or death. The discussion that followed focused on the importance of living up to our principles and focusing on others and “making it about them” rather than ourselves.
The group was unanimously enthusiastic about, and grateful for, the opportunity to hear and participate in serious conversation on an important subject. The group discussion produced grateful comments, from alumni and parents alike, on the quality of the Wake Forest education (from both academic and ethical perspectives) and led to a broader discussion of ways in which Wake Forest has evolved and improved over time – notably with respect to acceptance, tolerance and diversity – and ways in which Wake can continue to improve on an already superb value proposition.
Books cited in connection with the discussion:
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Art of Listening by Eric Fromm
The Character Gap by Christian Miller
The Road to Character by David Brooks
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
February 6, 2018
A group of Wake Foresters gathered over dinner in Raleigh, North Carolina on February 6, 2018, to discuss Pro Humanitate in a polarized society.
We found there was agreement that different views, backgrounds, opinions etc. can cause some anxiety and can be difficult and uncomfortable. Nonetheless these interactions, feelings, and thought-provoking instances can and should be uniting- for relationships, countries, and the world. Here a few quotes (paraphrased and soon to be plagiarized) that we recorded.
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