I just returned to my Portland office after spending four days attending a wedding and family events back in St. Louis and Central Illinois. Some family members joined me as I visited and connected with some important places and people of my past. I visited my parents, my old high school, the tennis center where I trained as a child, and one of our early family homes. I even got to have breakfast with my very first mentor, Phil Trapani, pictured with this entry.
Going back to your roots is an important aspect of growing and maturing. It is one of the many ways in which we as individuals have an opportunity to witness our influences, how we were shaped, and how much progress we have made. It ties us to our beginnings and places our current reality into focus, which, I believe, gives us a better ability to shape our preferred future. There exists both a restorative and visionary quality to my trips down memory lane.
Organizations can go back to their roots to find that same rejuvenation and vision. We see rock bands do it all the time as they go into the studio to record their next album. They remember the sound what made them great and distinctive among their listeners and fans. I think great schools and colleges do the same thing, spending some reflective time remembering why they were founded as it relates to building a powerful vision for the future. Pacific University in Oregon where I once served as an administrator was originally founded as Tualatin Academy for orphans that died crossing the Oregon Trail. Today, they lead the Northwest in programs that are in the service to society realm, such as education, healthcare, and social service.
A thought for schools and colleges; take a stroll down memory lane once in while. Enjoy a deep dive into your history and heritage. Take stock of where you have traveled and where you stand currently. It might just provide your leadership team or board with a vision for the future grounded solidly in your reason for existence.