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Friday, March 21, 2014

Be the Change

"You must be the change you want to see in the world. Gandhi

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On one of those snow days, I planned several projects to fix people and programs. As I got further into my "fixing," it dawned on me that the change I was looking for did not involve only changing other people. I needed to also change myself — my behavior, my attitude or my approach. Sometimes I tell staff that "all things change when we do," which is a paraphrase of Gandhi's quote. This experience reminded me of a friend of mine at Iowa State.

Sharon Wasteney was a county extension director for a small, rural county in southern Iowa. She happened to be the site director for our CYFAR project and I was the state director. We hit it off from day one and enjoyed working together, although we had very different personal lives and political leanings. Sharon was an innovator, willing to try new ideas and approaches in her very rural and very poor county. Her efforts were not always embraced by her colleagues or her constituents but she remained resolute and committed.

When I left ISU in 1999 for Michigan State, she gave me a card with the quote above from Gandhi. For many years, that card was pinned on my bulletin board but appears to have gotten misplaced in our office move to Coffey Hall in 2010. I also have included a picture of a 15" by 15" wall hanging that she made to help me remember our work together on the CYFAR project. I treasure it and won't lose it!

I challenge you to think about how this saying applies to you and your work. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you discover. Learn more about this quote and other things that Gandhi said.

Karen Shirer
Associate Dean

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