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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Facilitator Of Growth

I have always appreciated irony. Here's a definition extracted from


noun, plural -nies.
the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.
a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.
(especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.
an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
Now, a personal example of irony.

I have served in a number of different leadership positions over the years. During that time I have been involved with innumerable tasks, requiring me to exercise a wide variety of skills addressing countless issues that produced such an expansive array of responsibilities that it was difficult to explain everything underneath the simple title of "principal." There are certainly times when it would appear that I was a jack-of-all trades and master of none.

I was invited to present a convocation address and act as a week-long visiting lecturer at a university out west. Soon after, I was contacted by the president of the student senate (the sponsoring agency of the school) for an interview to provide information for purposes of generating advance publicity. In the course of responding to the inquiries about my work it became apparent that my role extended well beyond one that could be summarized by a traditional title. It was a pleasant and accommodating conversation that increased my enthusiasm for the trip and the unfolding experience.

The time came to fly to Utah and go to work. I had invested a lot of time in preparing my speech for the 1,000 people expected to attend the convocation series. I had also devoted a considerable amount of energy and effort in the information I planned to deliver in the week of lectures and the additional role of consulting on a proposed partnership between the university and the local public school system. The flight itself was uneventful but the scenery available to those flying over the Great Plains and the Rockies was fantastic. The views acted to ward off some of the mounting anxiety related to the expectations I held for the presentation.

Soon after I arrived at the university I noticed posters on poles and doors all over the campus advertising my speech. There was a picture of me and a brief professional biography. All well and good. But then I read the title listed below the photograph identifying Michael Mugits, not as a principal, or school leader, or educator, but Facilitator of Growth. I was immediately impressed with the moniker since my primary responsibility is directed at growing people of all ages and all stages by extending their reach toward their potential. It was more fitting in many respects than simply using the traditional and formal title attached to my office door - principal.

Nonetheless, you can imagine the explaining I felt compelled to provide following the introduction that the Dean of the College of Education gave me prior to my appearance on stage. Here I was, Facilitator of Growth, standing before the audience at a mere five feet five inches tall...  Had I truly been a facilitator of growth I believe I would have been six feet two inches. Actually, that contrast allowed me to begin my speech with a humorous exchange and led to a productive presentation that I was very proud of and it seemed to elicit great appreciation by those in attendance.

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