As a college president of 22 years, there were many successes and failures. In reflection I have become convinced that most of my failures were from not passing the baton correctly….lack of clarity, missed assignments, too many distractions, and even selfishness.   How could I have done it better?

To find out I interviewed Lisa Staton Dyer.  All -American track star at UNC.  I asked her what was the greatest accomplishment in her track career.  She told me she never dropped the baton in a relay race.   How could that be?  So, to the track I went with her to learn how to pass it so perfectly.  She showed me the lines I had to stay within.  She taught me how to reach back. She let me feel the baton being placed in my hand while I had already started running.  And then she shared the secret, “Bill, it is all about trust!”

Wow! I immediately remembered the time I announced a gift in public, and the donor corrected me for not being accurate on their intention.  Or the time I assigned a task to our phonathon staff director, but wasn’t clear on the outcome I expected. I was passing the baton (an expectation) but my hand wasn’t stretched far enough to make the pass successful.  

What have I learned?

Horizontal:   Signed gift intention documents are important

Vertical:  Pausing to get clarification  is always worth the wait 

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