Make it Your Mission 

by Nancy Hunter Denney


Yet another start to the school year and some are saying "Yeah!" while others are saying "Blah."  Which end of the spectrum are you?

It goes without question working on a college campus in 2019 comes with incredible challenges; reduced resources, new regulations, staff changes and reductions, reallocation of funds, and increased anxiety among the students under your care.  In this brief article, I'd like to point out the obvious...  This year will be what you choose to make it.

That's right.  The one thing that will be under your control is your attitude and the subsequent decisions you make.  Will you choose to be a team player or obstructionist?  Will you support your colleagues or throw them under the bus?  Will you practice daily self-care or complain about your job.  Will you be the positive energy in the room or the one guaranteed to be judgmental?

To assist you in making such decisions, consider writing your 2019 Mission Statement by answering the following questions:

Mission Statement 2019 - 2020 

1.  The greatest gift I bring to my workplace is ______________________________ therefore, I commit to _____________________________________________________ on a daily basis.


2.  Because everyone around me is dedicated to the growth and development of students, I will avoid the non-productive habit of _____________________________ and commit to _________________________ on a daily basis.


3.  My training has given me significant competencies, skills and understandings.  The one I tend to underuse is my  ____________________________________________________ therefore, I will make it a priority to focus on ____________________________________________.


4.  Happiness matters; mine and those I serve.  The one thing I could do to make myself happier this year would be to ____________________________________________.  The one thing I could do to bring more joy to those around me is to _________________________________________________.


5.  At the very core of my being is the belief that ________________________________________ therefore, I am going to ___________________________________________ on a daily basis.


Those five simple reflective statements are designed to establish a continuing "True North" -- a journey that spans a lifetime and career.  After 35 years in higher education, the following has become abundantly clear to me:

·      You become your associates so work at making friends you admire, respect and bring you joy.

·      Your purpose is your present so look up from your iPhone and into someone's soul.

·      The only bills you have are the ones you create so live within your means.

·      Not everyone asked for (or appreciates) your opinion so share it with grace.

·      You are whom they get so give those you serve your humor, appreciation, honor, knowledge and care.

·      Accept that your professional development is your responsibility so save for the conferences you want to attend.

·      Being in student affairs isn't about your needs and wants so look through the lens of "How can I help" versus "What's in this for me?"

·      If you don't like your job... quit.

·      You can't sail a boat without any wind so be grateful for when it blows.

·      What you do (and fail to do) matters so make it your mission to make every moment count.

What matters to you?  How do you want this year to start?  You get to choose between "Yeah!" or "Blah."  We've all had bad supervisors, colleagues who make it about them, and personal situations making our lives harder than normal.  But, what most people who aren't in higher education don't get is the opportunity to shape the lives of young adults, colleagues and the future of our country.  You get that privilege on a daily basis.  Be good at it.  Make it your mission for 2019.


About the Author - Nancy Hunter Denney began her 35-year career in student affairs in 1984 at CWRU as the program board advisor. She then went to WPI to become the assistant dean of students. She resigned in 1993 to become a full-time professional speaker. With presentations at hundreds of state, regional and national conferences, as well as appearances on over 900 college campuses, Ms. Denney specialized in the skills of life and leadership.

Tapping on the “best of the best” practices observed over three decades, she launched the Lead365 National Conference in 2015 to enthusiastic reviews and serves as the conference director. Ms. Denney is the author or co-author of six books, owns her own publishing company. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Missions for Humanity – a nonprofit dedicated to providing medical care to third world countries.