Becoming Busy or Busy Becoming?

October 30, 2015

While I have served the MHSAA as an employee and several other organizations as a volunteer board member, I have gradually and probably too slowly learned to be more on the lookout for ways to help move these organizations from transactional to transformational business … from mundane and routine tasks that tread water to sea-change strategies that might cause an organization to alter its course.

I have tried to do this in different ways at different times with different organizations; but I was recently handed an idea that I think will work with almost every organization at almost any time. A speaker said, “Are we busy doing, or are we busy becoming?

That question captures the essential difference between transaction and transformation. If every board meeting and staff meeting and committee meeting would start with that question, and/or be used at the end of the meeting as the evaluation tool, the work would broaden in scope and deepen in impact. Little issues would give way to larger topics, and fascination with fads would give way to focus on future trends in our work or in society as a whole that could affect the enterprise in fundamental ways.

Are we busy doing things that will help us become not just a little but very much better at what we do? Are we striving to break down or through barriers that hold us back? Are we searching for fundamental changes not just in how we do things but how we see things? Are we enlarging our vision? Are we searching not just for new ways to do old things, but also to discover altogether new things to do that will cause us to become what our greatest aspirations desire?

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.