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3 core values I’m still learning from my alma mater

August 3, 2011 - Education, People Management

Goshen CollegeLittle did I know the value I would continue to receive from my Goshen College education five years later.  I knew I had a very solid base on which to establish my career in information technology, but I had no idea that more and more layers of my Goshen College education and influence would continue to be uncovered as I experienced new challenges in my career.

The first few years of my career, I reached into my learned technical skills, programming enterprise applications and delivering value through technology to the business.  This was my expectation from my Bachelor’s in Business Information Systems.  This was solely what I thought my education and that piece of paper was getting me: The skills to get my foot in the door and provide value from the very beginning.

Five years later, the challenges are more complex, the questions, deeper.  And five years later, I find that I’m reaching beyond the courses I took in school, to the core values that Goshen College held dear and instilled in every aspect of student life.  Three values in particular are finally hitting home:

1. Servant Leadership

“It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” Robert K. Greenleaf — The Servant as Leader

I didn’t entirely understand Servant Leadership during my pursuit of an information technology career.  Being a Mennonite school, Goshen College attracts many students looking for careers serving people in developing nations or in poverty-stricken areas of the United States.  Being a student of the Business department, not only was that fact somewhat intimidating, but I also wrote off Servant Leadership as a value that was targeted for that group of people.  Not an “evil” business major like me.

Five years later, I finally realize that I was wrong, so very very wrong.  Not only does Servant Leadership apply in a corporate context, we desperately need more servant leaders in corporations.  People who put the employees they lead before their own agenda.  People who are interested in seeing the employees they work with grow, “become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants¹”.  I finally get that, not only does Servant Leadership apply to me, it applies as much to me as anyone else who graduated from Goshen.

2. Passionate Learning

The Goshen College web site says it best: “As a learning community, we foster a journey of lifelong learning, encouraging one another to seek truth with fervor.”  After I left that learning community, it continued to be critically important to always have an open mind, to surround myself with people smarter than me, to learn from all my colleagues.   There are new technologies, new business processes, and of course, new office politics to not only adjust to, but thrive in.  And only passionate learners will make it.

cultural diversity3. Being a Global Citizen

It wasn’t until I started working for a Fortune 500 company that I found myself in a room full of other young professionals, and I was the only American.  All of my friends were from Turkey, India, the Philippines, China… a beautifully diverse array of young people from across the globe.  That’s when the concept of being a global citizen finally hit home.  We must take the time to understand other cultures, and then understand how people live and work in those cultures.  Otherwise, we won’t be a global company at all — just a company with unintegrated, global locations.

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Comments

  1. Jeff August 4, 2011

    The Goshen College skills that earn me the most money are the computer skills I learned when I was procrastinating on other work!

    • Fallon August 4, 2011

      Ha! Another case for procrastination, perhaps? :) Every once in awhile, it pays off, which unfortunately gives me encouragement I definitely don’t need for continued procrastination…!

  2. Jim Brenneman August 8, 2011

    Fallon, Thank you for this wonderful ‘look back’ at how GC’s core values have helped shape your work. I couldn’t agree with you more that our core value of “servant leadership” must not be a pious sentiment for only ‘peace corp’ and NGO-type callings. I am grateful that some of the fastest growing businesses in the information age have embraced service learning and global citizenship as absolute necessities in their success! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Jim (President of Goshen College)

    • Fallon August 9, 2011

      President Brenneman, thank you very much for your note! I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. I’m thankful for colleges like Goshen that are nurturing graduates to look beyond themselves as they step out into the world. It’s those graduates who are changing lives, everywhere you look, and sometimes in unexpected, unconventional ways.

      I think about my GC experiences everyday, and am finding that the value I’m drawing from my education is maturing along with my work experiences. I’m enjoying the journey. :) Take care!

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