LSUS: A new way to look at the new year

Lawrence S "Larry" Clark Phone

By Dr. Larry Clark

We often treat the transition from one year to the next as a time for change; a time to reset our goals, renew our ambitions, and move on from the challenges we faced in the previous year. In any given January, most of us take great care to develop and nurture new positive habits or try to reduce or eliminate old bad habits. We hit the gym, we vow to eat more healthily, we reaffirm our faith, and so on. We think about all the things that we want to change, with the goal of making the new year better than the last. As business leaders, we often look at ways we can improve our organizations and set our teams up for success. 

As we turn the page from 2020 to 2021, it’s natural to want to move on and hit the reset button, particularly with the unique and seemingly all-encompassing challenges of the past year. However, and this is not to diminish the difficulty of 2020 by any means, we should also take time to reflect on the moments of success, because examining those can provide as much insight and lift as reflecting on the things that we would like to improve or change. The risk of only focusing on one or two new items at the beginning of a year is that it puts pressure on that one set of goals or ambitions, and if we falter along the way we often become discouraged and chalk them up as failures. 

This is short-term, reactive thinking that can cause us to overlook incremental but important signs of success. The pursuit of success is a long journey, one that often has unexpected twists and turns along the way. During this pursuit we can sometimes miss the forest for the trees. As Chancellor of LSUS I must always be focused on ways that we can improve as a university, but I must also take time to recognize the hard work of our amazing team, particularly when they shine. 

During 2020 many of our plans went out the window due to the pandemic. Many of the goals we set were altered or delayed, often being replaced by short-term, incremental goals of returning to some type of operational normalcy. But within those changed plans we tested and relied on some of our competitive advantages, such as our expertise in online instruction. We learned how to operate in ways that can inform improvements beyond the pandemic, and we are better for it. 

We are also blessed with dedicated and talented individuals such as coach Kyle Blankenship. Coach Kyle recently notched his 200th career win as head basketball coach of the LSUS Pilots. The achievement comes as the Pilots extended their home winning streak to 33 games and their overall winning streak to 25 games. What makes this even more impressive is that the men’s basketball program was part of an overall effort that saw LSUS student athletes earn a combined GPA of 3.14 for the fall 2020 semester. Coach Kyle, like the rest of us, was greatly disappointed last year at the cancelation of the NAIA National Tournament, which LSUS had a legitimate shot at winning. But even with that major goal being taken away, the team’s success on the court and in the classroom should be recognized and applauded. 

There are many other stories like that at LSUS, stories that prove that it isn’t just about the destination, or the ultimate goal. We can learn from and inspire others with the work we do every day, even when things change dramatically around us. We should all remember this as we take lessons from 2020 and charge full steam ahead into 2021. We may find that instead of resolutions, we may be better served focusing on perseverance. I wish you all well.

Larry Clark | Chancellor of LSUS