Launching the New eXtension Ship

In a recent blog post, Terry Meisenbach talked about the “Summer Sprint,” and the current “Fast and Furious Fall.”  And now we have news about presentations at NEDA, four new things to expect from eXtension, and the i-Three Issue Corps efforts in addressing climate change and food systems. WHEW!!Sailing ship in sunset scene

Having been involved in this flurry of activity, I continue to be reminded of an exercise during my first week in the National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) program in December 1992—an exercise both Jane Schuchardt and Scott Reed were involved with as well.  Jerry Apps asked us to draw a metaphor for leadership–not words, but a picture. I cannot recall what I drew, but someone in the class drew a large sailing ship that was a fairly good distance from shore.  The problem was that it was missing the whole rear section—yet it was sailing. The idea was that you are able to launch the ship without the ship being complete, or even knowing what the whole ship would look like.  The point was that an effective leader is comfortable building the ship after it is launched. I feel very much like that is where we are.  We have some idea where we are going.  We have some of the pieces assembled, but we know that as we sail, conditions may cause us to take apart some of what we’ve already assembled in order to respond to those conditions.  And, as we sail, we may never have a complete ship; it will always be under some state of reassembly.

This is scary, yet exciting.  But, it also means that the way we survive and thrive is through teamwork, trust, faith, and a lot of hope.