Tag Archives: HPLP

A Tribute

20 Sep

EPSON scanner image

 

Today is the first session of the fall edition of the Housley Principled Leadership Program. This is our fourth or fifth semester. I can’ t remember. I do remember why we do this. It is a fitting memorial to my best man. I am excited to meet the new class today and hope that each of them will come away from the experience with the self-awareness to become people of consequence. The world needs people who have come alive. I want these students to live lives that matter. This is my eulogy for the program’s namesake, my good friend Kevin.

 

April 23, 2008

This day, devoted to the memory of our friend Kevin Housley, offers an opportunity for reflection and celebration.  It is a curious and difficult thing – this notion of celebrating life in the wake of death – but I had a great teacher.  Twenty years ago this January Kevin and I, and many of you here today, tragically and unexpectedly lost another friend, Bill Hogue.  As we gathered at the funeral, shock and sorrow hung over us all.  But Kevin refused to let that stand.  He said that “life is for the living” and led us all to a place called “31 Flavors” for some living; this 31 Flavors did not serve ice cream, but daiquiris.  We talked and laughed as we told our favorite stories about Bill late into the night.  That is what Kevin expects of us.  To celebrate a life well lived and to share a story or two about how he touched each of us.  It is now my responsibility, as it once was Kevin’s, to lighten things up.

Kevin is my best man, not just at our wedding, but in my life.  When I was seventeen and entering Southwest Texas State, it was Kevin that took me under his wing and guided me through my first couple of years.  If I remember correctly, Kevin was 22 when we met and was not in any danger of graduating.  Over the next few months I would learn why.  Every hour with Kevin was a “happy hour”.

He had a knack for taking life’s setbacks in stride.  He was a “when life gives you limes, make a margarita” kind-of-a-guy.  One weekend when the two of us were in trouble with our respective girlfriends – deservedly so I am certain – we found ourselves without dates to a big sorority formal.  Not one to dwell on misfortune, Kevin took me on a road trip to San Angelo that is still talked about to this day.  Ask Jeff Curry.  More than 20 years later we did the same thing when he lost the election.

Speaking of his run for the state house, I view it as a measure of our friendship that Kevin never once asked me for the vast amounts of photographic evidence I have of our youthful exploits.  Of course he really had nothing to worry about.  I had such faith in his ability that I was holding out until he ran for higher office.  And, contrary to rumor, I was not the one behind his policy position that “every man, woman, and child in Tom Green county should have a gun.”  It is no wonder that my mother refers to Kevin as “your Republican friend.”

As we matured (no laughing please; I will admit to being a work in process) Kevin was a man of strong religious conviction.  Our many faith-versus-reason theological discussions often ran well into the night.  Salvation was a popular topic and a source of heated disagreement.  Kevin was a “straight is the gate and narrow is the way” sort of Methodist who refused to come around to my more Unitarian worldview.  Even though my Methodism might be more casual, I can hold onto the lines of a hymn: “When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.”  For the sake of our everlasting friendship, I sure hope that Kevin is wrong about the width of that gate.

For me, Kevin is supremely one thing – a friend.  Our relationship was easy even when it was contentious.  We are both strong-headed and both agreed with Emerson who said, “Better to be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo.”  There was no danger of that happening with either of us.

If we are going to quote Emerson then we should also give his friend Thoreau his due.  He said, “A man cannot be said to succeed in life who does not satisfy one friend.”  Kevin satisfied me and I am sure, based on the size of this crowd, that he was successful on that account many times over.  It is my charge to take his friendship and “pay it forward” by being a better friend to those that remain. Doing that takes precious time and bundles of energy, but Kevin took that time.

The prayer that our friend Bill Hogue was carrying in his wallet the night he died begs us to do that.  It is called “Slow Me Down”.   The first line goes like this:  Slow me down, Lord, I am going too fast, I can’t see my brother as he goes past.

Well, slowing down in not in my DNA so all I can do is take the message to heart and make sure that Kevin knows what a blessing his friendship is to me and how much I cherish the memories of the time we spent together.  I am a better man because of him and an even better man I hope to one day become.

That is his gift to me.  And for that I am eternally grateful.  I miss you and I love you.  Goodbye to my friend.  Goodbye to my “best man.”

 

Stelos Scholars

16 May

2013 Stelos Scholars

The Stelos Alliance Awards Banquet was held on Sunday, April 28th in San Marcos. We had about 70 people attend the event where we awarded scholarships to exceptional student leaders from Texas State.

Stelos proudly leads the effort to raise money for a number of annual awards that benefit Texas State students. The scholarships include the Bill Hogue Memorial, John Garrison Leadership Award, Tommy Raffen Memorial, Student Foundation Scholarships, Chi Omega Virginia Moore Scholarship, and the Housley Principled Leadership Awards.

We also began a fellowship program this year. Students selected as Stelos Fellows create a paid, semester-long internship with the Stelos Alliance that is customized to best suit their individual career objectives.

This is the 23rd year that the Bill Hogue Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to a member of the Texas State Student Foundation. The recipient this year is another outstanding student leader, Ryan Gates. Ryan will be graduating with honors this May with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Biochemistry. He currently serves as the Vice President of Administration for Student Foundation and has been a member since 2010. His GPA of 3.89 kept him on the Dean’s List every semester of his college career. His older brother Stephen received the same scholarship two years ago. The Gates do it right.

We recognized another five members of Student Foundation with scholarship awards:

  • Danielle Bonanno graduates this May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and starts law school in the fall. She also won a Housley Principled Leadership Award this spring.
  • Nathan McDaniel will be graduating August 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Nathan completed the Housley Principled Leadership Program as a sophomore in 2011.
  • Ashley Brown is graduating this May with a Bachelor of Public Administration degree.
  • Devan Reynolds graduates in May with a Bachelor of Public Administration degree.
  • Terrile Murphy also graduates in May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.

The John Garrison Leadership Award recipient is Lindsey Hendrix. Lindsey graduates in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Disorders. She served as the Executive Assistant in the Associated Student Government and was an active member of Student Foundation. She went through the very first edition of the Housley Principled Leadership Program back in 2011.

This is our fourth year to award the Tommy Raffen Memorial Scholarship and this year’s recipient is Andrew Henley. Andrew is graduating in August 2013 with a Bachelor of Public Administration degree. He currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Student Foundation, as well as, Senate Pro Tempore for the Associated Student Government. Andrew is a Housley grad and was a Stelos Fellow this spring.

This year, we were proud to award the Virginia Moore Chi Omega Scholarship for the second time. The recipient of this award is Mindy Green. Mindy is currently majoring in Public Relations at Texas State University. She is an active member of Chi Omega, where she currently serves as the sorority’s Scholarship Chairwoman. Mindy was a star in the Housley Principled Leadership Program this semester.

The Housley Principled Leadership Program continues to grow. We conducted the class in both the fall and spring this academic year and had over 60 Texas State students complete the course. These are amazing students. For the past two years both the President and Vice President of ASG have been through the program; Nathan McDaniel, Alison Sibley, Vanessa Cortez, and Eddie Perez are all graduates, as are a large number of ASG senators. We are proud of all that they are accomplishing during their time on campus.

The following eight student leaders participated in Housley in either the fall or the spring and received scholarship awards for their active participation and contributions to the success of the course:

  • Karli Koerner is currently majoring in Communication Studies at Texas State University. Karli was also a Stelos Fellow this spring doing marketing, event planning and Housley coordination.
  • Adam Odomore is currently majoring in International Relations at Texas State University. He was the only freshman in Housley last fall and is simply an extraordinary young man.
  • Danielle Bonanno graduates this May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. She is also a Student Foundation Scholarship recipient and future Supreme Court justice.
  • Taylor Dorn is graduating this May with a Bachelor of Science in Geology.
  • Loic Hamilton graduated this past December with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
  • Kameron Fehrmann is currently majoring in Communication Design at Texas State University.
  • Ryan Elliot is currently majoring in International Studies at Texas State University.
  • Jamie Lahiere also graduates in May with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management.

We are extremely proud of these young leaders and are amazed by their character, commitment to service, enthusiasm, and incredible accomplishments.  They will all go on to do great things and make us proud. Please join me in both congratulating and thanking them for all they have done for Texas State.

Roots

22 Sep

“The roots of my raising run deep.” – Merle Haggard

I confess that I am a middle-class white kid from a small town with two parents that are still married and love me very much. This isn’t a great start for an “up by your own bootstraps” kind of life story. I am not my own sculptor. There were – and are – many people heavily invested in shaping the person that I am.

All of this was brought into focus yesterday as we kicked off the fall edition of the Housley Principled Leadership Program. I learn so much from teaching. The first class attempts to increase self-awareness by exploring the familial sources of the most marked characteristics of our personalities. Here are mine.

Extreme Work Ethic – My paternal grandfather was a welder that built many of the buildings that make up the Houston skyline and later in life ran his own shop until he was physically unable. My other grandfather ran the dairy farm where I grew up. Up at 4:00am seven days a week, he set a very visible example of what it means to truly toil. From drilling rigs in high school and full-time graveyard work in college to managing hotels and management consulting, 70 to 80 hour, six-day work weeks have been normal for me for thirty years. A 60-hour week feels like a vacation. If you are not comfortable with that pace, you can thank my grandfathers.

Academic Excellence – At report card time, a “B” has always been completely unacceptable. I received the gift of high academic expectations from my grandmothers. In a highly unusual coincidence for young women in the 1920s and 1930s, both of them went to college and one of them went on to teach alongside my mother for close to thirty years. I know that the fact that I did not follow her to the Rice Institute broke her heart. This probably compels me to study even more. So when my kids accuse me of going all “crazy Asian mom” on them about their grades, they can blame my grandmothers.

Responsibility & Reliability – My father has three boys. As the oldest, I watched him work to provide for us kids very early in his career. He taught me that any job worth doing is worth doing well. He is a stickler and a perfectionist when it comes to follow through. He used the word “half-assed” to describe the results of most of my chores and then invited me to do them over and over until his standards were met. I soon learned to do it right the first time. Accepting responsibility and then reliably delivering on commitments with excellence is a lesson I learned from my dad.

Fun & Adventurous Spirit – With fifteen or so siblings in my grandparent’s generation all centered in the same small town, the family tree had exploded by the time my many cousins and I were coming of age. Family get-togethers often had over 100 people. My mother was a force of love and fun in these events. As a teacher she also had the habit of throwing us all in the station wagon and traveling across the country every summer. The explorer and adventurer in me comes from my mother. The desire to have fun and create meaningful relationships while working hard is the result of the “work hard, play hard” ethos that permeated my early life. Thanks Mom!

We are all products of our raising. Mine included tremendous advantages. There is no such thing as a “self-made man.” The roots of my raising run deep. These examples give me the strength that I need.

Gratitude

21 Apr

We wrapped up the Stelos Alliance’s spring session of the Housley Principled Leadership Program yesterday on the fourth anniversary of Kevin’s death. This scheduling coincidence made the gratitude offered by the students a perfect tribute to our departed friend. The lessons learned in “Housley” memorialize a great man and set extraordinary young leaders on a learning path that will last a lifetime.

The topic of the final session is, “Service: Choice or Obligation?” This is a conversation about what we as citizens owe to our country. Is there something required beyond lawful behavior and paying taxes? Since it has now been two generations since we last had conscripted military service in the United States, even defense feels like a remote responsibility. How then do young citizens acknowledge the advantages bestowed upon them by their heritage? Is there a debt that is due to our patrimony and, if so, how and to whom should it be repaid? These are questions for us all to consider.

While we talked about the changing national ethos regarding service to country we concluded that the benefits that accrue to the giver are substantial and that systematically uniting the privilege of citizenship with responsibility is essential to preserving the long-term health of the republic. The students in the Housley program can articulate the benefits of being raised in the best country on earth. Far from being needy and narcissistic, these student leaders are prepared to dedicate themselves to serving their country and setting an example for their peers.

This is something that would make our friend, Kevin Housley, very proud. He offered himself to the community in numerous official roles and to the country in countless other capacities. He lived by the principles that we teach in the program. As the HPLP instructor and giver in this instance, I can positively proclaim that I benefit at least as much as the students. This goes well beyond the satisfaction of hearing their voiced appreciation. I learn from teaching, and it is making me a better leader. The program is both a gift from and a tribute to my good friend. It seems like yesterday that we gathered in the church to say goodbye. After four years I still miss him very much. I offer my gratitude.

Stumbling on Happiness

26 Mar

Why would someone remember fondly the day they went fishing in 28 degree weather with a broken hand and diarrhea? Well, we caught a bunch of fish and had a lot of fun. I remember being very happy.

We took a little detour this past week during the Housley Principled Leadership Program session and spent three hours talking about happiness, contentment, fulfillment, and life satisfaction. Since all of the program participants are planning to become titans in whatever field they choose to pursue, we though it made sense to think about where all of this striving is really going to take us. No one wants to wake up in their fifties and wonder what the hell they have been doing for the past thirty years.

If we are going to follow the instructions of our forefathers and pursue happiness, then we should spend a little time defining it and exploring how to get it. Money seemed to be a big factor in most students’ assessment of what will make them happy, but the evidence says otherwise. Once our basic needs for shelter, sustenance, security and stability are met, more money doesn’t seem to increase our day-to-day contentment (but we did determine that it can buy toys, freedom, experiences and “life satisfaction”.)

The real problem with happiness is that human beings are horrible at judging the things that will make them happy in the future. Using research found in one of my favorite books, Stumbling on Happiness, by Harvard psychology professor, Daniel Gilbert, we looked at the reasons why we are often unable to predict what will make us happy.

First, humans use past experiences to forecast happiness, but our memories do not serve us well. Our brains remember the good stuff and tend to forget or gloss over the bad (like my fishing experience.) Second, the way we feel in the present affects the predictions we make about the future. Anyone who has ever been grocery shopping on an empty stomach can attest to that. Lastly, we have a tendency to significantly overestimate the impact future events will have on our happiness – both positive and negative. The phrase, “I would be eternally happy if only ______” is almost never true even if “it” happens. The same is true for our ability to deal with tragedy and manufacture happiness afterwards.

I highly recommend reading the book and asking yourself – with the benefit of understanding the inner workings of your brain – whether those things you are striving for are really going to make you happy. The answer may lead you down a completely different path where you may stumble upon some happiness of you own.

%d bloggers like this: