President Hodge answers questions about success, motivation and fears
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 01:10
As Miami University’s President, David Hodge encounters questions from administrators, faculty, students and media every day. Here, President Hodge answers some questions he may not hear so often.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Well there are three pieces of advice I give to others that I’ve accumulated. One is to remember the glass is half full. However bad the situation, however much we aspire to, we’re filling the glass not emptying the glass and so it’s half full.
Another one is always take the high road. It’s really easy for us to read into a situation or into the motives of an individual’s intentions that aren’t there, or to not recognize the full set of circumstances that are being brought to bear. It is to take the high road, to believe in people, to be principled in everything we do.
The last one is what goes around comes around. This is a little colloquialism that I think talks about an attitude. Life is not a quid pro quo; you do something and expect to get something back. If you believe in something bigger than yourselves, in a nation, in a world, in a faith, whatever it is, it’s important to recognize that we don’t expect that our good actions to necessarily have immediate pay backs, its part of who we are as a humanity.
What advice would you give to the younger you?
Embrace opportunities and differences. It’s the classic carpe diem in some regards. But what I worry about a lot these days is that we live in a world that, ironically, while its more global and more diverse, we have the capability to live in a smaller world with people who think like we do.
We need to expect to interact with people who are different from ourselves; different ideas, different political values and expect the outcome of the interaction to be that we might think differently about the world. Not that we are going to convince them to think differently about the world.
Another point that I think is particularly important is to understand that adversity happens. Don’t expect life to be smooth in all instances. I do believe that adversity can build character and that by overcoming it, you develop stronger capabilities to achieve even greater things than in the past.
What motivates you?
Watching other’s success. Particularly at a university, the success of students, staff and faculty. Seeing them accomplish great things, achieve great things, move on and be prepared to be competitive, all these things are important to me. I’m also a person who has a hunger to make things better...it just pains me to see people under- perform.
Do you have a scar that tells a story?
Not really. Right now what I have is a large bruise from my hockey practice. And the only story that tells is I’m clumsy and I wish I could do better.
What’s the one skill every man and woman should have?
Good listening. Being able to really listen with the idea that you are going to process what people have to say because with that you can open up your mind. To be able to open your mind to a different way of thinking helps fight against the thickening of neurological pathways while at the same time getting inspiration, new ideas and creativity of one sort or another.
How should a man or woman handle success?
To use that success to help others. Whatever talents we have and whatever success we have we can enjoy the fruits of that success and that’s fine, that’s appropriate but it’s within us all to help other people succeed.
How should a person face his or her fears?
Identify them, write them down so that you can confront them but above all else have a network of friends, people that you trust to share your fears with and help you overcome.
How do you stay relevant?
By keeping an open mind and anticipating. We live in a world that is fluid, changing rapidly and in the words of Wayne Gretzky, the hockey player, to be success you need to skate to where the puck is going to be. So to be relevant means not only responding to what you see immediately today but thinking what the world is going to be like tomorrow, or 10 years so that the decisions we make position us to be ready down the road.
Is there a key to staying young?
I’ve increased my exercise regiment, tried to have a better diet and hang out with a lot of interesting people because staying young is continuing to have fresh ideas.
What’s the one thing every person should experience before they die?
There’s the funny answer which is a big fish on the end of a fishing line since I am a passionate fisherman. Or to be on a lake at sunrise, which is just indescribable to me. But I think what it comes down to is having that moment in life where you realize that someone else’s life is more important than your own. For me its happened, especially at the birth of my children, when you realize there is nothing in the world I wouldn’t do, or sacrifice I wouldn’t make including my own life if it was required for them.
What’s your motto?
I don’t have one, but if I had one it would probably be, today is the opportunity to do better than yesterday.