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Peggy S. Worthen|Sep. 6, 2016 BYU is a wonderful place because it has wonderful students. I hope you all realize how much potential you have. You are all future leaders. You will lead in the Church, you will lead in businesses, you will lead in communities, you will lead in volunteer efforts, and, most important, you will lead in your families. One of the things I hope you learn here is how to be better leaders. If you do, you will be an enormous force for good. I would like to share with you some things I have learned about leadership over the years, things I wish I had known about leadership when I was your age. I begin with a personal experience—one that provides several lessons about leadership. From the time we were first married, Kevin and I have gone to visit my parents at their cabin in the mountains about seventy-five miles south of Provo. A number of years ago, while we were preparing to come home after one of those visits, my then young son needed to get something out of our locked car, so I gave him the keys and told him to be careful to not lock the keys in the car. A few minutes later he returned, looking a little sheepish. He then hesitantly, but bravely, confessed that he had locked the keys in the car. What ensued was one of those moments that my children still refer to many years later: “Do you remember what mom did when the keys were locked in the car?” Yes, upon hearing the brave confession of my young son, I responded in a way that corresponded more to his age than to mine. I threw a tantrum. I raised my voice, and I even kicked the car tire. I let my emotions take over. Fortunately that lasted only a few moments. My father calmly reminded me that I had roadside assistance insurance for times like this. His calm reminder instantly calmed me. I called roadside assistance, and we were soon on our way home. Now you might wonder what lessons could possibly come from an experience like that. Let me suggest four. Learn from Your Mistakes First, I learned that we can learn from our mistakes. I immediately regretted the way I had behaved that day. I reflected on the fact that, as a mother, I was a leader and a teacher to my children. And I resolved to do better. That experience had a powerful impact on me. While I am not perfect, I think I am doing better in that regard. Fortunately, as Elder Bruce C. Hafen once observed, “Because of the Atonement, we can learn from our experiences without being condemned by them” (“The Temple and the Natural Order of Marriage,” Ensign, September 2015). That is a powerful lesson for leaders to learn. Learn from the Examples of Others Second, I learned that we can learn from the good example of others. My father’s calm reaction to my outburst quickly and powerfully reminded me how I should act in those situations. Although I already knew how I should act, seeing his example provided me with a distinct reminder that has
Liz Wiseman|Jan. 26, 2016 When I came to campus this morning, I had a bit of a panic, and it wasn’t at the thought of you, because you all are an awesome sight. It was seeing the signs—those big signs at the entrance to campus. I have to admit that those signs always give me a little panicky feeling because they are a reminder that this is the place where I was abandoned by my parents. This is the place where I was left to figure things out on my own and to wonder, “Am I even smart enough to be here?” But today these signs gave me this panic because I knew I was coming here to campus—a place that cultivates knowledge and reveres intelligence—to talk about the dangers of knowledge and the downside of intelligence. Essentially I was coming here to ask this question: Can we actually get too smart? You have probably heard this saying: “Knowledge is power.” But today I want to ask, Is there actually more power in not knowing? I want to make a case for ignorance—not ignorance as in stupidity or the lack of education but simply the lack of certainty. My dad had a saying. He used to say, “It looks like someone has gotten too big for their britches.” By this he meant that they were a little too full of themselves, a little too much of a smarty-pants. As we gain knowledge and intelligence and as we get smart, can we get a little too full of ourselves? A little too smart for our own good and maybe even a little too smart for the good of others? I want to center our conversation today on two questions. They are both questions that I have spent years researching and writing about. The first is a question about leadership: How does the knowledge of a leader affect the intelligence of the team around them and why is it that some leaders seem to amplify the intelligence of people around them while other leaders seem to just suck the intelligence and life right out of a room? That is our first question. The second question is a question about learning and performance. I want to begin with the first question. Multiplier Leadership When I graduated from BYU and from the Marriott School, I took a job working for a small maverick software company called Oracle. No one knew this company at the time; people thought it was a toothbrush manufacturer. Oracle had a very simple and clear hiring strategy: hire the top grads out of the top schools, mix them all together, and just see what happens. At the time, Oracle didn’t recruit at BYU, and Oracle did not actively recruit me. I simply found Oracle and wiggled my way into the mix. It wasn’t as if I felt like I didn’t belong there; I just felt really lucky to be working there and to be working around all these brilliant people. So I became a genius watcher. I could see how intelligence—just raw brilliance and smarts—was a really powerful tool for growth and for innovation, but I could also see how intelligence was being used as a weapon. W
Edward Eyestone|Sep. 29, 2015 Several weeks ago I came home from work and announced at the dinner table to my wife and two of my daughters that I would be speaking at the BYU devotional on September 29. My wife, Lynn, immediately said, “Honey, what an amazing opportunity, and it will still be early enough in the semester that people will actually be there!” Lynn, I am happy to say that you were right—there actually are a lot of people here—and it is my prayer that over the next half hour I can share a few thoughts that will encourage you to have perfect attendance for the rest of the year. Find and Become a Worthy Mentor Thirty-five years ago—can it be that long?—I was a freshman at BYU. As great and exciting as BYU athletics are today, those were some of the golden years of BYU sports. Jim McMahon threw long touchdown passes to Danny Plater, and in basketball Danny Ainge and Devin Durrant were ruling the court. The track team was also bursting at the seams with greatness. Many of my teammates were already All-Americans, and Mormon distance running would soon lead to a Runner’s World article titled “Stormin’ Mormons” (see John Brant, “Stormin’ Mormons,” Runner’s World 23, no. 5 [May 1988]: 70–76). It was into this athletically charged environment that I found myself as an unproven freshman, a recent graduate of Ogden’s Bonneville High School. Each day as a team we would pound out ten-mile runs, tempo workouts, or mile repeats. On occasion we would run to the top of Squaw Peak. At the end of such days we would usually end up in the athletic training room, where a whirlpool bath or steam room awaited. Some of my older, more decorated teammates also enjoyed a weekly ritual that I envied. Ollie Julkunen was our cross-country and track athletic trainer. He had grown up in Finland, where he had been an accomplished national-class boxer. Later in life he learned the art of healing aching muscles and speeding recovery by putting those strong boxing hands and shoulders to use, giving deep athletic muscle massages. I would watch as Doug Padilla, a decorated All-American, would jump on Ollie’s padded table. Ollie would soon have Doug squirming as he worked first his quadriceps and then his calf muscles, always ending with the hamstrings. At the end of each twenty-minute massage, Doug was usually much more relaxed, and as Ollie finished up and shook out Doug’s hamstrings, he would say with his thick Finnish accent, “Soup in a sack, soup in a sack—that is what your muscles should feel like. Soup in a sack.” After this final Ollie blessing, Doug would usually slide gently off the table, a picture of relaxation and recovery. After witnessing this procedure for a number of weeks, I decided it was time for me to enjoy some of Ollie’s special treatment. So as Doug slid off the table, I jumped on and casually said to Ollie, “Yeah, Ollie, I want what he just had.” Ollie loo
Henry B. Eyring|Sep. 9, 2014 I am grateful to be with you as we celebrate the inauguration of President Kevin J Worthen as the new leader of this great university. He will help move it upward on a steady path of progress that his distinguished predecessors have marked and followed. He is particularly well prepared and suited to this task. A precious preparation was to have President Cecil O. Samuelson as an inspired mentor. We honor President and Sister Samuelson today. President Samuelson was and is an example of the educational ideals fixed at the heart of this university when it was founded. President Worthen, from his long experience as a student, a teacher, and an effective leader here at this university, knows and honors its roots. Its founder, President Brigham Young, set its course based on an inspired view of education. One line captures the vigor of his view. It is a message to all in this enterprise of learning, and it describes the effect that the leadership of President Worthen will have on those who study, teach, and serve here. This leadership will “put forth your ability to learn as fast as you can, and gather all the strength of mind and principle of faith you possibly can, and then distribute your knowledge to the people” (JD 8:146). For President Worthen that view has permeated his own life, and it will guide his leadership here. This is a vibrant and determined community of learners and lifters. Students, faculty, and staff here are driven by a desire and a strength of mind to learn as fast as they can. Their confidence that they can and must improve springs from their faith that they are children of God—who knows all truth and will prosper their efforts to find it. And it comes from a faith that by the Spirit of Christ they can recognize what is good and true. It goes beyond learning for ourselves. The vision at the founding was that all here will seek truth not for themselves alone but will also distribute what they have learned to bless others. There is a sign at the edge of this campus: “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.” That is more than a slogan; it is a main part of the founding vision. As President Worthen knows, inspired leaders and teachers here have made it possible for students to begin to serve with what they have learned while they are still here. They don’t wait to graduate to become colleagues in the role of teachers. Many of the faculty include students in their own efforts to learn by inviting them to participate as partners in their own studies. In fairness, that is neither new nor unique to Brigham Young University. But here that view of students as colleagues is in its very nature. Everyone is a learner and everyone is a mentor. All can share in the faith that with God’s help they can learn, and then they can help others learn, grow, and change for the better. President Worthen and his predecessors have been masters at maintaining and nurturing a shared
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