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A shared focus and compassionate approach

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

As our spring semester begins, consider how each of us views this opportunity and the way we approach the next chapter of our educational, professional, and personal lives. Do we embrace it like the clean slate or momentum building moment it is? Do we charge forward eagerly or with caution? Perhaps some of us are still somewhat or completely exhausted from the semester before.

Quite honestly, I’d suggest many of us are all across that spectrum of excitement and feeling overwhelmed based on the many things that are going on around each one of us; that is completely understandable. As I mentioned in a reflection earlier this week, there are many current events affecting or individual and collective physical and mental realities. {then link to the prior statements we will post on the website} Please know we will do our best to meet and support you wherever you are. As a Mason core value: we thrive together.

The good news is, there’s not just one way to successfully navigate the academic, research, and personal situations and challenges we face. We are unique in the compilation of life’s elements that demand our focus and energy yet in our Mason Science community, we are brought together by two things, our scientific curiosity and commitment to our students’ success.

These days, we must also balance that focus with demands of health and family. Like the parable of the Tortoise and the Hare states, slow and steady can win the race. Take it slow if you need to do so. There are many well-being resources at Mason to support you when the load is heavy. Asking for help is not a weakness; rather, it is a strength. Perhaps it’s easier to be bold and strong if you know we are here for you. And we are.

Leave it to the networking social media platform LinkedIn to offer a business-based breakdown of the famed Aesop fable , providing additional approaches to consider. In fact, it suggests the race with the hare and tortoise is run many times, each day, week, or perhaps even each semester. And there are different lessons to be learned.

Moral 1: The slow and steady beats the fast.

Moral 2: The fast and consistent beats the slow and steady

Moral 3: Identify your key competencies and change the playing field

Moral 4: Individual great competencies are good, but teamwork to achieve results is better.

In the final scenario of the augmented fable from LinkedIn, the hare and tortoise decide to run the race together as a team and learn a vital lesson. When we stop competing against a rival and instead, come together as one and mobilize to compete against the situation, we perform far better. That's where we become strategic and innovative. We don’t need to put each other down to climb ahead. Rather, we can creatively collaborate and help lift each other up along the way.

Whether slow and steady wins your race, or fast and furious is the way you prefer to roll, take comfort in knowing we have the supports in place to get you where you want to go . In the coming month, we will be supporting compassionate conversation workshops to help us better communicate and recognize the fact that we each come to work with our own, unique perspectives and lived experiences.

Some people may be moving quickly with energy, while others may be pressed by the weight of caring for others, the uncertainty of our current times, a sense of aloneness, or enduring historical and ongoing systemic societal ills. Workshop participants will begin to develop skills for communication and interaction across cultures, expanding our opportunities to engage in authentic and compassionate communication. Please join me in participating in these workshops and dialogue as a collective first step to enhancing our Mason Science community culture.

So as the semester begins, I encourage you to embrace it. Go at your pace and have fun. Let's make a difference.