Recently, Rik Villegas, an Instructor in Northern Marianas College’s Business Department and regular columnist for the Saipan Tribune, solicited input on an article he is writing as a follow-up to his 1999 article, “The One Thing”. As he put it, “I’m writing to ask your input and share with me what you feel “the one thing” is that could be the catalyst to turn things around at the College and positively impact the community.”
In response, I wrote the following:
I believe the most important catalyst we need to turn things around at the College, "The One Thing", is humility.
No one is perfect. We all know that. We all make mistakes. Still, rarely does anyone have the humility to admit those mistakes, learn from them, and use those lessons to do better next time. That’s a recipe for disaster, especially when our mistakes affect others.
As I see it, dysfunctional relationships and habits have plagued NMC for so long that they have compromised our ability to fulfill its mission. However, just as with any dysfunctional relationship, one must get past denial and fess up to the mistakes one has made. Only then will that relationship change and flourish. If we all spend our time pointing out the splinters in each others' eyes, we grow blind to the planks in our own eyes.
I know that I, too, have suffered from this hubris. I have sometimes failed to exercise due diligence in making important decisions that affect others. I have sometimes focused so much on the big picture that I failed to notice those details that betray the beauty of that picture. I have sometimes trusted those I should have doubted, and doubted those I should have trusted. And I have sometimes fell into silent acquiescence when I should have stood in thunderous protest.
These are just some of the mistakes I have made. And I know that I will make many more. But I hope that I will always be humble enough to acknowledge my mistakes, learn from them, and commit to correcting them and improving who I am, what I do, and how I treat others. It is my hope that we will all do the same.
So, for me, "The One Thing" that can turn the College around and, perhaps, turn our entire community around, is humility.