“Focus, Sully, focus!”

This past spring at Norwich, retired U.S.

Jacque Day in front of Kreitzberg Library.

Jacque Day in front of Kreitzberg Library.

Army General Gordon R. Sullivan ’59 led a discussion of his book, Hope is Not a Method, in his role as the Distinguished Leader in Residence. He opens Chapter 2, “The Paradox of Action,” with a scene from summer 1989. General Sullivan—then the Army Operations Deputy—was on his morning run in Washington, D.C., when Army Chief of Staff, General Carl E. Vuono, pulled up behind him and called out, “Faster, Sully, faster!”

The quip, made obviously in jest by a good friend, nevertheless sparked something in General Sullivan’s imagination, and a personal credo evolved: Focus, Sully, focus.

What a refreshing message, what great wisdom, that we can and should and must allow ourselves to focus. Focus is a critical lesson amid today’s high-speed culture. At times, it means choosing to do one thing exceptionally well versus ten things in a mad rush.

Hope is Not a Method is an essential primer for leadership: Understand the essence of your organization, identify values, think and do, expect surprise, invest in people, and cultivate a shared vision. In fact, a shared vision is one of many qualities that sets Norwich apart. In the words of President Richard Schneider, “The people of Norwich know what Norwich stands for.” It is a rare gift to know what we stand for, as a university, as a culture, as a presence in the world.

At Commencement on May 13, President Schneider congratulated nearly 400 new graduates for a job well done. He presided over the ceremony with the humor, command, and heart-on-his-sleeve affection we have come to know so well. Not surprising, his energy for Norwich is the real deal, whether at the lectern in front of thousands, or in one-on-one conversation.

President Schneider speaks passionately about what he calls “Partridge’s idea.” Let’s stop and focus on that little word for a moment: idea. An idea by its very nature can be undefined. The idea is the genesis. It gives rise to vision, creativity, ingenuity—all which, combined with hard work, drove the creation of Partridge’s Academy and propelled Norwich University’s growth and evolution. The intangible, Partridge’s idea, touches something deep within us and binds us together, two centuries later.

That we are here, having this conversation, is the best evidence of the value of the idea. Ideas thrive when celebrated, nurtured, and shared. In “The Man Behind the Presidency,” President Schneider asks you for your ideas.

As we close in on the remaining months of the Year of Leadership, let us focus and reflect on how Norwich leaders have cultivated their own ideas, and championed the ideas of others, to make an enduring impact on our world.

For the Record,

Jacque E. Day
Acting Editor


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