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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Too Close to Circumstance

Too Close to Circumstance

By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

I now have the perspective of someone in his mid-40’s when looking at most things right in front of me.  Laser surgery just isn’t working anymore. 

Yet as irritating as the fuzziness is to me, I wonder if being forced to back-up before “seeing” is a blessing in disguise.  As it happened to me again last evening, I thought about the panorama that I must willfully ignore if I want not to see it, as I pause, back-up, and look again. 

Even without my youthful, proximal clarity, which could block-out most else in any given day as I charged that next hill, I still can achieve 20/20 today if I include context. 

By context, I mean …



Yet, is periphery, peripheral?

Did the proximal acuity of my youth impinge upon my ability to consider other items of importance, while I attended to the urgency of my present? 

Was I too close to circumstance, TO SEE?

Regarding our leadership, let’s consider the notion of when we might be too close to circumstance:

When we fight too hard for the things on our short lists, unaware that we are losing ground on our long lists, or others’;

When we look too much at data and not enough at education;

When we script too many lessons and fail to see too many positive things that are numerically immeasurable … or more importantly the negative;

When we are all about disciplining a child yet in actuality, are all about not losing in front of others;

When we commit professional polygamy (married to our job), while the U-Haul is unknowingly in our driveway;

When we climb career ladders over others, who will assuredly greet us again on our ways down;

When we think we have it so good somewhere, that we are unaware that there are a lot of good’s and a lot of somewhere’s;

When we focus so hard on getting to our goal with the guiding team we have chosen, that we ignore others who could now guide us more effectively.

When we are too close to circumstance.

Again, is periphery, peripheral?

What can we invite into our leadership that will cause just enough fuzziness so that we pause, step back, think, and take another look?


Dr. Ryan Donlan is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership in the Bayh College of Education at Indiana State University.  Please consider contacting him with ideas of your own that can be shared in the Leadershop at (812) 237-8624 or at

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