Compassion – an under-rated virtue

I started uni many years ago. I still remember my first day. I dressed in slacks (no jeans for me – I was trying to be “classy”) and I went to a physics lecture, a maths lecture, a chemistry lecture and then went back to my college for lunch. During the maths lecture, my friend was talking, and he ended up being kicked out of the first lecture. I was kind of terrified. I remember heading up campus, holding my campus map, thinking… “Oh, this is actually happening. I’m going to university.” The previous week, I’d been in living in residential college and had been partying for an entire week, so there was a huge shock of thinking “now the work begins”.

One of the key things that I look for when I recruit for leaders is their compassionate response. Do they remember how hard it was to start uni? Do they see the challenges and frustrations of the first years? Are they able to take themselves back to being in that space? One of the things that I always do is remember my first year – how scared I was, how anxious I was as the semester progressed and I realised I had no idea what was going on or what I was learning, and also the absolute joy it was to be free and independent.

This article has a great management principle of dealing with challenging employees from a place of compassion. What if we mustered our compassionate response for students too? Would that help?


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About Georgina Barratt-See

Georgina manages the UTS U:PASS (UTS Peer Assisted Study Success) program, which assists students in 50 first and second year subjects with study sessions run by trained student facilitators. Georgina has 14 years experience in the Higher Education sector with interests in student leadership, mentoring, first year experience, teaching and learning.

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