Making the Right Decision For Service That Matters

ON the plane on the way home to Toronto, reflecting on my two-day visit, I realized that there was a distinct likelihood that I might be invited to become Smith's next President. I had to think seriously about how to weigh that possibility against the other possibilities in my life. If I remained at the University of Toronto there was surely the possibility of heading a Canadian university in the future.... [T]he question was what to do with my life for the next decade.

Where would I be most effective? What could one person do to shape events? I'd already begun to be haunted by the time consumed in the bureaucratic processes of administrative life. One had to process so many feelings for others, wait while the people with minds for minutiae fussed over petty detail, listen endlessly to complaints about the human condition....

In worldly terms, most people would assign a higher value to running a university, but I wasn't interested in the empty forms of status. I wanted to know that whatever form of service I took up would matter, not just a notch on a list of achievements, but because there was some contribution I could make that would warrant setting aside the private pleasures for a life of ceaseless activity.

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