Dear Paul (age 26),
So, you’re in graduate school and it’s the department’s Halloween costume party and you decide to go as the rabbit from the movie “Harvey.” Seems like an excellent idea. You’re up to your ears – your normal ears, never mind the white furry ones – in research, reading and a thesis. You’re not thinking that one day you might hold a responsible leadership position, one that requires a certain gravitas.
Say, university president, for example.
If there’s a picture of you dressed up as a 6-foot-8 bunny, you’ll definitely want to keep it locked away. It is not the kind of thing you’ll want colleagues to see. It is not the kind of thing that inspires confidence and “I’ll-follow-the-boss-wherever-he-leads” loyalty. No, my advice to you is to keep such pictures hidden away and be grateful you didn’t go in drag (I’m talking to you, Rudy Giuliani) or in Nazi uniform (What were you thinking, Prince Harry?).
On the other hand, I might also suggest that you hold onto whatever impulse inspires one to dress up like a rabbit. There is something to be said for goodhearted silliness, even in one’s 50s. Too many of your colleagues, perhaps you as well, will be prone to confusing the seriousness of the work they do with who they are as people. They will forget to laugh at themselves. They’ll forget that the dignity of a title is enriched with a little self-deprecation.
I am rethinking my advice, younger self. I suggest you take out the photo of you in a bunny suit and keep it on your refrigerator. When you start your day by reaching into the fridge for your orange juice, let it remind you not to take yourself too seriously. And while you’re in there
And finally, think about a razor, my friend.
Dr. Paul LeBlanc, at 51
Contact Paul LeBlanc at The President’s Corner at president.snhu.edu/leblanc