Friday, February 9, 2007

A Gift to Myself

I have decided to give myself a birthday gift this year. I'll be turning 35 next month, and for my birthday, I'm planning a retreat at The Well in Smithfield, Virginia. I plan to keep silence during the retreat, except when I'm meeting with my spiritual director, and to do lots of sitting under the trees, and walking, and enjoying the water, and also lectio divina. I'll head out Friday evening after work, and return home Sunday around lunchtime. The last time I went on retreat was in 1999, and I know I really need this bit of recharging. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Last night I took the second of two midterms I had this week. The first, in operations management, wasn't all that exciting. It was 60 multiple-choice questions, some of them tricky, many of them obvious, a few computational. Last night was the microeconomics midterm, and it consisted of three essay questions. I wrote about seven pages worth of answers. The questions were (1) analysis of a regression equation, both statistical and economic, (2) a two-parter responding to the statements "If I have no paying job, then the opportunity cost of my time is zero" and "The reason textbook prices are so high and getting higher is that price elasticity of demand for textbooks is inelastic," and (3) an analysis of usury laws (setting a ceiling on interest rates). We had discussed all of these things in class, and I felt pretty good when I left the classroom last night.

One student got kicked out of the exam last night! The professor had stated very clearly, and more than once, that we were all to log out of our computers before beginning the exam. When one man turned in his paper, he whispered something to the prof, who announced that he'd be walking around the room and that all the workstations better be logged out. The professor spotted the student who had not logged out of his workstation, took his paper, and told him to leave. Wow. Whether the student was innocent or not, it is very important not to give the appearance of acting dishonestly. There are many situations in the business world - and, let's face it, the Church - where it is critically important to not give the appearance of dishonest or unethical behavior. Taking an exam is certainly one of those situations, for a student.

For my creative thinking class, I have to work an issue through the creative problem solving process that we learned, up through the action planning step. With two midterms to worry about first, I hadn't gotten started on this yet, other than just setting my mind the task of coming up with ideas for the issue to work. In an interesting confluence, I think I've found my issue. A few weeks ago, just before the Diocese of Virginia's annual convention, where they elected their next bishop, I was perusing the profiles of the nominees in that election online. I was particularly interested because my confessor, our Canon to the Ordinary here in Southern Virginia, was a nominee. I read over his profile, and was amazed and inspired by his words - his stories and his point of view resonated with me very deeply. One bit that sang for me was his discussion of forming a spiritual discussion group for men. As I work through my MBA classes, I find that I am increasingly less able to separate learning to be a manager from my spiritual life. There are spiritual reasons that I want solid training in management, and there is a spirituality to management that I think is often ignored, to the detriment of both manager and his or her direct reports. So I have been thinking it would be really cool to take part in a discussion group of spirituality in business or spirituality in management. And I get the deep sense that if I don't start this group, it may never come to be. So I think that's my issue for the creative problem solving process. "How might I start this discussion group?" We'll see how it goes. I might get it to the action planning stage and decide it's not worth the effort, or I might get increasingly excited about it. However it turns out, I'm sure I'll let you know here.