When the University President* spoke to my class, I asked him if he had any leadership advice for my students. His reply: “walk toward the heat.”

He recounted times in the early days of his presidency when the press about both him personally and the institution was less than favorable and how he was tempted to stay home and avoid addressing it. Instead, he headed to the popular activities in town, the crowded restaurants and the busy spots on campus to face the issues head-on. Now, 25 years later, he still attributes that practice as a fundamental lesson for students and continues to engage in it himself.

Think about this mantra the next time someone or something turns up the heat in your world. It may be tempting to ignore the ruckus or to hide behind a shield such as social media or email but a quarter-decade of wisdom says that is the wrong action to take. Instead, have that tough conversation with your partner or employee; continue to attend public events instead of hiding out in your office; put the tough topics on your agenda instead of letting them fester.

You have no hope of dousing a fire if you allow it to burn unattended. The mere act of walking toward the heat will go a long way in extinguishing some of the flames of fury.

*President Jeff Bullock, University of Dubuque

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