Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

Taking Risks: My Nonstrategic Strategy for Personal Growth

Dana M. Infante

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch62

If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.
[From Gaiman 2008.]

I am writing this vignette from my newly assigned office in the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture on the Michigan State University (MSU) campus, named after the U.S. congressman who helped to establish the land grant university. Three weeks ago, I accepted a position as assistant director of AgBioResearch, working for MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to support collaborations with our natural resource partners. Before that, I worked full time for MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (FW) as an associate professor and I also served as the department’s associate chair for research. In the past few years especially, my research program has been running smoothly. I’ve grown more comfortable in my role as associate chair, a leadership position within the FW, and I’ve managed to make a few positive changes in the department. Professionally, things have been relatively stable, and I anticipate that a future working in this capacity would have continued to yield positive outcomes, including additional research achievements and some helpful results to my department in my leadership role.

But the future that I’m facing in my new position is not as certain. My responsibilities are broadly defined. Measures of success are not as clear as they were for my research responsibilities (for example, publishing a certain number of scientific papers each year or securing competitive grant funding). I’ve been in the position for about 3 months, but I’m fixated on a year from now. How will I be successful in this position? How will I make a difference? It’s maybe not surprising that this uncertainty causes me a fair amount of anxiety, but if I’m being honest, the uncertainty also fills me with a lot of excitement.