Viewpoint: Climbing Ladders and Building Bridges

Gary Schnitz
Chair, Journal Management Board

Gary Schnitz photo

Most successful team projects including the Journal of Biocommunication require vision, but a vision tempered with humility and a general acceptance of other points of view. Reaching out to others personally and professionally will help break down any walls of mistrust, elitism, and even hatred that we knowingly or unknowingly may have built.  Moreover, caring about others and their opinions will help all of us professionally as we climb our own individual ladders of success.

Motivational speakers, coaches, association Presidents, and many others have used the metaphor of the ladder of success countless times, but it is especially helpful here to explain our drive to be successful. Initially, we all find ourselves at one level or another on this ladder, most likely trying to move up the ladder to a point where we may have more income, more materials things, perhaps more prestige, more importance and authority.

However, we all may experience personal difficulties on our own ladders. We actually may get knocked off our ladder of success due to a corporate layoff and downsizing. Others who reach the upper rungs may only realize afterward that they've made it to the top at the expense of their own family, their friends, or perhaps even their own health.

Those who disregard others and continue to demonstrate egotism will always insist that, "It's all about me, and never about we." These individuals find that they may have achieved great professional success, but that they have lost something meaningful in the process. Sadly, they may have garnered success, but they achieved success without any significance or relevance to those most important to them.

In my opinion, achieving both success and significance takes a real bridge builder. This person not only has vision for success, but he or she also has a deep, underlying appreciation for others. Bridge builders in our own professional associations and our institutions most often demonstrate inclusiveness, have an appreciation of others, and express a genuine concern for younger professionals (especially recent graduates and our younger association members).

The following poem by Will Allen Dromgoole, a Tennessee author and poet, helps to convey this last thought.  


The Bridge Builder
Author: Will Allen Dromgoole (used with permission)

 An old man, going a lone highway,
 Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
 To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
 Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

 The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
 The sullen stream had no fears for him;
 But he turned, when safe on the other side,
 And built a bridge to span the tide.

 "Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
 "You are wasting strength with building here;
 Your journey will end with the ending day;
 You never again must pass this way;
 You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
 Why build you a bridge at the eventide?"

 The builder lifted his old gray head:
 "Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
 "There followeth after me today,
 A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

 This chasm, that has been naught to me,
 To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
 He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
 Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."


So what are you waiting for, go build a bridge.

Gary Schnitz

Copyright 2007, The Journal of Biocommunication, All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents for VOLUME 33, NUMBER 3