Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Main Entry: light sa·ber
Pronunciation: ˈlīt sā-bər
(1) A tool that can be enabled with lightning speed and holds the power of your skills, experiences, vision, career goals, personal goals, etc.
(2) A reflection of confidence, dexterity, and attunement to the (work) Force.
Yesterday I officially re-entered the land of phone interviews. How awkward! It's been 5 years since I've had to do a phone interview but I've been on the other side of the phone connection many times giving them. Since I've been at this institution I've done at least 60 phone interviews for candidates. So why did I find it so hard to be on the other side of the line?
I guess no matter how many times you've done a phone interview, the first one is always the most nerve racking. I can't recall any position that I've applied for where they were the first phone interview and I got a campus visit. Yesterday may continue that track record.
My interview yesterday was brief. Super brief. So brief that I'm not even really sure what to make of it. The interview lasted about 15 minutes - that included my questions at the end. I prepared the night before with a slew of potential questions. Tough questions. Questions that my current institution asks of its candidates. I wanted to be prepared so that my answers would flow smoothly like butter on a hot pan. I even consulted my Obi Wan Kenobi's (other professionals) for tips and reassurance! That didn't quite happen. My nerves got the best of me I think. I probably said "professional growth" a dozen times. Does that make me sound less like a Jedi? It is one of the key elements that I'm looking for in my next position. However, to be the interviewer, do you want to hear someone repeat key words? According to Yoda, “Happens to every guy sometimes this does”. I guess I've become more accustomed to much more in-depth interviews. I can honestly say that I don't think they got a good picture of who I am as a professional and didn't get a good idea of my Jedi tricks. Not in 12 minutes. Then again, maybe that's all they needed.
The brevity of this interview has caused me to question how effective I am in spitting out what I want in my next position and what my goals and skills/talents are. Sure, we could probably articulate to anyone who asks what it is we want to achieve in our careers. The question is, "Can you articulate what you want in your career on the spot with clarity and brevity while trying to be impressive?" I know I usually don't hit that clarity and brevity mark until the 2nd or 3rd interview. Impressive? I definitely love to talk about the work I do - but to do it briefly? By the time the lightsaber is on, glowing bright and I have more finesse when flippin' the switch on and off, the interview is over.
The lessons for this Jedi are these: Always have your lightsaber ready. Know what you are capable of and the power of the lightsaber. Practice, practice, practice.
"Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I was using a cool new online gadget called "Stumble Upon" tonight. I usually start clicking on the buttons when I get a little bored. Next thing you know, a couple of hours have flown by. Stumble Upon helps you stumble onto web sites that suit your tastes. My tastes include music, art and graphic design, self-improvement, and aaahh, yes... coffee!
Today I stumbled upon "Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun" and was instantly drawn in by the classical music that accompanied the graphics. The message was clear. Are you having fun?? You can relate that to all aspects of life. I think I'm even more sensitive to that question because I saw the movie "Why Did I Get Married?" tonight. It makes you wonder if the people who seem to be having all of the fun are truly having all of the fun.
The video lasts about 8 minutes - don't complain about not having enough time to watch it either! There's ALWAYS time - the problem is that you don't always want to make time. If anything, the music will put you at ease and provide a few minutes of solace.
It's a good lesson in learning why you enjoy doing the work that you do. If you don't.. then I have to be like Dr. Phil and ask, "How's that workin' for ya?" Probably not so hot. Self-reflection is a good thing.
What a great way to start off your morning!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Full Length Lecture (which is MUCH better to watch)
The first 7 minutes or so are introductions, etc.
Today I was watching Oprah. Yeah.. She's one of my favs! On her show were people who were living with a disease that is killing them. Randy Pausch was one of her guest.
Randy has pancreatic cancer and has been told that he has only a few months before he will begin to deteriorate and eventually die. In his final lecture (which is something done at Carnegie Mellon University every year) he talks about maintaining your childhood dreams and achieving those dreams. It moved me.
There were several things that stood out in my mind from his lecture. One thing was that his parents never curtailed his creativity. He wanted to paint the walls in his room with pictures, ideas, etc, and his parents allow him to. So did my parents. That made me consider how lucky I was to have parents who allowed me to be "me". They may not have always been happy with all aspects of me but the undoubtedly respected me, my creativity and choices as a human being.
Randy (his lecture is THAT good that it makes me feel that we're so close that we're on a first name basis) has a knack for painting a vivid image of the simplicities of life.
It's a testament to living life through your own dreams and never giving up on those dreams. What a great lesson for us as student affairs professionals to learn/revisit and what an EXCELLENT lesson to teach our students.
Take a look at the clip. Share it. Talk about it. Ponder the concepts.
Imagine what life would be like if we truly focused on what really matters in life then what really matters to us.
Right now I'm workin' on a pretty good "head fake" :0) - you have to watch the video to get it.
This clip is only a snippet of his hour lecture. I am working to find a way to post the entire lecture on this site.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I have to set the tone for this blog by providing a soundtrack. I choose the Evita soundtrack. YES - the one featuring Antonio Banderas and Madonna. Like Evita, I have my moments, I have my style, I have my missteps and it causes me to self-reflect.
During the last two days I forgot to a extend professional courtesy - but I sure as hell would have expected it from my peers if I were on the other side of the fence. I received an email from a superior that really put me in check. It was almost like a mother scolding her son when he doesn't use his manners. At least that's what it felt like. I needed that.
In order to become a better professional we need to be made aware of our mistakes. It doesn't always necessarily need to come in a touchy feely approach - sometimes we as professionals, don't "hear that". Sometimes we need a good stern stare and a finger shaking to set us back on track. The email I received was full of a stern stare and finger shaking! A few years back, I had a Director be stern about my tardiness to a meeting. To this day - I am NEVER late to a meeting unless it's due to my resolving an issue that requires immediate attention.
These are those professional development moments that come out of necessity. Those learning moments that puts you back on track and settle into your brain.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I'm 32 years old and I'm plan to do my part to preserve the planet for future generations. It sounds pretty intense, I know. I've been concerned about the environment since I was about 15 years-old. I would do little things like starting a compost pile in my parent's backyard or recycle, reuse, and replenish things as best I could. As I got older, the only thing I can really remember intentionally not using was styrofoam. Somehow the effort waned throughout my college years and even up until this past year.
Working in student affairs we use A LOT of paper, plastic and other disposable things. It's crazy to think about how much waste we produce. On my journey to Oregon State University for a student leadership conference they have a "Green Campaign". I thought about their efforts. Wow, they encourage people to take the stairs instead of the elevator. They REALLY ENCOURAGE recycling on their campus and if you don't recycle you get a funny look from people. I started feeling guilty about taking the elevator or not recycling or using paper unnecessarily. It's a good kind of guilty (if there is such a thing). I mean, think about it - what you do today affects tomorrow. You probably think (or sincerely hope) to be a living, breathing person 20, 30, 40, 50 - plus years from now. What are you doing to ensure that this planet is capable of providing us with all its resources that keep us healthy?
I know that as educators we strive to teach students what words are inappropriate, to have compassion for others, to get involved in community service and organizations and to be instruments for social change. However, I couldn't tell you the last time I've heard a student affairs professional say, "Hey, be sure to recycle that!", "Let's buy _______ so that we can use it again." , or "How can we do our part to be environmentally friendly and less wasteful?" We're often quick to pull someone to the side and educating them for saying that something is "Gay" or "Retarded", or counsel them through the repercussions of their actions. We are in the business of improving each other and ourselves to be better human beings so let's make sustainability another concern.
Today I want to challenge you, your department, your institution, etc to "Go Green" and educate all those around you on steps they can take to improve their wasteful behavior. We can take baby steps. I know I'm just an infant in my efforts but hopefully each year I'll grow.
The first step I've taken is to recycle in my office. My office houses the RA, RHA, NRHH, Complex Council resource room. We recycle all of the paper that is unused - and sadly, it's quite a bit but at least it's not ending up in a trash heap. This past Friday I took another step - recycling plastic and I'm encouraging my students to do the same. The next goal is the individual offices and then our department. Eventually I hope to reach the rest of the campus with the help of others.
The following video is the trailer for an upcoming movie/documentary called "The 11th Hour"
Here are some tips on how you can get started in your office.
- See what your institution does for recycling. If there's nothing in place challenge them to do something. This is the perfect time for you to CHALLENGE AND find SUPPORT. If your institution doesn't already offer the service, look for an independent recycling firm that can come and pick up your office recyclables on a weekly or biweekly basis. If this isn’t an option in your area, work with individuals in your office to encourage people to take their recyclables home with them to put in their own residential curbside recycling.
- Send email memos instead of paper.
- When you send email attachments to staff members to read before the next meeting - indicate that you will bring copies with you to the meeting so they will not print unnecessarily and save a branch or two!
- If your institution has a newsletter - ask if it's possible to offer the newsletter in electronic form. Those who care to have a paper version can then print the document.
- Conserve paper. Challenge staffs to refrain from printing documents until they've proofed it several times. This will prevent printing unnecessary copies until you have a final draft. If you do have papers that are printed on one side, flip it over and use it again as note paper, to-do lists, or use it to print on the other side - fax machines are another great option! You can also use "previously used paper" for any number of things. It can be shredded and used as cushioning for shipping boxes. Switch your paper supply to 100% reccycled. Don't forget to make photocopies on BOTH SIDES of the paper. Lastly, consider receiving bills and statements electronically. Sometimes, a cell phone bill can be a good 10 pages long - what a waste!
- Have a box or other receptacle in your office to recycle paper, plastic and aluminum.
- Express to your students and colleagues how important recycling is to you and why you do it. It's an educational moment. Eventually someone will begin to follow your lead.
- If you're a programmer, think of ways to get the word out without printing a large number of posters. We all know that many students don't always get their information from posters anyway. Try publicizing on Facebook, MySpace or on a university listserv. If there isn't one, consider making one.
- Consider taking the stairs if you're able-bodied. It's good for you and saves electrical energy. Encourage others who are with you to take the stairs too. Sometimes all they need is a boost of "you can do it".
- Consider using reusable plates, cups, utensils, etc in your office. It takes a little more effort (like 3 minutes) to wash them but you're not creating more waste! Consider taking your own mug to the coffee shop and having them pour your drink into it.
- Don't offer an endless supply of bottlesd water. Ask students and staffs to bring reusable water bottles such as a "Nalgene" and have a common source of water. Consider purchasing the 5 gallon bottles for retreats and other office functions. Oh and tap water isn't horrible - we've just gotten spoiled. Besides, tap water is WAY cheap!
- Don't take a bag if you truly don't need one. If you do take a bag, try reusing it for something else - trash bags, storage, padding for shipping boxes. Also think about buying a reusable sack for groceries and whatever else you purchase. Trader Joe's, Ikea, Albertson's and Von's have all begun offering these bags.
- Switch your lights to compact florescent bulbs. They last MUCH longer and use far less energy. While the initial investment may cost more than conventional bulbs, CFLs last longer-- so over time your office will save money and save energy.
- Hold an in-service or training activity that allows participants brainstorm ways they can do their part to preserve our planet.
- Offer incentives to encourage people to take public transportation, walk, bike, or car pool.
Ideal Bite - Great tips for the everyday, busy person!
Green Shopping Tips - How you can affect change at the market!
Earth 911 - The nations premier environmental resource
Find out how much carbon you're producing. Carbon emissions contribute to our climate change and you can do your part to slow the change. Carbon Calculator
Thursday, October 11, 2007
At any rate, I thought I'd share what I was feeling like nearly 2 years ago. Clearly it's starting to be an annual reminder of where I need to be and probably a good lesson for all to read.
I will say that I am again enrolled in classes for personal enjoyment after taking a year off because I couldn't possibly find time for personal pleasures outside of work. The classes have allowed me to make another attempt at living my best life. Go Me!
Thanks for reading...
Oprah-isms: A reflection on personal development
Around this time last year, I wrote an article titled, “The New Chaos and Calamity”. The article discussed aspects of leaving your 20’s and moving into the life of a thirty-something professional. I ended the article by answering the question, “Do you feel you’re where you want to be in life?” with, “I’m exactly where I want to be.”
As I reflect on my previous writing and having turned 31 recently, I wondered if I truly was where I wanted to be. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I am or in the very least, headed in the right direction. I realized that Oprah was on to something many years ago.
In my personal life, I committed to my #1 Oprah-ism, "Remembering My Spirit". Oprah’s use of this phrase on her television show helped thousands of people. I remembered my own spirit by reconnecting with my passion for creativity. My career took the driver’s seat the first 8 months of 2005 but the last 1/3 of the year was committed to self-expression. I have never felt so accomplished! I had always talked about writing a book and I did by writing a 50,000-plus word manuscript and entering the National Novel Writers Month Competition. To add to writing, I always wanted a sewing machine and learn to sew. My first projects were throw pillows which I gave away as gifts. I will tackle shirts this spring – so look for high fashion from the House of Hicks soon. Lastly, I rediscovered my love for photography. I have been dabbling with photography since 1990 and began taking courses at the
during the beginning of 2005. With that commitment, I had the idea of creating my own website to show off my work. I had contemplated doing the website for a while. I was always afraid that I wouldn't have enough money to run it, or that my work wasn't good enough. On December 23, 2005, I made the commitment and began the process of creating my own website. Community Collegeof Southern Nevada
So where did all the fortitude come from? I'm not sure exactly. Maybe it was born from a need/desire to be creative and expressive. Perhaps it was the need for some personal accomplishments. Or it could be the result of something I never had control over to begin with. Whatever the case may be, I feel as though my life is being fulfilled and the use of Oprah-ism #2 is being realized: "Live Your Best Life" and I encourage you to do the same. Find that spark, the drive, the determination to reconnect with what gives you personal fulfillment.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I entered this position 4 1/2 years ago and I've now come to conclude that I'm an overachiever. I want to do all for these students that I can within the powers of my magic wand. With the flick of the wrist, I give myself the energy of 5 men to complete program after program at a break-neck pace. In the early years (it's really not that long ago - I swear) I did everything because people asked me. When people realize you are skilled in an area you become the "go-to-person" and they start spreading your name around campus. Next thing you know, you're on twelve committees, 5 sub-committees, 2 planning groups, and having lunch meetings because you don't have enough time to schedule another meeting outside of eating a proper lunch.
I started thinking about how I found my way to this lifestyle. I think our Merit Process has a lot to do with it. If you're not familiar with that process - here's the short and quick of it. You do things outside of your job description that adds to the overall success of the university and you show that you've gone above and beyond the call of duty in regard to your job description. This means taking on committee work, being committee chair, becoming published, community service, being elected to national and regional offices, doing presentations at conferences, etc. The more you do while juggling your own job earns a merit increase. It can be quite nice and a key motivator for many a things... The extra money is lovely but lovely at what expense?
This morning as I ground my teeth and stretched as I had my cup of coffee before my short commute. I happened to look at my bookshelf and saw a book I had bought a while back but OBVIOUSLY hadn't read yet. "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work" by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. I opened this book and it automatically landed on the Don't Be Trapped by Golden Handcuffs tip. How ironic I thought. I have definitely placed a set of golden handcuffs on myself. With each merit increase I spent more. A bigger apartment. A new car. A new computer. A trip out of town. Racking up credit debt and a lifestyle that requires me to make as much money as I am. Basically expecting to live a life to match the income that I THOUGHT made me look more successful to others. How STUPID! As I read this section I thought about how I could unlock those handcuffs. I hate shackles.
Do I really need a three bedroom apartment to share with a roommate? Do I really need 300 channels to surf on the cable box? Did I truly need that Wii video game console? How about that Tivo? What about high-speed internet? Well.. wait.. I do LOVE my internet... so that's a yes, I do need it.
I say all of this to say Notorious B.I.G. had it right - "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems". That' s not to say that those golden handcuffs are tight but they are making me a tad uncomfortable. My need to satisfy my physiological needs are in jeopardy. I need to quote Oprah here - It's time to Remember My Spirit! It's time to downsize.
The Golden Handcuffs can trap you into believing that you have to make "X" amount of money to live. In reality I lived perfectly fine before the merit increases. In fact, I even lived alone and paid all my utilities, had a modest cable channel assortment and (of course) high speed internet. However, nearly a year ago I felt as though I didn't have enough money even after a $3000 raise! How R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S!
I say all of this to raise the question - is making more money in turn, making you more happy? Is your quality of life where you'd like it? Are you finding yourself in the same financial debacle as you were when you made less money? Are your essential needs being met? That lack of a sense of belonging seeming to belittle you? Is your esteem beginning to lull? Is your current job not fulfilling your career goals yet you stay for the pay? Are you self-actualizing your hopes, dreams and goals?
As I begin this job search - I'm beginning to realize what's important this time around. I want a better quality of life - mentally, physically, and socially. I want to be able to do my job well, have a life at home, and be able to indulge in my hobbies. I'm determined to find that. If I have to make concessions to my current lifestyle I'm okay with that - since when did acquiring "things" by any financial means necessary become a necessity and a low quality of life become consequential?
In the last few months I read an article about why people enjoy their jobs. In the article, it wasn't so much that they enjoyed what they did for a living - it was more to the fact that their needs for a high quality of life were met. People who are happy at work and have longevity love the city they live in, have a strong base of friends, and the ability to enjoy activities outside of work. It also mentioned that a healthy dose of challenging work and a sense of accomplishment also factors in there. Now - that's not to say if you're unhappy in one area of your life you need to pack it up and go - it's just a thought about what helps you to have the quality of life you desire. That leads us into values - and that's a WHOLE other blog because I'm an INTJ on the MBTI - and I will surely have an opinion on that! Yep.. I do enjoy those personality inventories for PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING from time to time. If you've read a previous blog of mine... you know what I'm getting at - HA HA!
So enough with all of the mucky muck! This wonder boy is on his way to self-actualize a new way of thinking about work, life, health and his pursuit of happiness.
Holla back y'all!
(and yes, I stole that mucky muck/wonder boy stuff from Tenacious D! - OMG.. a new nickname for me! )
Monday, October 1, 2007
My charge on the committee was to put out the call for programs and to put out the student registration Survey Monkey links. Sounds simple enough, right? I soon found myself totally vested in this, what would soon appear to be, a much needed program. I would send out emails weekly asking for program proposals and registrations. Each day (even while home) I'd check to see if our numbers were up. If they were, I'd set a new mini-goal. I'd find myself saying, "We have to hit "X Number" before the end of the week."
Through my efforts I met new people across campus that I would have never met. Colleagues of color that I never knew existed. How exciting is that? By the time the symposium took place, we found that we had 22 program proposals submitted and 92 students registered! That was even MORE exciting - considering it was an all day event on a FRIDAY!
There were sessions covering topics for different ethnicities as well as general programs that focused on becoming a better student or understanding that dynamics of their organization. One particular session that I attended was on Mestizo culture. First I thought, wow, this program might not be anything I'm truly interested in but it could be interesting. I mean, I do love learning about different things, cultures, ways of doing things.
As I sat through the session I listened to the presenter talk about his topic - Mestizos. I thought it was pretty interesting that he would quote Cater G. Woodson, not once but twice! I thought it odd that he would quote a black man and not someone who's Mestizo, Chicano, Hispanic... Instead, he chose to quote Woodson as he began his presentation.
“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.” - Carter G. Woodson
The first thing I thought was, "Do these people in the room even know who Carter G. Woodson is?" Now I'm thinking, "Does the reader of this blog know who Carter G. Woodson is?" He is so instrumental in black history - So much so that he is FOUNDER of Black History Month. It also happens to be that I lived in the city where he once lived - Huntington, West Virginia...
The presenter asked the room what they thought Woodson meant by his quote. He asked everyone to consider the basics of the quote and reiterated, "If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status... " It instantly made me think of where I grew up. You never had to tell any of the black kids that they didn't belong in Dearborn Heights after dark - that was just clearly understood. Other things that were understood was that blacks and whites could live in Inkster but blacks should never try to live in Dearborn Heights. My GOD - this was the 80s and I'm sure there are PLENTY of places like this in America to this day! Jena, Louisiana anyone?
The conversations went on in the session and we talked about ethnic pride and sense of self and how that helps individuals succeed in life. I spoke about how I always was given a self of self and pride because the schools I attended had a higher than average number of black teachers and principals and I must note, a black superintendent. I'm sure this dictated what type of programs we had in our school. We were celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday WELL before it was a national holiday. When it become a holiday I distinctly remember an entire half-day assembly in junior high were we celebrated and played the Stevie Wonder song, "Happy Birthday" over and over. If you didn't know, that song was written especially for Dr. King and not to give us black folks a soulful way to sing "Happy Birthday" on those auspicious occasions.
As I spoke about my childhood experience, I actually felt "black privilege". I experienced something that a group of people never felt in their school. A sense of comfort knowing that there were teachers that looked like me, talked like me, went to churches similar to me, and were successful (in my eyes) like I wanted to be. I never felt "on edge" walking around the school or that I couldn't do or say anything in particular.
For whatever reason, the yearly email that I receive each year of Black Inventions made me curious. I asked the students in the room if they ever recalled getting an email or seeing a list or read a book that even talked about inventions by people of Mexican descent. Everyone in the room either identified as black or Mexican. They said, "Well I know that the color TV was invented by a Mexican." and then she just stopped the list there. WOW! Number one, I didn't know that. Number two, You can't name anything else? Now I'm thinking, how sad is it that we HAVE to name off the race/ethnicity of a person to say, "Hey, a Mexican invented this." or "Did you know a black man made that?" Whoa is me... I told her that I could name at least a half dozen things off the top of my head that a black person invented and how it amazes me that she can't. Again, I felt a sense of privilege because I had been provided such information to make me aware of the contributions of blacks to America and the world.
The session concluded and I was still befuddled. What do I make of this? What should I make of this if anything? Where is the self-efficacy?
At the conclusion of the symposium I got up and spoke in front of the 20 or so students who actually stayed until the very end. I wanted to share with them how moving the session on Mestizo culture was and how I was shocked to learn what I learned. I told them that there HAS to be more inventions that Mexicans have made and given to society and that I was determined to find and share them with our students. I was so worked up that I began to shake and have a look of determination and lifted my voice to say, "I will be your ally!" I went on to say that as soon as I got back to a computer, my advocacy would begin. Thus far, I did a search on Google and found a few. TOP 10 MEXICAN INVENTORS - one such invention was the creation/finding of the active ingredient in birth control pills! This task wasn't as easy as finding black inventions. There is clearly a large inventory that someone started and continues to along to our "extended black families".
Self-efficacy can only happen when someone wants there to be a change. Don't demand a back door - demand a front door. Hell, demand your own house and kick out (or graciously invite) others out of your home! Demand more knowledge. Demand more education. Demand that you are NOT the stereotype. Demand that you are NOT the voice of your ethnic group or race. Demand that your self-worth is more valuable than what clothes you wear. Demand that there be change. Be the change you wish to see in the world (Ghandi) and start with now! Believe in yourself.
A sense of pride can't just happen overnight. It occurs over time. Through life lessons and book lessons. Through discussion and knowing heritage and history. Through sharing thoughts, ideas, and those lessons. I know that's where my pride comes from and I want to pay it forward by being a role model for anyone I come in contact with.
I want to add to this list of Latin/Hispanic Inventions. So please send me any new ones to add to the list. Post your findings in my comments, please!
More Mexican Inventions
Some Black Inventions