Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The 80/20 Rule in Student Affairs


There was once a time when interviewing scared the crap out of me. Now it's just a matter of speaking my truths and not really trying to impress but just being your impressive self. Don't get me wrong, a phone interview is still an awkward time no matter how seasoned you might be but the campus interview is the clincher!

I'm closing in on my seventh year in the field of student affairs. I still love programming. It's a natural high for me. I thrive on seeing students have a great time. In this seventh year I am getting "the itch" and new job opportunities are my Marilyn Monroe. If you don't get that reference, then you're probably much younger than I and don't know old Hollywood.

I liken what I'm experiencing to adultery - you know... having a job I enjoy (80% of the time) and seeking out something that looks more appealing to fulfill my needs. If you didn't get the "Seven Year Itch" reference, maybe this more current reference will work. In the movie, "Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?" they talk about the 80/20 rule. It's really common sense.

When you are in a relationship or marriage, your significant other can realistically only give you 80% of what you need in a relationship.

There will still be 20% of what you need that your significant other will not be able to provide you, and naturally you will desire that missing 20%. This is why many people tend to veer off and cheat, and sometimes even leave their partner.

Once they've found that 20%, it's refreshing, new and exciting. "Eureka! I've found what I've been missing.", they think in so many words. However, many people forget that the other person is only providing 20% of what they need, and they are missing out on the 80% that they had with their significant other or that that person can only truly provide 60% of what they need - which puts them in a worse situation than they were in.

Now, apply that to your current career situation. Is your current position fulfilling 80% of what you need? Ask yourself some of these questions.

Do you feel invested in your institution's goals?
Do you enjoy the work you do?
Do you enjoy the company of people in your department? Your division? Your students?
When you pull yourself out of bed, do you wake up and look forward to going to the office?
Do you feel as though you're making a difference?
Is your voice being heard?
Are you respected?
Have you grown in your position?
Have you been able to evolve your job duties?
Do you like the city you live in? Does it offer you all the options you've wanted?

There's no right or wrong answers. By saying "Yes" to 7 of the questions doesn't mean you're at 70%. You might also find that there are many more questions that you need to ask yourself.

Now I'm at a crossroads of the 80/20 path. Some days I feel like I have all that I need and sometimes I want to have an affair. Having gone on two on-campus interviews - I guess I'm having the affairs even if it's just flirting. redface

Taking this analogy even further - Ha Ha! - I'm trying to save my "marriage" and work on our (professional) relationship by re-evaluating my responsibilities. I want to be sure that I don't continue this "marriage" and become bitter in the end and resenting someone or some place. Sometimes you can freshen up the "marriage" and sometimes it's best to split amicably.

Only time will tell.

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