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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Quote, Self-reflection and Being the Best You Can Be

I haven't posted in a while and there's good reason. I have been working like crazy! Transitioning into this new position (well not so new anymore) has presented some challenges, triumphs, confusion, and awakenings. I will have been here a year come April 18.

In this amount of time I have been promoted, bought a house, run two position searches, chaired several committees, worked my ass off to help create a shift in attitudes about programming, began the process of learning how to be a great supervisor, and continually learning to manage my relationship with each person I am in contact with at the university. Oh.... and let's not forget trying to find a social life outside of work!

This particular blog is about quotes and finding your way. I have been an avid reader of quotes and really pull inspiration from the words. Many people may read quotes and it's simply a culmination of letters that form words that create a statement they might find interesting. I, on the other hand, take quotes and weave them into my life. They become a mantra and I feel the need to share the "good words" and what they mean to me. The latest quote that I read was, "Don't limit your dreams. Make your dreams magnificent." I happened to read this quote at a time when I really needed it - because I'm pushing to make some significant changes to our welcome week program.

During ACPA, I attended a session on spirituality and supervising. It really hit home and helped me to reflect on how I try to share my spirituality with those around me - professionally and personally. So much self-reflection going on with me right now. It's given me the courage to push forward in many aspects. I won't ever say all aspects because that would be a serious lie! During this session I began to think about the kind of person I am. Am I authentic and living a life of as much congruency as I can muster? With this understanding of my own spirituality and attempts to live congruently, how do I supervise my staff?

Honestly, I often considered the supervision of professional staff to be similar to student leaders I've mentored and advised. If you put trust in them and build a strong relationship they will amaze you with what they're capable of accomplishing and be more than willing go above and beyond the call of duty. They just need the tools and the green light to "dream magnificently". The other difference with professional staff is that they have more experience in their area of responsibility coming into the job - but still have things to learn. Hmmm... Don't we all have things to learn from one another?

I look at life as an ever developing, ever changing journey. I look at working in higher education as a journey of personal and professional growth. Who could ask for a better, more developmental, accepting environment to ever work in? Making mistakes is par for the course - but keep in mind, the practically the entire course is par 2! You might get a hole in one, but if you don't - NO WORRIES - you have another chance - and sometimes your supervisor might give you a mulligan. Taking chances are what we should be encouraged to take, right? Or is it like that on all campuses where we are given the green light to take risks?

Evolution of humans took many a sunset and a full moon to occur. While the evolution of a staff and individual staff members may take only a fraction of that amount of time, it does still occur slowly the they move toward stronger Student Affairs professionals. We happen to work in a field where we all learned about development and the quote of "meeting them where they are" has been spoken and heard many times. Is that quote just another bunch of jumbled words arranged to mean something with regard to a staff member working with students or is it something we need to apply to supervision of staff, interactions with members of our campus, members of the community or the citizen you might encounter on your weekly trip to the grocery store?

Being the best that we can be in any particular moment is probably the most that anyone can really expect from someone, ultimately. If you want better responses/results/outcomes then you have to teach and mentor. A quote from Maya Angelou that I love is, "When you know better, you do better". As I continue to learn my job - I will do better. As I begin to know my staff better - I will supervise better. As my staff continue to stretch and grow they will continue to be better professionals and human beings. As I begin to understand myself better - I will be a better "ME".

Sadly, this is the end of my stream of consciousness for tonight! But I'm BACK.. Dear God I'm back! There'll be more to come because, damnit - There is a LOT of "stuff" to talk about... and well, I have time to write again. :0)

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