Success

Nothing feels like success. And the only thing better than one – is more. To bring more successes into your life, there are two things to do. First, celebrate your success. Second, set yourself up for future successes.

You probably celebrate big successes. What you likely haven’t taken the time to acknowledge are your smaller, daily successes. By noticing these achievements, you build your confidence and enthusiasm. You can set yourself up for future success by incorporating Casey Imafidon’s 10 Little Things Successful People Do Differently into your life.

  1. They Strive for Consistency – Imafidon says having a schedule allows successful people to focus on their goals. Routine may sound boring, but it’s what gets most things done smoothly. Although most of our routines are imposed, we still make choices about when we check email and when we do lesson plans. To the extent possible, choose tasks that work with your body cycle. Are you more alert in the mornings or evenings? Use your lower energy times for the activities that need less focus.
  2. They Set Daily Goals – It’s not just having a to-do list. It’s knowing what the high priority tasks are. Imafidon refers to Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, who identifies three goals for the day. When you know what you want to achieve for the day, you feel success as each is completed.
  3. They Nurture the Right Relationships – We are supposed to get along with every staff member as part of making the library a safe, welcoming place for all, but it’s important to ensure we have strong relationships with key stakeholders. According to Imafidon, “successful people look for support and find people they can connect with….” This builds advocates and helps make you and your program successful.
  4. They Display High Emotional Intelligence – You need a high EI to forge those “right relationships.” You also need it to understand what can help others and therefore result in them recognizing how important you and your program are to their success. I have often said, “I am a connector. I connect people to ideas and information. I connect people to people who can then help each other. And I connect ideas to ideas, seeing how they link to form new ideas.”
  5. They Take Action – Simply put, successful people are willing to leave their comfort zone to get things done. The bigger your comfort zone, the more opportunities for success.
  6. They Practice Positive Self-talk – Beating yourself up for a perceived or past failure will not contribute to your success. It will only make you less willing to try something else. It’s almost impossible to get something positive done with a negative mindset. Imafidon recommends having an affirmation-like phrase like “today is going to be a great day” when you need to make a shift.
  7. They Stay Healthy – When you don’t feel well, you don’t do well. What is your daily diet like? Healthy or harmful? We all know the positive results of eating healthy, being active, and getting enough sleep.
  8. They Meditate – Imafidon says Meditation increases focus and productiveness. Our brains need downtime. Putting in more hours does not translate into more getting done. If you have trouble meditating, try a walk or a few minutes listening to quiet music. Remove yourself from your workspace.
  9. They Act on Small Improvements to Their Goals – As the old riddle goes- “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” A big goal usually seems almost impossible to achieve. Break it down into small bites. Achieving success one bite at a time motivates you to continue until you finally reach that big goal.
  10. They Wake up Early–It’s not only the “early bird catches the worm,” it’s also using what, for most us, is the most productive part of our day. You can get so much done before the usual distractions begin. See if you can get to your library before anyone knows you’re there (consider not turning on the room lights) so you have time to get yourself prepared. Then you can turn them on to connect with the early-bird teachers who also want to get a head start.

Every success matters – and the daily ones may matter more because without them, it’s hard to keep moving forward on the bigger projects. Celebrate yourself when you can and notice your achievements. Wishing you all much success.

Doing What Works

Managing stressful interactions – even without a worldwide pandemic – is a challenging and important skill for librarians looking to lead. We are in a relationship business which means different personalities, perspectives on education, and personal issues, all contribute to volatile moments. To maintain and build the relationships vital to our success, we need to be able de-escalate these situations quickly, possibly even before they begin. And that starts with seeking to do what works rather than worrying about being right.

When someone comes to us, whether a teacher, a student, or an administrator, we tend to make a decision and predict what is forthcoming. It is often unconscious, but we note facial expression, body language and other visual cues to determine if that person is about to say something critical or supportive. Our own body language then telegraphs a response. If it looks like something pleasant will be said, we stay relaxed and open. If, however, we anticipate a negative comment, our bodies stiffen. Our arms may cross tightly, our shoulders pull together. We are ready and with nothing being said, the conflict has begun. We need to shut down this reaction before it takes control of the situation.

A guiding question is, “Do I want to be right, or do I want it to work?”  Because if you want to be right, it won’t work. Your ego gets invested, and you aren’t listening and aren’t open to other possibilities. Taking an offensive or defensive position is almost a guarantee it won’t work. If you respond offensively, the other person will rise to either defend themselves or shut you down. If you defend yourself, all you get are further examples of your perceived errors.

The solution is to listen. Don’t confuse feedback with criticism,. It’s hard to hear anything negative about our work but focus on the heart of what is being said. Take in what is actually being said not what you fear is wrong. It is related to the axiom: Seek first to understand, then be understood.

I have told the story of when I had started in a new school, and a teacher came into the library storming because her privacy had been violated. In my head I heard, “I have only been here a few months, I barely know you. How could I have violated your privacy?”  Fortunately, I thought to move her to my office, and the intervening moments gave me time to think. Instead of jumping in with my perspective, I heard the specifics of what she was complaining about. Her concerns were clear and valid. I came up with a solution. She was pleased and became a huge library supporter.

If she had been incorrect, a different approach would be needed, but that still wouldn’t include telling her why she was wrong. That would only lead to more arguments. Instead, a better response would be, “I recognize you are upset. How can I make this better for you?”  This gives her time to think, gives her agency in the problem, and the conflict starts deflating like air leaving a balloon.

Another technique to deescalate a situation is to paraphrase what the other person said as accurately as you can –not coloring it with your judgement. This gives both of you time to pause and reflect on the issue. It keeps you from making assumptions, allows you to be clear about the other person’s concerns, and helps you get to the true point of the problem.

When dealing with students, similar tactics work. If you get into an argument – or worse a shouting match – you have already lost. Keeping the library a safe, welcoming space for all, means you treat even argumentative or hostile students with respect even as you deal with their issue. Listen, paraphrase, and as soon as possible move to a more private place to discuss the issue. The same approach works when an administrator comes to your library or you meet in their office. Focus on listening before responding. And then respond, not react.

Listening to the other person, remembering it is important for the situation to be resolved in a way that supports both sides, and not worrying about who’s right, allows you to manage stressful situations and stay a supportive, astute, leader.