ON LIBRARIES – You Are More Than A Leader

Yes, you are a leader – and you will be an even more effective and happy one if you open up to and are aware of all the other things which make you who and how are.  While being a leader is part you are this is not, nor should it be a complete description of you.

I have been known to say I am a leader everywhere in my life and that is mostly true.  But if I hold on to that statement, I can fail to see a larger picture of me.  One that is also important. In a recent article Ed Batista, an executive coach, speaks to CEO’s who are “profoundly lonely” despite interacting with many people during the day.  School librarians often feel the same. Yes, they speak with teachers and students all the time. But even when we use social media for professional connections, there is a disconnect.

See the bigger picture of your life

Batista’s first piece of advice is to Get out of the Role and cultivate different interests, and when you can with like-minded people.  He mentions rock climbing and ballroom dancing. Definitely not leadership “tasks.”

For example, I am a walker.  I certainly am not leading when I am walking.  Yet walking is important to me as a person.  It gets me out of my head.  It invigorates me.  I meet people.  Sometimes I see them repeatedly.  Most often they are brief encounters with merely a head nod in acknowledgment.  But each one fills me in a certain way.  Walking restores me. I miss it when weather or life interferes with me getting out three to five times a week.

I am also a reader, of course.  Reading is like breathing to me.  If I don’t have at least five titles waiting to be read, I get nervous.  Like walking, it takes me out of where I am now and lets me fly free. I have friends who are quilters and those who are knitters.  One is an avid practitioner of yoga.  Some are vegans.  Notice the word is “are” not “do.”  These are all part of our lives outside of being leaders and they are just as important as leading.  Indeed, by enriching our lives they make us better leaders.

Next, he says, Treat Family Like Family. It’s advice I whole-heartedly embrace.  I can remember when I had a challenging principal and brought home my frustration and anger on a daily basis. Not only was my home no longer a way to refresh myself, I was also having a negative effect on my relationship with my husband.

Yes, you can bring work home (sometimes physically), but set a time limit on it. We need our family and they need us. Be open to hearing what is going on in the lives of the people you love.  And use the same active listening techniques you practice on the job.

Treat Friends Like Treasures. The friendships we build outside of work are special.  Give them the time

they deserve. It took me a while to learn the value of having lunch with a friend despite a hectic schedule.  Even if I took two hours for lunch (after retirement), the tasks and responsibilities were waiting for me and still got done. The bonus was that I handled them in a more positive way because I was feeling good and more energized.

Beware the Wolves.  Batista is referring to people who profess connection in the corporate world but who have other often opposing agendas.  For those of us in education, it’s the complainers, those who always have a grievance against the administration or other teachers. Even when they are right, they are wrong for you.  You don’t want them to bring you down. It’s not about being a Pollyanna and only seeing good; it’s about accepting what you can’t change (or find another job) and working towards what you can change.

Finally, he says, Start Now, which is the reason for my writing this blog for you today.  It’s hard to implement new behavior patterns during the frenetic pace of the school year. With your schedule (hopefully) a little more flexible, do what you can to notice these things in your life and enhance the ones that will most fill you up. Then when the next semester starts, be sure to schedule the time you need for you, family, and friendship and continue to steer clear of the wolves.

Take stock of who you are and who you want to be – besides a leader. And cultivate your new behaviors now.

 

The Buddy System

 

lifetime-membershipI love my Weight Watchers program.  Although I reached Lifetime over 12 years ago, I faithfully attend my weekly meetings, because they keep me on track and I’m always learning new things. I was recently reminded of a truism I had learned a while ago.  You are more successful if you don’t do it alone.

Our program leader has us regularly set small goals, and I have always done so and found the practice very effective.  But a few weeks ago, she suggested working with someone in the program to keep our goals.  A few people had already made the connection but I hadn’t. Since I want to keep exercising, particularly walking, I paired with another woman who was struggling a bit to integrate it into her life.

We began texting each other. Every time she went to the gym and worked out on the treadmill, she would text me.  When I completed my two walks for the day, I would text her.  We both have Fitbits and while we don’t challenge each other since I walk more than she does, we let each other know how many steps and miles we covered in the day.buddy

The result is she is definitely walking more and had a significant weight loss this past week.  I thought walking 3-5 times a week was ingrained into my habits, but knowing I was going to text her, pushed me further.  In this case, I felt it necessary to be a role model.

Yes, there are days when life intervenes and one of us doesn’t get in an anticipated exercise, but we are buddies. We cheer each other on even as we hold one another accountable.  “I wasn’t in the mood,” is not something we want to text each other.

It amazes me how easily I can lie to myself or give myself excuses.  I wouldn’t lie to anyone else.  And that is part of the reason buddies work so well.  Another is the feeling that we are in this together.  We understand the challenges our buddy is facing because we have the same ones.

We live in a face-paced world with many demands on our time.  Too often we put the tasks ahead of relationships forgetting that humans are social organisms.  We need that contact for our well-being.

from-my-friendsSome people are really good at maintaining connections with friends, usually of the same sex.  I wasn’t that person for a good portion of my life.  Although I appeared sociable in my professional contacts, I was a loner and thought it worked just fine.  Friendships take time and I didn’t have any to spare.

I was wrong.

Making time for lunch with a friend energized me.  Exchanging thoughts with someone I liked and whose thoughts I valued, gave me greater insights into whatever I was doing.  The time with others enriched my life.
Although I generally think of buddies in pairs, if you have a common purpose small groups can foster similar feelings of success and accomplishment.  The barn raisings which were part of our pioneer culture brought the community together to get a specific task completed.  Everyone participated in one way or another. At the end of the day, there was a new barn and people felt the sense of satisfaction of doing a good and worthwhile job.  In addition, they shared a camaraderie that spilled into their future interactions.work-together

While few of us will ever be part of a barn raising, if we are open to the possibility there are still occasions where a group of like-minded people will get to get to achieve an objective.  When you hear of one, strongly consider participating.  As with the barn raising, you don’t need to be one of those nailing the boards in place.  There are always other jobs, but the sense of achievement and belonging are worth the effort.