Your Self-View Lights the Way

It is a new year, but has anything changed? If you are back in school, whether in-person, hybrid, or virtual, and are still frustrated and tired, it’s time to take a fresh look at yourself.  Unless you change yourself, you won’t be able to change anything else.

This isn’t about self-care. It’s about your self-view.  There are some important questions to ask to check in about this:

  • How do you see yourself in relation to your colleagues? 
  • How do you believe they see you?
  • Is your Vision still alive or out of reach?
  • Do you feel no one recognizes your value as you are constantly being given tasks outside the scope of librarianship?
  • Does the thought of last week’s blog, “Your Leadership Journey” and following the Yellow Brick Road seem beyond your capabilities? 

Although the Christmas season is now past, I give you a new mentor.  To help with your self-view, instead of Dorothy, emulate Rudolph. Skip Prichard presents 5 Success Lessons You Can Learn from Rudolph. The success inherent in these lessons starts with changing how you approach the world. When you change that, you can lead the change to much more.

Here are his lessons (with my interpretations):

  1. Don’t Let Someone Else Define Your Value – Rudolph’s worthiness wasn’t seen initially, and certainly not by the other reindeer (co-workers?). You know what you do and what you can do to contribute to the school community. All too often we let other people’s assessment of the value of a school librarian affect how we react to others – and think of ourselves. 

Look at it the way you would a non-reader.  It’s just someone who hasn’t found the right book.  The person making disparaging or ignoring comments about librarians hasn’t been given the opportunity to see what we can do – yet. 

  • Be a Light to Others, Even If They Hurt You – Rudolph never struck back at his detractors.  It’s not worth the effort, and it won’t change their mind.  Actions like being kind and reaching out stand a better chance of turning someone’s opinion around. This is not to suggest being a doormat because you don’t let them define your value.

As a librarian, part of your job responsibility is to have at least a professional relationship with everyone.  You can’t shut your door. When in a challenging situation, consider what that person likes, what might be putting them in a bad mood, or whether they may have been offering feedback rather than criticism (see Criticism vs. Feedback). Identify and respond to their needs, and you begin to develop a relationship.

  • Your Uniqueness Is Your Gift to the World–Rudolph’s red nose, the object of scorn, saved Christmas.  You have unique abilities. In addition to the ones you have as a librarian, you have other abilities and interests that make you the person you are.  Share them.

Some of you are crafters, whether it’s quilting or jewelry design, you make wonderful creations. What hobbies are you passionate about?  Photography?  Gaming?  Are you into yoga? These all contribute to your uniqueness.  If you incorporate them into your work world, it will help you reach people you wouldn’t have otherwise. You never know when the PTO might want to host a Craft Fair or if the teachers would want to come in early for some yoga stretches.

  • Find Someone Who Believes in You – Although it took a while, Santa recognized what Rudolph could do and had him lead the sleigh.  Mentors are great, but be sure yours believes in you all the way. Self-doubt is natural. We all have moments–sometimes very long moments—when we are filled with it. Having someone who believes in you reminds you of your value and worth, keeping you motivated and moving forward.
  • Difficulties Are Always Opportunities in Disguise – If it weren’t for that “very foggy Christmas Eve,” Rudolph might never have had the opportunity to show how special he was. It’s easy to be disheartened and overwhelmed by difficulties.  Life will always hand them to you.  How you react is what matters.

The Corona virus has been far more than a “difficulty,” but the opportunity it presents is equally large.  Teachers, administrators, students, and parents are all searching for how to get through the new landscape.  You are a leader.  You have unique abilities. Show your community how you can make their lives easier.

Mentors and lessons are everywhere. Today, consider using the steps that enabled Rudolph to take his place at the head of the pack.  Let your light shine and blaze a trail in the new year.