Christmas is done so I’ve moved onto the husband’s birthday (He’s a January child…..*sigh*) anyway, I was researching for his present on Google with no success and then I thought I’d try twitter to see if I could find a link to the type of present I want to buy him. (This is not as complicated a present as it sounds, I just need to know if I can buy it…..). On twitter I fell over something completely random which I’m yet to fully read, but so far, it’s got some really cool stuff!
When I set up this blog I talked about how lucky I am to have this job. It is the bringing together of all my passions, and experiences into one productive and creative position! I have to say though, the serendipitous nature of the events that are occurring with this job make me think that fate might be real. It is seriously starting to feel like all the choices I’ve made in the jobs I’ve had have been working towards where I am today.
I am in a job I love, learning about stuff I’m passionate about, working out cunning plans, achieving positive, tangible outcomes and now, social media is working to show me more avenues to explore. Seriously, does employment ever get better than this? Hmmm….maybe if I was actually teaching. I still miss teaching students.
I’m laughing as I read that last paragraph. Even when I’m happiest I still have to whine. For those of you that know me – that’s no surprise!
I did a quick re-read of this blog site this morning and realised that it is starting to become a real collection of brain stuff for me. Wait – that sounded better in my brain….
This site is building quite nicely into a collection of resources and analysis that I see value in for the future for me. (That’s better!)
Last night though, I was reminded that the best resource I have are the smart people in my life. Iain and Katie and I got together and had a brain storm about what we would like to do to address some of the disconnects in high schools in relation to technology. We have together developed a cunning plan. It is a plan that I would never have been able to think up by myself. I needed others.
I’ve talked a lot about this in relation to my current job. I need others to identify and develop solutions for the academics I’m trying to support. All cunning plans need conspirators.
Last night I spoke to Katie and Iain about choosing complementary conspirators. I think they thought I was being a little crazy. But I’ve been involved in a few plans (most of them not that cunning, but, they were plans) that have gone terribly south all because I chose crappy conspirators. I chose people (or people chose me on rare occasions where someone thought I would be useful!) who I thought would be great, but when it came to going over the top of the trench to meet the challenge, they had to suddenly be elsewhere. That left me alone at the top watching the gun fire reign down.
My husband says I try to help people too much. I think he’s right. I do try. I don’t always succeed and that annoys me. I don’t take to failure too well. The cunning plan in motion is ambitious and tries to help all high school students in the ACT. My husband is right – I try too much. This time there is no try, thanks to Yoda there is only do or do not. Iain, Katie – stuff it – let’s do it!
My husband got very excited when I asked him for the exact wording of the quote above. It led to a range of information I didn’t really need. However it also found that apparently this quote is misattributed to Thomas Jefferson when in fact it was Leonard Courtney. My husband likes to look up stuff. His google-fu is strong.
Anyway, back to why I wanted that quote. I have a lot of freedom in my current job. A lot. More than I think I’ve ever had before. And today I realised that to be free, I have to be vigilant. I’ve strayed from the path of who I am (a nerdy control freak) to embrace the euphoric creativity that arises when there is no project plan! I have seen the glory that arises when there is organic growth of ideas that are free to explore the space with no bounds. Today, I saw the down side. Today I understood that vigilance is needed to give me freedom.
It arises because the pressure has come off a bit giving me time to actually do all the tasks on my list. (Yes, well, there’s no plan but it doesn’t mean I haven’t made a list – or three…) And I’m finding that I need people to do their part of the plan for my parts to work. And well, they haven’t. This leads to a lack of freedom now. We can no longer explore ideas because we need to finish the first idea for the second one to exist. It’s like we’ve all said “yeah! let’s bake a cake it can have chocolate inside and be square and it will be cool” and now people are saying “yeah let’s make icing, it can have flowers and pink colour and it will be cool” but, well, we have no cake. Why are we thinking about icing when we have no cake.
So people, I will be returning to vigilance. My lists will become a plan and I will be asking for completion. I’m sorry, but I want you to be free with new ideas. To do that, we need to work too. Yay Freedom!
Yesterday was an amazing experience for several reasons.
One was watching how people come together over a free lunch. I was sceptical but the Dean’s process of thanking staff for all their work and explaining what it means to be a citizen in our faculty was inspiring and not tacky (I expected tacky). Seriously, excellent management approach.
Another was watching people present on their personal experiences with flexible learning and technology and showing that, well, it’s tough. I chose those people because I knew their experiences were less than perfect. Change occurs best when people can be free to try and fail. After all we learn better from our mistakes than our success.
From this came the audience response. I had people say to me how wonderful it was not to have presenters just saying what they had done and how amazingly successful it had been. The best quote from someone who said something along the lines of, “I feel liberated enough to try something new. I know I don’t have to be right the first time.” *sigh* Awesome!
Later I was talking to someone about my failure in communication. It’s something I’m not really great at. She said to me “Don’t start a new conversation, join the current one then find a way to guide it to what you want to say.” I have heard this before in a different way, but it was a timely reminder for me and delivered with kindness and compassion which makes the bitter pill all the easier to swallow, so thanks Deborah!
All in all, a good day. I have seen the growth that comes from failure. Now to avoid the epic failure – not sure too much can be learnt from that!
I’m having the most amazing experience in this job. I am doing work that brings together all the skills and knowledge that I love to use (whether they are useful or not is debatable!) including working with a broad range of people who have creative ideas. But that’s not what’s most amazing. What’s really amazing is the ability to let go of order.
By my nature I like ducks in rows, I like plans, I like procedures, I like everything to match. By the nature of this job there are too many different ducks, swans, ibis and a couple of flamingos. The plans last about two days at the most and nothing can match. For example, last Thursday I had a day planned which started with a meeting. At that meeting the Dean said “That’s what we can try – make it happen by 4 pm this afternoon and we can all test it to see if it works. Okay?” So, there goes the day. But then, the magic happened.
Not being uptight and resistant to the change a whole bunch of people came together last Thursday to make something happen. We all strove towards a goal by letting go of everything we all had planned and the shared success was exhilarating. We also found a solution for a delivery issue we were facing which means I could then finally get onto paper some structure about distance education that I’d been thinking about for a while.
So, by letting go and I actually got to do what I really like and that was to develop a concept for how lecturers can use SKYPE in delivery for distance. It also highlighted the issue we have delivering under the ESOS requirements where 75% of contact hours has to be face to face for international students as SKYPE doesn’t count as face to face. Of course, in today’s world the definition of face to face is complicated. But I think that’s another post.
The upshot is, last Thursday was a changing point for me. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I can now. I can see how chaos is positive. I can see how me not constraining others or situations leads to magic. I can see how I can be a better employee by letting go. Not a bad conclusion to reach, just wish it had happened 20 years ago!
Again there is a gap between posts as I’ve not had time to fully reflect. The pace increases the more I understand what is required.
What I understand now is that I am attempting to curate information for academics to support them to curate their information for their students. The risk with this is that it could become that blind leading the blind proposition. I say this because there is just so much information in the online space it is difficult to curate effectively even if you are content expert. Academics are content experts in their fields, but I haven’t found yet who has a field in curating online information. Of course, that’s not actually my field either, bringing me back to the blind situation.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. (Cliches are my thing…) I actually think there are really wonderful people in the university for whom the ability to curate information online is their field. So even more this job is not actually about me completing tasks, but finding people with the skills and understanding to help me help others complete the tasks.
Hmmm I think I’m starting to ramble. I’m going to recap. My job is not about curating the information for academics, or creating their quiz, or putting their content online. My job is working with academics to help them identify what they want to achieve, tools they can access, people they can access and then creating the connections so they can achieve without me being there. If I do this job properly, it should be that I have curated enough information/tools/connections that momentum will continue regardless if I’m there or not. Basically, I should be able to do myself out of a job. I’m just not sure that’s achievable by June (when my contract ends!)