As a self-professed ‘Advocate for Awesome’, I tend to view the world through what I affectionately call the ‘Discovery Channel’ lens (The World is Just Awesome). My students are awesome, my job is awesome, my colleagues are awesome … you get the idea. This past week, however, I was blindsided.
It wasn’t all awesome.
The committee structure I was using just wasn’t working. The assessment plan was, once again, not on the right track. The careers panel messaging didn’t resonate. I terrified more students than I helped.
Two steps forward, three steps back.
I’ve heard it all this week (mostly because I’ve said the same things to myself a few times). Now we know one more way that it doesn’t work. It’s out of your hands. Stop freaking out, Lisa.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, this new job has been an amazing roller coaster. I have been pushed into the deep end, stretched way beyond my comfort zone and experienced every other possible sports/travel related metaphor that comes with stepping into a brand new role in a young institution. The job also involves a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ research and planning. I write program plans, project charters, critical paths and learning outcomes that sound fabulous on paper (if I do say so myself), but when it comes time to put them into practice, I’m frightened right back to the safety of my office.
I don’t trust myself. My confidence is shaken. Stirred even. Now what?
Deep in the throes of my nervous breakdown (I have quite the flair for the dramatic) I was reminded of a quote from Thomas Edison “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. While important from a planning perspective, how do I keep my motivation, energy and spirits high when I’m still slogging through the first 10 reasons? How do I reconcile my evangelical insistence on pushing the limits of my comfort zone with this odd ‘shaken’ feeling?
With more questions than answers, I’ve come to an important realization. I take my job personally. My work is personal. My passion is personal. So what do I do? The answer is so simple yet so frightfully complex. I keep going. In all this change and transition, the up, down, diagonal and sideways, the ultimate irony is that there remains a need for stability. The busier I get, the more I need a safe space that keeps the change in check. For me, that stability comes from dear friends who remind me that finding one of those 10,000 ways is a good thing, and more a reflection of my passionate love for my job rather than my professional competence. For all of you, I am grateful.