Switching Gears

Lately I’ve been thinking about mining advice. I’ve been wondering how and why the same advice clearly doesn’t work for everyone.

That seems a little vague. But as I try to wade through some advice from my colleagues, I wonder why people in the same profession, wishing to reach the same goals, cannot follow the same advice to achieve the same success.

Almost three years ago, I realized I wanted to make some changes in my career. I realized probably a little too late the steps I needed to take to achieve my goals. I started to ask questions and seek advice, but only then did I start to put the wheels in motion.

The advice I received then is the same advice I’d receive today, but I’m only really heeding it now. “Do something because you want to, not because you think it will get you somewhere.” Yep. Sounds reasonable enough. It’s not exactly that I didn’t believe it, it’s that it didn’t seem to apply to everyone. I was seeing people advance that were “all for show” so I didn’t think it could hurt to be juggling five plates in the air at the same time. But it did. I learned the hard way that that pace was wearing me down. I did not focus on the one or two things I could try to improve upon and excel in because I wanted to; but rather didn’t really excel in any of my endeavours because it was just too much.

Its a hard pill to swallow when you realize you are not as good as you thought you were. I mean, who doesn’t want to think of themselves as valuable to an organization? The truth is, I can’t follow anyone else’s career but my own. How, why, when, or what opportunities a colleague gets is not for me to judge. Desperately trying to get noticed comes across as just desperate.  Making meaningful contributions because I want to makes me a better teacher and collaborator who doesn’t have people eyeing me with suspicion when I show up.

So, much against my previous attitude, I’m cutting down some things I was once doing. I’m not going to do things to get noticed. I’m going to keep doing the things that I enjoy with the hopes that I improve and make my students better for the experience. I’m “lowering my profile” to just get the job done. I think that will also make me a nicer person to be around as I will no longer be looking through you, but focussed on you and the task at hand.

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