For all my ambivalence, outlined in glorious detail in my last column, I have been embracing Kōtuku and the idea of leadership training lately. I decided if I was going to do this I wanted to be all in, learn as much as I can, do the best I can. It can seem quite easy to read the articles, discuss them in a group setting either in our web meetings or online in the forums, think you understand the ideas perfectly well, and carry on with life without anything really changing. But, for me at least, the real challenge is to use and apply them appropriately at work. It all seems quite reasonable and commonsense. But then I go back to work, and life moves fast, and the muscle memory isn’t always there. So one of the tasks I’ve assigned myself in the coming weeks is to 1) make the time to critically reflect and 2) make the effort to apply what I’m studying.
In Kōtuku we’ve just started a module on advocacy and politics. And it’s been perfect timing because at work we at that point at the beginning of the financial year, when we are in full review and planning mode, and I’ve been trying to make some time for myself to think about what I want to accomplish in the next 6 and 12 months, where it fits in with the larger goals of my team, my department, and the whole library. So it’s a good time to be studying advocacy and politics. What I want to accomplish will require all my political skills, all my abilities to influence, and all my abilities to see where and how my goals, and the goals of my team can fit within the larger goals of my organization.
On paper this sounds so obvious and straightforward, but (at least for me) in reality it’s pushing me. It’s pushing me to be braver about saying honestly what I think and believe, even when not everyone agrees. It’s pushing me to be okay with working in an environment where I don’t always understand everything that is going on, but I do need to remember I’m there because I have something important to contribute. It’s pushing me to figure out how best to articulate my ideas to my team in a way that shows I understand their work and have learned from their ideas and experiences. It’s pushing me to be okay with knowing I’m making some mistakes, but I’m still doing ok. Ultimately even if I thought all my ideas were brilliant, it wouldn’t mean anything if I can’t share them with anyone, if Ican’t communicate them, and especially if I can’t figure out how to turn them into reality and I really do want to turn at least some of them into reality.
It’s good to be pushed a bit, it’s how we grow, how we learn about ourselves, and why I signed up for Kōtuku. But if I was really honest, I would also mention that even knowing this will be read by people on the internet is a little (a lot) scary, and an exercise in pushing me outside my comfort zone. Owning your ideas, putting yourself out there, and learning how to advocate effectively for what you believe isn’t always easy, but it is important.
So my assignment to myself for the next few months is to get my plans in order and to give myself time to think. To figure out what I want to accomplish this year, and be brave. Because knowing were we want to go is one thing, but figuring out how to get there, is the another.