Extra, Extra - Who's Got It?
I read a post by Jessica Olin over at Letters to a Young Librarian that really got me thinking. In it she reflects on what it is that motivates her to reach out and beyond herself to stay fresh in her work. She read Daniel Pink's book Drive and talks about his use of the mathematical concept "asymptote". As Jessica writes, Pink "uses this concept to talk about motivation and skill mastery and about how, if you're really passionate about something, developing your practice never stops."
"If you're passionate about something, developing your practice never stops."
Those words really struck me. I think they encompass the difference between a great worker and an adequate or poor one. When I look at colleagues I work (and have worked with) with at my libraries (at all position levels), colleagues professionally in my state and across the country, colleagues online and on social media sites, I know I most appreciate those who constantly strive and look for ways to do a better job and learn more each and every day. They listen to the public and peers and leap out with great service.
They help ME learn. They help colleagues learn. They share ideas and enthusiasm generously and constantly. They aren't afraid to try, fail and try again. They are collaborative. They care passionately about making life better for the customer. They are intrigued by solving the puzzle of advancing librarianship.
It isn't who they know. It isn't how much they know. It isn't how much knowledge and expertise they "own". It's how they process the things they see and hear to build consistently better service in collaboration with co-workers and the public.
And they don't stop. They don't phone it in after 10, 20, 30, 40 years of work. They bring it and they bring it every day for their customers. When they feel badly managed, they bring it. When funding collapses, they bring it. When doors close in their face, they bring it. When their personal life is challenging, they bring it.
I'm not sure I'm enough of an uber-manager or colleague to help create that passion and ongoing commitment to developing practice where it has never existed or simply no longer exists. I don't know if I have the skills to expand very narrow passions ("I just want to be a grandma to the little kids and do storytimes"; "I know everyone in town, but you don't"; "I have a skill but it's mine and I'm not sharing."; "I served on state library association board once and I'm done with that forever").
But I know the people who truly are passionate, who have that "extra", are the ones that are most satisfied with their work, the most worry-free and take the most pleasure from the sharing, learning, collaboration and innovation they help create. They love the moment that they step into work each day even if the challenges they face are discouraging. They don't give up. And they never stop developing their practice.
Are you someone like that?
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