Our failures, and how we move past them don’t get celebrated often enough. I know I prefer to pretend to wax philosophical or celebrate the great things that have happened in my professional lives without the context of what happened first to get there. Last year around this time was the worst birthday in recent memory because of what a struggle my professional life had become. After years of toil to build a career between work and graduate school, I had finally taken on the role of a director. That year ended poorly and I had wondered if I had risen to my level of incompetence? I thought about going back to library media or technology coaching. Maybe I should be a business manager? Or a small school principal? Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this work?
It was always smooth sailing before this…like a AA baseball player getting blown away on three straight pitches by Mariano Rivera on my first stint in the big leagues. I needed to be reflective toward my own work at a level I had never needed to be before. What kind of leadership was I providing? How am I managing projects? What kind of boss was I to real people? What are things that I really believe in and will fight for? Who was a good boss to me and how do I stack up to them? What are the things I need to get better at? They aren’t fun questions, but ones you have to make.
What I can tell you is great people – my family, friends and colleagues were there to listen to me and help me get past it all and grow from what I learned. I can’t say enough about some of the folks who I work with who have become friends over the last few years. They’ve helped me stay sane and work through it all.
The next group of people that have helped me were connections I’ve made near and far. Reading and corresponding with folks like Miguel Guhlin and Doug Johnson have helped me gain perspective as they’ve lent their wisdom and experiences to me. In 2014 at the WiscNet’s Future Technologies Conferences I was chatting with Doug Johnson over a muffin kind of dumping my bucket about what was going on in my career. One thing I’ll always remember him saying is “I bet you’re making for a difference than you think.” I couldn’t see it then, but he was right. I was making a difference and I just needed to build experience in order to be able to do my job well. Kind words from our network connections, sometimes make all the difference. We’re all in this together after all!
Locally in Wisconsin, many technology directors have done the same for me. I can’t say enough about what CoSN and WETL have done for me, connecting me with so many talented people. After regaining my own professional confidence, both organizations have been great places to help me grow with other, much more talented people. CoSN’s CETL process helped me build my knowledge and help prove to myself that I do in fact belong doing what I’m doing.
I am forever grateful to all these people and organizations!
I still am, as we all are, a work in progress. I looking forward to more growth in this season of projects and serving students and teachers during the 2015-2016 school year.