Resiliency in Student Affairs

Any individual who has dedicated more than a couple of years to a career in Student Affairs understands the power of resiliency. I was reminded of this during a weekly discussion with the Student Affairs Collaborative on the topic of “Duties as Assigned”.

In student affairs, evening and weekend duty are par for the course. Emergency calls and student crises in the middle of the night are routine. In my own career, I have had my position eliminated during financial challenges and once endured seven different supervisors over a five-year span. I have mourned the loss of students, including one killed on campus by a drunk driver (another student). And of course, I have juggled work commitments while spending time away from my family.

Dr. John Grohol writes about 5 Steps to Building Resiliency. He provides great tips for growing your own reservoir of resilience.

  1. Resiliency Means Accepting that All Things are Temporary
  2. Self-Aware People are Resilient People
  3. (Some) Adversity Helps You
  4. Our Social Relationships Bolster Us
  5. Goal Setting and Understanding Your Problems is Important

Student affairs professionals must be resilient to grow, advance and succeed in this field. This same resilience allows us to serve our students when they may be struggling. As you examine your strengths in preparation for an evaluation or interview, be certain to include the resiliency traits that you bring to the table.

Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them. ~H. Jackson Brown

This post first appeared on eighteen and life on February 1, 2011.

One Word: DO

My 2013 one word is DO. And to be precise, it is not Do. It is DO.

As I reflect on projects nearly completed and opportunities ahead, it makes sense.

Wisdom of YodaDaddyPlus.com

Thirteen Rules

I caught a segment on my favorite morning program last week featuring General Colin Powell promoting his new book. The book includes thoughts on life and leadership including thirteen rules that have framed Powell’s leadership vision. I am not certain if I was having an introspective moment, but the words resonated with me so much that I picked up the book later that day. I am still reading, but here are the basics. Think about a challenging situation that you have recently faced…the rules may have meaning for you, as well.

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it.
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
  4. It can be done.
  5. Be careful what you choose: You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make some else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm. Be kind.
  11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

More Type Links in Student Success

I’ve got a problem. There are aspects of my personality that I can’t control. ~Bruce Banner

Much as student development theory helps us to understand differences in students served in higher education, understanding differences of psychological type in students may also enhance student success. The assessment of psychological type is based upon Carl Jung’s theory that human behavior is not random and that patterns of mental functions exist in the population. Following this conceptual foundation, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI™, has become the most widely used instrument for determining type preferences in business, personal coaching and on college campuses. It was developed by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers with the foundations of orientation and organization to the outer world as a framework to guide individuals through the constructive use of differences. The MBTI instrument asks a series of self-report forced-choice questions to define individual preference opposites for personal energy, taking in information, making decisions, and organizing one’s world. Based upon responses to these questions, an individual is assigned a type preference for each pair of opposites which when combined; create sixteen individual four-letter type codes.

There are four MBTI type dichotomies or opposite preferences and each has a different influence on learning. The word preference is used to refer to the innate tendency one has in each of the psychological dichotomies. The principle of preference is frequently illustrated in type facilitations by asking participants to write their signature with their non-dominant hand. Generally, participants will describe this exercise as awkward, uncomfortable or not a preferred activity, but one they are able to complete.  Each individual has a preference for daily functions, but is able to operate out of preference, as needed. The preference pairs include where a person gets their energy, categorized as Extraversion and Introversion; how an individual takes in information or Sensing and Intuiting; the decision-making process of Thinking and Feeling; and the orientation to and organization in the outer world of Judging and Perceiving. Individuals use each aspect of the personality pairs daily, but have a preference for one that is more comfortable or useful to the self.

Extraversion and Introversion. Extraversion and Introversion are expressions of where an individual gathers personal energy. Extraversion (E) is the energy that develops from engaging with people, objects and events. Externally expressing interests and interacting with others is invigorating for extraverts.  They learn best in situations that include movement, action and conversation and prefer to connect theories and facts with personal experience. Introversion (I) is a reflective, inward coordination with thoughts and ideas.  Introverts look internally for thoughts and energy. They think best in solitude and prefer advance notice before sharing or acting in a learning situation.

Sensing and Intuition. Sensing and Intuition are the functions for absorbing information. The Sensing (S) perception is the process of awareness and accumulating information through the physical senses. Sensing is a pragmatic function relying on details, sequenced lists, and consistency. Sensors learn best with sequential learning from concrete to abstract and tend to excel at memorization. The Intuitive (N) perception is future oriented and uses hunches and sees possibilities to provide explanations. Intuitive preference persons value patterns and abstract ideas and learn through imaginative tasks and theoretical topics with ease.

Thinking and Feeling. Thinking and Feeling are the decision-making or judgment processes of type. Thinking (T) is the objective decision-making process using standards and criteria to analyze information or situations to improve situations or performance. Thinking preference individuals are motivated in learning by logic and respect for their competence. The Feeling (F) decision-making preference is subjective and based upon personal values for accommodating harmony and the improvement of personal conditions for others. Individuals with Feeling preference are motivated in learning by personal encouragement, values and the human dimension of a topic or lesson.

Judging and Perceiving. Judging (J) is the process of engaging with the outer world preferring organization, structure, and a planned life. Those preferring Judgment tend to experience time in specific segments. They are driven to seek closure or finish tasks in those specific time periods. Judging preference learning thrives on task completion, structured learning and specific goals. The Perceiving (P) preference values autonomy, flexibility and spontaneity. They experience time as an uninterrupted flow and are open to new information as they experience and process. They prefer open learning environments that rely less on deadlines and structure.

Psychological type assessment can been helpful in allowing detection of interpersonal roadblocks and miscommunication related to type preferences, particularly for students in the transition from high school to college. Through intentional examination of type and how it relates to learning preferences, opportunities emerge for enabling students to understand more about themselves in this transition. Although the MBTI is not designed to be a predictor, examining type preference anomalies to enhance student services and resources may lead to increased student success and retention.

What is your type? Do you use the MBTI in your student success initiatives?

Do what you believe is great work

Welcome to the third anniversary of eighteen and life! Over the last three years, the pages of this blog have been filled with ideas and thoughts on my career in student affairs. It is special work that we do in guiding, shaping, and celebrating students. And it is new every day.

Steve Jobs described it best in his 2005 Stanford commencement address.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. 

No “I” in TEAM.


I am reading the article Individuals Perform Better When Focused on Team. It has a lot of relevance for my children’s soccer games, but it also resonates with our student leadership course and especially for working with my colleagues in student affairs. Try changing your “I” to a “We” today and see what you can accomplish.

By focusing on the team, you include yourself without putting the focus or extra pressure on yourself. ~Deborah Feltz

Choose another street

I enjoy finding forgotten resources while organizing my computer files on a rainy Friday afternoon.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN
FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS
_________________________________

From There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk
By Portia Nelson

I.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

II.
I walk down the same street.
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

IV.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V.
I walk down another street.

Judges 4

The folks at LinkedIn did a bit of data mining of the most popular first names among female CEOs. Deborah and Debra came in at #1 and #3, and both are Hebrew for “The Bee” or “Industrious one”. No surprise, Debra is my preferred spelling.

Deborah, in the Bible, was a prophetess, and the only female judge. She was a quite the busy leader, taking soldiers to the top of Mount Tabor to free her people.

You want to see industrious? Try April in student affairs.

Little things

Some days it’s the little things. Like discovering that you packed extra underwear when weather delays your travel leaving you stranded far from home. Or when you get an email out of the blue from a student you have not heard from in a while.

I’m writing to thank you and the Hixson program for all that you have given me.  Not just the class, the opportunity to be a seminar leader or the scholarship money, but also the staff. Yesterday, I was in the student lab doing a little homework when your graduate assistant came in and I had a really great talk with him, just about how our semesters were going.  Anyway, it makes me really appreciate the program and especially the people surrounding the program.

 

image by Charles M. Schulz

Design Thinking and Learning

In a seminar course required of students in my doctoral program, we spent a  day on problem solving and creativity. Professor John Nash took us through an  exercise that originated with the Stanford d.school where we used problem  solving and then design thinking to create the perfect wallet for a student  partner.

Our exercise included:

  • Interviewing a partner to engage them and gather insights about wallet use
  • Defining and articulating a point of view based on the interview insights
  • Sketching new alternatives based on the point of view
  • Testing ideas with our partner to gather feedback
  • Acting on the feedback and building a wallet prototype from art supplies

This was a fun exercise that I think can be adapted for use with student leaders  to encourage bigger picture thinking and processing. You can read more about  the exercise and view a student interview at Nash’s blog.