New mistakes

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As we head back to our work and careers in this first full week of the new year, let’s remember that it is the extra efforts, the little risks that move us forward. Be BOLD.
I hope that in the year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing the things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.  ~Neil Gaiman

 

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A year of accomplishments, scatterplots, new resolutions

Poor, sad, little neglected blog. I used to think that I did not have time for writing while I finished my dissertation. This year demonstrated that a preoccupied mind prevents reflection as well. I have been working on this draft for many days and struggling to verbalize the happy and not so happy of it all. Americans are supposed to be the outlier on the happy scale, more upbeat about their days than most people. When we are not in that place, it can be hard.

FT_GDP_Scatterplot

At the end of last year, I was not selected for a promotion that I fiercely wanted and had stringently prepared. It was a position I had strived for in the past, only to be discouraged from applying due to lack of a terminal degree. This “job” was not the driving force behind completing my Ph.D., but the degree was one of a series of steps that I took to prepare for a “next step” in my career. Side note, being rejected from a dream job five days before holiday vacation is not ideal for one’s self-esteem and seasonal jocularity. I recommend against it all costs.
This year began with a new boss (not getting the “job” meant working for the person who did) and the adjustments that come with a change in leadership. It also began with a new opportunity.
A position with an education non-profit came on the horizon and a new job search began. For those of us who lament the prodigious time required for campus employment, this process reached new heights. Non-profits include a scaffolding of decision makers. Whether in discussion with a screening committee, organization leaders, elected board, and the membership; each audience sought a different answer and a different set of skills. The job posted in January and concluded with a hire announcement in late September (more on this later). A colleague termed it as the job search that rivaled a pregnancy.
Meanwhile, real life work this year included financial shortfalls, intense budget negotiations, staff reorganization to address financial shortfalls, a staff member on family leave, and a staff member following a partner to new employment. Even knowing in advance, it is difficult to prepare for the transition of a dedicated colleague. Rewriting position descriptions, preparing a search committee, waiting on HR approvals, the calendar was inching along. And all of this while attending to the needs of smart and amazing students (who sometimes have tragic days) and doing my best to be a good leader and mentor for the amazing student staff and graduate assistants that I am lucky to employ. The wiser than her years, Stacy Oliver-Sikorski, recently opined “There are really awful days amidst the really great days, and we need to be more honest with ourselves and others about that.”
Facing those “awful” days and separating work from family needs was complicated this year. I am enormously grateful for a loving and supportive partner who keeps me grounded. I am happy and proud to be mom to an amazing teen and tween who are high achieving and in search of their strengths. They are my most important work every day.
I will be embarking on a new adventure in the not so distant future. Despite every obstacle, 2014 will be remembered on the happy scale as the year that I resolved to get my dream job. And succeeded.
More soon. Happy 2015!

#SAreads: Practicing Perceiving

If you are familiar with psychological type and the MBTI®, you may recognize that type theory explains the random behavior of people’s lives as actually quite orderly and patterned. This is due to basic methods used by individuals to take in information and make decisions.
The last letter of the 4-letter MBTI code highlights the process one uses in dealing with the outer world. Do you prefer to plan ahead and get things decided (Judging) or do you prefer to remain flexible and open to new options (Perceiving)? Not to be confused with organization, as either preference can be organized, the J or P Preference indicates how we interact in our outer life, whether structured and decided (J) or curious and open-ended (P).
Which option would you choose?
Do you prefer to:
  1. Arrange lunch plans, events, parties, etc., well in advance, or
  2. Be free to spend your day doing whatever looks like fun?
In Building Momentum: The Unconventional Strengths of Perceiving College Students, Meri Beckham explores the successful practices of Perceiving college students including unconstrained time and working at the last minute. These methods are cited as the opposite of ideal strategies promoted in college success and study skills texts.
If you work in academic success, retention, first-year programming, or are interested in helping students make effective transitions to college, grab the article and join us Friday at 1PM EST for this week’s discussion on #SAreads.

Making Meaning with Type in College Student Affairs

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If you enjoyed my post on the MBTI Type preference of student affairs practitioners, you may be interested in this expanded article recently published in the Bulletin of Psychological Type, a publication of the Association for Psychological Type, International.
Link to article: Making Meaning with Type in College Student Affairs

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.

And the Survey Says: Results of “What’s Your #SAmbti?”

A few weeks back, as the #SAmbti hashtag became a Twitter discussion point, I surveyed the folks of the #SAchat community regarding their Myers-Briggs preferences. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) is the most common instrument for determining psychological type preferences utilized in business, personal coaching and higher education. It asks a series of self-report forced-choice questions to define opposing preferences for personal energy, acquiring information, making decisions, and organizing one’s world.

The survey produced the type preferences of 129 student affairs colleagues. More than half of those responding were female. Residence Life was the most common area of employment in student affairs. The most frequent type preferences were ENFJ (n = 21), INFJ (n = 16) and ENTJ (n = 14).

The primary method for analyzing type preferences is the self-selection ratio type table or SRTT (McCaulley, 1985). The SRTT is used to measure the frequency of type in a collected sample against the frequency of that type in a base population. SRTT determines the over- or under-representation of a research sample in comparison to a national base type preference sample. The ratio numerator represents the percentage of that type in the research sample while the denominator is the type percentage in the base population. The ratio is exactly 1.00 when the type percentage presented in a group is exactly the same as the proportion in the base population. It will be greater than 1.00 if the type is overrepresented and less than 1.00 when the type is underrepresented.

Each block in the 16 code type table contains the name of the type, the percentage of the base population or expected frequency for this type, and the percentage of the #SAmbti sample with preferences for this type. The SRTT index, or observed to expected frequency ratio for this type, is also included.

What do you see as you view this type table? As a type practitioner, I immediately note the weight on the right side of the type table. Of this survey of student affairs respondents, 75% prefer Intuition (N) as their perception function (second letter of MBTI type code), compared with 26.7% in the national sample population. Seven of the eight types preferring Intuition are over-represented in this survey sample. That is a lot of Intuition!

Intuition (N) as the perception function can be described as how one takes in information. It is similar to the sudden discovery of a pattern in unrelated events. People who prefer Intuition are comfortable with the big picture, brainstorming, and looking to the future. Intuitors are imaginative, abstract, original, and creative. They can also become so intent on possibilities that they overlook the details.

Do you prefer Intuition (N)? How is it useful to you in Student Affairs?

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McCaulley, M. H. (1985). The selection ratio type table: A research strategy for comparing type distributions. Journal of Psychological Type, 10, 46-56.

Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H. Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (1998). MBTI manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

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 our 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