Saturday, 21 October 2017

I'm a Fellow: a story of meanders and the occasional ox-bow lake

Yesterday a beautiful certificate arrived in the post. It made me think a little about 'success' and what that means and, inevitably, what it doesn't mean.

A book that I have at work and fish out every so often and read snippets from, and which has made a significant impact on me, (in conjunction with attending one of his amazing lectures on how to be a successfully busy person) is 'The Heart of Success' by Rob Parsons - one of the most humble, but successful, people I have come across. Depends on your definition of success of course.........

If I had to point to the things that I consider to be 'real' successes in my professional life - the things that I remember instantly, without having to dredge my memory at length to find them - they are often small and rather insignificant. Here are a few:

  • working alongside someone and making a difference to them, and to their workflows
  • really useful conversations with academics when making a cup of tea, or by the photocopier
  • shelving books when it's not in my job description, but I can call anyone on it because it is a strategic activity (staff management, collection management, space management, I could go on)
  • making time as often as possible for a 30 minute walk at lunchtime
  • meeting close professional friends for regular sanity checks
  • taking the time to visit a contact where they work and knowing how useful that was to both of us
When I started to write my application that resulted in this rather beautiful certificate, I was a little unsure about whether it would be good enough. But when I started to plot the things that had happened over the last 10 years on a timeline, then I found more confidence. It made me realise that one of the keys to 'success' for me is stickability and commitment, but dovetailing that with an innovative style. If you constantly change too many parameters you never have time to truly reflect and evaluate. I created two sorts of timeline to help me unpick all of this - one for fun using tiki toki. The other I defined as:

 "Publications Bibliography: deliberately starting with early work, and progression to most recent work, in order to demonstrate the changes over time and how areas of writing and presentations were influenced by other factors, both internal and external to the workplace. A story of meanders and the occasional ox-bow lake."

Image result for meanders ox-bow lakes

Ultimately of course as I consider that in the foreseeable future I can happily give up work and devote myself to other (important) things, you realise that success at work is probably overrated (it's dead nice to have it while you're there, don't get me wrong).Trite though it may seem, 'you can't take it with you'! And chances are the minute you leave work the next person in will change a lot of what you have done. 

So bottom line - what's success about? I would probably say that it's about making 'work', work for you, it's about being confident of your skills and using them to help the people who most need it, and it's being confident that little tiny successes are sufficient! We don't need to conquer the world, just try and do our best.

But in any case, thanks to CILIP for being a professional body that encourages librarians to be successful!

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