Honest Higher Ed Truths Part I

Sphere of Influence

I have trouble staying within my sphere of influence. It took me a very long time to realize I can only control my behavior (I really blame Daring Greatly for that one). My job is small, my actions, however, are not inconsequential. My actions affect my office suite, colleagues, and students. Being grumpy, unforthcoming, or rude doesn’t serve anyone. I can control my behavior, how I react to things, how I think about them, how I implement suggestions, and how my office operates. I can’t control much else. And that’s ok. Really. It is. Be a positive force in the universe, and others will appreciate you and want to work with you. That’s how you expand your sphere of influence.


Values

Say you believe that all gifts should be wrapped in shiny blue wrapping paper. You truly believe this. You act on it consistently, you’ve shared these beliefs, and you will continue with them. Some may say you value shiny blue wrapping paper.

Your employer, however, may believe that all gifts should be put in gift bags with tissue paper. Yep. All of them. They may say it’s about the gift, and it’s about the thought behind the gift, but their value is giving the gift in a gift bag with tissue paper.

So you’re both giving gifts, but what you’re focusing on when giving them is pretty different. For a while, you might be able to ignore the differences. You might consider giving the gift to be more important than how the gift is given. Eventually this slight difference may wear you down, and you might decide to move to an institution that is more in line with your gift giving. You may try to influence your institution to move more toward wrapping paper, maybe try to find a middle ground.

I’ve been in this sticky situation (ha! get it? tape is sticky! ok, nevermind). It comes down to your sphere of influence, personal values, department values, and how you choose to reconcile everything. There is no easy answer. A job is better than no job, but there is a cost/benefit analysis that should be done when it becomes too much.

Finances

I enjoy watching students succeed. I enjoy working with faculty and other practitioners. But I need to pay my bills, I need to pay my student loans, need to contribute to the household, need to buy groceries. Enjoying my job doesn’t pay any of the bill collectors. So, this is something I have to seriously consider every time I’m looking for work. Do I look at industry? Which industry? What kinds of positions?

If I were to describe to you in non-SA terms what I do, it may surprise you: I organize and supervise an office of four staff members (including myself), I support 15 others, I’m in charge of the records and customer service of about 560 clients. What could I make working at a comparable office? Probably a lot more than what I make now.

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