Define your own impact or be beholden to others’ definitions

Note: Adapted from Twitter thread originally posted by @BerondaM August 27, 2017

It’s that time of year…annual review time for faculty and academic staff. Undoubtedly as a part of these conversations, there is some discussion of impact. Increasingly, units and institutions are moving to try to capture quantitative measures of impact.

Such quantitative measures are embraced by some and eschewed, or at least looked at askance, by others.

This annual foray into receiving and processing such feedback led me to reflect on a twitter thread I wrote last year, which I share in full (and amplified version) here:

I’ve been in many conversations and read much about academic impact recently. One thing I personally will not cede is defining my own impact through my carefully cultivated B-Index – with attention to context. Yes, certainly there are standards of progress and success in every ‘institution’ in which we work and seek to build paths of success and maybe eventually seek to lead. However, I’ll always prioritize cultivating a personal vision of success, leadership, AND IMPACT, then seek to find a place in which that vision of success can be possible and actively pursued.

When we start conversations from the perspective of the institution’s view of success, first and foremost in our thoughts and words, we can send the message (intentionally or inadvertently) that wholesale adoption and pursuit of that ‘vision’ of success and impact is the only way forward.

I fully embrace the idea that individual scholars’ visions of success and impact should be centered and that we should recognize how pursuit of these contribute to goals of the institutions in which these scholars are embedded. Our institutions will be enriched when we can more fully embrace multiple paths, means, and definitions of success and impact. However, for such perspectives to take hold and have (what I believe can be) the enriching outcomes truly possible, it means that wholesale change in the way we listen to, review and promote, as well as #mentor scholars is desperately needed. This can all only have the intended and lasting impact and outcomes with MAJOR changes in leadership – including the way we recruit, select, reward, and advance leaders. Such changes are not easy to enact or shepherd…but change is needed!!!

As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter discussing mentoring, leading, and other topics at @BerondaM

Summer success = plans + time + space + grace

Although the cool temperatures remind me that it’s technically spring…and inconsistently so…in mid-Michigan, it’s officially summer according to the university’s academic calendar.

Like so many academics, summer holds great promise as a fertile—and hopefully productive—playground for me to develop &/or advance a bevy of ideas, plans, goals and quite frankly to have some fun!

For years (like so many others), I’ve transitioned into summer with a requisite list of things I plan to do. Yet, I learned years ago that such a list is only a “wish” list unless I actively plan what I hope to do AND accommodate time to do so actively through coordinating my calendar to hold time and space for all the things I planned.

I also plan to extend exceeding kindness and grace to myself during these weeks to ensure that the plans and associated scheduled space and time don’t begin to feel stressful. This is critical as I unapologetically live a stress-limited life and that means that I have to hold myself and others accountable for extending as much (or more) grace to me as the named and unnamed expectations.

Whatever you have planned for the summer, I wish you great success! I also wish you an abundance of grace for the summer journey, whether it’s already upon you or still a ways ahead.

As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM

Writing lessons in unexpected places

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I’m a writer.

So, I see writing spaces, inspiration, and sometimes lessons, in unexpected places and at unexpected times.

I was inspired after my recent massage to return to a piece of writing that has been causing me tension. I am aware of some of the sources of the tension – i.e., I’m writing about a leadership issue that I’m currently navigating – and there are other unknown sources of tension that I am battling in my attempts to bring clarity to parts of this work.

Generally, I will try to work on this or other such writing, feel the tension, and then back away or move on to work on another piece. The latter is largely a gift and joy of having multiple writing projects. However, I can’t keep walking away from the tension when there is writing that needs to be completed and shared.

Leaving a recent spa appointment, I felt a breakthrough of sorts in reflecting on the unexpected writing lesson I received there. You see, a massage therapist feels for tension, acknowledges it, and then spends time and effort to work through relieving the tension. It’s a dedicated effort of applying concentrated and repeated pressure over a period of time until the tension (or “knot”) releases. As I was reflecting on the joy of being the beneficiary of the relief that came from actively and strategically working on relieving muscle tension, I realized that I need to establish writing time, practices and strategies for working on “relieving the tension” of some of my writing.

The time, and perhaps space, needed to do this is decidedly different from the writing time at which I excel generally – i.e., generative writing and developmental editing/writing. I embrace these writing forms and times wholeheartedly.

To facilitate staying on track with a number of writing projects to which I have committed, I’ve got to move to establishing successful practices for tackling the “tension-relieving” writing. I suspect that I’ll need to establish multiple brief periods in which I can use an intense, focused period to apply the “pressure” needed to break through a writing tension. It’s possible that pairing this with a generative writing time could be truly beneficial in breakthrough a “knot” and moving forward towards completing a specific goal.

I’m thankful for lessons that come in whatever form and through whatever forum to inspire me to continue to grow and advance as a writer.

As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM