Giving to others….and self

I do a lot of work with minoritized or underrepresented scholars in the academy. Many of the scholars are deeply committed to helping others, especially scholars from similar backgrounds and with fewer years experience in the academy.

As is the national trend for disproportionately higher engagement in service by minoritized faculty, many of the underrepresented scholars with whom I engage give selflessly and, often, beyond sustainable measures to support other marginalized scholars – especially students.

Image of Sankofa Bird which is based on an Ghanaian principle and frequently used to represent connecting the past with the present through intentional engagement and sense of responsibility to community.

In this giving, one of the targets often overlooked is self. It’s critical that scholars of the ‘giving to others’ persuasion also prioritize giving to SELF to ensure their own health and longevity. These individuals need to be intentional about scheduling self-care and maintaining an excellent routine of caring for self, in addition to caring for others.

Prioritizing self-care can be a challenge to marginalized scholars – who sometimes suffer from survivor’s guilt, imposter syndrome, unreasonably high & unforgiving (both often self-inflicted) expectations for success, or other counterproductive perspectives. Yet, the commitment to self-care has to be held as non-negotiable to promote long-term presence in, contribution to, and (sometimes) challenging of academic environments.

So I encourage each of you that have set a HIGH bar for task-related goals, such as writing and scholarship, for the summer to also set some summer self-care goals. For good measure, also set up a system of accountability to ensure that you give attaining your self-care goals your very best effort.

You DESERVE it, you NEED it….also the communities and individuals to whom you seek to give need your BEST effort and “cared for” self in the giving process. Giving to self frequently, well, and consistently is one way to ensure that you have access to your BEST self when you prepare to give to others.

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

Leading change through sharing personal leadership journeys

Last year when I was invited to submit a chapter to a book on women leading in the academy, I initially thought it was interesting to consider because of the need for progressive material in this area.

Additionally it was an interesting invitation, as I had been asked to co-write a chapter with my Michigan State University colleague Kendra Cheruvelil. Kendra and I knew each other casually at the time of the invitation, but were growing in our understanding and appreciation of each other enough to consider what a jointly authored book chapter on professional development could be.

Next spring our chapter “Professional Development of Women Leaders” will be a part of a new book from Cognella Academic Publishing co-edited by Callie Rennison of University of Colorado Denver and Amy Bonomi of Michigan State University.

Kendra and I both learned a lot about ourselves and each other in our personal and collaborative reflection during the process of working on this chapter.

I’m personally eager to learn from and about all of the other women leaders who have contributed to this text. I have no doubt it will offer much needed insight and “food for thought”!

Women Leading Change in Academia: Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Cliff, and Slipper co-edited by Callie Rennison and Amy Bonomi coming in Spring 2020 from Cognella Academic Publishing.
Table of contents for “Women Leading Change in Academia”

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