Earlier this week I had a colleague say that it was easier and quicker to do a large load of work she had before her, instead of handing it off or asking for help. Handing it off meant that she would need to take the time to teach someone else to do those tasks and have to rely on the fact that they wouldn’t do it as well as she would. Many student affairs professionals fall into this mind set, I know I do. It is just easier to do it myself. So it left me to reflect on other ways that I let others help me through my busy days and moments when I am unsure of myself, and how relying on others helps me be a better professional.
Relying on others has helped me to…
1.) Discuss uncertainties and ease fears. Earlier this week I was getting ready to meet with some faculty in my doctoral program that were giving me advice on some papers. I was nervous about the meeting and honestly not looking forward to it. A past colleague of mine, with PERFECT timing, called me in my office the day before not knowing that my meeting with the faculty was the next day. She was calling for other reasons, but of course turned the conversation to how I was progressing with my writing. It was the call I needed to help ease my nerves about my meeting the next day. After the meeting, she reached out again to see how it went. Relying on others and trusting them with fears and insecurities can give you the needed support to try new things and overcome fears. Relying on that friend to help me through a difficult educational process has been important. She checks in, she encourages, she pushes, she challenges, she has moved me to the next level.
2.) Get feedback and improve on ideas. I have not sent one blog for The Jersey Alliance out without getting feedback from several different individuals. These are people that I trust and respect. They give me their perspective, add to my ideas, and move my ideas and writing to the next level. Each person offers something that makes me think a little harder and add a little more. When I rely on others to help me with ideas for my department, my writing, or my life they open doors for me that I might have never knew existed before.
3.) Meet new people. Networking is not and will never be my strong suit and I accept that. I am quieter and more reserved when I first meet people or join a group. However, I like building relationships with people and I strongly rely on others to help me make new relationships. I tend to network through people that I already know and have made relationships with. This is something that is easier for me and gives me a connection with the new person I am meeting.
4.) Learn more and introduce me to new ideas. Recently I was out to lunch with some past colleagues and we started talking about diversity. Relying on these other professionals allows me the opportunity to talk about my ideas, introduce me to the things I don’t even know that I don’t know, and expose me to new topics. During this lunch several amazing books and authors were suggested to me as “great reads” on a new topic that one of my friends was learning about.
5.) Live a more balanced life. Relying on others allows me to learn ways that student affairs professionals are managing it all and still getting out to enjoy their life. Relying on others has allowed me to have a place to talk about work stress and work through work stress so that it does not become something I carry with me all the time and at all hours.
6.) Have more FUN! I find this to be one of the most important reasons I have learned to rely on others. Relying on others has allowed me to build strong working relationships with some pretty amazing people. Building these relationships has allowed me to have more fun in everything I do at work. Working in higher education is an amazing experience and draws amazing and dedicated professionals, so being able to laugh with these people makes coming to work an enjoyable experience.
7.) Become a better professional. Without a doubt learning to rely on others has made me a better professional. Trusting that my staff and staff around me will do their job allows me to have more time to focus other needs, goals and projects. Relying on others for suggestions or to give me their honest opinion has helped make many good ideas GREAT.
So if you are the type of individual that believes you can do it all on your own I would strongly encourage you to start relying on others. Learn to rely on others for ideas, connections, new information, support, advice, feedback, and FUN. I promise if you take this advice you will gain so much as a professional and person.
Please feel free to add in the comments ways that relying on others has been beneficial to you and your experience.
By Kelly Hennessy, Director of Residential Education, The College of New Jersey