Recently I had the amazing honor of giving the wrap-up keynote at the 2015 SLA conference. The conference itself was a pretty intense several days, as SLA is currently undergoing some very difficult but important revisions to its structure, vision, core competencies, and identity. But conference discussions also provided a vibrant, real-life example of how we all need to be able to meet changing circumstances head-on, even if the choices we have aren’t the ones we’d hoped for.
My wrap-up keynote carried the same message. Titled “Improvising Your Career: How to Not Freak Out, Run for Cover, or Have to Move In With Your Folks (or Kids),” it focused on the necessity of having, to quote The Start-Up of You (Hoffman and Casnocha, 2012), a permanent beta mindset when it comes to your career. In other words, consider yourself always in start-up mode, and assume that your most important core competency is your ability to adapt. To improvise. To tap dance as fast as you can….
According to marketing whiz Mitch Joel, author of Ctrl Alt Delete (Business Plus, 2013), we’re all sort of hanging out in uncharted territory these days, or as Joel puts it “purgatory.” New media technology has forever changed both the way we do business and the way we communicate with each other. Even those companies (and individuals) willing to adapt aren’t quite sure which way to adapt to ensure their future viability – or employability.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about the high (and increasing) number of public middle and high schools going without professional school librarians in the state of New York. Existing positions were being eliminated, new schools were being created without any librarians on staff. I started a discussion on the LIS Career Options LinkedIn group asking whether this was part of a broader trend across the country. The response: absolutely.
Quit your job as a TV anchor and get a degree in library science. But if TV anchoring is
what you love, then create an extroverted persona to get yourself through the day.
-Susan Cain, Quiet
It took me a long time to realize I’m an introvert. I’ve never been particularly shy, I enjoy people when I’m hanging out with them, and growing up with three siblings, solitude was a luxury only imagined. It wasn’t until I got older and was better able to control my life circumstances that I began paying attention to when I was most energized, when most depleted. I began to realize that I enjoyed small-group get-togethers much more than large conference-type events. I explored my Myers-Briggs profile and found I was an “INTJ.”
Then, just to confirm the determination, I recently found that out of Cain’s 20 questions to identify extroversion/introversion, 19 of my answers fell firmly into the introvert category.
With apologies to E. M. Forster, “only connect” has been occupying a lot of brain space for me lately as I look back on two years of managing the LinkedIn LIS Career Options group. What I had launched as part of an SLA conference presentation, assuming it might grow to (perhaps?) 35 or 50 people, has become a forum for 3,685 members from over 50 countries engaging in over 450 discussion topics.
I’m trying to figure out how to start off a blog post when I’ve been missing in action for months (good grief, was my last post really November 27th???). Yep, that would be about the time that I was going all-out to finish up my manuscript (LIS Career Sourcebook: Managing and Maximizing Every Step of Your Career, Libraries Unlimited, to be released in late fall this year). Then it was the holidays, and then I basically just decided to read and think and reflect. (Is there a better way to spend winter?)