It is my privilege and my joy to present the Skagit Valley College BAS in Applied Management Class of 2020.
Over the last two years, we have laughed, we have learned, we have cried, we have celebrated, we debated, sometimes we argued (but always with respect and always from an evidence-based point of view). We’ve watched our members thrive and we’ve supported each other through our struggles. We’ve witnessed engagements (3), welcomed new family members (1), and high-fived new jobs (6). Above all, we became a community with connections, friendships and associations embedded in the shared experience of being the inaugural cohort of the program.
This group of people are among the most honorable that I’ve had the pleasure to know and I am proud of their accomplishments and their achievements. I know that for each one of them, the future is so bright, they will all need to wear shades – you got this Class of 2020, you got it!
It has taken me a while to write with regards to the national public uprising and dialog around systemic racism that has been going on. The silence is mainly because I have been processing my own thoughts around these complex and multi-faceted issues. In all candor, I haven’t known what to say or how to express the many emotions I have been feeling.
I am now at a point where I feel ready to talk with others on this topic. But, I have no answers, only questions, with two main thoughts have been bubbling through my mind
The first is that it is my opinion that we have to put the conversation around racial equity and justice into historical perspective. As the image below shows, the period in which Black Americans lived in servitude and experienced legal segregation dwarfs the time that they have not.
Given this, don’t we have a social justice obligation to support our fellow citizens with equity-related initiatives so that the opportunity for equality can become a reality?
The second is that if we believe that equity means meeting and supporting people where they are at, shouldn’t we be respecting people’s decisions to participate in this movement in whatever way they each see fit? The image below shows the different ways that people are acting on the imperative for social justice and it spoke to me.
It is my hope that however you choose to participate, you do so from a way that feels right for you and that recognizes the critical need for every person in society to have the support they need and deserve for success. This tenet is the foundational platform for the Skagit Valley College Bachelor in Management program whose participants give me cause for hope.
Here’s an insightful blog from Medium, which discusses how each of us are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways. I appreciated how the author acknowledges that many of us just don’t have the bandwidth, the interest, the capability, the resources, the whatever to learn a new skill, bake daily, train for a marathon etc.
I also appreciated that the author acknowledges that for so many, survival is the main accomplishment.
Whichever way they are experiencing the pandemic, I am filled with immense pride when I think of every BASAM program member. 23 of them are weeks away from graduating with their bachelor degree, 20 of them are weeks away from finishing the third year of the degree. Another 27 are months away from starting this journey! To all, the heartiest of bravos – you’ve got this!
Check out this article from the New York Times that shares some great perspective on how to keep motivated and get unstuck when world events make you feel like crawling under a rock. I found it helpful in finding my mojo again – what about you? What is helping you get unstuck?
Independent learning is a cornerstone of Skagit Valley College’s Bachelor in Management program. Our classes meet just once a week on Fridays so the bulk of our learning is outside the classroom, in our own environments and with ourselves to hold ourselves accountable. The program prepares our participants for the workplace of the unexpected and the unanticipated; no way is this more true than in the current world health pandemic.
The tips in this great article from Fast Company shares hacks on maintaining workplace productivity when working remotely or independently and are equally useful whether you’re a student or and employee who is staying at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus
I just read this blog post from the Harvard Business Review, which discusses the perils of being so focused on one thing that it defines who you are. The post discusses it in the context of a career but it could so easily apply to any element.
For me, it’s definitely been my career that’s been that one thing. In my corporate days, I lived and breathed my job, even though countless people warned me about the related danger and risk of burn out. I started to see the same patterns repeat in my second career as faculty. It’s what happens when you love what you do.
This time though, thanks to a superb circle of people who care- my family, my friends at Skagit Valley College and beyond and a number of my program participants, I’ve caught myself. Realizing that I was falling into that swirling sink hole of working almost non stop and seeing the impact it was starting to have on my effectiveness as an instructor and on my relationships, I caught myself. I’ve pulled back the hours, redeployed some of that time for me and my interests : knitting, art, walking, reading, time with my loved ones including my Bandit. And guess what: by working less, because I’m rested and relaxed, I’m achieving more – funny that!
So what about you? How have you dealt with the risk of burn out? When do you see the signs of the slippery slope? How do bring yourself back?
One of the things I’ve always struggled with is listening. I think quickly, sometimes too quickly, and there have been more times than I care to admit that my mind goes on journeys while engaging in conversation. It’s not that I’m disinterested in the conversation – it’s just that I take what the person is saying and let my mind go off on the sparks, connections and links it wants to make. And then before you know it, I’m six miles away from the conversation and coming back to it takes more mental gymnastics to cover my mental detour and to rebuild my connection with my conversation partner.
I’ve worked hard at improving in this area, paying particular focus on listening with my eyes and ears and I’m always looking for tips and techniques to build this skill. So, I was intrigued by this essay in the New York Times by Kate Murphy, author of a book You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters. Murphy shares the findings of her conversations with expert listeners such as CIA agents and focus group moderators. The article is rife with suggestions on how to be a better listener and with some startling statements about the ramifications of not listening well. None made more impact than Ms Hudson’s closing line “…to listen poorly, selectively or not at all limits your understanding of the world and prevents you from becoming the best you can be.”
And so on this night on this night before the first day of BASAM classes in 2020, I make my new quarter pledge to focus 100% on every conversation I have. I further ask any of my conversation partners to call me on it if they see my mind starting to take out its passport for its journey to other places.