Ready to start “N”th grade ?

This fantastic op-ed that appeared in a recent issue of the New York Times eloquently captures the opportunities for re-sets that a new year brings.

As we approach the start of a new academic year at the Skagit Valley College Bachelor in Applied Science program I’m full of fervent New Year resolutions for my “nth” grade in the learning journey that is life. I’m sharing the top three themes I’ve been mulling on over the summer, along with the ways I’ll be attempting to put my ideas

In all my interactions, I want to be as cool as a cucumber on a hot summer’s day – I’ll work on this by assuming good intent;

I want to live each day with the same enthusiasm and joy that my puppy Bandit shows – I’ll do this through the power of exercise endorphins (in other words, I’ll sustain the workout routine I’ve developed); and,

I want to give my best to my program participants. I’ll do this by prioritizing time to “reboot, recharge and refresh”- nothing can perform at its optimal level without downtime for maintenance.

Any of these thoughts resonate? I’d love to hear your ideas on the “nth” grade of your life

Speaking Up in Meetings

In our Human Resources for Managers class today we practiced tough workplace conversations that we can expect to have as managers. We role played being the manager and the employee and then debriefed on the conversations.

During the class debrief, I witnessed a top five personal program highlight. People who so far have held back from expressing their thoughts, opinions and experiences during class discussions shared their voice. One by one, they made perceptive, insightful contributions that prompted us all to consider new dimensions and approaches. Our conversation was enriched thanks to their contributions and on behalf of the entire class, I thank them (they and the other program members know who they are).

I then started thinking about all the reasons we can hold back from speaking, which took me to this Harvard Business Review piece on the balance between speaking up and holding. Wonder if any of the the article strike a chord? Would love to hear your thoughts and the pivot that caused a shift in your willingness to share.

June 4 1990

29 years ago today, the bright eyed and bushy tailed person you see in the picture, who had graduated from her bachelor degree just one week prior, set foot in the lobby of 120 Park Avenue, NY, NY.

Little did I know that I was setting off on the adventure of a lifetime. An adventure that took me to travels to 80+ countries and homes on three. An adventure where I made enduring friendships, formed over countless learning experiences from late nights in the office getting ready for the “nth” long range plan presentation; writing the business weekly highlights; through commiserating; and, finding the learning in the things that didn’t go as planned and the exhilaration where they did.

As I think back over the last almost three decades, the words of the immortal Frank Sinatra come to mind “regrets I’ve had a few, but then again, too few too mention”. You see, I have arrived at the conclusion that every experience, good, bad, ugly, was all in preparation for the work I am blessed to do today – guiding a group of talented, dedicated Skagit Valley College BAS-AM participants on their own adventures and learning experiences. I realize how fortunate I am that even on days where the higher ed bureaucracy seems endless and the mountains of grading appear insurmountable (I’m two weeks behind, with two weeks in the quarter to go!), I’m living my iki-gai, the life stage that Japanese culture describes as the intersection between passion, mission, profession and vocation.

And, I realize that this wouldn’t be possible without the friendship, mentorship and faith from an immeasurable number of people but most especially my parents, my sister, and the BAS-AM Class of 2018-20, who laid a bet that the bumpiness of being inaugural class would pay off. Thank you for your trust in me. I won’t let you down.

Self-Care: Banish White Rabbit

These wise words appeared on one of my social media feeds this morning. With the end to the Spring quarter rapidly approaching and stress levels ever increasing , it felt like a serendipitous reminder that self-care in whatever form is needed must be a “have to do”, never a “nice to do.

When things get hectic, as happens for so many of us, the first thing to fall of my “must do” list are the routines such as gym sessions, walks, no screen time, that I have carefully cultivated in less busy periods. I become like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland: I’m late, I’m late. And, while I get all my work done, it’s often at a significant personal cost to my well being, which takes endless time and energy to repair. I see the White Rabbit syndrome all around me, friends, family, colleagues, those with whom I’m learning.

Reading these words this morning was a much needed poke that I have to find a way to escape the White Rabbit syndrome by prioritizing self-care. So, I’m committing to one self-care action a day for the rest of 2019, with self-care to be defined however feels right that morning. I’m naming this personal accountability challenge “Banish White Rabbit”. If get tempted to allow the White Rabbit to become disruptive, I’ll be reminding myself of the alternative, less desirable outcome.

And now, I’m wondering if any one else, particularly BAS-AM program members, are interested in joining me on the mission to “Banish White Rabbit”? The support would be most welcome.

Working with No Motivation

As we approach the final stretch of the quarter and the year, the energy levels in the BAS-AM program are palpably low. It’s been a challenging ten months filled with arduous work. Yet, the “ho hums” are so often interspersed with moments of joy from news of job offers, completing a Math pre-req, and scholarship offers to name but a few, that the ho hums quickly go away.

Now, with the finish line so close in sight and prospects of a summer break, our stamina and our will to keep going to keep going becomes ever important. So it was timely to come across this article from Medium discussing how to keep going even when you don’t want too. Take a read at the tips and let me know what you think. Worth a shot?

My Name is Sunaina

When I was around eight years old, I came running home from school one day and excitedly told my mother that I’d been given a new name at school. We lived in England at the time and my friends had told me that my name “Sunaina” was too hard to say so they were going to call me “Sue”.

My mother listened patiently as she (almost) always does and then gently shared words that stay with me to this day. “Sunaina” she said. “Sunaina, your name is Sunaina. It is an Indian name, you are from India, never ever forget that”.

Not only have I never forgotten I’m from India but from that day, I’ve also always asked that people use my given name and offered pronunciation help to those I see struggling. More importantly though, I do my very best to respect other people’s names and I see what a positive impact this has on establishing a rapport and building relationships.

When I came across this Ted Talk article on how to recover from a name mispronunciation, I was intrigued. I was struck between the parallels and the differences between my own experience and the author’s. Mostly though, I was taken by the ideas the author offers on how to address and correct a situation that occurs more often than it should.

How have you handled this type of situation? What’s worked and, what hasn’t?