Leading From Within

An Exploration of 4 Years Inside A Non Credit Department at the Local Community College

Linn-Benton Community College - Home | Facebook
Linn-Benton Community College, Albany, Oregon

As I continue to reflect upon the last 4 years in the position I hold at the College, I learn more about myself, and about being a human being on this planet.

It is funny to think that leading a team at a small community college in Albany, Oregon, would provide insights of this kind, and yet, they do. Why?

Because no matter where you lead, it’s you doing the leading, for one, and two, all contexts to some extent are the same. Yes, the challenges, people, systems, and structures, are different, yet you are there, and you are always getting to know, and developing yourself and other people. Same.

After spending time in leadership in the private sector, and now having done so in the public sector, there are several things that we will discuss in this new series that are similar; and, in some ways, mirror each other.

In this first installment in this new series, I will lay out a brief outline, if you will, of the posts to come. It will be a way to set the stage for the concepts we will discuss, unpack, and walk through together.

I’m going to frame this first entry, and the following entries, by year, which will provide us a base from which to work through the narrative to follow. Ready? Alright, here we go.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

2016-17

I remember well when the job description for the position I currently hold, Director of Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College, landed on my desk. I was working in a program at the college, which was struggling, and in threat of being eliminated. In fact, the program has been eliminated.

I looked over the position description, talked to my wife, friends, and family, and took a walk with a colleague, who asked me this question. Are you an operations man, Jeff? Whoa. Was I?

I was very unsure, and needed to think about it. Here are some of the considerations I made previous to applying to the position, which, I think, are quite generalizable.

  • Reflecting upon my work and academic career.
  • Reflecting upon what I would bring to the position.
  • Doing research about the position.
  • Having conversations with the hiring supervisor.
  • Having conversations with staff in the department.

There were more, bet you get the idea. It is important when making a life change to make all of the considerations and reflections we feel necessary. What happened? Well, I ended up saying this to my then wife.

If it was meant to be, we will know by getting the offer; and, if not, then not.

Of course, you know that I got the offer, and have been in the position for almost 4 years. And, what was the first year like? Hell and heaven all rolled into one. Kinda like life.

2017-18

The first year, especially the first six months, was extremely painful. One of the most painful experiences of my life. Why? Because all day every day, I was outside of my comfort zone. I was also, at this time, not treating my mind and body very kindly.

Here is what the first year looked like.

  • Breakdown central.
  • Remembering who I am.
  • Development outside of the college.
  • Life coach.
  • Breakdown to breakthrough becomes a reality.
  • Relationship development, with myself, and the team.

I say often when talking about that first year, that that was the year of relationships. Yes, we did other things, which I’ve written about in other posts, yet the basis for almost every action that year was developing deeper relationships with ourselves and each other. Painful in many ways, yes, and beautiful in many more.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

2018-19

In the second year, things started to move. Meaning, we began to move, well, almost like a team. We were getting closer, and yet, had a lot more work to do.

Here is what the second year looked like.

  • Process and system improvement.
  • People in the right positions.
  • Vision, mission, goals.
  • Developing priorities.
  • Metrics and measurement.
  • Internal advocacy.
  • External relationships.

As we then moved into year 3, the team became more aligned, and we began to get traction in all areas of our business. As a matter of fact, in the fall of 2019 we were on pace to grow our service to the local communities by another 10%. Amazingly fun.

2019-20

Then, as we moved from fall to winter, we continued our alignment trajectory, and, of course, you all know what happened in early 2020. Yep. A pandemic.

Here is what that looked like.

  • Team alignment.
  • Gaining traction.
  • Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
  • Pandemic?
  • Reprioritizing.
  • Creating 5 new business models.
  • Community response.

Initially, we were wrestling with questions, such as could we deliver completely remote classes. At that time, we did not have remote offerings, so there were no processes or systems to draw upon. Yet, we ended up taking all 5 business models completely remote, and the community response was stellar.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

2020-21

As we entered year 4, all 5 programs were either creating and delivering remote classes and training, or would be by the fall of 2020. And, there was a lot of work to do to continue the momentum we created earlier that year.

Here is what that looked, and well, is like.

  • Creating all new processes and systems.
  • From disruption to sustainability.
  • Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
  • Engagement, relationships, conversion, process and priorities.
  • Planning for the future.
  • 10 business models?

And for next year? Well, I’ve actually been reflecting upon this question quite a bit. Someone asked me recently, what do you see for our work as we, at some point, begin to offer in-person classes again. First, I think offering in-person classes again is still in the distant future, yet I do have some thoughts.

What’s Next?

As we move into the second-half of the 2020-21 school year, we are offering new classes and training, and filling them up with local community members.

I see a 2 to 3 year slow progression from completely remote classes and training, to what I think will be a hybrid-model of both remote and in-person classes and training in the future.

What will the percent mix be of remote and in-person classes in the future? I don’t know. I do think, however, that, unlike when the pandemic started here locally, it will not be sudden. It will take time.

And, that’s okay. There is no rush. We will meet the community needs as they change. That’s part of what we do, and what we do well.

Alright, that completes the overview of the Leading From Within series. I look forward to future posts, where I can share, in more detail, how each of these years has impacted me as a leader, and, even more importantly, as a human being.

#alignment, #business, #coaching, #development, #engagement, #grwoth, #humandevelopment, #leadership, #leadingfromwithin, #ledaershipdevelopment, #metrics, #pandemic, #relationships, #strategicthinking, #systems, #teamdevelopment

7 Things You Can Do to Develop Courage and Humility

What is the difference between courage and humility? Hm. Well, if you look courage up in a thesaurus, you will find that humility is an antonym for courage. Meaning different, yet is it, really?

I think they are more similar than they are different. And, I think understanding this similarity is important to our lives. Ready to take a look? Good, let’s go.

Let’s define these two, shall we. Here we go.

courage

noun  /ˈkʌrɪdʒ/ /ˈkɜːrɪdʒ/[uncountable]Idioms

the ability to do something dangerous, or to face pain or opposition, without showing fear

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

humility

noun /hjuːˈmɪləti/ /hjuːˈmɪləti/[uncountable]

the quality of not thinking that you are better than other people; the quality of being humble

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Hm. At this moment, I’m actually quite surprised about how similar these definitions are. More similar than I would have even predicted.

Do you see it? Either way, it’s okay, let’s take a deeper look at both courage and humility and see what we get.

7 Things You Can do to Develop Courage and Humility

As I’ve written about previously, people often mistakenly believe that there are people that have courage and there are people that don’t. Like it is a developmental trait that some have and others don’t.

However, courage is like any other skill set. Meaning that it can be developed. Yep, it’s true. And, guess what? As you develop courage, you also develop humility. Yep, also true.

Here, then, are 7 ways you can develop courage.

  1. Develop a growth mindset – meaning, be available and open to learning all there is to learn. When you have a growth mindset you realize that there is much more to learn than is known, and you are eager to learn. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. Meaning unavailable and closed to learning. Think flexible versus rigid. When we are flexible, we go with the flow, receive what others have to give us, and then we give what we have back to them. When we are eager to develop a growth mindset, courage follows because contexts where growth mindsets flourish are about development and transformation.
  2. Grow your comfort zone – continuing to practice getting outside of your comfort zone is important. Important to your development, and to the development of courage. When we are outside of our comfort zone, in that moment, we are doing and modeling courage.
  3. Embrace and practice vulnerability – I’ve written several articles recently about vulnerability. Like your comfort zone, when you embrace your own vulnerability and practice being vulnerable, you are immediately being courageous. And, guess what? The more you practice vulnerability, the more courageous you become.
  4. Practice collaboration – collaborative contexts are naturally vulnerable contexts as they are about being open and flexible, learning, and development. When you are collaborating, really collaborating, you are practicing courage; and, the more collaborative contexts you engage in, the more courageous you will become.
  5. Create innovation – innovation and courage go hand in hand. They have to, because innovative contexts are imbued with vulnerability, growth, collaboration, and transformation. Innovative contexts are courageous in nature. The more innovation you create, the more you are being courageous, and the more your courage will grow.
  6. Take risks – though humans like predictability and habit, risk-taking is needed and necessary. Taking risks ensures you develop into the iteration of yourself where you can give the most back to the world. Really. Because humans like predictability and habit, risk-taking feels scary, so when you take risks you will develop courage. The more risk, the more courage will develop.
  7. Face your fears – every human on this planet is afraid. Yes, there is a continuum of fearfulness, yet know that you are not alone in being fearful of things. Fear is a natural part of being a human. However, when you face your fears, you develop courage. And, like risk-taking, or any of the others on this list, the more you face your fears, the more courageous you will become.

Alright, there we have 7 ways you can develop courage. Now, let’s make the connection to humility, shall we.

Photo by Samia Liamani on Unsplash

Here then are

7 Reasons Why Developing Courage Will Also Develop Your humility

  1. Growth mindset – as you develop a growth mindset, you will become more present to just how little humans really know; and, conversely, just how much there is to learn. It is vast, and humbling.
  2. Comfort zones – getting outside of your comfort zone is hard work. Really. At times, very hard. As you get outside of your comfort zone, you will realize how tiring and depleting it can be. Rewarding absolutely, and very, very tiring, and humbling.
  3. Vulnerability – being vulnerable is extremely hard. Of all the items on this list, maybe the hardest. Oftentimes, just being vulnerable once in a different way will cause you to experience great humility.
  4. Collaboration – connecting with other human beings through true collaboration is lovely, and is also an experience where you get to see other humans in action, being vulnerable, developing themselves in new ways, being courageous, taking risks, and transforming. It is a wondrous sight, and very humbling.
  5. Innovation – any and all innovation is humbling. Just the idea of creating something new is a humbling experience. When I created the first iteration of this site, which took a long time, and was totally out of my range of expertise, I was tremendously humbled by the experience.
  6. Risk-taking – like being vulnerable, taking risks is scary. And, if you take risks often, especially while working alongside others, you will experience a whole new level of humbleness.
  7. Fears – facing our fears is extremely difficult; and, when you face them often, you become more humble. You sort of wake up to the reality that facing fears is hard for everyone, so when you witness someone do it, it can actually bring tears to your eyes. Shared humanity.
Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

Alright, there are 7 ways you can develop courage, and 7 reasons why developing courage will also result in more humility.

In the event you’ve been wondering, I picked the introduction picture intentionally. Why?

Because developing courage by doing any of the 7 listed above is about being in action, doing things, living your life the best way you know how by giving your all every day.

Sometimes people conflate courage with iconic pictures of the hero saving the day, which is very dramatic. Yet, I want to offer you a different way to think about courage.

Courage is about being human. Recognizing our fears, the current limits of our knowledge, and doing something to face them, and grow ourselves. When we recognize where we have opportunities to develop, we can then take the necessary actions to create opportunities for ourselves to grow.

And, yes, if you like, to even transform. What does it take?

A willingness to set aside the ego, a little at a time, one step at a time, and take a different action. Take an action you’ve never taken before, and see what you get back. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

#collaboration, #comfortzones, #courage, #developingcourage, #developinghumility, #development, #growthmindset, #grwoth, #humility, #innovation, #risktaking, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement, #vulnerability

Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 4: The Relationship System

Photo by Nick Owuor (astro.nic.visuals) on Unsplash

Have you ever thought about how relationships work? I mean how they function within the systems and spheres that we move through? It is an interesting question, and one that we will explore in this post.

In my first post on relationships, Creating and Maintaining Relationships: What else is there?, I write about how all relationships start with you, and go outward. Here is the diagram from that post.

Now, in this post, we are going to expand on this simple relationship diagram, so we can see the movement that occurs through each of these relationship spheres. Let’s start with the relationship we have with ourselves, as it really does all start there.

Relationship with ourselves

In the post, The Self-Development Tips Series 1: The Art of Loving Yourself, I write about the importance of developing a highest-quality relationship with ourselves. That, in fact, learning how to love ourselves is the very first step in having other high-quality relationships. It is a must. Really.

Without a high-quality relationship with ourselves, we cannot create high-quality relationships with others. Why? Because if we don’t know how to take care of ourselves, to love ourselves, we cannot give care and love out to others. Not in a sustainable way.

We must first develop deep care and love for ourselves, then that same deep care and love will go out from us to others.

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

Relationships with Family

Once we have a high-quality relationship with ourselves, we can truly be there for our family. In being there, I mean have open, honest, and loving communication with each other; developing those high-quality relationships along the way.

In the post, Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 3: Understanding Our Emotions and Strengthening Our Relationships by Slowing Down, I write about the importance of noticing when we are being inattentive to how we feel. Important.

When we are inattentive to our emotions, and are reacting without pausing, there is a higher likelihood that arguments with our partners will become more common. These pauseless reactions also function the same way with and toward our children.

It is important to note that we are not reacting to our environments in this way intentionally. Fully understanding how we are reactive, includes learning about our “triggers.” What are they, whom are they with, and why do we have them? Once we know, we can create space to pause, think and reflect, and then choose a different action.

All of which when combined with having a loving relationship with ourselves, free of blame and shame, creates whole new possibilities with the relationships we have with our family.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Relationships at Work

In the post, Three Transformational Leadership Skills, I write about developing high-quality relationships at work. Developing these relationships, like the ones we have with family, also starts with ourselves.

Once we are clear on who we are, and how we think and feel, we can develop work relationships that are strong and long-lasting. In the article I note three essential skills all leaders should develop in order to create these high-quality relationships.

  1. Authenticity – knowing who we are is the first step, then being who we are all the time is the next.
  2. Safety – creating a safe environment with the team you lead, or work on, is essential. People will not be authentic with you unless you are also authentic, and they feel safe.
  3. Transparency – being forthright about the state of the business, and issues that arise, are also important. Sharing with the people you work with is important for them to feel included, and valued.

These three skills, of course, are also important for us to develop in our personal lives. It works like that. What we develop for ourselves, we end up developing for everyone around us.

Relationships with the Community and The Greater World

How we develop ourselves, and our relationships then goes out from us and into the community, and, yes, the greater world. When we create a focus on our inner development, people around us develop, and the community also develops. That is movement.

The movement is part of the way the relationship network, or system works. Here is a simple illustration that goes a bit further than the above referenced system image, showing that we are connected through everyone we know, ultimately, to all people.

By continuing to add more contexts into the above illustration, you can create more complexity in how the relationship system is interwoven.

Ultimately we are connected to everyone, and everything, and what we give out, comes back to us. All contexts are also connected, sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly, as the above illustration also shows.

Whether the connection is direct or indirect matters less, than the realization that all that we do on this planet as human beings touches each other in some way. Important.

Relationships are so important. Really. The relationship we have with ourselves is the starting point, and, as you can see, it is only the beginning of how we, as human beings, end up touching everyone and everything around us. Even when we don’t know about it.

These relationships and all that we give and get from them are crucial to moving society forward. Without them, there would be no movement.

Know that every action you take to develop and grow yourself also grows your family, friends, teams, organizations, communities, and the greater world.

Develop well.

#authenticity, #community, #connection, #developingourselves, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #emotionalintelligence, #grwoth, #leadership, #loveeachother, #loving-yourself, #relationships, #relationshipsystems, #safety, #theworld, #transparency, #weareallconnected, #workrelationships