Happy Saturday, dear readers! You read the post title correctly–The Waki Librarian blog turns three years old today! I can hardly believe that I’ve been blogging for three years or that I’ve been at my current position for just over three years. Time really does fly (even if it’s a bit wibbly, wobbly).
I was thinking about what I should write about for my 3-year anniversary post and I had a lot of ideas. But the phrase that kept running through my head over the last few weeks is: “Momma was right.” So I thought I’d share some wisdom and things my momma taught me that have helped me in my first three years as a professional librarian and archivist because they might help you, too. So let’s get into the good stuff.
First, you have to understand that my momma is a pretty brilliant woman. Besides teaching me to bake a mean pie and replace a kitchen garbage disposal, she also taught me that we are in control of a lot more of our lives than most people want to believe. She sold her car to buy a motorcycle in order to afford the first payment for tuition to veterinary school at a time when women just didn’t become veterinarians. She doesn’t buy into the societal delusion that there are just some things that women don’t do. And, even though she’s not a librarian, she instilled in me an awesome appreciation for libraries and self-taught learning. And she was pretty much right about everything, not that this fact is at all surprising to her.
So what did my momma teach me that have been essential in my work? I’ll give you three things that are essential for success at work and in life that I still don’t see a lot of people doing.
Being kind is super-important
Being kind (aka being nice) seems to be a lost art on most people. But my momma impressed upon both her daughters that being kind is super-important. It’s what keeps us civil and makes the world a little nicer place. Everyone wants a little kindness and not only will being kind allow you to sleep with a clear conscious at night, it will help you in your work, too. People like to help the people who have been kind to them and who go (even a little) out of their way to be nice. So as you are fast-tracking your way to the top of the librarian or archivist heap, be nice about it. Say hi in the morning to everyone, remember that it was their niece’s birthday party over the weekend and ask them how it went, and even bring in cookies once in a while.
The great thing about being kind is that it makes the world a better place and it doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, you can still be a nice person. Being nice shifts your perspective and will get you through the chaos, trust me on this. But, if you are like some people I know, and need a concrete reason for changing your behavior so you get ROI, think of it this way: being nice will ultimately get you what you want. So if you can’t be nice just because it’s the right thing to do, be nice because it will help your career (although my momma might have a thing or two to say to you if she finds out this is why you are being nice).
Being kind is not the same thing as being a pushover
This is something my momma made sure we understood when growing up. Being nice doesn’t mean you have to be the pushover that some sections of society thinks you should be if you are kind (especially if you are a woman). I think this is one of the stereotypes that I’ve had the most trouble fighting most of my life. People need to understand that you can be both a nice, kind person and a strong person.
Especially when you start your career, there will be people because of your age, or your inexperience, or because you smile, who think that you’ll be easy to push around and use for furthering their agendas. Remain civil, but nicely say no to their machinations. You don’t need to put up with any of that. And, if you’ve been nice (and I mean sincerely nice and caring) to others at your work and in your life, they’ll have your back, too. See? Being nice creates an environment that allows you to be strong. It won’t be easy all the time, but it’s worth it. If being kind allows you a clear conscious at night, being strong will give you a happy state of mind and confidence.
Being yourself will ultimately make you successful
Everyone says this and they’re right, but my momma’s lived it and that makes her evidence stronger, in my mind, in support of being ones’ self at work and in life. I’m not an extrovert by nature and I’m definitely not someone who is comfortable with “tooting my own horn.” I also don’t promise pie in the sky to people, if I can’t deliver. And, while I love bright and shiny tech tools as much as the next person, I’m a private person by nature and so some social media and I don’t really get along. To some, especially if you read marketing blogs or professional development advice, this means I’m on the fast track to oblivion.
I beg to disagree. Hard work, as my momma would say, wins out in the end. If nothing else, us Waki women work harder and smarter than a whole heck of a lot of people. And this, over the course of say three years combined with being kind and slowly building relationships, will make anyone successful. Does it take more time? Yes. Is it as glamorous as blowing up on Twitter over night? Nope. But it is the way to building a lasting career? Totally.
I believe in continually learning and growing. My momma taught me that. But I also believe in staying true to what makes you unique and you because then you do your best work and hopefully find success and pleasure in your work and in your life.
So those are just a few of the life lessons my momma passed on to me and that I’m now doing the nice thing and passing them on to you. You’ve probably heard it all before, but have you taken the time to try being kind, being strong, and being yourself? Try it out and don’t forget to have a cookie once in a while, cookies are cool, too.
And whenever I get down or need to remember my momma’s advice, I hear this song in my head (really not surprising, if you knew my momma, even if it’s not quite about what we’re talking about now):
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, give your momma a call, have dinner with some friends, and curl up with a cat and a good book (and a cup of tea or glass of cider, whatever wrinkles your prune). I’ll be back next week with our regularly scheduled archives, libraries, and technology programming. Allons-y!