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DAY 1: being in a muddle…

January 20, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

…back to Monday and back to work. I was gone this weekend, celebrating my birthday by eating & drinking way too much, and generally forgetting that big decisions are looming on my vocational horizon and, doctorally speaking, my large research questions are as yet undefined. That said, I regret none of it because working and thinking hard must be balanced by times totally off otherwise your creative well runs dry and that’s not good for anyone involved.

So… here I am again, trying to get back into the 500 words and clear my head a bit…Did I mention I had an interview last week? : )

I did in fact mention it to my cohort last week to get their input and wisdom regarding if I should or should not take the job if it was offered. The cohort, as always, dazzled me as they poured out stories from the past and gave me their own bits of wisdom. The offering was a gift and made me realize yet again that community is quite profound…I cannot say enough how glad I am to have them as yet another barometer in my life.

So, here’s the highlights of all they wrote. (As a recap, I asked the cohort what happens when they have hired or inherited people who might not share their epistemological views…is it invigorating to the workplace? Overly hindering? And…how closely do you relate to the epistemological views of your work and how much value do you put into those ties?)


“I have come to realize it is never perfect when you are leading a team or are being led by someone. Undoubtedly the personal experience is far more rewarding when things are in sync but it isn’t impossible or worth pursuing if it was otherwise. I am a firm believer that if one is good in what they do and can manage one’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivations well, then it is quite workable…There is definitely some adjustment it will take but a lot depends on yourself on how to handle that…a lot of room for benefit of doubt, agreeing to disagree :), understanding others’ perspectives and jobs…especially in the first year was my mantra when I was in a similar situation.”

“There have been many times that I have had to forgo my ontological and epistemological beliefs. I find this takes being extremely political, a craft which one develops throughout time and experience…Those who listen more, try to accommodate multiple needs and demands, are less heavy handed in their actions are more prone to being successful as leaders. At least in the real world this has been my experience. I think these same strategies apply to us as researchers. Manage people with care and respect and they will be at your disposal.

I actually make a conscious effort to hire people with different strengths and beliefs from my own because I genuinely believe that the strongest teams are in fact the most diverse ones; and yes I also believe that this does invigorate the organization.  And while that may make working together more challenging, I’m also a firm believer that what is most worthwhile is seldom what is easiest.

That having been said, while I do believe that “…the good of the organization, or the culture of the organization can transcend the personal views of individuals…” they is always a danger if you are dealing in extremes.  If there is conflict between an individual’s core values and the values embodied by the organization or work team…to the point where the individual feels they have to compromise their integrity in order to function in the team, then my experience has been that it doesn’t usually end well.

“I say conflicting thoughts amongst colleagues is a healthy thing so long as there is a good respect maintained. Group think is anathema to a healthy work environment (but too much conflict isn’t good either). I suspect that you were chosen not just for your exemplary skills, but because you would provide an alternative perspective. Worst case scenario? You take the position and build your reputation and if you don’t like the environment, use this new experience to go for a similar position of responsibility elsewhere. Good luck with your decision.”

It overall seems that…Conflict isn’t a bad thing because it stimulates creative thinking and new paths. The important thing is being honest, open, and committed to working through the conflict, exploring all options, and keeping an open mind.

…and some part of me wishes I could see a snapshot from the future because the pros and cons are screaming so loud I’m having a hard time hearing what might ring most true with my own soul. The positives are that I’d have more agency, I’d get to implement some changes I’ve been mentally thinking about, and I might actually make a positive difference in the lives of students and instructors. The negatives are that it’d be scary to hold and host meetings, I hate conflict, I am super private and not transparent at all, and I don’t want to lose my own autonomy and deal with stupid questions or admin issues or mindless meetings…it would ultimately be inconvenient, I am scared I’ll burn out or get trapped or hate my job and then I’d fizzle out into nothing.

Hahaa…so yeah, the positives are all great outward looking ideas while the negatives are all panic prone craziness…but somehow the unfounded lies feel so much more real than anything else because they’re inside me and they touch nerves of insecurity that I live my life trying to insulate.

And yet looking back this does seem oddly like it might be my next step…Ahh 32….nothing like beginning the year with a running start!

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