26.4.08

I dare you

I've just had a long talk with a colleague (S), someone whose advice and guidance I treasure. We're working on a project and were sharing thoughts and gripes about other areas of our lives. I mentioned a mutual friend (D), and the problems she's having with someone she's working with and how frustrating this can be. The situation is difficult, not just because of the other person's stature but also because there are things happening that could really benefit from the work they're doing. However, the refrain D is hearing is "it's not within our purview".

S said, essentially, that's nonsense. When you have a committee charge, an annual employment evaluation or some other assessment and there are minimum outcomes listed, going beyond is not "outside" your purview. For example, if my supervisor suggests that I find a conference to attend next year on green architecture, that's the minimum outcome. If I find two, isn't that better? Three may be pushing it, but it's showing initiative, right? So, D's case, going beyond the charge would show initiative and bolster their position.

The trick is conveying this to the other person. As a supervisor, I need my staff to meet the minimum recommendations, but I want to encourage them to go beyond. As a committee chair, I need to meet the minimum outcomes for the committee, but we must also look at ways to go beyond that. As a librarian, I need my students to learn certain skills and read, but I (and their teachers) should show them how to go beyond the bare bones to find a passion. In my personal life, I need to meet certain minimums to keep things going smoothly; going beyond will make life even better.

S is right: we need to dare.

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