I had the opportunity to attend the Interfraternity Institute (IFI) at Indiana University this past June and had an amazing time. One of the things we discussed, thanks to Jeremiah Shinn, was professional philosophy. As part of my graduate school education, I was required to create and identify a professional philosophy. With Jeremiah’s session at IFI, I was forced to re-evaluate my professional philosophy, thanks to his prompts, and now that I have three years of professional experience under my belt. So here is what I got:
- It’s ours and yours but never mine, unless it is wrong. – Great things happen because of the collective work of people. Even individuals need the help of others (either directly or indirectly) to be successful. Take ownership in your role when things go bad. Are other people at fault? Maybe. More importantly evaluate what you did, learn from it, and move on. Blaming others doesn’t help.
- Your time is your time but respect my time. – I am putting aside time from my schedule to meet with you, so that time is yours. All I ask is that you are on time and you use that time effectively (whatever effectively means for you). We can have a personal/casual conversation when we meet. If I have back-to-back meetings, we are ending our meeting on time regardless if we covered everything as I have somewhere else to be and need to respect that person’s time. I am cool with drop-ins, but understand if someone scheduled a meeting with me, I am going to honor that over your impromptu discussion. If we start a meeting late because people don’t show up on time, sorry but I am leaving when our meeting was assigned to end. It seems harsh, but in a culture of habitual lateness, scheduling pointless meetings, and lack of respect for others’ time, I am putting my foot down.
- Never ask someone to do something you are not willing to do yourself. – Do I hate filing? You’re damn straight I do. But I still do it from time to time, even though I have a student assistant who could do it for me. Why? Sometimes stuff just needs to be filed and she isn’t around. Plus, it allows me to model the behavior I want to see. We often give menial tasks to those who are lower in the hierarchical rung. We have all been there before and it sucks. I feel it helps remove portions of that power differential, when they see we are willing to do the work we ask them to do. At the end of the day, we are all in this together.
- We need to know what we are doing today, tomorrow, next week, month, semester, and year, yesterday. – I know. I know. Holy commas, Batman. In summation, if we don’t know where we are going, we will never get there.
- We are here for students and here to serve. – We have our jobs because of students. This does not mean we cater to their every demand, as much as they may want that. It means our work needs to be focused around them, or student-centered. We are servant leaders. We are educators. Simply, our work needs to be about students.
- Our Strengths drive our actions and process, but must be adaptable. – I am assuming that most people have learned about their Strengths or at least heard of the concept of strengths. Like any personality typology, our strengths are our wheelhouse. They are were we operate best and are most comfortable. So they often drive our actions and process. However, we must be able to adapt to situations and environments that require us to go beyond our Strengths to be successful.
- Ask difficult questions and confront complex issues. – Sometimes the hardest question to ask is “Why?” We often find ourselves in political situations and landscapes we do not understand and the simple question of “Why?” can frustrate people beyond belief. “Why?” forces people to articulate issues they may have never thought about before and ultimately do not have a rational answer. You may be seen as challenging the process and overly critical, but wanting to understand the underlying context of a decision or issue will only help me in being able to articulate
That is a round up of my professional philosophy. What resonates with you? What is different? What are some of the pieces to your professional philosophy?