Great Responsibility

Over the past few months there have been a plethora of conversations surrounding race, sexuality, gender. The context has become very much majority vs. minority, privileged vs. non-privileged, oppressed vs. oppressed, the has and the has nots. In all of these conversations, there has been something that has been bugging me about all of them. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it until I read a post about a situation an alum from my HESA program, found himself in and reflecting upon:

“As I walked toward my apartment and crossed a dimly lit street, I could see a group of four white students getting ready to turn the corner while carrying on what seemed to be a light-hearted conversation. When they finally turned the corner and saw me, the conversation stopped, heads faced the ground, and one girl closed her button down shirt and clinched herself. They didn’t speak another word until I had passed them by.”

As is the nature of social media, comments and perspectives were posted in response. Reading through the conversations and posts I realized from the questions and points being made what has been bugging me about the nature of all the conversations surrounding identities and current events, etc. lately.

It not just the issues that are being discussed and whether white people are giving space to people of color, straight people giving space to the LGB community, male and female genders giving space to the transgendered community. Its the point of departure of the conversations. Rather than discussing the issues and addressing them, we get stuck in needing to justify or prove why a minority identity is feeling hurt or betrayed, rather than the issue itself.

I’ve seen in many conversations lately, and even in some of my own, where the individual with the minority identity had to “give the benefit of the doubt” to someone with a privileged identity because they “may not know”; Where a person with a privileged identity pushed bacity identity and demanded that they justify or prove why thek on a person with a minor status quo should change; Where I’ve been ask to explain why I deserve to have equal rights (i.e. marriage, blood donation, civil rights); Where a person of a minority identity is questioned for assuming actions against them were based on an identity when those who did the actions, did them based on assumptions.

I feel that these conversations are becoming more demeaning and dehumanizing over time.

Why is the majority able to treat minorities based on stereotypes and assumptions, yet minorities are required to show burden of proof before feeling hurt? Why do I need to justify my existence and identities before I’m considered for equal treatment? Why shouldn’t the status quo change?

Our conversations are centering around what “we” (people with minority identities) take away from the majority. Its as though we’re in a bartering system for rights and privileges and even just being human.

I love the iconic quote from Voltaire: ”

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

As a minority, its a privilege and power to have a different view and share different experiences . We have a great responsibility to educate others on our different identities, share our experiences, and advocate for ourselves and each other. But its even more so true that the majority have a responsibility to educate themselves, share their experiences and listen to others experiences and advocate for others and not to just give space to minority voices.

Tangent: And when I say to advocate, that does not mean playing ‘the devil’s advocate’ every time someone shares emotions or feelings over an issue or situation. The devil and his advocate have a place in businesses, meetings, conflict management and other such conversations. They do not have a stake hold in how a person feels or receives actions from others based on their identities. 

There’s a lot mulling in my mind right now and I’m just starting to unpack this. But felt I needed to get some of this written down to help me map out my thoughts.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Posted in Higher Education/Student Affairs, LGBT, Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

little l vs. Big L Leaders

Leadership is not about being perfect. It’s not about always making the right decision. It’s not about being better than everyone or more experienced. It doesn’t have anything to do with how popular you are. And it’s definitely not about the title you have.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been able to summarize my leadership mindframe between a little l leader and a Big L Leader. Now this is not a new metaphor for leadership, but my understanding and interpretation of it has. Lately for me, a Big L Leader practices Big L Leadership and is willing to be responsible and accountable for a group, an organization, a project, etc regardless internal challenges.

Courtesy QuotesHDWallpaper.com

Courtesy QuotesHDWallpaper.com

Over the past few weeks I’ve been mulling over the leaders in my life and their leadership styles. As the majority of my blog readers can attest to, being in Student Affairs and a fraternity, there is no shortage of leaders. But how many are Big L Leaders?

Each leader in my life has a plethora of leadership traits that we find in the multitude of leadership styles and theories.

Some are detail-oriented. Some are great time managers. Some are great at uniting a group of people together for a task.

Some are great at transformational leadership as defined by authors of Transformational Leadership, Bass and Riggio:

“Transformational leaders…are those who stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity. Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization.”

Other leaders excel at transactional leadership which emphasises reward and punishment practices. While others excel at the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Model which proffers the idea the type of leadership style should be respectively match with the maturity/ experience of the subordinate in one of four relationships: 1) Telling (High Task-Low Relationship); 2) Selling (High Task-High Relationship); 3) Participating (Low Task-High Relationship); 4) Delegating (Low Task-Low Relationship).

And the use of all of these are great and make for wonderful leaders. But for all the great practices, styles, traits and theories we have and use, to be a Big L Leader you need to come full circle, and own the responsibilities and be accountable for the good, the bad and the ugly of your group, project etc. And I’ll be honest there are not many, but thank goodness I have some great Big L Leaders in my life now.

If at the end of the day you pass the buck, for a mistake, onto a subordinate, an external entity or even a superior, I would not consider you a Big L Leader. If you do not acknowledge individual/team efforts, I wouldn’t consider you a Big L Leader. Those practices only get you to little l style leader. You’ve only done the task and not done the leadership. Yes, the team may have grown and developed and perhaps you succeeded at the task. But if you do not take responsibility and hold yourself accountable for the actions and results, good, bad or ugly, of yourself , the project, the department, then I can’t consider you a Big L Leader.

Always hold your team and office responsible and accountable for their own actions within the organization. But always hold yourself responsible and accountable for the group as a whole. It’s never fun taking responsibility for the errors of a team/team member, or the poor decisions of a fellow staff member, but to me that is the last step of being a Big L Leader and practicing Big L Leadership.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I am not perfect at this. It’s human nature to practice “Survival of the Fittest”. But to be a Big L Leader I’m learning that I need to transcend beyond Survival of the Fittest and understand that while it’s an honor to be a leader it requires not only the traits and skills of one, but the practice of full circle responsibility and accountability.

Food for thought :)

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

References:

Bass, Bernard M. and Ronald E. Riggio. (2006). Transformational leadership (2nd ed.). New York, New York: Psychology Press.

Leadership-central.com. (2015, July 14). Hersey-Blanchard Situational Model. Retrieved from http://www.leadership-central.com/situational-leadership-theory.html#axzz3fs576KX4.

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New Area for Social Media Training?

Preparations for training for Fall is completely owning my mind right now; and of course, if you know me, I spend a bit of time on social media, and, so between the two, I’ve been thinking about social media training.

We have all come to accept that social media must be a platform to educate, learn, and socialize on. Through experience and growing pains, we have learned that there are advantages and disadvantages to social media. As with everything, we’ve created best practices and trainings on how to use different platforms and when to use them and how to analyze the statistics.

Nowadays, if you are not able to do at least basic social media and understand basic terminology you are behind. Watching social media lately, despite all the best practices and skills we’ve created trainings for, its become apparent that we may have forgotten one key topic to address in workshops and trainings: How to handle conflict management on your platforms.

Courtesy of erelations.info

Courtesy of erelations.info

We can handle the comments that may be negative or challenging us say from a customer or student in “official” remarks and responses. But for those daily off the cuff conversations we all have on social media with family, friends and each other, our conflict management and handling of tense situations is all over the place. For some reason we are not able to acknowledge that there may be a certain point we need to take a conversation off line to face-to-face. We are trying to manage conflict resolutions in 140 characters, and at times it’s proving to be a challenge if we’re being optimistic.

Perhaps we’re not managing ourselves when it comes to conflict on our social media platforms because of the invisible wall that we’ve mentally created that seems to shield us from “direct” contact with the other person?

Perhaps we need to really assess what are good practices in handling tense situations or conflict on social media platforms and steps or practices to help manage those situations such as acknowledging when a conversation needs to go face-to-face, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.

Maybe we just need a reminder that while everything is online, there’s still a human behind the online identity and we still need to conduct ourselves in best conflict management practices, just as we would in person, if we want learning and growth to happen.

Or maybe it’s just acknowledging that doing EVERYTHING online isn’t possible and even with the most advanced of technologies there are some things we must do in person and face-to-face because 140 characters or a public facebook post is not able to do.

I’m not sure what my personal answer is to this, but as I gear up for training and a new year, I’m definitely thinking about training on not only how to use platforms and how to get the most out of them but also best practices for what we do on them.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Resources:

Business Review Canada: What to do if a Social Media Fight Breaks Out on Your Turf

Brand Driven Digital: How to Moderate Conflicts Within Social Media

Conflict Resolution Network: Conflict Resolving Media

Posted in Technology/Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Year Down

Middle of a Moment

If this is what my family has to be
Then I don’t need one watching over me
A family doesn’t make you sleep outside
A family doesn’t laugh and say you lie
Remember what a home is
Think of how your life should be
But you’re stuck in the middle of a moment
Can’t crawl out of where you are
Only steps away the world’s okay
But you can’t see that far
Stuck in the middle of a moment
That’s halfway to somewhere new
Can’t go back
You’re moving through
You’ll have to think in ways you never thought
You’ll have to make the best of what you’ve got
Find the answers hiding in between
See a door no one’s ever seen
Something’s there you feel it
Stop to look it’s all around
So you’re stuck in the middle of a moment
No clear path no shining star
Just a step away the world’s okay
So try to see that far
And there in the middle of a moment
You’re halfway to somewhere new
Can’t go back Keep moving through
‘Cause there is magic
Now you know
You made magic
Made it grow
And marvelous wonderful things can come true
In the middle of a moment
In the middle of a moment
In the middle of a moment
You’re on your way

~James and the Giant Peach-The Musical

Another year successfully in the books. As I was contemplating the post for today, I came across this song from James and the Giant Peach-The Musical.

Now, first…how AWESOME that it’s a musical?? Like seriously one of the best books ever, and now a musical. #Awesome.

Second, the lyrics just triggered exactly what I wanted to say.

It’s been a year of growth, discovery, life, love and learning. A couple years ago I was “stuck”. I knew what was behind me and what could be ahead. There was a light at teh end of the tunnel, but I couldn’t see it yet. Well, thanks to everyone for friends, family, students, colleagues, fellow bloggers, and many more, over the past few years, especially this last year, I’ve become unstuck and have been moving forward. I’m now seeing the light and it is magical! So for everyone who’s been in my life this year thank you! :)

I couldn’t be the man I am today without you! I hope today is just as magical and awesome as it is for me! And can’t wait for this next year of life!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Inaugural Panda Mixed Tape 2015

So, amidst the cray cray of higher education, Student Affairs, SCOTUS decisions, volunteering for my fraternity, life happenings and blogging, life can get pretty intense. Sometimes you need to just take a walk or find a quiet place and listen to some good tunes.

So while we trudge through the summer, I created a playlist for you for those multiple moments in our Student Affairs’ lives. To help, I organized them A.T.B (According to Brian) and my moods when I listen to them, and yes,…it is a VERY eclectic collection :)

Enjoy!

For Inspiration and Encouragement:

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images\

If I Had Wings, Scott MacIntyre

You Have More Friends Than You Know, GLEE

Proud, Heather Small

Underdog, The Lost Trailers

For Energy and Picking Yourself Up:

Courtesy Google Images

Courtesy Google Images

The Anthem, Good Charlotte

The Beginning, RuPaul

Stronger, Kelly Clarkson

Strut, Cheetah Girls 2

Undefeated, Jason Derulo

We Are (Theme from “Ice Age: Continental Drift”)

Standing My Ground, Natalie Stovall

Somebody Loves You, Betty Who

For Quiet Moments and Reflection:

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Drink a Beer, Luke Bryan

God’s Will, Martina McBride

Follow Love, FFH

Dare You to Move, Switchfoot

Don’t Forget Where You Belong, One Direction

For Lip-Syncing in Your Office:

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Hold On, Wilson Phillips

Thank You For Being a Friend, Andrew Gold

Cruise, Florida Georgia Line

Wannabe, Spice Girls

Everything is AWESOME!!!, Tegan and Sara (From “The Lego Movie”)

For Dancing in Your Office:

Shake It Off, Taylor Swift

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Whitney Houston

XXXs and OOOx (An Americal Girl), Trisha Yearwood

Raise Your Glass, P!nk

You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home, Hannah Montana

9-5, Dolly Parton

Walk the Dinosaur, Queen Latifah (Fron “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”)

Hope you try them out!

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Ponderings

There’s something rubbing me the wrong way with the tone of our field lately. I honestly can’t put my finger on it, but my gut has an unsettling feeling.

Perhaps it’s the exclusiveness of our conversations.

It could conceivably be an unbalance of our understanding our field as a whole.

Maybe it’s the way we treat each other on social media platforms.

It could possibly be the lack of patience as educators and colleagues.

Perchance it is our ability to dehumanize one another.

I could also very well just be having indigestion, but, honestly, that’s not likely.

Let’s have some real talk for a moment. Student Affairs is in the middle of an identity crisis and lately it’s been feeling like Star Wars; a battle between two forces. 

Courtesy of wallpapervortex.com

Lately, honest feelings, opinions and practices have been coming to light more publicly. While we continue to be positive, energetic and “peppy”, we are also mean-hearted, caddy, narrow-minded, and selfish. For all the theories and best practices we impart on our students, we are the worst kind of people to actually impart that knowledge and practice upon and it shows, on a daily basis.

I love the work of our field. I love watching the students develop. I love witnessing colleagues grow. I love the individuals I have met along the way. I love my group of friends and colleagues who support me in my personal life and work life (And honestly these people need freaking gold medals for putting up with me sometimes).

But it’s hard to watch and accept the factions being created, the gang like mentality that is being practice, and the inability to understand one another in order to grow. The hierarchy of degrees and positions is becoming a more significant and annoying obstacle and theory vs. theory to practice continues to wedge itself in all of this. Theorists are becoming the driving forces behind theories rather than the theories themselves and what you say garners more social capital than what you do. We’re becoming no better than Congress in Washington D.C.

Current events are showing us what is wrong with our field and each other. But rather than using these events to become stronger and more united, we are utilizing it to tear each other down. We are taking advantage of our weaknesses to justify factioning off even more so. Instead of dealing with the problems directly, we keep creating more and more subgroups and Facebook pages, Twitter handles, hashtags, GroupMes, etc.

Perhaps its seeing the true nature of our field and each other that I’m struggling with. Perhaps the illusion of “student affairs” has finally burst and rather than just seeing what Student Affairs does, I’m seeing what Student Affairs is. Maybe this is just a phase/growing pain that the field is going through. Or it could just be me, not accepting that factions are better than a whole or my lack of understanding of the people and the field or the ability to see the “big picture”. I’m not sure.

Like I said, all of this is just recent musings and ponderings. And as you know, I learn and process as I write so theres rarely ever a nice little bow after my musings. But I really needed to write this down to process and share with others in the hopes they might have some further insights to help me process.

Hit me up if you want to share further insights because I’d like to know what my gut feeling is actually reacting to and why.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Posted in Higher Education/Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Higher Education as Jadzia Dax

Over the past few weeks there have been several conversations in the Twitterverse and other platforms about the worth and recognition of Student Affairs. I’ve also recently participated in a study where the relationship between academia and student affairs popped up as part of the conversation. So on my way home yesterday, while I was dashing between raindrops to make my Star Trek marathon in time, I came up with an interesting analogy that helped me put the relationship between “the faculty” and “the staff/Student Affairs” into a new-ish perspective for me.

Now, my first point of order for this analogy:

Where my Trekkies at?

Oh yes. I am a lover of all things Star Trek. I grew up on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine; with Wesley Crusher as my BFF, Worf my idol and Data my conscience. Once a year I have a Star Trek marathon. It drives my partner and friends nuts LOL.

Now, if you are a Trekkie who embraced Deep Space Nine (yes there are factions of Trekkies based on the multiple series) then you’ll be familiar with Jadzia Dax.

Courtesy of startrekdesktopwallpaper.com

Courtesy of startrekdesktopwallpaper.com

Jadzia Dax is a joined Trill. Jadzia is the name of the woman host, while Dax is the name of the symbiont that lives in her abdomen. Once joined, the host cannot live without the symbiont; and while the symbiont can exist without the host, its life is meaningless until joined with another host.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

As a Graduate Student I took an Organization and Administration of Higher Education course that focused on the structure and foundations of institutional structure. I remember one of the first lines out of the professor’s mouth was “Student Affairs is secondary in organizational development because it is not the Core of the the institution”. As an SAPro, I was appalled at this blasphemous statement. However as the course continued I began to see what he meant. The Core, or the very foundation of higher education, is academics. Without academics, there would be no higher education, therefore no need for Student Affairs.

We all know that as higher education in the United States began to grow, the positions such as Dean of Men and Dean of Women emerged and our field began to take root. During this process, a symbiotic relationship was created with the academic side and services side of higher education, like the host Jadzia and her symbiont Dax.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Coming full circle to the actual analogy, consider our academic programs and faculty as the symbionts. They are the core of the institution, but in order to thrive and make an impact on the world, it needs a host. Now consider that Student Affairs, Auxiliary Services, etc. is that host. We engulf the symbiont/academics and support it, giving it an environment to thrive in and make contributions to society and to pass on knowledge to the future generations.

For me I think that being in a symbiotic relationship doesn’t often net the accolades or recognition that a partnership or collaboration receives because of the inherent nature of the relationship. Most times, both sides take each other for granted while forgetting that without the other they would both fail. 

So rather than staff expecting accolades from the faculty or faculty exerting themselves on a higher plane than staff, perhaps it would be more beneficial to know and appreciate that while both parts of the higher education house have their own merits, abilities, key roles, limitations, etc. neither could exist and be productive without the other, just like Jadzia and Dax.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

and

Live Long and Prosper!

Posted in Higher Education/Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment