We concluded GHD Training on August 7 in a way that I have never (in 6 years) seen a stint of ResLife training closed: we had a children’s book read to us.
This was honestly one of the most moving, inspiring, and suiting culminating experiences that we could have had. I’m not gonna lie, a few saltwater raindrops found their way rolling down my cheeks, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who had to lock it up.
Kyle McCracken, one of our Coordinators for ResLife (CRL, basically an Area Coordinator), started our “Closing Activity” by saying that we weren’t going to hug it out or tell everyone how awesome we think they are. Instead, he shared a story about a Director of ResLife from his RA days who used to conclude their training days by reading a children’s book to the staff group. Kyle enjoyed and appreciated the experience, so he wanted to try it with us.
He pulled out The Polar Express, assuring us that the purpose was not to have some sort of Christmas in August and that we would bring it all together afterwards. And then, he read.
The room, made up of about 30 (both grad and full-time) professionals, was silent. We were all the most silent I had seen this particular group of combined individuals since we had begun training. I’ve spent a decent amount of time with many of them since my arrival at A&M, and silence isn’t really something that many of us do.
Kyle finished the story, of course, show us all of the pictures along the way. Then, he wrote two things on the board:
- That hole in your pocket
“Fix that hole in your pocket,” he said, with these three ideas:
- Support – know that you have it!
- Perfection – lose this word from your vocabulary, your ideology, your purpose, your everything.
- Motivation – find ways to stay motivated, to motivate yourself, and to motivate your staff.
“Believe,” he said. “Believe that you’re doing something special. Not everyone can do this. The power of one is success. Your job exists because of problems.” What we do really is magical, and the experiences that we get to share with people even more so.
I know I resonated with just about everything that was drawn together from this (and yes, part of that was contributed to my nerding out about reading a book and analyzing it as related to our experiences…welcome to the cluster of all my degrees all thrown into one experience. Mind. Blown.).
I know I consciously and subconsciously question support and what that may or may not look like based on a variety of previous experiences. While it can be hard to develop trust and to trust trust, part of life is taking that unknown leap.
Perfection… yep, check that one off of the list of unrealistic expectations that this person holds… Hearing Kyle talk about losing it in this regard was enlightening – and refreshing. It was so genuine and real. Just let that go – don’t waste your time with something so unattainable. Letting go of this ideology, however, does not necessarily indicate “slacking” or the lack of doing one’s best. This is something else that’s important to remember. Especially moving into a new position at a new institution, the fact that I do have “perfectionist tendencies” can be counter-productive. I need to figure out what exactly I need to do sometimes before I can figure out how to do it the very best way…and things will never be perfect, regardless of how proactive or intentional one, or I, may be.
Motivation, whether it be intrinsic, extrinsic, or a healthy dose of each in moderation, keeps us going. It is an incredible domino effect of awesomeness or face-planting. Energy travels in multiple directions, so motivation – or lack thereof – can be directly impacted by or directly impact the motivation and performance of one’s staff, peers, supervisors, and students.
The concept of belief is a strong one that can be related to just about any line of work or any vocation. This sense of belief that Kyle helped instill, and helped to keep inside of our pockets, impacted my motivation, that’s for sure. We directly interact with the lives of so many people, daily in ways that we don’t always realize. We have to believe that there is purpose and impact related to the work that we do, especially when it can be so easy to get caught up in being exhausted, frustrated, or overwhelmed.
What Kyle gave us was filled with passion and genuity, not fluff meant to make everyone happy for the sake of making everyone happy. I can’t give justice to the energy that existed during that moment, but I can share that I do want to fix that hole in my pocket… I appreciate how we were made aware of the holes in our pockets and the attention given to the concept.
Kyle wrapped up our story time and discussion by giving us each a little bell. I’ve noticed many of us carrying those bells with us, on keys or other places close by. Its presence is a good reminder, a reminder of what we do, why we do it, and to make sure our holy pockets are sewn up.
What is slipping through the hole that you may have in your pocket? For those of y’all who haven’t read The Polar Express, I recommend it, even if it’s not December.
In addition to the content of this “Closing Activity,” the methodology was incredible. While Kyle will readily share that he “stole this idea,” he still did an amazing job implementing it in a way that resonated with our staff group. That’s an awesome power of one.