Sparking Joy and “No”

big picture question, coaching
One of the questions I often ask in my capacity as coach is "what resonates with you?" That may be sort of woo-woo language, but it gets at something fundamental about feelings and desires, which, in turn can give us access to deep reserves of motivation and excitement around something. To have something resonate with you is different than "liking" something or approving of it or wanting to do it. Resonance comes, I believe, from your gut, your instinct and is an internal nod of the head of sorts that says, "oh, yes; that fits." When I think of the concept of resonance, I picture really clearly the room in which I took yoga classes during my first pregnancy. As I got bigger and bigger, I had to modify more…
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Time and Money

big picture question, productivity
When I received my first tenure-track job offer, from a public land-grant university in the midwestern United States, I was a bit nonplussed with the salary offered. I had looked at the MLA's suggestions for salaries at various stages of the profession and suggested to my new department that they consider coming closer to that magic number. After they were done convulsing with laughter, they upped my starting salary by $500. Woo hoo. I was, as I frequently remind myself, young and foolish and didn't know the first thing about negotiation. Nor did I possess the smarts to talk to someone about how to go about negotiating a hiring package in the buyer's marketplace that is the foreign language job market in North America. But part of my problem then…
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Big Picture Question 3: Conducting a Self-Evaluation

big picture question, coaching
This week’s #bigpicture prompt gives us an opportunity to take last week’s prompt and change direction on it: How would I evaluate my own performance? Last week, we tried to look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes. This time around, I’m asking you to take the opportunity to think of how you would conduct an evaluation of yourself. Of course, in order to evaluate yourself, you need a yardstick, a job description. You can, of course, stick with the job description that came with your work contract. You’ll know whether you are engaged in the duties necessary to your position or working toward the goals set by your team or organization. But you can also expand on that and add to it the qualifications and criteria that are important to…
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How to Keep Doing What You Do when the World is Burning

coaching
As I said recently on Twitter, “bad news abounds.” And that was before I saw the news that Jerry Falwell, Jr. is going to lead a federal task force on higher education in the United States. Frankly, the bad news is coming at us at a rate that is giving me some sort of cognitive concussion from the repetitive blows to my sense of right in the world. What with “alternative facts” and constant contradictions and disagreements emanating from DC, a researcher/scholar/teacher could get a wee bit discouraged that the critical thinking skills s/he teaches and the assessment strategies s/he uses are relics of a past era we can soon refer to as “the good old days.” So how to stay motivated and, if possible, buoyant on these troubled waters?…
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Whose Voice is in Your Head

coaching, Little Hater, post-academic
What was your vision of your life after graduate school? An enviable concoction of interesting seminar classes, writing, and participating in shaping the university and/or the discipline as a professor in your field? That image of the tenure-track position, leading to a secure and tenured future, is a powerful one. It endures in the face of abundant information indicating that, in most fields, it is this very job that is the “alternative” career for PhD holders. Many PhD holders in the humanities and social sciences end up in jobs that do not require a PhD, and many others take research or policy positions where their PhD is an asset but are also not in the academy. We all know of the huge pool of adjunct, sessional, and contract faculty members…
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Success & Failure

coaching
A professor colleague of mine recently reflected on a “revise and resubmit” decision she had received from a journal: “why does success so often feel like failure?” Although her article had not been rejected (success!), the external readers or editors found things with which to quibble (failure!) And because publishing an article is one more step on the road to tenure, wavering on that path, even a bit, causes anxiety, shame, envy, fear, what have you--a whole bevy of negative emotions. Or was that just me? Success has a very narrow definition in academia: PhD, tenure-track job, dissertation revised and published as a monograph or article series, publication in highly ranked journals, tenure. Missteps, detours, and layovers can delay the journey to success, of course, or make it an unpleasant…
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Filling Up Your Reserve Tank

coaching, creative work
If you are an academic--a scholar, a researcher, a student, a teacher--or a creative person--a writer, artist, content creator--a lot of what you produce gets pulled from within you. Or at least this is how I experience writing and lecturing and discussing and growing a small business. I use my experience of myself in the world as a springboard for ideas. I believe that my quotidian, embodied life is inseparable from my “work” in so many ways. How I relate to my body, to money (and where it comes from), to my family, to my domestic surroundings--all these things impact my ability to tap into my innate creativity and see where it takes me. In those moments when I feel frumpy, broke, underappreciated, and surrounded by chaos, I am incapable…
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