Why writing a values list changed everything

Episode 19 of Turbitt & Duck: The Library Podcast was a flipped episode. Clare Thorpe interviewed Amy Walduck and I about resilience, values, theme songs and perfectionism.. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and being interviewed and surprised myself by talking about my “values list” and why it has changed the way I feel about myself, my decision making, anxiety and confidence.

Defining my personal values was hard (who thought making a list of what’s important to you could be difficult? not me!) and as I mention in the episode, my first couple of drafts were completely off the mark and very focused on what I thought people wanted me to value or what they saw in me. Some of the values were superficial and on reflection, didn’t hold any meaning for me. However, once those twenty two values were on paper, it felt right, to see how I feel about myself reflected back at me. I had my “who and why”. I’ve kept the list with me for several years now and it has played a big part in becoming more resilient and self-aware.

What’s the point of a list?

For me, the purpose of the list was to identify the values I live by and then use it as a tool to navigate life. Mine is a list because the format works for me but I’m sure there are many ways of capturing your values.

How do I use it? When faced with a difficult decision, I use it to trigger a conversation with myself around “why I am finding it hard to decide?, what is making me uncomfortable? Does the project, opportunity, person reflect my values?”.

I use it when I am stressed, anxious or falling into perfectionist behaviour. That’s when I say to myself “Stop. Look at the list. What’s not in alignment with these values? Am I doing the opposite? Where am I pushing to fit when I don’t? How can I change that?”.

Are you wondering what my personal values are?

Authenticity. Integrity. Independence. Enjoyment. Empathy. Originality. Curiosity. Strength. Good Health. Honesty. Decisiveness. Fun. Generosity. Fairness. Belonging. Stability. Openness. Enthusiasm. Thoughtfulness. Happiness. Consistency. Self-Expression.

I can honestly say that having this list that I can open on my phone and ponder whenever I need to, has made me happier, more resilient and able to get to the root of unhappiness, anxiety and frustration quickly. I don’t need to ramble around in my head for weeks trying to figure out why I’m struggling or whether I should be doing something, or why I keep on avoiding a task, the answer is there for me. Even though I’ll do my best to ignore it sometimes, I’m there on the screen.

Have you got a list of personal values? Do you think it makes decision making easier? Do you feel more resilient and capable?

 

 

Finding opportunities to advocate for libraries, information and what we do

The list of podcasts I listen to is a mixed bag of comedy, history, self-improvement, libraries, communication, conversations but here’s what I think is missing from many podcasts and online discussions.

Library people talking about what we do, who we support, how we are a vital asset to universities, cities, towns, hospitals, businesses, government, communities . . . you know what I’m talking about (and if you don’t hi! let’s talk libraries and information!)

Today I listened to episode 42 of Reasons to Be Cheerful with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd on “tech for good”. Take a look at these statements and words I scribbled down whilst listening to this episode:

Take the lead of the people in your community, they know what they need.

Ordinary people deploying technology together.

Working with citizens and technology.

Connectivity.

Demystifying technology.

Give tools to people to allow them to have a stake in their world.

Community-led civic policy making.

Sound familiar? They are either:

What libraries already do like demystifying technology and working with citizens and technology.

and

Programs and networks that we should be involved in like community-led civic policy making.

The episode about tech for good took a quick dive into smart cities, Red Hook mesh network, the Barcelona Digital City plan and The Bristol Approach – all people led projects that use technology to create change and strengthen communities.

As soon as one of the guests mentioned access to free internet, I thought libraries and hoped they would be mentioned but they weren’t, but WHY NOT?

So my question is: where are the library people being interviewed on podcasts and sharing knowledge in online groups and discussions?

When people are pushing for action in a community (I’m not just talking public libraries here) libraries need to be right in the thick of it, our spaces and people can be staging posts for smart cities, citizen-led projects, deploying technology for communities. We can provide:

  • internet access
  • resources
  • space to meet, plot and plan
  • training
  • support
  • networks to find more supporters
  • enthusiasm!

Talking to these groups, finding non-users who don’t know what libraries offer, we can reach these people via podcasts. We just need to get ourselves on the podcasts – but how?

I’ve been pondering how to do more advocacy outside of the library world:

If you listen to a podcast and find yourself thinking “a librarian needs to be on this show”, contact the podcast and suggest it.

Suggest libraries, library people and what we do in online groups and chats. I’ve started chiming in with “you can borrow that book for free at your local library!” and “why don’t you speak to your library about space for your event” and “a librarian would be a great guest on our podcast” etc whenever I see an opportunity. Sometimes I’m ignored, but sometimes it starts a great conversation and if it puts libraries and information organisations to the front of someone’s mind, I’m happy!

In the words of Glòria Pérez-Salmerón, IFLA President,  “you can all be influencers” so join me and start influencing where you see an opportunity!

 

 

The post conference thud

APLIC finished a few weeks ago but I’m just coming out of the other side of “post conference thud”. That feeling of spending several days absorbing new ideas and trying to connect them to your work as well as save them for future reference, talking until you lose your voice, meeting new people, re-connecting with friends and colleagues, not sleeping very well due to being totally wired and awake until the wee hours of the morning and the exhaustion that goes with being “on” for a week.

THUD.

And then you return home and go back to work and spend the first week post-conference picking up all the threads, restarting conversations and projects, finding where all the socks went at home and who is enrolling in what electives for next year and finding your “non-conference life” groove again.

THUD.

A couple of weeks after APLIC I was more exhausted and mentally wrung out. The thud became complete overwhelm and I was full of doubt – did I really do a “good job” at the conference? Was I useful as a state manager? Did I connect with enough people? Did people who complimented on the podcast really mean it? Did I go to the right sessions? Yes. I spiralled. Exhaustion rolls out the welcome mat for these thoughts – every single time.

At least I recognised how being tired + negative had joined forces and that what I really needed to do was give myself a big pat on the back and a large exuberant high five. But how?

Ask Twitter of course…

And as always, the answers were generous and kind:

And this reply from Lyndelle helped me to feel less alone with these thoughts.

So what now? I listened to all this advice and felt really motivated to make the ones that appealed to me actually happen. I made a ta-da list, and an achievement board, scheduled quiet time, spoke to friends who make me feel good, spent time with family doing things we love and took some time away from screens and everything online. I’ve also read a bit more than usual and spent more time outside. These are all things I know I should do, but they end up at the bottom of the list when the THUD happens. It’s a work in progress and each time I hit that low bit, I get a bit better at taking action and recognising the signs.

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed? How do you cope with the post-conference thud? I’d love to hear what you do.

Three lessons I’ve learnt from Turbitt & Duck podcast guests

As we head towards twenty episodes of Turbitt & Duck: The Library Podcast, I’ve been thinking about our guests, the topics we’ve covered and what I’ve learnt along the way about the library and information profession and the people working in it.

Being interviewed isn’t easy

On reflection, it’s rather similar to a job interview that’s being recorded but with a friendlier panel! For some of our guests, lots of preparation and planning with regard to our questions has (somewhat) alleviated the stress of being interviewed. It’s a challenge to be present, speak clearly, remember what you want to say (and what you can’t say) and I admire everyone who has recorded with us so far for accepting the challenge and letting us share their voice.

Generosity

Every guest has given us their personal time to record – on Saturday mornings, Sunday afternoons, after work on a Tuesday. If we could only interview people during their work hours, we probably wouldn’t have any guests! I’ve learnt that our guests have given up family, reading, exercise, sleep, shopping, second job time to record with us. And that some people will say no because recording out of work time encroaches on other aspects of their lives. There’s no right or wrong, just what works for each person.*

Honesty

Even though some of our guests haven’t been able to fully disclose or discuss their work for various reasons, they have all been honest about challenges, what went wrong and also what they think are the issues in our industry. These are the things I believe need to receive just as much attention as the great, amazing, clever, thoughtful work. We need to address the multiple elephants in the room and talk about failures and how we can be better at what we do. There are a number of guests who have started these conversations, and I’m looking forward to continuing the discussions and also checking back in with them to see what’s changed (or not).

But wait there’s more

I was tempted to highlight specific episodes, however I didn’t. Because honestly, you will learn something about these three ‘lessons’ and more from every single guest. I’ve been challenged by each and every guest, to think harder, read more broadly and consider my own biases and ways of working.

You can listen to all of the Turbitt & Duck episodes on our website or via your favourite podcast app.

*So much of the professional development that people can access is possible because of volunteer labour. Program committees for large conferences, entire committees for symposiums, unconferences, Facebook groups, special interest groups, Twitter chats – ALL volunteer run (remember that when you throw around criticisms or rude feedback). And what if you can’t volunteer because of financial, accessibility or personal reasons? Do we need to push back at employers so that volunteering occurs within work hours (if work related of course!)