Hello from Wisconsin! We are delighted to contribute a week’s worth of postings from the Midwest! You’ll see that Wisconsin isn’t just about the cheese—our chapter boasts 120 members from diverse environments: corporate, law, academic, and other settings, many of us from unique national companies and associations. Our state’s two library schools have renewed focus on special librarianship and growing interest from our student members is evident. We are an active, enthusiastic chapter and happy to contribute our thoughts on future readiness! It’s great in the Dairy State!
by Lora Kloth, Wisconsin Chapter, Business & Finance Division
“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade…” is a mantra we often hear bandied about, and with it often comes resignation. Nonetheless, to be “future ready,” we must change our attitudes about circumstances, and confront the curves life throws as growth opportunities, not traumatic horrors.
Three years ago, my comfortable, fairly established and defined career as a full-time association research librarian abruptly changed with reduction to a part-time schedule—four days a week. I felt deluged with uncertainty and lemons.
I allowed myself the luxury of a brief hiatus for frustration, angst, and wonderings, and then realized that mindset was a waste of time. I realized the new schedule created an opportunity— the additional day per week would allow me to try new things I hadn’t been able to do as a full-timer.
With this extra day, I discovered aspects of myself I didn’t know existed:
- I’ve enjoyed “stay-at-home mom” status for the first time, even if only temporarily.
- I considered a career change to court reporting and went back to school to explore this option—and failed miserably! But in this “failure” I realized my true calling is the profession for which I am already academically prepared.
- I next accepted the opportunity to teach two sections of information literacy at the undergraduate level to many students drawn from a largely underserved population, several of whom faced astounding life challenges…and I’d never taught anything before. But I did it, successfully, and made some wonderful connections with many of my students.
Meanwhile, my research librarian job has required that I adapt. And I’m enjoying it, as I explore heretofore untapped abilities. I’m now a published writer at my association and am reinventing my role as information professional in other proactive ways, with a positive attitude of willingness and flexibility. It seems the biggest challenges often can bring the biggest rewards.
I also accepted an invitation from my SLA chapter to join the board as president-elect and program chair for 2011. This, too, has been a remarkable opportunity for personal and professional growth. I enjoy meeting my colleagues and interacting with our vendor partners, and I’ve enhanced my resume. My own attendance at SLA events is a very different and enlightening experience in a leadership capacity. These connections and experiences are invaluable.
Here are several guidelines that can help any of us become “future ready”:
- Identify your personal life and career priorities and goals, and find a balance.
- Discover your strengths and weaknesses.
- “Failure” offers experience and potential for future success.
- Don’t underestimate what you can achieve.
- Be flexible and find new choices when presented with “unwanted” change.
- Know what makes you happy.
- Be open to learning about yourself and others through interactions with people of all ages, backgrounds, and life experiences.
- It’s fun to try new things!
- One is never a “finished product,” and commitment to lifelong learning is critical to personal growth.
Recently, someone asked me where I see myself in five years. I can’t make predictions, and five years ago I wouldn’t have guessed my current realities and accomplishments.
I’m confident I’ll be in a good place, though. The future starts now, not years from now. All of us can learn job specifics and technology as practicalities. More important is that we’re proactive—not only from 9-5 but with an ongoing positive attitude and enthusiasm for continual learning and personal growth.
We build our futures on the many new and different environments and experiences we seek and find. This self-knowledge, proactivity, and forging of connections enables us to move ahead without trepidation. And that’s what future success is all about. Be a go-getter! Know thyself! Lemonade is actually a refreshing beverage.
Is your glass half empty, or half full?
Lora Kloth is Research Librarian at Credit Union National Association, Madison, Wisconsin, and President-Elect of SLA’s Wisconsin Chapter.
Note: This article first appeared in Front Line, the newsletter of CUNA. The views expressed in this piece are Lora Kloth’s and her’s alone and do not reflect the views of Credit Union National Association (CUNA).