Posted on September 21, 2011.
By Bruce Rosenstein, Author, Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker‘s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life (Washington, DC Chapter, News Division)
Best Practices for Government Libraries is a collaborative document that is put out annually on a specific topic of interest to government libraries and includes content submitted by government librarians and community leaders with an interest in government libraries. The 2011 edition includes over 70 articles and other submissions provided by more than 60 contributors including librarians in government agencies, courts, and the military, as well as from professional association leaders, and more. Best Practices is edited by Marie Kaddell, Senior Information Professional Consultant; SLA DGI Chair. If you did not write for this year’s Best Practices, Marie invites you to submit a guest post for the Government Info Pro email@example.com.
Wherever you work, information professionals are under unprecedented pressure. Very few people are exempt from the need to perform faster and better, and to constantly prove their worth.
A great way to thrive in this brave new world is to accept the need for change and to create an inner, self-culture of belief that embraces new ways of being and doing. A helpful framework can be applied from the teachings, work and life example of Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, who died at age 95 in 2005. Drucker was the keynote speaker for the SLA Annual Conference in Los Angeles in 2002, and his ideas continue to resonate within the world of libraries and information.
Here are some suggestions for embracing and expanding, based on the research — including several in-person interviews with Drucker — for my book Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker‘s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life (Berrett-Koehler, 2009).
Get Organized for Change: The only constant is change. It‘s better to be organized about how you adapt to the changes in your life inside and outside of the workplace. Try not to think in terms of preserving the status quo. Instead, how can you look for and take advantage of changes in the workplace and society that may have an effect on you?
Pilot Testing: Drucker believed that anything that involved changes, or creation of new products, services or activities, could be pilot tested. Companies do this with proposed new products and services. This can be applied to new services you‘d like to offer within your library, and to new activities to add to your non-work life.
Think of Yourself as a CEO: No matter your job title, even if you have no managerial or supervisory responsibilities, think of yourself as not only CEO of your own life, but making your decisions as if you were the CEO of your organization. This affects how you think and makes you aware that decisions are made not just for your benefit, but also for colleagues and others in your organization, additional stakeholders, plus your family and friends.
Systematic Abandonment: In order to embrace the new, organize for change and expand your horizons, you‘ll need to find time. Most people are so busy that they can‘t add many new activities without dropping current ones, even those that they find satisfying and worthwhile. Regularly take a look at all your activities (inside and outside of work) and determine what can be dropped or scaled back to make way for something new, and potentially even more valuable. This could be the perfect opportunity to create more time for leisure activities such as playing in an amateur sports league; taking music, art or acting lessons; or doing more traveling.
The Power of Self-Reflection/Retreats: Take time, at regular intervals, to assess the direction of your life. Does your current job reflect the kind of person you are now, or is it more reflective of who you were when you were hired? Are you sure you will be working for the same organization in five years, and doing the same kind of work? It‘s difficult for most of us to do this thinking in the midst of a busy daily schedule. Try to carve out some time, even a short period, for sitting or walking alone, without distractions. Many people find value in short retreats, even silent ones.
Networking for the New: Information professionals are world-class networkers, in person and online. This is an efficient and powerful way to learn about activities to add to your life. Studying the profiles of your friends in Facebook and LinkedIn can give you an idea of how people spend their time, and can be a great source of ideas. Talk to people to find out how they find time to engage in these activities, and to learn more about what they do. It could lead to a new outside interest, a volunteering opportunity, a new learning initiative, or even a new job.
Wide-Ranging Reading: Many of us are voracious readers, a description that applied to Drucker, who regularly read great literature (in various languages) and a variety of magazines and newspapers. He stressed in his insightful 2002 interview in Information Outlook to read beyond your discipline. It‘s important to keep up with reading that directly affects your work, but in order to truly broaden your horizons, you should read about a wider set of topics.
Get and Stay Involved: How can you deepen your involvement in SLA, ALA or related organizations? Helping to organize conferences, meetings and events, writing articles, and mentoring are all perfect opportunities for learning more, meeting new people and developing new capabilities. This can also lead to job opportunities.
Learning by Teaching: Drucker believed that no one learns as much as the person who must teach his or her subject. But that is only one reason to get involved in teaching. It may turn into a parallel career that you can do on a part-time basis while you work at your main job. It can provide volunteering opportunities, if you teach, for instance, at a religious institution. There may also be teaching opportunities within your workplace or within library-related organizations. Try to find people who are already teaching in some capacity, and find out how they got started.
Finally, the challenge of organizing your life around change rather than preserving the status quo takes dedication, resilience and creativity. Welcoming new activities and new people into your life means that other areas of your life and work may have to be de-emphasized. People from various aspects of your life will be competing for your time and attention. If you are pondering career changes, or adding a parallel career such as teaching or writing, you must determine if it makes financial sense. But if you give the proper thought and effort, and maintain perseverance, you may find that your broadened horizons fit the new you perfectly.
Bruce Rosenstein is currently Managing Editor for the journal Leader to Leader. He serves as an adjunct faculty member for The Catholic University of America School of Library and Information Science, teaching The Special Library/Information Center. His book Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life was published by Berrett-Koehler in 2009. It has since been published in Brazil, China and Japan. For 21 years, Bruce was a librarian for USA TODAY, where he also wrote about business and management books for the Money section of the newspaper.