Yesterday, I was reduced to a “gate keeper” by someone I was talking with. It’s unfortunate that there are people in this world who like to make other people seem smaller, but they’re here and we have to deal with them. A farmer friend in Saskatchewan likes to say, “It don’t take all kinds. We just got all kinds.”
When that happens I typically go through a range of emotions. First, I was highly offended – well, maybe a little miffed, and thought, “I, good sir, am not a gate keeper. I, Grant McMillan, am a University Registrar!” Then I went home and thought, “Ach! It’s not my problem – it’s his problem” and shrugged it off. But this morning I came back to a middle ground. It is partly my problem. While I can’t control other people’s opinions and views, I can control my own image (my brand, as my business professor friends like to say), and I need to take responsibility for that.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who has a little trouble with my image. I just read a great “Ms. Mentor” column in the Chronicle of Higher Education this morning. Check it out here. Here’s a sample:
Question: Soon it will be the holiday season, and the time to dread plane rides, family gatherings, and the inevitable questions: “What do you do?” and then “What do you teach?”
I’m a graduate student teaching English composition, but if I say so, the response is always, “Guess I’ll have to watch my grammar. Heh heh heh!” There’s no way to answer that, and I just want to groan or shrivel up. How can I better respond?
I was reminded of some really good conversations I had with numerous colleagues at the recent PACRAO conference in Calgary. These came while I was presenting on how to be a cool Registrar. Apparently, not many Registrars think they have a cool job. I believe it shows. After all, if you look at the history of the university, the Registrar’s position was the second position ever created, although it was called a Beadle back then. But where is the profession now? Reduced to gate keepers? Who’s fault is that?
Ours – yours and mine. And it’s time to do something about it.
How? By adding significant value every chance we get. And by resisting the need to add “VP” in front of our title (sorry, that’s an inside joke with the conference attendees – I’m told it’s bad form to have inside jokes in a blog but I’m going to do it anyways). Seriously, if we take our profession seriously, what’s the need for additions to our titles? Tell your boss that your position used to be more important than hers and see what she says. Ok, maayyybe don’t say that…
So how do you add value? I’d like to hear some stories from you – post a comment, please!