When we had our first child, something we heard over and over was “the only constant is change.”
While that has certainly played out as truth as our son has grown and our daughter has joined the ranks, it’s pretty apropos for a lot of situations right now in my life. Nothing more so than in my transition to Muhlenberg College. There are the obvious aspects – literally packing up and moving across the country – but speaking purely from the job side, I’m working hard at taking all of my notions and existing ideas, throwing them in a box, and turning it completely upside down. Then I’m taking every idea I can from books and mentors and piling them on top, then I’m mixing them all together using some kind of metaphorical salad tongs (okay, I don’t see the value of that metaphor, but I liked the imagery). Then I’m slowly spreading it all out on a giant canvas in my mind.
What I am not doing is trying to put them into any kind of structure or together like pieces of a puzzle.
The challenge before me, I think, is to be comfortable with the prospect of change. How much change, in what direction, in respect to what – I don’t know that. But there will be change. And I have to make myself comfortable with knowing that there will be change yet simultaneously trying not to think too much about what that change will look like. I must prepare the tools, but not build anything.
I might be completely wrong on all of this, but what seems to be the most important thing as I look at this transition is to avoid any preconceived notions of what I will see, what I will do, or what I think I might perhaps possibly have to consider doing if the conditions are right. I want to go there with a truly open mind, yet also armed to the teeth with every tool possible. As a picture of Muhlenberg takes shape, I will slowly fit the pieces that are lying all over the place – all those ideas and theories and “how I’ve done things before” – to that culture until it makes sense. I will reshape an entirely new version of myself as a leader and manager that fits the culture.
I’m not saying that I will be purely subject to the existing aspects of Muhlenberg. I won’t just conform to what is already there. I am and always will be a set of principles and ideals that uniquely combine into the person I am. That person will find different connections between what I learn at Muhlenberg and that big pile of ideas than someone else would. The leader that emerges will be one that is considerate of the new surroundings yet will still be distinctly “me.” And I won’t spend forever fitting those pieces, either – to just wade through the waters for too long is a disservice to the college and simply doing a bad job as manager. It’s also not the kind of person I am.
Wish me luck…