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Five Lessons Learned in 2010

I really enjoyed the posts that Justin Hoenke and Bobbi Newman did about lessons they’ve learned in 2010. So, I’m hopping on what I hope becomes a bandwagon of shared personal insights by librarians and others.

Justin did eight lessons and Bobbi did four (plus a half later). If statistics was my god, I’d give you six lessons. But I’m going for five. No particular reason other than I know I can’t do ten.

1. I can accomplish the things I claim I want to do if I put the effort into it. – I used to be terrified of writing offers. While I do have a few formal writing credits, the assignments can make me freeze. I actually pulled out on one journal. Before this year I convinced myself that while I could handle a blog with a few posts a week, bigger efforts were probably beyond me.

Then came a coworker to pull me into 2010 National Novel Writing Month (NANO), an effort to write a 50,000 word work. I thought it might be fun and I wanted to support my coworker and my sister-in-law, who is a published romance writer. I took the advice from the NANO forum boards and put in regular writing time, including time with a writing group. While I wrote a book of movie and book reviews, it was 50,000 words. I set a goal, committed the time instead of whining about the goal and reached it.

So the trick for 2011 is deciding if I REALLY want to do something or just talk about it. Then do it if that’s what I really want to do.

2. Blazing trails can be fun – Before this year I was convinced that being second at something was the best policy. Whether a technology or a new position, it’s best to let sometime else try it and learn from their successes and failures. I thought of it as a good way to grow with less risk.

This year I was offered and accepted a transfer within my Division to start up a new unit combining functions that had been scattered across the Division. I used to dread the idea of being the first person in a position. The fear of crashing and burning without a structure outweighed the perks of making my own stamp on a completely new position.

In part because I have supportive leadership and because I’ve mostly enjoyed tech throughout my career, I accepted this time instead of saying “maybe next time.” It was a rough launch and I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned a lot about many things and had some good successes too. Overall it’s really been worth it and I encourage you to stick out your neck.

3. Being grateful smooths out life. -Early in 2010, I started reading a lot about gratitude and the research that suggested that grateful people are happier and healthier. After reading Thanks!: how the new science of gratitude can make you happier, I was inspired to start a gratitude journal. I feel like I’ve been happier than I’ve been in years, despite some major downbeat events. If your life or job have you down, try to find just one positive thing to highlight. Occasionally I’ve been forced to list “still breathing” or “indoor plumbing” but usually there is more. Once you can find one, other sources of thankfulness often spring to mind.

4. Life is unpredictable. – I like to plan for things and planning in and of itself isn’t bad. But no matter what you plan for, situations will come up that are not in your plan. I’m finding it’s better to have an attitude of openness and an other-centered attitude. I don’t always live up to that, but I recognize that as a good thing.

Another dimension of “Life is unpredictable” is that I’ve found allies in unexpected places and at unexpected times.

5. eBooks on phones make sense (for some people) - Prior to 2010 I ridiculed the idea of people reading books on their cell phones. I was positive the screen size was too small. It seemed like the options for getting books on your phone was a drag. To me the idea of eBook readers on smartphones seemed like as a cul-de-sac technology as the Laserdisc of the early 1980s.

Then I got an iPhone. I picked up Stanza, Good Reader and Kindle for iPhone and most recently, Overdrive for my local library’s collection of e-books. I have read a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction on it. It’s near perfect for my morning stationary bike workouts and it’s great for the number of large PDF format reports I find myself reading. eBooks on smartphone work for me and I now see how they work for others. I was originally going to title this lesson “eBooks on phones make sense” without qualification, but the voice of a friend cautioning against overgeneralization popped into my head. So while eBooks on iPhone works for me, YMMV.

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6 Responses

  1. Good post. And as one of those overgeneralization nags, I’d say there’s nothing wrong with saying “eBooks on phones make sense”–as long as it’s not “for everybody” or “the only way to read…” or any of that. Clearly, ebooks on phones do make sense for some people, including you.

  2. Walt, Actually, you were the voice in my head that kept me from making a “makes sense for everybody” statement. Thanks for working to protect the world from unhelpful generalizations.

  3. Great list Daniel, I especially like number 3. I’ve worked hard this year to make a choice to a happier and you’re right gratitude makes a big difference.

  4. I like this post. This has been a good year for me for learning lessons, although granted sometimes it’s the same one over and over again. I especially like your acknowledgement that sometimes you have to dig really deep for the gratitude — still breathing and indoor plumbing — but that there’s always at least something.

  5. Wonderful post my friend. RE the eBooks thing. I too saw myself as one of those “THOSE SCREENS ARE TOO DAMN SMALL AND HELL NO I WON’T READ A BOOK ON MY PHONE” kind of person before 2010. I got an iPad earlier in the year and I was half converted. Google Books took me over the edge.

    Here’s to a kickass 2011 for you!

  6. Thanks to all for the kind words.

    Justin – Your note makes it sound like you’ve downloaded stuff from Google Books for your smartphone. Have you? If so, how? I tend to use Google Books as an indexing resource and don’t pay attention to the download options.

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