“Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.”The Crack-Up “Note-Books” (1945) by F. Scott Fitzgerald
At work, when there is problem that I feel I have the capacity to solve, I enjoy finding a solution. For me, “fixing things” is a natural impulse. I like being helpful. Acquiescing to that motivation, in part, got me to where I am today. But lately I’ve been stepping back, hearing myself say: “That’s not your job.” This voice often continues, transforming itself into a mantra: “A single person’s drive is not a sustainable solution to systemic problems. Don’t be the hero.”
This line of thinking feels particularly cruel to me. [It is not]. My core resists it. [That’s the problem]. Working in the service of others was one of the key factors in my decision to pursue librarianship. [Not a lie]. Yet these past three years have unceasingly kept my abilities up against the ropes, and the need to care for myself so that I can care for others is currently the predominating force in my struggle for balance.
So it was refreshing to stumble across this reminder from Fobazi Ettarh (via @CharlotteRock):
The problem with vocational awe is the efficacy of one’s work is directly tied to their amount of passion (or lack thereof), rather than fulfillment of core job duties. If the language around being a good librarian is directly tied to struggle, sacrifice, and obedience, then the more one struggles for their work, the “holier” that work (and institution) becomes. Thus, it will become less likely that people will feel empowered, or even able, to fight for a healthier workspace. A healthy workplace is one where working around the clock is not seen as a requirement, and where one is sufficiently compensated for the work done, not a workplace where “the worker [is] taken for granted as a cog in the machinery.”“Vocational Awe and Librarianship” by Fobazi Ettarh
In reading this paragraph I don’t see MPOW. I don’t feel like I need to work round the clock. I feel that fulfillment of my core job duties is valued. I feel sufficiently compensated and I do not [usually] feel like a cog in the machine. For the most part, MPOW values the quality of one’s work and the dignity of individuals over passion, and for that I am incredibly grateful. That said, the narrative of the passion-driven individual is always present, just beneath the surface. In my own soul, too, I fear. That is why I find it useful to resist being the hero.
What I’m reading
- The Art of Work by Megan Marz
- Leaving a Library Job by Kevin Seeber
- The cornered office: A qualitative study of low-morale experiences in formal library leaders by Kaetrena Davis Kendrick
News from the garden
The blueberries are beginning to swell and ripen. Like most of my crops this season, the fruit yield and growth has been small due to an unusual lack of sunny days and the colder weather.
Links to the past
- 1 year ago: On writing, parenting, and life lessons
- 7 years ago: Overinvesting and “being busy”
- 10 years ago: Gamification and library organization