Yesterday I was on a live webinar hosted by NCompass with several other Internet Librarian presenters talking about what I learned at the Internet Librarian conference this year. The recording will be available soon via the archives if you’re curious to listen. One of the things we talked about was what made the most impact on us, or left us thinking, from the conference. The one thing that has stuck with me (and that I have been sharing with people) was a Twitter conversation that happened as the result of something Cecily Walker said on our panel Tuesday night. Cecily wanted all new librarians (and current ones) to know that we’re all “special snowflakes” and an audience member tweeted back asking who would do all the work if we were all special snowflakes.
I didn’t get to talk to this person after or during the presentation, so I can only assume that this comment came from a bad experience with someone who both thought they were special and entitled. However, I know that Cecily didn’t mean it that way and I have to agree with Cecily. We all have something to offer, we all have skills that maybe no one else around us has, or a point of view that deserves to be heard. Too often I see people being very passive in their careers (not just librarians) and just going with the flow – but what fun is that? That makes your career a job, something you have to do to get paid and that’s it. I want a career that I love, I want to work with people who value my experience and my opinion, I want a job where I get to be special – and I have it! Does that mean I don’t do the day to day boring stuff? Heck no! It’s all part of the package. But I enjoy the “boring” stuff much more because I’m doing it for a company I love, for customers I love, for a product I love, etc etc etc.
A quote I share in my open source talks fits very nicely here:
The best person to do a job is the one who most wants to do that job; and the best people to evaluate their performance are their friends and peers who, by the way, will enthusiastically pitch in to improve the final product, simply for the sheer pleasure of helping one another and creating something beautiful from which they all will benefit. [Howe, J. (2008). Crowdsourcing: Why the power of the crowd is driving the future of business. New York: Crown Business. p.8]
So, what I want you to take away from what I learned is that special != entitled and we all have something to contribute – and should all contribute – and if you work somewhere where individuality is not appreciated and your contributions are not given the praise they deserve it’s time to find a new job.
[update]The recording is live now. Listen if you’d like.[/update]