One of my favorite themes in Grey’s Anatomy is that of having “your person.” It started with Meredith and Cristina, but has been a consistent part of Seattle Grace’s culture since the two young residents not only coined, but lived the phrase.
No matter what stage of your career you are in, keep your eyes, ears--and heart--open to finding “your person.” Why? Because you are called to a profession with quite a daunting task: educating, supporting, and loving the children and youth who are our future.
You know the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Trust me, the more you live, the more beautifully real the meaning of this old adage becomes.
Whether through your own professional work as an educator, as a parent or caregiver to those who need you, the reality of taking on a leadership role with other living, breathing human beings, who all have personalities, experiences and values different from your own, will bring about feelings of pride, love and joy, but also heartache, confusion, and fog.
We can’t do it alone. To be our best, we need to work together and learn from each other. We all need a “person,” or two or three! And you need to be able to do the same for someone, too.
So what does this “person” look like?
- They listen--but they don’t problem solve for you. With a non-judgmental ear at your service, you talk out the overwhelming scenario you are facing. When you speak your circumstances out loud, clarity often appears. Sometimes some gentle nudging is needed to get to that point, but it happens because you opened yourself up to figure it out.
- Someone who has your back. Whether it’s giving you an encouraging “You are doing great!” or “Maybe that wasn’t the best way to handle ‘x’,” they have your back. You aren’t defined by one triumph or misstep. They know you, and you won’t be left to clueless-ly fend for yourself.
- He or she tells you like it is. Sometimes we’re wrong. Someone who has your best interest at heart doesn’t want to see you unknowingly make the same mistake twice. They’ll help you understand your part in the matter at hand.
And where do I find my “person?”
- Think about someone who you really connect with from your university or alma mater. Was there someone whose energy, advice or knowledge base you really connected with? Those of us in student services all love the students and alumni who come back, whether to say hi or seek help. And, it helps to come back “home” to remember where you came from in the first place.
- When you are out in the field or substitute teaching, when did you feel inspired by the way a teacher interacted with her students? Or collaborated with his colleagues? Was there a place where there was a positive energy felt the moment you walked in the doors of that building? That’s where you will find “your person.” Get involved there-become part of that community.
- Attending professional development workshops and conferences can be a great way to connect with “your people.”
Interested in connecting with a group of people who thrive on the opportunity to be “your person?” Check out the professional development learning and networking opportunities available through the American Association for Employment Education at aaee.org!
The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.