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Developing Development

October 16, 2010

This week I had perhaps one of the greatest moments of conscious personal growth then I have experienced in quite some time.  Even more ironically, it had occurred weeks before on a cognitive level; but the ‘ah-ha feeling’ of development hit me like a rush that made me realize how much I have missed it.

The past few months I have been challenged by the formation and early development of a staff, understanding campus and department culture, keeping up with reading and discussions within the classroom, and maintaining (truthfully, developing) a social and ‘personal’ life in a new place.  But these areas haven’t been the hardest part of my transition.

When I got started in my graduate experience, I felt ‘stuck’ almost immediately.  All of a sudden I was making professional decisions, second guessing how they fit within my professional life and my personal values, and wondering ‘what the process’ should be exploring these ideas.  I quietly became impatient and frustrated with how I could be expected to create such standards with so little information.  Looking back, it just came down to being overwhelmed, and hyper-aware of the intentionality in my decisions, and intending to make sure that I didn’t overstep boundaries or set up trends that would effect me negatively later in my experience.

I expressed my concern to my supervisor, explaining that I felt as if to be effective as a professional, I needed to develop myself personally; reflecting on my experiences in and out of the classroom and synthesizing it within me to continue (or begin) growing as a professional.

That one on one was several weeks ago, and after some time to process the experience, we discussed how we might work through that process in our one on one time.  This week, we started to discuss progress in this area and ‘check-in.’

But taking the time on my own to reflect on my own position through my classwork, I realized I was at a natural part of the process of transition.  Accounting for my ‘futuristic’ sense in my personality, I wanted more to be happening to accelerate me through transition, skipping steps and instantly acclimating.  No, I didn’t have the tools yet; but walking me through every decision I made, telling me how I should act and who I should develop into as a professional is solely my responsibility.  I will have the support of other’s, checking in and helping me to reflect on my actions, helping me integrate my past experiences in moving forward, but I will make my own way.

It was an interesting feeling, developing the understanding of my supervisors’ role in my development while it was happening.  It’s making me reiterate that ‘Architect’ post and feeling even further; and it’s reaffirming my love for student affairs.

I loved the feeling of being challenged by advisors to work through my beliefs, their assertion that I could do more and better, and thrive under an environment of healthy goal-setting and constant pursuit of something more.  And it’s finally back.  Through my final years in my undergraduate experience there were significant changes in advising of my leadership positions, and many times this effected how I was reflecting on my leadership development.

Now, amongst a completely different environment, in an entirely different part of the country, with a self-assessment miles from where I began; I’m back to developing my competence, navigating and refining my identity even further, and continuing to grow my way through this new experience (notice the shameless integration of Chickering; I’m learning, so I’ll apply it when I notice so I can reinforce it).  While it’s been a while since I’ve had this kind of guidance through the process, I’m really looking forward to the road ahead and the challenge, breakthroughs, and ‘ah-ha’ moments to


2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2010 4:35 pm

    Brian–I think one of the most important aspects of this post is the fact that you are self-aware enough to realize the disconnect when it happens and know that there is work to be done to get yourself aligned. That alone takes many professionals YEARS to figure out. And it’s great that you had a supervisor willing to work through it with you – also something it can take professionals years to find :-).


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