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80% of success

80% of success is showing up. - Woody Allen

According to the association principle. if we surround ourselves with success that we are connected with in even a superficial way ... , our public prestige will rise. - Robert B. Cialdini Influence*

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I attended a meeting earlier this week of local legislators, the Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, and some state education bigwigs. Other than a few pleasantries exchanged with the community members I knew, I didn't say a damn thing. It may have been a first for me. But it's a good thing I went anyway and this is why...

In the best of all possible worlds, people are judged solely on the competence they show in their work. Does the work get finished? Is it of high quality? Is work done in a timely manner? Is all work done reliably? Are creative insights and processes used when appropriate? Is one's work accomplished in such a way that a productive work environment is maintained? 

While such a track record certainly helps create job security (and for some it may be enough), those of us who screw up on a regular basis, who may want to change the status quo, and who often need to make decisions that are not universally popular (librarians and technology people?) need a do a little more.

Following Cialdini and Hartzell's good advice, consider ways to "associate yourself with success" or at least get to be known outside the library or tech office. Some ways to do this:

  • Attend any special functions - award ceremonies, openings, open houses, special events.
  • Go to athletic events, plays, science fairs, and other public extra-curricular happenings.
  • Participate in your PTO/PTA even at meetings where you are not asking for something.
  • Volunteer to serve on building and district committees - staff development, legislative, building leadership, curriculum planning, technology, whatever.
  • Take your turn at bus duty, hall duty, ticket taking, cake serving, lounge clean up, etc.

I am not sure if this works in big cities, but those of us who live is smaller communities (Mankato has about 50,000 souls in the "metro region") can use our community presence to build influence and possibly job security as well. 

  • Take an active role in your church, synagogue, mosque or coven if you attend.
  • Take an active role in civic groups such as Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, etc.
  • Be a member of the YMCA and United Way and volunteer for helping with fund raisers, etc.
  • Be an active member of a local political party organization. 
  • Join and participate in community clubs of bicyclists, hikers, gardeners, car collectors, etc.

It is more difficult to fire a person who is viewed not just as employee, but as a community member. Our physcial, local networks, not just our virtual ones, cand and do support us.

Oh, and doing some of the things listed above, you are actually doing good in the world as well as building a presence. It's a two-fer.

Be seen, be associated with good things, be valued.

*Probably the most important book for any librarian, technology director or other school change agent to read. Thanks to Gary Hartzell whose book Building Influence for the School Librarian brought this book to my attention. His book is a must read for all librarians.

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