I got inspired to write this post by my sister Kristin’s post on her blog about how you can be professional but not boring. Awesome insights on this, Kristin – because this is SO true. Being passionate about what you do professionally is something that makes everything work – if you are excited and like what you are doing in your work, it doesn’t get old. Plus, it is something you get inspired to share these insights and ideas with others.
I had a chance to give a presentation at the UT Social Media Week a month ago and I felt this one was all about showcasing personality and not being a “normal” presentation by a professor. Was this a “normal” presentation by a professor? Well, that depends on what your definition of normal is. I would say that I used a lot more humor and personality here than I have done in some of my presentations – especially when I was a graduate student.
Here is the YouTube video of the presentation (I have my session around the 30 minute mark):
So, how do you make sure your work – both in research, practice, and in teaching – is not “boring” and making sure you are doing something you are passionate about? Here are some of my tips:
- Got to showcase your personality: If you are trying to be someone else, you may not be as happy as you are if you are yourself. I noticed this as a professor – I realized I had to be myself and see what worked for me and how can I share this with others. See what works for you and do take on best practices from professors you feel are doing well – but do put your own twist on it. First and foremost – be yourself.
- Be bold, dramatic, heroic!: You got to take a page out from Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” – set the tone and say – I am not going to be doing what everyone else is doing in research or teaching. I am going to go where no professor/researcher has gone before. Is this scary at times where you feel you are alone in the process? Sometimes this is true, but other times it is exciting. You’ve got to experiment around and see what works!
- Being different is a good thing: Why would you want to be like everyone else out there? If you are like everyone else, how will you stand out? Consider doing a SWOT analysis of yourself in the profession. What makes YOU different from others, and how can you market and showcase this in your field? It may be hard to think about this, but every single professor, researcher, practitioner has unique qualities, stories, experiences, and point of views to share. It’s all about finding them and packaging them up in the brand you want to share.
- If you feel like at any time your work is “boring” – you need to see WHY this is the case: What you do should be enjoyable and fun. There are always tasks that we may not enjoy more than others, that is the case in all aspects of work. However, if you see that most of the time you are like – I’m bored with what I am doing – you need to reevaluate what is going on and see what you can do to change this.
- Take time to be creative: Do activities that help inspire your creativity. If you are doing work 100% of the time – this may not be the best for you and you may get burned out. Take an hour to do something you enjoy – whether it is photography, playing video games, work out (this is what I do), or other activities. I have found taking the time out to do an activity you enjoy, you feel rejuvenated and you may actually come up with some good ideas for your work. In fact, most of the ideas I have gotten for research and in my class have come after I have gone out from a run, walking out of a spin or kickboxing class to name a few.
Overall, the key message here is to make sure you are happy with what you are doing and you have a passion for it. However, liking what you do is only half the battle. There is hard work and dedication involved in the process as well. Yet – if you add the hard work and passion to the equation, you can become a very powerful force in the field where you can build and establish yourself as a person to note in your field. Special thanks again to Kristin for being the inspiration with her blog post for this one!
Hope you all are having a great day!