Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 12: In which I bare my insecurities.

The following may indicate my ignorance but I always say, if you don't ask the question you just remain ignorant...

A while back I did a "self-awareness" course which was about becoming self-aware.  (As you might imagine).

For me, it is an uncomfortable and confronting thing to realise how my behaviour affects others' perception of myself.  One of the things the course looked at was "transactional analysis" and the kinds of states one goes to during interactions.  Based on the observations he made of me during the 3 hour course, the facilitator told me I move into the "free child" state a lot.
"The Natural Child is largely un-self aware and is characterized by the non-speech noises they make (yahoo, whee, etc.). They like playing and are open and vulnerable.
The ... Little Professor is the curious and exploring Child who is always trying out new stuff (often much to their Controlling Parent's annoyance). Together with the Natural Child they make up the Free Child." ~ from Transactional Analysis [my emboldening]
I took from his [the facilitator] attitude that this state is not the one to be in if you want to be a leader or considered a rational adult member of staff.  In my defence, I would like to add that on that particular day I was emotionally vulnerable owing to a number of things happening both at work and home.

The questions I find myself asking are these.  In an environment where we are exhorted to be creative, innovative and disruptive in our approach to librarianship, what is the role of the free child?  What is the role of Adult in this environment?
"the Adult in us is the 'grown up' rational person who talks reasonably and assertively, neither trying to control nor reacting aggressively towards others. The Adult is comfortable with themself and is, for many of us, our 'ideal self'." ~ from Transactional Analysis
Or am I reading too much into this?  Are these things unrelated? Have I taken it out of context?

Yesterday someone tweeted this blog entry:
"The antidote to consumption is play: physically and mentally. We have stripped many of our institutions of play as we became heavier with the burden of information to pass on. It is inevitable. But play is not what happens at ‘recess’ or ‘lunch’. Play is not mindless, in the same way not all information is mindless. Compelling information coupled with playful experimentation, helps us create meaning and improve processes." - Consumption Mentality
 While coming from a different perspective, the part about play not being a mindless activity but rather helping us build meaning and improve processes intrigued me.

There is a part of me that wants to justify allowing the creative side of myself to appear in the work environment - this I freely admit. But I do wonder if I'm shooting myself in the foot to let it do so if I wish to be seen as "professional" and having worthy leadership qualities.

On the other hand, I see a real risk of librarians stagnating into starchy, un-interesting creatures with no flexibility if we do not provide a space for playfulness.  Or perhaps I'm just equating "professional" as boring... certainly the times I've been accused of being "not very professional" is when I have been expressing humour or playfulness.

This is very deep. I am interested in your opinion.


  1. Anonymous9:14 am

    Wow Penny, thanks for being so honest with this post. I think that the personality tests are a pretty good snapshot of what one is like on the day of the test. Our present emotions affect our ability to remember or predict actions so the way you were feeling definitely would have affected the outcome of the test.
    I think the idea of what makes a good professional is linked to the (old) idea of the individual as a self-contained unit who is focused on the task at hand. Not a person but a resource. A singular adult instead of an adult who is multifaceted. A company man. A company woman.
    I think that having fun in the office is essential. But here's the thing - I'm useless at 'fun' because my idea of 'fun' is not the same as your idea of 'fun'. (You in the general sense, not specifically.) I don't like dressing up. I don't understand knitting. (No patience! LOL) That icebreaker game drives me insane. I love the fact that you know your fandom inside out; I skim across the top of it. Water fights at the office Christmas party? I'll be over here with my wine. That gadget? Cool story bro. But I REALLY like it when other people have that kind of fun. Dressing up? YES. I'll take the photos. Knitting? YES. I'll admire your yarn. Fandom? YES. Tell me and everyone else about it. Water fights? YES. I'll laugh at your ambush techniques. Gadgets? YES. Just yes.
    I'm in an organisation which values play and creativity. Its idea of 'play' will be different to your organisation. There are two questions I ask myself in this situation - are the people who are accusing me of not being professional the people who's opinion matters to me? What kind of leader do I want to be? Finally, there's a reason that "enabler" is (currently) in my Twitter profile...
    All the best with your exploration Penny.

  2. ahhhhh. Well here is my five cents worth of working in a govt dpt for 20 odd years, where personality tests and assessments were part of team building and job interviews and coaching etc. It is like Kris said, where the outcome is dependant on the head space/mood on the day. Personally I think we do need to have fun in the workplace, Why? cos we have to spend 7.5 to 8 hours a day there. I also found I was a shitload more productive and more optimistic when dealing with challenging clients. Knowing that I could let lose and have fun. Now to me there is a difference in slacking off and having fun. I also think having fun doesn't mean you are not professional, I see it has actually being real. I think it also builds moral, and shows other stakeholders are you real and approachable. In my last job which was next to the CEO and several senior managers, we were encouraged every morning to all take part in the 5 min quiz. A chance to have some fun together mid morning. This was encouraged by the CEO. I like what Kris said at the end. IMO I think those that make comments like that are scared and secretly envious of your ability to be real and playful.

  3. I think it is pretty presumptuous of the facilitator to think they can classify you in such a short time frame. It can take multiple meetings to get to know more of the holistic character of people and even then we probably only know some facets. I’d encourage you to be yourself and rise above what people think or feel. Be free to be yourself and let others enjoy that. Who cares if being “playful” is not “professional” Let them get over it I say :-)