Kristen Kushmider, Colorado Membership Coordinator
March 14, 2019
If you’re like me, you probably start hitting the snooze button a few more times each morning as the week moves on because winter implies hibernation and because you utilize your energy supporting staff and students every day. Perhaps you also fall asleep on the couch at 7 PM on Friday nights because you’ve treated students with empathy, kindness and compassion; those students who are depressed, anxious, struggling academically or socially, and those who may be facing more serious circumstances such as food insecurity or homelessness. You take it all in and on the weekends you need time to recoup and refill your bucket.
Like so many of you, our campus is experiencing change among our students. They need a significant amount of support and I am finding it hard to keep up. Many of our staff on the front lines feel exhausted and many of our students are in crisis. As Student Affairs practitioners we spend each day working tirelessly to help students feel heard, cared for, safe, valued and integrated into the campus community. Our work brings us joy, especially when we see students succeed. Sometimes, there are circumstances beyond our control when we are not able to help. There have been nights when I’ve lied awake wondering if I have given enough, was there more I could do, was a better outcome possible? Then I remind myself that impacting lives is hard work!
As a supervisor I believe when you care about people you are invested in them as individuals and you are committed to their progress and success. This means you are also open to having hard conversations and providing thoughtful and constructive feedback. If you’re like me, you put a lot of care into how you want to phrase the feedback you give. As leaders there are times when we must set our expectations high and bring our staff along in adopting those expectations. When expectations are unmet, we hold staff accountable in a supportive manner that encourages professional growth. We are setting an example for our staff and also for our students. Serving in a Student Affairs leadership role is extremely rewarding and it requires an abundance of patience and energy.
If you are an established leader, perhaps you have that work life balance piece figured out. Or, perhaps you’re more like me and you’re still working on it. I admire those of you who are able to fit a good workout into your busy schedules, or those who have the discipline to integrate a meditation or yoga practice into your lives. I think part of emerging as a leader is going through the process of identifying what works for you. Navigating the energy you bring and controlling how you expend it is unique to only you. I hope the energy you give each day to others, is something you make time to restore for yourself.
If you’re like me, I want you to know that you are not alone in contributing your time, empathy, compassion and energy to staff and students. That’s what I love most about being a part of this NASPA community! There are so many incredible colleagues and mentors in the NASPA family who are here to support, encourage and contribute to our leadership growth. Some of you have been leaders in NASPA for a while and your experience and wisdom are things we crave and some of you are new and your energy and creativity spark renewal. But, if you’re like me and you’re somewhere in the middle of seasoned wisdom and new professional vigor NASPA is a wonderful organization to be a part of and Region IV-W is a great network of individuals who can help keep your energy bucket full!
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