- May: Avengers, Dark Shadows, Battleship, Men In Black 3
- June: Madagascar 3, Prometheus, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Brave, GI JOE Retaliation
- July: Spiderman, Ice Age: Continental Drift, BATMAN:Dark Knight Rises
- August: Bourne Legacy, Total Recall reboot, Expendables 2
Now that is a nice list of winners. Probably some stinkers too. Summer time in Res Life is an interesting time of year. It is a time to catch your breath. But I believe summer time is where you make or break your career. What will you spend your summer doing? Here are some things to think about:
- Process: Before I do anything else, or allow myself to rest, I take some time reflect and process the year with my RDs. A “Total Recall” so to speak. What went well? What didn’t? What do we want to fix? Are there things to tweak with closing? Programming ? What are we proud of this year? What are we not so proud of? While it is fresh, it’s time to talk about these things before it gets lost and you’ve moved on to next year. What is going to be your team’s LEGACY? Your team is likely changing next year – what will the current team leave as a LEGACY for the next group. As I said last week, also making sure you take time to bring closure for your staff. Maybe send some notes out.
- Rest: Getting rest over the summer is crucial! You just experienced the process of the Academic year. Travel. Explore the area you are living. Last summer you may have just started your job – you spent all your time last summer learning the campus, the system, prepping for your RAs arrival. Maybe you didn’t have time to see the town you were living in. Now is that time. Maybe it’s time to REBOOT.
- Dream: Think ahead. What is it you want to do over the next year? What do you want to learn professionally? Personally? What will you do to develop YOURSELF this upcoming year?
If you look at the summer movies and other sequels from the past, it gives us some insight on what your life looks like each year. If our academic year is a movie, each successive year is kind of like a sequel. As you reflect on your past year, was this your first year in the field, and was it fresh and exciting? Or are you on Police Academy 5 where it feels formulaic, and maybe you are tired of going through the motions. After all there are just soooo many ways a human being can make beeping noises and have it still sound fresh. Maybe you’re a one act pony whose schtick was tired 4 years ago? If you keep telling the same jokes, they DO get tired. There are only so many times Rocky can get knocked down and get back up before we say “yeah yeah – we know – he’s an underdog – and he’s going to WIN!” There are only so many ways to break up and get back together.
There are many different ways to handle sequels. Let’s take the Batman Franchise for instance. Michael Keaton’s First Batman movie felt fresh, new. I believe it is the crucial moment that geek culture went from camp to cool. More on that in another post. But by the time George Clooney took the mantle (with the future Governor of California as Mr. Freeze – ugh) it was tired and sad. And BAM, Christopher Nolan takes over so many years later with Batman Begins and it’s new again! And BAM! He follows it up with the Dark Knight, and Heath Ledger brings a greater depth to the movie. Sometimes it takes a great villain to be the hero you were created to be. Think about that if you had a potentially rough year this year. Batman NEEDED a re-boot. Maybe you do too? Maybe you don’t need a reboot, you need to take what you learned from last year and just grow from that experience because it is part of something bigger- think Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Either way, the suumer time is when you can “make it happen, cap’n.”
I think being an RD was most difficult when I realized over the summer all that hard work I invested last year was over and I had to start again new next year. It didn’t really hit me my second year as an RD until about late September/Early October. Maybe it doesn’t hit you until your third year. Didn’t I teach my staff how to deal with that ALREADY? I can’t believe I am STILL dealing with staff who want to be liked by their residents instead of respected. I got my staff RIGHT where I wanted them LAST year in May, and now, all that work is gone. UGH! But it will hit you – when you realize that each sequel to your RD movie is a little bit the same and familiar, and a lot different. Now, I spend my summers EMBRACING that notion.
And here is where I made the change for me. It was when I realized the energy I was spending each year was not to make MY LIFE easier. What frustrated me as a young professional was that I spent this energy during the year and I had to START OVER. What I was really saying – all this energy should make my life easier next year. My life. My life. My life. AND – it wasn’t about making me BETTER it was about making my life EASIER. When I began to embrace that this wasn’t about me, and more importantly, my comfort, I begun to realize that the energy I spend developing residents, RAs, and now RDs, isn’t about making MY LIFE easier. It is about helping THEM making THEIR LIVES better. THAT energy is NEVER Wasted. Well…almost never…I’ve had one or two “Voldemort” residents and/or staff members over the years…but in general I have seen my investments pay off in the lives of those around me. That is why I do what I do. When I realized that, I saw each year as a new opportunity. A new adventure. And the possibilities were ENDLESS. It wasn’t the same old formulaic sequel. Each year was a chance to reboot. Or at least advance the story from the year previously. To develop the characters further. to enrich them.
And surprise! This not only made the lives of my STAFF better – it impacted MY life for the better as well. When I stopped worrying about making my life EASIER and instead investing in others, my life was enriched beyond measure.
So, dear reader. As you get through closing, catch your breath. Reflect and Process on the movie you just got done making. As the director of next year’s movie, what do you want it to look like? Do you need a reboot? Do you need to enhance what has been done? Answer some of those questions, and then go and get your rest. And then DREAM.
Just for fun – if you had to pick a movie that would define your past year – what would it be? Would it be a summer blockbuster? A tired sequel? Pick a movie and share it with the rest of us. Please?
PS. Sorry if this is a little disjointed. We are crazy busy with closing as most of you are. Hopefully my heart got across in what I wrote.