Connecting the dots

Music for Friday morning? The first movement of a Cello Concerto by Sir Edward Elgar. You can tell this Introvert has been doing a lot of deep thinking this week, right?

Yep, I have. I do a lot of thinking during those long walks I take at lunchtime and in the evening with my iPod!

People blog for different reasons.  I started this blog in December 2010 in an effort to tell the story of my generation of archivists, who were attacked and defamed for our efforts to comply with the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act. The act called for public rather than private control of Richard Nixon’s tapes and documents. Yet Nixon’s side sought to find ways to have him treated just like other Presidents—Presidents who had treated all their White House records as private property and deeded portions of them to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Had the purpose of the blog simply been to share what happened to MyGen at NARA, I might have started it several years ago.   Although I had shared bits and pieces of my story in other forums, I didn’t want to start a blog yet.  I’m an Introvert!  Plus there were other factors that keep me hanging back, reluctant to plunge in to blogging.

I felt compelled to move ahead in the latter half of 2010 and started preparing launch of the blog after August 2010.  I did so in an effort to keep NARA Nixon Presidential Library Tim Naftali from suffering a fate similar to my generation of archivists.   I’m not sure how many archivists understood what I was doing.  But Nixon’s former chief of staff in retirement, John H. Taylor, did; indeed, he spelled it out.  Father John tag teamed with me last winter in an effort to support Naftali, for which I am very grateful.

Tim, pictured at left with the Big Dude, aka AOTUS David S. Ferriero, and me on June 29, 2011, has not suffered our fate.  Indeed, during David’s tenure as AOTUS, Tim was able to put up an historically sound exhibit about Watergate which opened March 31, 2010.  I originally posted a somewhat cropped version of this photo at the blog so you couldn’t see that my tucked-in tie was sticking out.  (I’m short; the man’s tie I was wearing was long on me.)  But since we’re about telling it like it is with the records, that’s actually how it looked!  And oh, I was not surprised that the Big Dude commented that evening that he liked my blue nails, LOL.

David, whom I like, respect, and admire, has put up some very interesting, insightful posts at his blog about leadership, management, transformation efforts, and most recently about Introversion.  His post about Introversion has triggered a lively conversation in the comments section.   It’s interesting to see people talk about how some of us Introverts develop skills to deal with the Extrovert parts of our jobs (the Big Dude is outstanding in that) and how Introverts and Extroverts interact with each other.   They actually can team up to make the workplace better!

My question is, given the fact that so many librarians, archivists, and some of us historians are Introverts, why hasn’t NARA tested people for Myers-Briggs Indicator Types in the past?  (Bringing in contractors to do that is expensive so this is hard to do, now.)  Or discussed such issues more than it has in its internal training?   During the 1990s, I had to explain Myers Briggs to my late sister, Eva, a NARA supervisory archivist and team leader.  She didn’t learn about it formally in the workplace.

What about i-School?  My blog friend and commenter, Dejah, noted here yesterday that a boss gave her Jonathan Rausch’s article about Introversion to read.  Is there value to spending a little time in formal academic training on issues such as Myers Briggs and Emotional Intelligence (EI)?  I’m thinking of Daniel Goleman’s concept of EI, which covers competencies such as  (1) the capacity to read, be sensitive to (empathetic), and influence other people’s emotions and (2) the ability to enter and sustain satisfactory interpersonal relationships.  Important in the workplace, not just with friends and family!

Social media provide opportunities to study how people interact.  NARA’s bloggers are very busy but some engage with commenters, such as my friends, the National Declassification Center bloggers, and the super cool Arian at Records Express.   Even David, who has an entire agency to run, occasionally posts replies at AOTUS’s blog!

When it comes to personal blogs and Twitter feeds, people are all over the place.  Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, as they said on classic Star Trek.  But it seems to me that knowing a little more about these communications and personality typing issues would help people who are seeking jobs, those who are interviewing them, and those who already hold jobs. 

Some of it comes down to common sense.  We leave electronic footprints when we use social media in our personal capacities.  I’ve seen some good stuff, some that makes me go, whoa. 

I once watched someone repeatedly complain on his/her public Twitter feed about how much s/he hated aspects of his/her current job while sending in applications for a new job.  Constant complaining and near taunting of people with whom s/he was dealing in that job, yikes, not what I would have recommended.  On the other side, I’ve seen potential employers let loose a stream of caustic comments at some sites from time to time.  Wouldn’t send in an application for a job where I would have to work with him or her.   Not a problem with NARA’s bloggers, of course, starting with David, with his totally cool Big Dude vibe!

My friend Dejah often makes me think with the observations she posts under my essays here.  She has commented that archivists aren’t always taught much about historical interpretations.  This, too, is important.  Not only does it help to know how some of your researchers look at things, what they do with the information they get from you also can influence how some members of the public view historians!  And members of the public vote.  But that’s enough for Friday morning, as I’m musing about what success in the workplace requires.  More to come on some of these issues later, stay tuned!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s