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Summer is an opportune time to reflect on our professional profile. Reacquainting ourselves with our strengths and talents can be a source of renewed pride and cause for celebration. Revisiting areas that could use greater attention and more consistent focus can lead us to shift some priorities and make new commitments. And uncovering areas with potential for growth can lead to useful learning, new habits, and growing insight.

Our profession demands a wide array of abilities in response to a wide array of challenges that arise while we effectively engage students, colleagues, and others. Consequently, our reflection might be a list of behaviors and characteristics that are typically associated with high performance and universal effectiveness. While not necessarily all-encompassing, here is a list of nine “abilities” (including a few “-ibility” words modified for the purpose of this article) and related questions we can ask ourselves to start our reflection:

  • Reli-ABILITY: Am I a “go-to” person when others want someone who will be certain a task or project is completed? Am I someone people turn to with a challenge or problem that needs attention? Can I be depended on to show up and follow through?
  • Account-ABILITY: When something does not go as planned, do I take responsibility, or do I try to deflect, deny, or distract? Am I someone who, once I make a promise, follows through no matter what happens?
  • Cred-ABILITY: Do I avoid exaggeration, pontification, and conjecture? Do people seek out my opinion and judgment? Do I continually build my professional knowledge base?
  • Flex-ABILITY: How easily do I adjust to unexpected events, last-minute requests, and unanticipated expectations? Am I able to go with the flow, or do I become rigid and stressed in the face of change? Do I need advanced warnings, time to adjust, or someone to blame?
  • Adapt-ABILITY: When conditions change, and I need to change in response, do I resist and press to keep things the way they were, or do I explore what I need to do to remain successful, then shift my approach or practice and continue to learn? Do I remain aware of trends and conditions that may make future adaptation necessary?
  • Like-ABILITY: How well do I make positive first impressions and build deep and lasting relationships? Does it feel as though people want to be around me? Do I smile most of the time? Do I learn and remember people’s names? Do I give my full attention when people are speaking to me?
  • Coach-ABILITY: How often do I seek constructive feedback? How well do I receive and act on the advice I receive? Can I set my ego aside when it is time to learn a new skill or practice a new approach?
  • Inspir-ABILITY: (Yes, it is a real word.) What inspires me? How often am I inspired? When was the last time I experienced awe? How do I inspire others? How effectively do I share my enthusiasm and passion?
  • Humor-ABILITY: (No, it is not a real word, but it should be.) How often do I see and share humor in my work with students and colleagues? Am I conscious of irony and absurdity in the situations I encounter? How often do I laugh with my students and colleagues?

If revisiting some of these “abilities” (reliability, accountability, credibility, flexibility, adaptability, likeability, coachability, inspirability, and “humorability”) leaves us feeling uncomfortable or wondering if we need to shift, learn, or grow, now is great time to explore and commit to making change. Summertime may offer opportunities to practice, or we may start now to plan how we will make adjustments in the fall.

Thought for the Week

In response to the uncertainty and disruption in which we find ourselves, researchers and experts say that the number one skill for survival and success in today’s environment is adaptability.

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