Plays Well With Others

Remember when you were a kid, when you had a buddy or a bunch of buddies? Everything was easier with a buddy. Play. Homework. Chores. Challenging your fear. Getting in trouble. Dancing. Pretty much anything you wanted to do or had to do was more easily done when a buddy was alongside you. Remember that?

Are you still reading, or are you taking a walk into your past? If you are, come back to the present for just a few more moments.
The point is, most things are still easier to do if you have a buddy.

Some examples:

  • writing your dissertation
  • writing an article for publication
  • writing letters to the editor or your legistlators
  • exercising
  • bowling (not real exercise)
  • vacationing
  • documenting your accomplishments
  • grant writing / submitting
  • committee work
  • teaching (yes, even teaching!)
  • beachcombing
  • going to a movie

I’m sure already do many of the fun activities with buddies. But how about the more difficult tasks?

Despite many messages that we live in a competitive and individualistic world, we have more allies than enemies, and it’s easier than it seems to find them. You can create the opportunities and structures that support you, in both your personal and professional life.

Are you writing with anyone else? Is there a dissertation support group you can join? If not, form one.

If thinking through a research proposal is not coming easily, why not gather a bunch of your trusted colleagues to present your ideas. Taking turns is best, of course.

But maybe most everything is falling into place, but there’s this one pesky detail that won’t behave. Ask a few colleagues to lunch to pick their brains. Treat them, if you’d like.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “I can’t trust anyone here.” I won’t challenge you on that right now. But you know folks in other institutions, right? Friends from your grad school days or people you’ve met at conferences. They don’t even have to be in your own field.

Call one (or more). You can set up a conference call for free these days using a service such as Free Conference.

The challenge

  • Pull out a piece of paper. Draw two horizontal lines, dividing the paper into thirds.
  • Draw a line down the middle from top to bottom.
  • In each of the three boxes on the left, answer this question: Where in your life are you flying solo and it doesn’t serve you? Elaborate your three answers a bit, so you know what you’re talking about.
  • Now, in the box to the right of each answer, list three ways you can use currently available opportunities, or how you can create new opportunities, to find buddies. You should have 9 responses.
  • Circle one response in each box that looks the most promising or easiest to pull off.
  • Are there any duplicates among the three boxes? If so, perhaps this method will be a great starting place.
  • Decide what one activity you will do and when.
  • Write me (steve, at this website) and let me know what you’re going to do.
  • Enjoy “playing well with others.”
    -Steve Reiter
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