“Choose wisely” staff members told

February 12, 2010
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A trio of speakers reminded UCCS classified staff of their worth, the choices they make, and how life requires adapting to change. Close to 100 staffers attended Staff Enrichment Day on Feb. 10, partaking of the lectures, lunch and complimentary pieces of valentine candy with laughter and camaraderie.

“Do what you believe in and believe in what you do,” motivational speaker Janet Mills told the group in the day’s first session.

Providers of educational services shape the future. The influence they have on 18-24-year-olds is profound and far-reaching, she said, and connections staff make with students can inspire them to succeed.

The staff audience agreed when Mills suggested they were motivated by a passion to serve, rather than a desire to get rich. She provided statistics from the National Center for Education indicating the trend toward increasing numbers of students and the vital need for educational service staff. She noted that current economic conditions have increased student numbers and stress simultaneously, but the passion and excitement staff feel for what they do is key to surviving the challenges.

It is important, Mills said, for staff members to support, reinforce and complement one another, and be aware of their own self-worth. It is critical for overworked, nervous and stressed-out staff to remember how vital their work is, and draw strength from each other.

“Education is the most important profession there is,” said Mills.

Nadyne Guzman, UCCS professor emerita, College of Education, and president of Infinite Excellence discussed choices. She said people make one of four choices to address whatever situations involve them. A person chooses, she said, to be happy with a situation, to negotiate a change, to be miserable, or to eliminate the situation, and each choice offers its own series of consequences and repercussions.

Choosing to be happy is reasonably uncomplicated. It calls for acceptance and flexibility, Guzman said, but the other choices are more complex. Negotiating a change in a situation may mean negotiating a compromise with the person responsible for it, or negotiating with one’s self to determine the next step. Choosing to be miserable is often the choice people make to maintain the familiar, because they fear the unknown. The choice to eliminate a situation can have drastic consequences as it often means leaving a job, a place, or a person. Yet all choices, she said, are based on an individual’s values, beliefs and thoughts.

Guzman shared examples of people with diverse origins and beliefs who compromised, choosing to recognize common feelings and experiences as human beings. She noted that common beliefs in virtue, honesty, and the human spirit, and common desires for happiness and security can transcend differences and promote the choice to get along.

She said there are always choices, and people need to remember that.

Terry Schwartz, associate dean, School of Public Affairs, presented “Making the Most of Change,” a workshop/presentation that included audience participation. Through a series of assessment exercises, the staff audience measured their individual capacities for resourcefulness, optimism, adventurousness, drive, adaptability, confidence, and tolerance for ambiguity. Each of these elements, she said, influences how we deal with change.

Schwartz stressed that change is an inevitable part of life and defined some of its attributes. Change is a process, not an event. It is accomplished by individuals, is a highly personal experience, and it involves growth in development of feelings and skills. Reasons individuals resist change include comfort with the familiar, fear, feeling powerless, perception that costs outweigh benefits and not having enough information.

Some qualities that ease the process of change, she said, include trust in others and being trustworthy yourself, being honest and truthful, and maintaining a sense of humor.

Schwartz closed her presentation with the anonymous quote, “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

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