School, job, writing, and babysitting

maxresdefault

Used under Creative Commons license.

Do others claim they have to babysit you?

Are you an adult?

We need to talk.

Following directions is a lost art. That’s because we prefer to do things our way or the easy way (for many, these two are the same).

We all need advice from time to time. We all need wise counsel and helpful direction in life.

But some adults never seem to reach a healthy level of independent competence. Independent competence–I like the way that sounds.

Consider three important realms in which a measure of independent competence is essential:

1) School. When applying for graduate school, the admissions committee considers several factors. But at the top of the list is whether you require babysitting. This is especially true in doctoral programs. The last thing a professor wants is a doctoral student who needs her hand held during every phase of writing that dissertation. Direction? Yes. Babysitting? No.

2) Career. When applying for that job, the hiring committee considers several factors. But at the top of the list is whether you require babysitting. Can you make an autonomous contribution, or must any value in your employment be squeezed out of you by someone else? If you look like your success will require micromanagement, they’ll pass you over for another hire who won’t demand so much time from a supervisor.

3) Publishing. When deciding to publish your book or not, the editorial board considers several factors. But at the top of the list is whether you require babysitting. It’s unprofessional to nag your editor at every step along the way with questions about content, fonts, and formatting. And then to put your editor in the position of having to pursue you when you miss your deadline, again. Believe it or not, editors have full time jobs apart from you.

It never fails. If I ask someone to send me one photograph, I’m going to receive three pictures and laziness disguised as helpful flexibility: “Pick whichever one you like the best.” But finding pictures isn’t the hard part of the job. Deciding on one picture is the hard part. Do the hard part yourself.

If I ask someone to send me a 500-word report, I’m going to get 700 words and laziness disguised as helpful flexibility: “Feel free to edit.” But coming up with words on a page isn’t the hard part. Distilling those words down to the crisp word limit is the hard part. Do the hard part yourself.

“Independent competence.” I sure do like the sound of that.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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

%d bloggers like this: