Make people matter

Over the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to work at our Information Desk in the Student Union.  Being from a small campus, we all take our turns at different roles and with the building manager taking a few vacation days before the students return, it’s been a great way to work from a different location and let her take the break she deserves.

If you were to look at my calendar, you would see that approximately 60-75% of my time (on average) is filled with meetings.  I work on a small campus because I love the number of different hats I get to wear.  I love that each day looks different than the rest.  I love that I can name most students on campus, or at least tell you something I know about them.  When I am at an all-staff meeting, I’m not wondering who is asking any questions.  I know their name, their role, and the meetings we’ve been at together.  Working on a small campus brings a lot of community.

However, we aren’t always aware of these insights.  In a week that should have been filled with productivity and finishing up projects, it’s been finishing up projects I wasn’t expecting, worrying about the screens on a new wall that has been built, and thinking about other things that need to get done.  The items that were supposed to be crossed off of my “to-do” list were not crossed off.

At the end of last week, we learned that one of the soft-spoken and vibrant women on campus passed away following medical complications that arose over break.  I was staffing this desk when I learned of the news and it is devastating to campus.  Our campus archivist, Mary was always willing to explore a topic, track down information, find a photo, or help out in any way.  She will be missed dearly.

Last night, I wrote about how the campus came together to help with some projects in our student center.  The different members who were present were noticeable, but also those who were missing.  Mary would have been there without question, wiping down chairs, and I doubt any of us would have heard one word of complaint from her.

Back to sitting at the Information Desk.  I’ve been sitting here over the past few days and it’s given me pause to reflect on the ways in which I take time to see individuals.  People who I might normally give a wave to in passing have stopped by and since I’m here, not scampering off to another meeting, it’s been great to chat with them.  And sometimes really catch up and learn how life is.  It makes me realize that over the past six months I have not taken the time do what our vice president asks of us at least once each month.  I don’t think I’ve taken time to make people matter by learning about them and how I can support their efforts.

I haven’t chosen a word for 2014 yet.  I know many of my colleagues at different institutions have one word on which they are focusing throughout the year.  On a small campus, relationships are key and I am hopeful that I can make people matter this year.  If anyone has a word for that, I’d appreciate hearing it.  For now, I’ll work on greeting each person as they walk in and thanking them for their presence on campus and in the world around me.

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