Monday Motivation #102 (5/9/22)
When I was a grad student, I was lucky enough to have “Ann Arbor parents.” Martha and Jack were actually my cousins, but had retired from careers in engineering and were happy to “adopt” me when I moved to Ann Arbor to start a PhD program. I stayed with them while searching for an apartment, and they helped me build shelves and find furniture and stock my kitchen.
Although I didn’t know them well when I moved, over the years they became treasured confidantes. They helped me celebrate when things went well, and consoled me when the path was bumpy. They let me store backup copies of my research data and dissertation drafts at their house (this was the age of CD-ROMs rather than cloud storage). They had me over for weekly meals and tried hard to teach me to cook — at least until I set the oven on fire! And I found ways to help them too: installing software, setting up printers, feeding the cat and watering the plants when they traveled. Growing the relationship took time and effort, but has had so many rewards.
I was reminded of them this weekend — Mother’s Day — which I got to spend with my own kids. I taught my youngest to make scrambled eggs (I’m still not a great cook, but I haven’t set the kitchen on fire in a few years!). I drove my oldest to their job at a fast food restaurant, and took the littles swimming with their cousins. I made bubble solution and bought badminton racquets and sent the kids out to play in the backyard. And I wondered a bit who they’d grow to be, and where they’d make their adult lives, and whether they’d find their own Martha and Jack to support them along the way.
All of us need support and community, whether we’re navigating graduate school or forging a professional career or building a life with our loved ones. This week, I’m sharing some ideas and resources for investing in relationships and building networks of support throughout our lives.
Three Things to Try This Week
Invest in Others — taking the time to build and nurture relationships in our personal and professional lives can help to lay a strong foundation of support and trust for the tough times. Consider this advice for how to invest time and offer support to others, and how to ask for help when we need it.
Build your Board — finding the right folks to guide and support your career development can make a big difference in what’s on your resume. Consider this advice about how to build your own “board of directors” — and think about how you might fill one or more of these roles for others in your network.
Master the Midwestern Goodbye — building strong relationships often requires understanding and navigating different cultural traditions. While most folks in our graduate community grew up outside Michigan, all of us can enjoy and learn from this primer on the culturally “Midwestern” method of exiting social situations
- Want to build your Communications, Teamwork and Leadership skills this summer? Check out these FREE, VIRTUAL training opportunities offered as part of the NSF-funded CyberAmbassadors program. (Full disclosure: I’m one of the PIs on this project.)
- Broaden your perspective by reading these works of fiction that explore different cultures, values, identities, and relationships from around the world.
- Enjoy these winners from a macro photography contest.