Photo of a lion.

Your Words Hold Power

“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.” —Maggie Kuhn

 

Your words hold power. They do. Think about how impactful words told to you as a child were. Consider the stinging insults from the playground bully. Or, the advice from the family member who made you feel invincible.

Words hold power. Your words hold power.

And yet, how often are we called to use our words before we feel ready? How often are we called to speak up when no one else seems to care?  Our words still matter. They matter when we stutter. They matter when we overthink them before saying anything.

At times, unspoken words can have the greatest impact. They can do the most violence.

Your words matter.

You might be in a situation right now where you’re doubting yourself. Imposter syndrome has crept back in.

You’re being asked to present, teach, or proclaim, and you’re thinking: “They have the wrong person. I’m not ready for this. I’m not right for this.”  Let me tell you something: you were called to the table for a reason. You are right for this. Someone saw brilliance, answers, and better questions in you.

It’s your time to say what needs to be said. Offer up your opinions. Challenge the status quo. Say what only you can say: your truth. Don’t settle.

I know, it’s scary to be impeccable with our words. It can be frightening to tell others what we’re really thinking. What if we give them something to use against us in the future?

What if?

What if you say something that could help shift someone else’s story? What if your words are the difference between joy and pain for the person you didn’t even know was listening?  What if your words could liberate?

They can. They have. They will.

Speak up.

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New Year, New You: Putting Positivity to Work in 2016

Originally published in MACUHO MagazineWritten by Debbie Scheibler and Sinclair Ceasar 

New Year’s Resolutions. It seems that everybody’s got one. However, most of us break them within a few weeks into the New Year. Why is that? Is it that we set unattainable goals? Is adhering to our goals too difficult? Perhaps it’s because they aren’t necessarily fun (I mean, come on, who wants to wake up at 5am or give up bread)? Whatever the reason, many of us quickly lose steam on the resolutions that we set forth for ourselves. As the start of 2016 is upon us, we challenge each of you to set one personal resolution within yourself to up the positivity in your life; make this a gift for yourself that can last the whole year long.

Choose Your Attitude

Much like the trusty old FISH! Philosophy says, YOU make the choice everyday for how you will show up. Don’t blame the weather, the economy, or the wrong side of the bed. You choose how you want to experience the world. We suggest and encourage that you choose to be thankful for the air in your lungs, the brains in your head, and the shoes on your feet. Think of the example you can set by wearing a smile and having a great attitude.

Acknowledge the Work of Others

Nothing makes an employee feel more valued as when they are acknowledged. If you are a supervisor let your team know that you see their efforts, and make note of them when they do an exceptionally good job. We suggest using a variety of methods to show appreciation, and to be mindful of personal preferences (verbal, written, etc.) Having you role model this gratitude could impact your office and, if you’re have a high stress/low morale office, it might help change the dynamic of your department to one of appreciation and support.

Say Thank You

Similar to acknowledging the work of those within your office, saying “thank you” to folks you encounter spreads the positivity outside of the office. Say thanks for those who open a door for you, holds the elevator a few extra seconds, or bless you when you sneeze. The key is to be genuine, make eye contact, and let the gratitude sink in.

Practice Civility

You’re probably wondering what civility has to do with positivity. In our world today (and that has been made even more evident by the global and local events in recent weeks) we come across disagreements, misunderstandings and anger on almost a daily basis. Civility challenges each of us to honor and respect the difference of others while still remaining true to ourselves. When you’re faced with something you don’t agree with or don’t understand, we encourage you to approach the conversation with an open-mind and the willingness to listen before reacting. You don’t have to agree, but you should try to seek understanding.

Treat Yo Self

None of this will matter if you don’t take care of yourself. Start a new hobby. Take a class. Join a running club. Learn sign language. Start that blog you’ve been thinking about. Let 2016 be the year where you take some time for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be long, even in 30 minutes you can dramatically improve your stress levels, your health and may even open new professional (or side hustle) doors for you.

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Debbie Scheibler is the Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life at Rutgers University- Camden. She oversees the Residential Life curriculum, on-campus student conduct, and is a Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Debbie is a former faculty member for the Regional Entry-Level Institute (RELI) and a James C. Grimm National Housing Training Institute (NHTI) graduate. Debbie currently serves on the Executive Board of the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Officers (MACUHO) in the role of Director of Annual Programs.Connect with her on Twitter @DebbieScheibler

How to Motivate People You’ve Never Met

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My search for a full time job several years ago was miserable. I was stressed, strained, and still had to work. Ya’ll know how real those grad positions can get. Then came the the two placement exchanges I attended. They did nothing to calm my nerves. I was a hot mess. What helped?

For one, getting a motivational message from @ResLifePuppy. It was a simple, uplifting message that kept me going. At some point I decided to give back in my own way. I reached out to other Student Affairs current/future professionals and offered to send them personalized emails. This thing took off. I’ve sent over 200 emails as of today.

Click here to sign up, if you’re interested.

Here are a few things that have helped make this ongoing project a success: 

  1. We’re Not So Different – The job search can suck. I know this. You know this. So, I took this common struggle and decided to do something about it: leverage genuine positivity and the power of email to make the search process a little less painful.
  2. Keep it Simple – When people are facing a problem, they don’t want more work to do. One thing that’s helped with my various kindness projects is simplicity and a clear call to action. This involves creating a simple Google form, designing an eye-catching logo, and posting the project in the midst of an captive audience. Then comes the waiting. Fortunately, folks have been receptive in various social media circles.
  3. Mean It – This the best piece of advice I can give anyone when trying to motivate others. Don’t be fake – as some of my students would say. Tell people what you’re offering and let them know a piece of your story. Let your story speak through the work you do. I care about others in their search process. I think our field is full of skilled people and fantastic positions. Why should they have to feel miserable when seeking other opportunities? The majority of people who signed up for the project, indicated that waiting to hear back from employers is the most stressful part of the search for them. Interviewing came in second. It makes me happy to know that I can be a part of making their waiting time a little sweeter.
  4. Follow Up – The #SASearch Motivation project began in November 2015. Emails went out shortly after. Today, I followed up with all participants to do a check in and to see if they wanted to continue receiving emails. Following up is especially important when it comes to being someone’s personal cheerleader. It’s not enough to tell someone: You Got This. You need to be there when they feel like they don’t have it, and discover how you can be a resource. That’s showing care.
  5. Say Thank You – Each person that reaches out for inspiration and a boost of morale, has – in a sense – invited me into something personal. They take the leap to trust me, be vulnerable, and take in my advice. They don’t have to do this. It’s special when they do. And it’s important to always show gratitude to those who reach out to me.

So, how can I make your search process a little better? Sign up here or drop me an email at sceasar1@gmail.com

 

How We Made Positivity Go Viral

One hot summer day in 2015, Jessica Hurtt (JHurtt) told me about an organization called The World Needs More Love Letters. Basically, they encouraged people to write letters to others in need of genuine kindness and inspiration. Let’s bring this to our campus, Sinclair, JHurtt concluded. You should know that her positivity is magnetic.

We were excited and got to work. Soon, we were cleared to do the project and called it Notes of Kindness. Our fees were low (keep reading to see how to duplicate this at your institution) and a few core students were on board to help us get started. We gathered markers, blank greeting cards, and envelopes around the office. Then we made simple notes that said things like “You belong” or other thoughtful words.

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We personalized them and sent them to faculty, staff, administrators, and students and called it a day. Every note was anonymous and stayed that way during the entire project. We agreed that writing the notes felt natural and so darn good to do. Our next phase: Going Campus Wide.

You should know that I had a hard time being anonymous with my notes. Thankfully, a student and I had a good talk about humility and goals. I began signing my notes: From Someone Who Cares. Let’s just say my  ego was all like: really tho?!?! 

I sent an email to the entire campus which included a link to a sign-up form. The best subject line was: Want an uplifting note in your campus mailbox? In addition to capturing basic identifying information, the form included the following prompts:

form questions

**Click here to see the entire form. 

Participants were also given the option to enter their birthday. They received this video during their birthday month. Just a little extra to make things interesting.

If you’re putting two and two together, you’ll notice that the students powered this project. Getting their interest and investment early on made it what it was. At some point, we recruited Top Secret Letter Writers. About 30 people signed up to stop by my office at any time to write notes to people on the recipient list. Then we kicked the project up another notch. We hosted letter writing parties! 

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During the parties, we wrote letters to 4 – 5 people. Each recipient received their own Bundle of Kindness (a bundle contained 15-20 heartfelt notes). The notes ended up being longer because the writers were given a prompt about the person receiving the bundle. The bundles were delivered to relatives of the Mount community who were in real need of encouragement due to sickness or a death in the family. Seeing so many students take time out of their evening was powerful stuff. The second letter party was all about students nominating other students for bundles. In all, over 40 students were nominated and four were chosen. Their stories ranged everywhere from one student losing their home, to a student who was always giving to others but never kind to themselves.

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**Each note writer had access to this. It contained instructions, writing prompts, and rules for the project. Click here to see it.

From July 2015 to December 2015, our Notes of Kindness team wrote 300+ notes! People would thank me, but I’d tell them that the students wrote most of the notes. And that’s all true. One of the most touching aspects of this project was the student who came to our office every single day for three straight weeks. I took the opportunity to get to know them, and will forever be grateful from all I learned from them. They are truly amazing.

Make Positivity Go Viral on Your Campus

So there you have it. Positivity went viral on our Mount campus. Here are three quick tips to get this project started where you are:

  1. Inexpensive and Fast – This doesn’t mean to rush and put in minimal effort. The advice here is to get started today and not break the bank. Don’t overthink it. Who do you want to reach and what’s the simplest way to make that happen?  Eventually, I received funding for the project once my supervisor noticed that this was moving. But, the more creative you are the better. I ended up ordering these note cards and envelopes (EXCELLENT DEAL) and we used these Sharpie markers and these labels to seal the envelopes.
  2. Google Forms – If you’ve never used this before, it is super user-friendly, helpful when organizing recipient list on the back-end, and customizable.
  3. Sign, Sealed, Delievered – All of our correspondence was sent through university campus mail. I had a great conversations with our staff in the mail room before we began the project. While I secretly knew we wanted the entire campus to begin writing each other good ol’ snail mail, I made sure to respect our delivery system and the hard people fueling it. Word to the wise: make sure to screen every note before it’s sealed. You don’t want anything damaging being delivered.

Never doubt what a fantastic of group of loving people can make happen. Hmm..I need to wipe some tears of my face.

Now I know something is missing from this article. I’m imperfect. So, email me at sceasar1@gmail.com or comment below with any questions. I’d love to be a resource to you and help you get started. 

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2015 In Review

Huge shoutout to the folks at WordPress.com for putting my stats together from the year. In short, A LOT of awesome folks (like you) took time to visit The SA Pro Next Door and read my articles. I am overwhelmed with joy about this. I can’t wait to share more honest and vulnerable posts with you. Next steps: teaching others how to blog and publish online. 

2016, hello from the other side…it’s gonna be one heck of a ride. 

 

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

#FinalsMotivation (Free Downloads)

It’s finals time again. Students are starting to stress, and many of us are as well. So, I decided to design a simple yet motivational template based on words some of us have been fortunate to hear and truly realize: You can get through this.

Click HERE to download & print the 8.5 x 11 template of your choice.

 

P.S. Shout-out to Mike Lynch for their tweet that inspired this mini-project back in 2015.

 

5 Things You Probably Beat Yourself Up About

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This might seem like post about me, but I don’t think we’re all that different. I’m betting you’ll see yourself in at least one thing written below. 

1. You don’t have the relationships you want with others. I’m so guilty of this one. I think it’s because I set high expectations for others. I want them to love me instantly and tell me all about their lives. I want them to be open, extroverted, forthcoming, interesting, patient, (geesh, the list is too long and too ridiculous to continue writing). This is unrealistic and relationship building takes time. It’s hard for me to accept this, but I’m working on it every darn day.

Note: Food is better when time and effort are put into it, and the fake stuff is left out of it. Relationships with friends, colleagues, students, and family aren’t any different. I might write this on the back of my hand just to remind myself. 

2. You think you should be today, what you’re not even ready to be yet. I hate this one. I want it all now. I want the doctorate, the followers, the fans, the expensive clothes, the big paychecks, and the recognition in my field. But all any of that means is that I need to work on accepting who I am today, and realizing that I am enough. Fans, books, presentation/keynote invites don’t inform that – I do.

3. You produce content just to stay relevant and known. I’ve been scheduling out positive social media updates to inspire others. My intentions are good because I seek to positively inspire others. The other – more embarrassing – reason is because I think others will forget me if I don’t let them know I’m here …like every couple of hours. That’s ridiculous. You’re here, I’m here, and we’re all busy living. Take time for yourself and treat yourself. Remind yourself of what it all really means. Remind yourself that you mean something even if no one is calling you, texting you, or inviting you anywhere. They haven’t necessarily forgotten, and it’s not always because they don’t like you. They just have their own lives to live, journeys to experience, and challenges to face. Dig into that loneliness and figure out why it feels so bad. Yes, yes, I’m going to take my own advice. It’s a struggle.

4. You and your worrying are getting in your way. I’m afraid of being wrong and of being alone. 10 points for you if you’ve figured this out by now. I don’t want the pain, guilt, and shame that potentially come with letting others down or making a fool of myself. So, I overcompensate by being super duper on top of things at work, at home, and in my friend groups. It’s causing so much stress in my 27 year old body. Gah, the aches!!! On top of that, worrying is exhausting. I imagine all the brain power and happiness I’d have if I just worried for ONLY one hour a day (which my counselor recently suggested), and spent the rest of time floating from one thing to the next, with a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. Pain is going to come, but I don’t have to spend every moment anticipating it. Neither do you.

5. You don’t know what you really want from life. I want real friends, a happy and fulfilling marriage (as of 7-16-2015), a good savings account, and to have an impact on others. The problem is that I think my wants aren’t that great. So what if  I don’t want what you want or what person x wants. So what if my wants aren’t noble, humble, good enough, or whatever. What happens when I embrace who I am (even the yucky stuff)? What do YOU really want from life? Does the answer bother you? 

Take what you want, and throw away the rest. Share this with someone if you think they can use it.

It’s National High Five Day 2015 – Free Printable

I love that this is an actual nationally recognized day and is supported by many:

Feel free to download the image below and use it to share some cheer today.

PUSH YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT (1)

Actually, You Aren’t Enough

You Are Enough.

Those three words frustrate me. I don’t always believe in them. For some of us, the goal of perfection has been a burden for quite some time. Some of us jokingly say things like I’m just a perfectionist or I just like to do it right the first time.

Okay. I actually say those things all the time. But, when I fail, I kick myself and sulk. I restart the self-loathing process:

Step 1: Doubt my skills.

Step 2: Envy others who do what I do – seemingly better.

Step 3: Repeat.

Thanks to Twitter, I find myself scrolling through update after update from others who appear to be the champions and celebrities of Student Affairs. Heck, maybe some feel the same way when they peruse my statuses. My self-worth gets tied up into everything I haven’t done, and into every year of experience I don’t have in my field.

I end up not feeling like enough. As if there’s a course on adding more to my personality and my character. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to be someone else, but feeling like I don’t measure up is unsettling. 

I tell all this to my support system. They remind me of my strengths, they challenge me to think about my accomplishments, and they push back on my negative thought patterns.

My hope is that each of us has had at least one moment when someone affirmed that what we do/who we are is a good fit for life, let alone our jobs. We haven’t all written an e-book, taught a course, researched/discovered a theory, or presented on a national scale. Do we have to?

When it comes down to it, it might be worth something to ask: “What do I actually want to do” rather than “What should I be doing because x.  (x can equal: “it sounds good” ; “others have done it”; “it will get me to the next step”)” I say all this and yet I struggle with feeling like less on some days. It’s part negative thoughts, part my own lived history, and part misguided perspectives on what matters.

On good days, I know I am enough. I feel great doing what I do best: connecting, motivating, and inspiring others. There’s a pep in my step and tiny blue cartoon birds sit on my shoulder. I like the person I see in the mirror and I know I am enough. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m doing what I enjoy without comparing myself others, or if it’s because people-time gives me an endorphin rush, but I like myself in those moments.

I feel like enough when a student opens up to me and confides in me after being reserved for several months. It happens when a co-worker invites me over for dinner. I’m reassured I am enough when I am able to contribute in important meetings, help develop curriculum, successfully run a staff selection, or inspire someone to accept just a little bit about themselves because they listened to my story.

We have done more and are more than we’ll ever know. It’s the grandiose acts, the prolific writings, the innovative ideas generated, and the chart topping accomplishments. It’s the small things and it’s that which exist in the in-between that matters as well. We get to decide what and who defines us.

We get to live a better story for ourselves and others. And on the good days, because there are good days, we get to note that we are enough. Sometimes self-acceptance only exist in a few hiccups of hope at a time.

My hope is that we take hold to those moments, gather them, and tuck them away. Eventually, they will override all the lies we’ve been told about being less than. Sometimes, hiccups will have to do. I’m going to reflect more on being okay with the enough that I am.

What’s your story?


 

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