How do They do it?

I can't sleep again. Shocker!

Tonight's lack of sleep brought to you by a combination of, are you sitting down?, Classics + Caffeine + far too much one on one conversation about field leaders. That's right, someone had to go and humour me. Two someones, so it's double the trouble. + Free refills. Never a good thing.

The Classics in question - Coleman's brilliant commentary on Martial's Liber Spectaculorum. I waited 10 years for that. If you're in Academic, it is your duty to go out and put that book in your collection. It's not the blood and gore that makes this stuff brilliant, it's the weaving of the tapestry of the times.

But ye all are Librarians, not Classicists. So what really got me going tonight was ceaseless yammering.

I got to monopolise one of my UIUC LEEP Schoolies for nearly 3 hours. It was awesome.

I have a fierce allegiance to my Library School, for yea, it is Great. I'd tattoo meself if I thought it would raise money for 'em. One of the coolest things about my School is that folks STILL talk to one another after the passage of several years. The thing that got me through that fine Institution apart from the strong gust of wind that blew me application from the Rejected pile to the Accepted pile was that they didn't force but 2 courses upon their students. Go study what makes you happy kids.

What I yammered on tonight about - the important part - was about Leadership. What neither of us can put our finger on was the bulk acquisition of the qualities we saw in what I would term Passive Leaders. These are the Lead by Example types. I'm fortunate to have 2 of these models; my Schoolie as far as I know, has the one we shared in School.

Email these folks at 3AM, you get a response in 10 minutes or less. Phone at 7AM at their work number, and there they are. Drive through their towns at random, ask for a piece of their time, and there they are again.

But it's not just the ludicrous work ethic. It's not the passion that they have for the Field alone. It's not the stunningly vast knowledge they carry about in their brains which forces you to wonder what you're doing with yours. It's the stark contrast between all they have accomplished and the meekness they model.

It's the mastery of hands off Leadership. If you want to learn on your own, fine, go learn. Did you succeed? Wonderful! Do you need my help? Yes? Here's how I would do it. Did it work for you? What went wrong? Don't blame yourself, just try again.

Don't try and butter 'em up. Don't try and get them to take the credit they richly deserve. They'll have none of it. Do tell them they helped. This will eventually breach the walls; they crave real positive accomplishment, actual progress, but they're so engaged that they never stop to admire where they've arrived.

Another stunning component is the high level of community involvement coupled with the extremely low involvement in political infighting. You can't say they don't take an interest in the Field since they're everywhere you are and more. You can't say they don't know the politics of a given situation; they DO, they're just above it. They have lost themselves in the work at hand for a lifespan, and in doing so have become Library Gurus.

But how? Is it just the desire to do one's best 24/7 that gets someone there?

There's no doubt in my mind that a positive example is easier to follow than a negative, just as a positive is easier to prove than a negative. But there are a lot fewer positive examples out there than negative ones. Perhaps we needs cobble together the best in what we see about us. This digital world makes that aim easier.