Grab your compass

There are many images that I could have chosen as themes for this blog, and for the most part they have cool 80’s songs to go along with them: “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Crazy on a Ship of Fools” come to mind. But those are both so pessimistic. Granted, this seems to fit the Zeitgeist. Have you ever read anything in the Chronicle of Higher Education and felt encouraged about your career choice to enter the Academy? Maybe I have, but that memory is overwhelmed by recollections of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The truth is that the academic route is not the easiest in the world, but I love it. I love it because my job is to think, talk, and write about the topics that I find most interesting – and I get to meet some amazing colleagues and students in the process. If you’re reading this, it probably means you feel something similar.

I’ve chosen the navigation model, because it seemed most apt at the end of the day. When you’re on the open sea, there are some things you can control, but many you can’t (unless you’re Jesus). It’s just like an academic career. Sometimes the tides take you where you want to go, and other times you end up on a lonely voyage to the Bermuda Triangle. Having been in that Triangle a few times (and not always of my own doing), I don’t want to see my friends and colleagues stuck there if I can at all help it. This has led to many conversations over the past few years about various elements of professional development, and on multiple occasions people have said that I need to start writing down some of what I’ve learned for the benefit of others. I particularly blame my good friend Ed Waggoner of Hartford Seminary for his arm-twisting. (Shout out to you, Ed.) I don’t claim to have all or even most of the answers, but I think I might have figured out a few through experience and careful observation.

Maybe your ship is just setting sail. Or maybe you’re in choppy seas. Or maybe you’ve been in a storm for so long that you have no idea where the heck you are. Whoever and wherever you are, grab your compass and come to the bridge. It’s time to tap your inner Captain Jack Sparrow.

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