We are now past the last of the ‘dog days of summer’. I love hot weather, so for me, this has been a fabulous summer. One of our colleagues reminded me last week that not everyone appreciates the heat, so perhaps not everyone will look back on this summer with fondness for the weather. I do hope that, despite the lack of travel and your love or loathing of the temperatures, you have found time to be outside to enjoy nature and sunshine (or soon will!), perhaps finding cool places to wander, or a body of water to wade into. Nature can raise us up when we are down, and in a time of stress and uncertainty, that may be an important way to ‘cure what ails us’.
The fall semester is fast approaching. I have no doubt everyone is working as hard as ever (it seems impossible that any of you could possibly work any harder!) to ensure McMaster is able to positively embrace our students into this uniquely different semester. Take stock this week. If you and the services you support are as ready as can be, and your plans to complete the readiness state are in hand, please take a deep breath and be satisfied. Let’s all assume that we are doing the best we can – that is all anyone can ask. We cannot predict the unknown or unplanned surprises that will come our way. We always deal with many challenges in a regular fall semester start up, and we get through these challenges. This year will not be different. We are in this together and we will successfully traverse whatever is in our path. Take each day as it comes – no matter how we try, there are only 24 hours! This is exactly the right time to stay in the present moment!
One way to help you stay grounded is to reach out to each other to share how you are doing, and to ask others how they are doing, and maybe share some humour. I have suggested to UTS team members that we reach out to each other through ‘Hallway Conversations’. These are random Teams conversations you initiate with each other so you can relive or revive serendipitous moments of connection you would be having on campus. I have heard that a few people have already had Hallway Conversations, which is great! I had one myself last week! There is a lot of research about the value and importance of relationships at work and I know it has been a challenge to maintain those. Microsoft Teams offers quick touch base opportunities through chat and video. Regardless of the tool, please try to support each other in this way. It could really make a difference for someone. I love that saying: “To the world you are just one person, but to one person you are the world!” You never know how helpful your smiling face could be.
To put a bit more focus on time for yourself each week, we also have one hour Building Resilience sessions you can attend to. You can register for one or more than one. They will continue to run every Thursday for one hour at lunch time until the end of October.
And of course, let’s ensure we take time to celebrate successes! There have been SO many successful accomplishments over the last 5 months. Big or small, whether it involves fully completing something or just hitting important milestones on the way to completion, accomplishing your goals and To Dos is a reason to celebrate success. And it can be highly motivating to celebrate success: it is a very important part of learning and development. And feel free to brag – use your Hallway Conversations to share and to applaud each other!
On the topic of celebration, let me lead by example: I will celebrate the end of my third year at McMaster this week! I started on August 21, 2017. Three years has gone by incredibly fast. And yet, when I look back, I realize that together we have accomplished enough to fill double that time. You have made me feel welcome from my first day and these past three years have been the highlight of my career. I am fortunate to be on this McMaster IT journey and proud to work with such an amazing group of individuals such as YOU. THANK YOU! Oh, and I am going to celebrate my actual anniversary day by going on vacation this Friday! Modeling the way!
I wish you all a wonderful end of summer – you still have time to enjoy August and to have a few final summer experiences. Seize the opportunity!