< ♜

Ideals and Ambitions

"Getting published" was always on my bucket list of personal and professional goals. I don't really remember when that became a goal for me, but perhaps it all started when I went to my first professional conference and the conference presentations were accompanied by an entry in a professional journal. Ergo, all the presenters were published and I was young and looked up to the presenters as the experts; it felt like an accomplishment on par with getting an award or tenure. Add to that the fact that publishing seemed inextricably link with doing important work, work that others want to read about, timeless work.

I am working on my second paper to be published at the moment. My first was about the innovation cycle, the process by which my team would approach new and interesting technology ideas and create services to democratize access to them. That paper can be found here and it is a good read, almost exactly five years later. I wrote about that work in the context of leadership recently here. My second paper is about the shift from one entrenched tool for technology circulation to a third-party hosted solution, the subject of which I wrote about here, among other places.

But this post isn't meant to be a callback to other writing, it is instead meant to help me think through what led me to be interested in sharing my work in the first place. Perhaps at one point or another it had something to do with natural ambition and a perspective that I would be truly important when my name was "in ink". But as I matured, it was about a personal desire to (to reuse the word) democratize the information, to share important work, so that others would benefit from it.

In working through this process of publishing a second time, however, I was struck by that juxtaposition of ideals and ambition. I work every day to live my values in every part of my life and I am often challenged by the notion that for one person to succeed another must miss out. Leaders must be ambitious, but good ones also see the value in empathy. Leaders should also see the value in periodically sacrificing personal ambitions to see the success of those around them.

As I have walked my leadership path, I can't say that my actions and ambitions have never led to someone else missing out a potential step in their journey. But I can say that I have sacrificed those ambitions to help someone else grow in the ways they need to. Hoarding knowledge and responsibility is the act of a weak-minded fool. I have said it before that I work in libraries due to the fundamental truth that is commonly held within this context: the importance of sharing knowledge and providing access to that which was once held for only the select few.