You’re No Prize Either

I’m the department chair now. It’s my first annual evaluation season. I’m thinking this is going to be hard for me. Two main reasons:

  1. I take things literally. My university uses a five point scale where 3 is “meets expectations.” But there’s a wink-wink use of the scale where 4, “exceeds expectations,” means “you are really good at meeting my expectations.”
  2. I’m allergic to self-promotion. Maybe this is a character defect that I will need to stamp out as a supervisor. If my people don’t self-promote, how will I know what great things they have accomplished? This is going to be a tricky balance for them, and for me, to get right.

In Mary Pipher’s Letters to a Young Therapist, we find┬áthe story of a man’s secret to a fifty-year marriage: “I wake up every morning, look in the mirror and say to myself, ‘You’re no prize either.'”

It’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like to look in the mirror in the morning and say, “Congratulations to those lucky bastards who get to hear from me today!” But that is the vibe I get from some of the annual reports submitted in my department.

If you are reading this and want to impress me: for every great thing you’ve done, also tell me how it falls short. That would exceed my expectations.

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