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Change, Change, Change

| October 19, 2020

by Aaron Maternowski

[This reading is from Aaron Maternowski, Database Administrator, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  He is a MOR program alum.  Aaron may be reached at [email protected].]


When I think back on my leadership journey, the main point that floats to the top is change. One of the first articles I read for my first MOR workshop talked about how leaders direct change. Everything I’ve learned, talked about, and practiced had to do with change.

In MOR we’ve talked about creating and breaking habits. Literally changing my behaviors and practicing to strengthen behaviors. Then Strategic Thinking. This is making a plan for change. Then navigating cultures and creating momentum for change. Then interpersonal behaviors. Identifying who I am and who I want to be, and the changes I want to make to become that person.

Things are always changing. Sometimes it’s little changes that we just accept and move on. Sometimes it’s a divisive national election and the changes it may lead to, regardless of the outcome.  Or a worldwide pandemic that changes almost everything. Leaders are there through all of it. Whether it’s deciding what changes are best and directing everyone towards it, or dealing with the fallout and getting everyone out to the other side.

As I think back over my career, there was a time I especially enjoyed working. I realize now that it was because I was a leader. I understood the systems and how they all interacted. I was invited to all the planning meetings when opportunities arose. I knew everyone in all the departments and all levels. I served on various committees. I used to think it was because I was good at problem solving and good at writing code. I understand now it was because I was invested in improvement and helping wherever I could.

When I changed jobs, I carried some of that with me in helping people, but I was isolated from most of the company in my new position. I became used to not talking to everyone. I became accustomed to people coming to me if they needed my help. I brought all those behaviors with me to the university.

I still help wherever I can, but to really be a leader I need to be more involved. I have taken steps to serve on committees. This will help me to meet more people and gain a better understanding of the university outside of the technical view I have in my office.

During quarantine I’ve taken changes I thought about and put them into action. I started practicing the guitar, something I always wanted to do. I began learning video special effects and editing.  I’ve been learning Scottish Gaelic. I replaced the broken kitchen faucet we’ve been dealing with for a couple years. We’ve been cleaning the house in small sections at a time.

At the dojo, I’ve helped to shape how we do online classes. Setting up technology for sensei to use. Teaching classes online, having to adapt my teaching style (try teaching someone how to choke a person without having anyone to demonstrate on). Creating materials for kids to train at home on their own.

Some words on change from some of my leadership heroes.

Progress is impossible without change. -Walt Disney

Resisting change is resisting life. “The meaning of life is to be lived.” – Bruce Lee (extended version of this quote)

Change can be scary or it can be exciting, the choice is mine.

This reflection was featured in a MOR Tuesday Reading of Alumni reflections on leading change in changing times.