40 Days of Kindness

Is it summer yet? It’s funny how we work all year long for a very short period of time where we all sit anxiously and wait for the numbers to start going up and can’t wait to just rip the band-aid off. 

There is no shame in saying it’s stressful, it’s frustrating, our jobs rest at the hands of 17 and 18-year-olds making rational decisions, and in many cases, their parents making those decisions. We want things to be the way they were sooner than they are ready to get there. School counselors are dealing with significantly more mental health issues than ever before, and supervisors are trying to handle mental health and burnout of their staffs. In short, disruption is everywhere.

Yet, we persevere. We come back because we know what we do is for a good cause. We all believe in the mission of our respective institutions. I believe it is the people that keep us going: the student who screams with joy at being accepted, the parent that cries because financially they can afford it. These are the wins in our profession that make the long nights and weeks worth it. But we can do more and better.

I suggest a challenge this year to school counselors, to admission reps, Directors and VPs. Find ways to celebrate the small wins. Sometimes it is difficult to do if you are trying to fill open spots, your numbers are down, or external factors keep getting in the way; I get it, but celebrating the small wins, going to lunch, closing early for a happy hour or just having 30 minutes of fun conversation is not going to suddenly change these things or make them worse, but it can make it better long term. The happiness of you and your staff is imperative to the success of your office.

At Cornell we celebrated 40 days of kindness as a campus. We wore T-shirts every Wednesday that said “Practice Kindness,” we held simple events such as hot chocolate bars, a thank you/gratitude letter writing initiative, mindfulness, and more extravagant things such as employee appreciation week filled with events and prizes. They broke down silos and helped staff celebrate the great work we put in, not just in our office, but across campus.

The state of fulfilling work in changing for the better, more gratitude, and time to smell the roses (or Tulips for our Central folks) creates a positive work environment and may just help some of the staffing carousel we all seem to struggle with.

So, despite taking a look at numbers every day, hour, minute, step outside of the office, grab a coffee with a friend or treat your team to a round at the bar…and instead of avoiding the yield season, celebrate everything you’ve done to get to where you are.

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