If it Walks Like a Duck and Talks Like a Duck, isn’t it a Duck?

There is a unique phenomenon that mysteriously happens between work and home. For many, there is a disconnect between skills we have mastered and use well at the office and those skills we need at home or at school or in the community environment. There is a unique psychological phenomenon that suggests a very clear line exists. What we learn at the office seems to stay at the office.

For example, in writing, particularly in the doctoral program, students need to master the skills of being their own project manager. Students have grown accustomed to the school creating the deadlines for them to include: when classes meet, when discussions are due, when assignments are due etc. For the doctoral student, once classes end and the student begins the writing process of the dissertation specifically, the school only provides milestones for the student to complete as they move toward graduation. How they meet these deadlines are up to them (i.e. project management).

Consider the official project manager for a manufacturing company or for completion of building an airplane. Project managers, as part of their employment contract, will have specific deadlines of what has to be done, by when, by whom, and within what budget boundaries. Sounds simple right? These professionals are absolutely amazing at what they do —-IN THE WORK PLACE.

What happens when these same people leave the office and enter the home environment or the school environment? For some mysterious reason, these skills tend to STAY at the office. These exact project management/organizational skills that they possess in the work place are exactly the type of skills needed in the home or for writing the dissertation. So what is the problem? Why don’t these skills come with them to other places? Why do these skills tend not to transfer?

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, isn’t it still a duck? Whether we are in the home, at school, or at the office, foundational skills remain the same. Fundamentals of time management are the same regardless of location. Shouldn’t these skills still be available to the student in school if they use them at the office?

Herein lies the challenge. What happens when we leave the office? Why don’t these skills follow us home or follow us to school?

Some suggest that perhaps fatigue plays a role. We have been working hard for 8 hours or more and we simply need to take time off stage. For those who wear a uniform, for example, it is common to have these skills connected to this uniform. When we put on the uniform (and perhaps the business suit as well!), these skills simply are part of that persona. When we finish our work day and take off the uniform and the business attire, those skills somehow stay in the fabric or stay in our lockers. Why? We often behave differently when we are out of uniform and away from the office, particularly when we are in blue jeans or sweats or party clothes.

The secret is how do we draw from these skills in the work place when we might need them in the community for our volunteer work, or as part of our home life, and when we need them to create these systems as we pursue higher education? Again, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s still a duck, right? Whether we are at the office, in school, or volunteering in the community, the question to ask is: where do the ducks all go?

An effective strategy is simply awareness. Be aware of the amazing skills we have at the office, particularly time management, project management, and skill management. Recognize the need for these same skills in other areas of our lives and make a specific note to take the duck with you.

Happy Duck Hunting! No need to reinvent the wheel, particularly the wheels we already use so well as professionals in the work space. Let’s bring the ducks home or to wherever we may need them.

Quack quack.

Dr. Cheryl Lentz
The Academic Entrepreneur

September 9th, 2019 by admin

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