How 7 SmartBrief stories inspired me to do more

I read many news articles every day due to my work. I can either let them influence me to do things more often or persuade me to cut down. Looking over the most thought-provoking SmartBrief stories I encountered in February, I’m going for “more often” rather than “cutting down.”

I can:

Be open to disposing of outdated ideas and considering a new, more inclusive perspective

In the International City/County Management Association SmartBrief, there was a story about how Sandusky, Ohio, had chosen to end Columbus Day in favor of making Election Day a paid holiday.

Columbus Day was never all that big of a deal here in Florida. I don’t think I ever had it off (but I think the kids’ schools scheduled teacher planning days on Columbus Day). There’s a bigger question here, though, of how we as a society treat a day that many places have renamed “Indigenous People’s Day” and how much effort we expend to give people an opportunity to vote. In the long run, I think voting wins. 

Refuse to rule out the power of the tiniest clues

In the Sigma Xi Society SmartBrief, there was a story about unusual coyotes in Texas that, as it turns out, have DNA from extinct red wolves. The article discussed how the researcher who has been collecting genetic data on wolves and coyotes in North America prefers tissue samples over photographs when people ask for her help in identifying “wolflike animals.” In the case of the unusual coyotes in Texas, though, a biologist on Galveston Island, Texas, lost the tissue samples of one of the animals who was killed by a car, so couldn’t send them to the researcher.

Here’s how she got the information she needed: “He later lost one of the samples, but was able to send the scalpel he’d used on the animal’s carcass instead.” (Lo and behold, the “unusual coyotes” may possibly share DNA with the extinct red wolves.)

Who keeps their scalpels lying around without cleaning them? It paid off big-time here, but the survival of this woman’s research (at least in this instance) was hanging on the chance that a fellow scientist didn’t clean his scalpel right away. Hmmm.

Trust the evidence: Hope is real!

In the National Association of Social Workers SmartBrief, we discussed Professor Chan Hellman’s assertion that hope is evidence-based. “Hope scores are significant predictors of average daily attainment and GPA,” he said.

I especially loved this quote from the article: “Hope is a social gift. It’s not something that takes place in isolation within you, it’s something that we share.” I’m not even sure what it means, but “hope is a social gift” seems like a gift worth giving.

February 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

Always demonstrate a spirit of collaboration

I learned through the BoardSource SmartBrief that Henry Timms is leaving the 92nd Street Y to become the Lincoln Center president.

I have always heard great things about Henry Timms, and I know he has made a big difference for the 92nd Street Y. I wish I could go to the city more often and do more things there. I did get to go to the Social Good Summit there in 2015, which was a thrill.

February 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

At the 92nd Street Y for the Social Good Summit. Probably the closest I will ever be to Victoria Beckham in my life!

The Lincoln Center board chair, in discussing the challenges Timms has faced in the past, said, “His temperament is one of collaboration; he seems to have a low ego need.” I think this type of collaboration and a “low ego need” probably serve people well. 

Speak up to end debilitating practices

In the UN Wire SmartBrief, we shared the observation of the International Day of Zero Tolerance For Female Genital Mutilation.

The practice of FGM has affected around 200 million women and girls, and the UN wants it gone by 2030. I do too, and I can do more to help bring about an end to this barbaric practice.

Be a proponent of metrics over anecdotal evidence

I have learned so much about first responders and the issues they face from the National Emergency Number Association SmartBrief. Consolidation of public safety centers is a common theme (ours here in Tallahassee has had its ups and downs since its creation in 2013), and this article explained how to make consolidations as smooth as possible.

The part of this article that most stuck out to me was “our memory does not provide an honest assessment.” It was written to explain how people who have begun working in a consolidated situation don’t always accurately remember how things worked prior to consolidation. The point was the need for an honest assessment and the development of realistic metrics. This is true beyond the emergency management world. 

Help remove mental health stigma, especially for the military and veterans

In the Reserve Officer Association SmartBrief, one of the stories discussed reports of death by suicide of 11 Air Force airmen and four civilian workers in January. “We need an Air Force culture where it is more common to seek help than to try to go at it alone,” said Air Force leaders.

I wish I didn’t even have to say this, but we have to figure out a way in this country to destigmatize mental illness. This is especially true for people in the military and veterans. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has resources for Veterans and Active Duty. Team Red White & Blue also works with active-duty military and veterans for a variety of needs. Make a donation, volunteer in some way, be there for a friend who is active duty or a veteran. 

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That’s my list of seven but I have a bonus.

I filled in for a colleague editing the SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs newsletter for a bit, and I read How these three women faced their fears to pursue their dreams. I could have put it in a relatively generic category of “motivational pieces about women who are entrepreneurs.” Something one of the women said, though, left me wondering why it has to be that way:

“I’m scared all the time.”

In fairness to her, it doesn’t sound quite so stark when considered in the context of the rest of her advice: “Don’t be ashamed of being scared; cultivate belief in yourself. Today, it’s possible to learn almost anything online. ‘I’m scared all the time. Just do the thing you know you need to do anyway,’ she says.”

I’m past the point in my life where being “scared all the time” makes sense for me. There’s a difference between the relatively healthy uncertainty that comes with embarking on a new effort and being in a constant state of fear. I hope it works out for her, but I don’t plan to follow that path.

Balancing fear and confidence

There are things we can do to find equilibrium between assurance and anxiety. As these seven stories show, finding that balance may lie in embracing the things we can do more of rather than living a life of scratching things off the list.

February 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

Openings at SmartBrief

When I share my wrap-ups of favorite SmartBrief stories, I also include our open positions. I wrote in more detail about my experience here.

Here are our currently advertised open positions (they’re all located in Washington, D.C.):

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

To Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading, and I hope (in an evidence-based kind of way!) to play a part in keeping you informed long into the future!

February 2019 Smartbrief Wrapup

This post is a response to the Kat Bouska prompt “7 things to do more often.”

*Note: My opinions about the stories are my personal viewpoint; they do not reflect an endorsement by my employer.

**Also — I know there’s something odd going on with the spacing on my post(s). I see those extra spaces and plan to eradicate them … as soon as I figure out how!

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

10 thoughts on “How 7 SmartBrief stories inspired me to do more

  1. Fascinating Paula! I really think Election Day should become a National Holiday. After working the 2018 election, response and accurate tallies would be so much easier if people did not have to work!

    • It is fascinating isn’t it? Apparently it was a slightly hard sell b/c Columbus Day is always on a Monday (hence 3-day weekends) whereas Election Day isn’t. But I think on balance it was a great move by that city.

    • Thanks! I love it (and I’m mystified by it) … it is memorable no matter how you interpret it.

    • Removing mental health stigma (or at least reducing it) is exquisitely important to me. Thanks for dropping by.

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