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Reflection – Learning and Leaning Into the Curve

Reflection – Learning and Leaning Into the Curve

By Jill Strand, President, SLA

When I first started riding a motorcycle with my husband, one of the first things I had to learn how to do was that when you go around a corner, you have to lean into the curve so as not to tip over. It felt so wrong and several times while doing this, the fear of falling over almost made me straighten up which would have been a disaster because we certainly would have gone down. Yet I had faith in my husband’s safety skills and our ability to ride together as a team. So I challenged myself to move past the fear and focus on the fact that leaning into the curve would get us where we were trying to go. While I’ve been using this “leaning into the curve” theme all year long, it is only now that become clear to me how much it relates to our shared experience as an association exploring options for sustainable change over the past year.

Much like a motorcycle journey (or any journey) the process of change always comes with elements of fear; what does this mean for the future, how will this work, what will it cost; how will it change our association / profession and how do we feel about that? Being able to move through change, to receive and absorb the consultant’s recommendations without judgment and to discuss them with members and answer questions to the best of our ability required the board, staff and consultants to learn how to be truly vulnerable. While there were times when this was incredibly hard, it was ultimately an experience of liberation. Because once you decide that you’re not going to let fear of the unknown stand in your way, anything is possible.

Lao Tzu said that “if you do not change direction, you may end up where you’re headed.” We’ve all known for some time that SLA needed to change direction so we could be more proactive in responding to trends in the industry. Exploring possible change has given us a rare opportunity to review options that we may not have thought of or even considered otherwise. For this I’d like to thank the board, staff and consultants for “leaning into the curve” with me this year as we studied, investigated, engaged and discussed our way to creating a Roadmap and Implementation plan with goals and objectives to guide SLA toward a bright new future.

Additionally, I’ve had the good fortune to talk with a wide range of members throughout the year. Most of them understood the challenges we faced and are grateful to the board for their willingness to lean into the curve, not give into the fear of failure and make difficult decisions. So I’d also wish to thank our members for leaning into the curve with us, asking questions and showing how much you care about this association. Several have reached to offer their support and expertise in working on the Implementation plan which is fantastic because we’re going to need the support, input, expertise and passion of our members to make this vision a reality.

A long-time SLA leader asked me what else members could do to support these efforts. My answer is pretty simple because it involves skills we all apply in our daily work as info pros. We continue to engage, ask questions, and verify information through authoritative sources before drawing or sharing conclusions. As with any process or plan, we have to give it a fair shot to work before shooting it down. We also prioritize, pilot and pivot, making adjustments and applying new insights as we go. But most importantly, we work to be a productive part of the process by keeping our focus on finding the best solutions and basing our decisions on facts, not fear.

We may be an incredibly diverse group of info pros and librarians in the work we do and where we do it but what we have in common is the relationships we’ve built and the inspiration we gain from them. I am and will always be forever grateful for what SLA and its members have taught me and for the opportunity and the honor of serving as your president. Thank you for an incredibly challenging yet ultimately rewarding year!

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  1. […] Reflection – Learning and Leaning Into the Curve – By Jill Strand, SLA President […]

  2. […] it’s a natural time of year for looking back and ahead, read reflections from 2015 SLA President Jill Strand and 2016 President-Elect Dee Magnoni, courtesy of the DC […]


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