If you’re like me, you have experienced what I’m about to describe. At some point starting in my mid-30s, I started becoming aware of strongly-held ideas in my 20s didn’t have much merit. In these moments, not only did I realize I was wrong, but I would sometimes feel foolish, especially when I recalled the ideas I passionately held and argued for. In many instances, I held these ideas because of ignorance and lack of experience. Once I acquired more of both, I realized that those ideas didn’t have much merit.
At the same time, there have been other opinions that seemed to have stood the test of time; or I at least haven’t gotten to the point where I realize these opinions also don’t have merit; it wouldn’t surprise me if, after more knowledge and experience, I realize these opinions also are pretty worthless. In this thread, I’m interested in hearing examples of both, for those willing to share. I’ll try to give some examples of both soon.
5 thoughts on “Your Opinions and Perceptions–What Has Changed and What Has Stayed the Same?”
Opinion/Idea That Has Changed
The notion that the merit of an idea or recommendation will triumph over factors like interpersonal relationships or internal politics. Yes, I once believe this was the case, but I know think this is the exception rather than the rule.
Opinions/Idea That Hasn’t Changed
I’ve long had this idea that in communities, some organization or service needs to connect the residents with existing services as well as help existing services coordinate their work. My sense is that many people don’t know about the services and community organizations that exist. Additionally, the community organizations don’t know about other organizations and what they’re doing. I think there is a need for this type of service, or at least I haven’t gotten to the point where I realize this idea has no merit or is completely impractical.
I agree that communities don’t know enough about available services. I don’t agree (‘though I don’t doubt) that service agencies aren’t aware of other service agencies. When I worked for a youth services provider, we were very well aware of other youth services providers, for several reasons. We were often competing with them for funding. We often referred people who weren’t a fit for our sevices to agencies who might work out better. We interacted with them on a regular basis, since some of our clients had spent time with them, or some of theirs had spent time with us. We knew the people who worked there, because there can be movement from one agency to the next by people in the field. I don’t think I knew them all, but I knew a lot. We even had a list on our wall of other service providers with phone numbers, in case we had to call.
It was the same when I was a teacher in private schools. We were aware of pretty much all the private schools and how we were different. We knew when certain schools were dipping into their endowments to make payroll, or when there was turnover at the highest administrative levels, or when (and why) they didn’t receive their six-year accreditation extensions.
I work now (sorta) in media relations, although that’s not really part of my job. I’m becoming aware enough of who’s doing similar work at other agencies that I don’t have to ask “who’s that?” when someone mentions someone else just by first name. And again, I’m aware of turnover.
Maybe your experience has been different? Or maybe I’m hyper aware because I seek the info out? I don’t know. I do try to read as much as I can about what’s going on at other places doing similar work. That seems important to me. I don’t know whether others do this or not, but I never felt especially informed among my peers at any of these places. In fact, since I avoid workplace gossip, I often feel like the least informed.
It has, and there could be several reasons our experiences differ:
1. The size of your profession. There may be smaller number of organizations within your profession. My profession is relatively small, so I don’t think that’s the issue for me.
2. The scope of your work. If the scope of your work is large, then there will likely be a lot of agencies involved. For example, suppose you were trying to reduce youth crime and drug use. This could involve law enforcement, the courts, health care agencies, social work, schools, churches, and recreation. In this type of work, knowing all the relevant agencies can be difficult. Equally important, it can be difficult to know what these agencies are doing, which leads to my next point.
4. Importance of coordinating activities. Suppose you’re doing a community event, and you want high participation. You’d want to know if any other agency is doing something similar. You’d also want to know when they’re planning to do something like this. Did you have an easy time of knowing this information? In my experience, it wasn’t easy to get this information.
5. Available services can vary from community to community. In the communities I worked in, it seemed like there were a lot of services/non-profits. Also, communities may vary in terms of the extent to which community groups interact and coordinate with each other. But in the communities I’ve been involved with interagency type of planning, I thought the type of coordination I’m talking about was lacking.
Wait, when you talk about knowing what other service providers are doing, you’re talking about specifically what they’re up to and when, for the purposes of planning things? I read it to mean what each agency’s work looks like and what they focus on, or what their service is. Yeah, that seems like a lot of work. I know that in school, we were aware of when other schools’ graduations ceremonies, proms, and spring breaks were, but we certainly didn’t spend much time (at least at my level) learning what they had on their calendar
There was that, too. Again, I suspect the difference has to do with the scope of the work. I was involved with dealing with drug use and related problems within communities. That issue will involve various agencies and the scope of the work is pretty huge. In these meetings, I would run across groups I never heard of.
I think most of the big community problems involve coordination between various agencies. The thing is, within the communities, there is no central, organizing institution that can really help these groups coordinate their efforts. Even a relatively simple goal of avoiding planning activities on the same date can be challenging.