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Self-Improvement Friday

February 12, 2010

I dislike self-improvement books whose authors take themselves too seriously, although I love finding out information about self-improvement if the authors are funny. But I do like the idea of self-improvement because, really, when you get right down to the crux of the matter you can only really improve yourself. This really isn’t as self-involved as it may seem (and yes I promise that it has something to do with technology and libraries, if you will bear with me for a moment) because improving yourself can be interpreted as broadly or as narrowly as you wish. I happen to believe that improving yourself includes helping others, being selfless in giving, and also learning to do the tree pose in yoga.

So for this Friday’s post, I decided to finally round up all the posts, feeds, and tidbits of information about improving yourself. Let me know what you find is the best advice for improving some facet of life–I’d love to hear about it.

Lifehacker has a nice write-up on the book Confessions of a Public Speaker. I just started reading this book and think it is fantastic–funny, engaging, and helpful. What more could one want in a book? I get stage fright every time I have to present in front of an audience, which some people find hard to believe considering I teach and often present at conferences. Therefore I find it a comfort to know that a lot of great speakers and performers also get nervous before performing, plus the advice in this book is spot on. So if you hate public speaking but have to do it, go read this book.

Before you get to the public speaking though, you’ll actually have to finish up a project or presentation to have something to present. To help you get to that stage, check out Work Awesome’s Stay on Track with an Idea Embargo. I love this advice, especially because people seem all too willing to give advice at the eleventh hour on projects. I implemented this on the last project I worked on at my library and it went rather well.

One of the endemic issues in librarianship (see I told you I would work in libraries) is the fact that so many librarians are professed introverts. Now, of course, not everyone who is a librarian, or archivist, is an introvert; however, the professions seem to have a great deal of introverts. As an aside, I thought I was a total introvert until I went to library school and suddenly discovered that in my new profession I was definitely one of the more extroverted people in the program. Part of the reason people don’t want to give public speeches and presentations is because they are introverts and some introverts are inordinately shy. So for those of you who are shy and want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, check out the article on How to Finally Overcome Shyness. Great advice.

I didn’t say it would be easy to change, but it is well worth it. As I’ve noted on this blog multiple times, getting over the need to be perfect will free you to do and be so much more than you are now. And if you’re thinking to yourself that is all well and good but does the Waki Librarian actually take any of her own advice, the answer is yes, I do. I’m so far from perfect at speaking in front of groups, or even just one on one at parties. I practice and I continue to present and speak, even though I stumble over words when I’m nervous (or excited), have a tendency to mispronounce words, and sometimes talk too quickly. Communication really is key and by becoming more comfortable (and less shy) you’ll find that you will be spending so much time trying new things and tackling new ideas, that you won’t have time to worry about if you’re perfect in your speech or what everyone else thinks.

If you want even more inspiration, check out this Interview with Linchpin author, Seth Godin. I am a fan of Godin’s work and his blog. His writing is remarkably jargon free and he has powerful ideas that can help, even if you are not in marketing. Be bold, even if your lizard brain is telling you to take the easy way out.

If you’ve heard the hype, but haven’t tried Google Buzz yet, check out Lifehacker’s Google Buzz Explained article. I freely admit that I activated Buzz on one of my accounts and 24 hours later switched it off. I didn’t see it adding to my productivity or ability to keep up with friends and it was making me anxious that there was yet more stuff I hadn’t read every time I opened up my Gmail account. Some people are finding it useful. If you are using Buzz and like it, please let me know in comments. I’m interested to hear what people think about it.

I promised somehow this post would relate to libraries, so check out: Top 10 Tools for Better Reading, Online and Off. I especially like that the first comment on this great Lifehacker post recommends going to a library for Reader’s Advisory! 🙂

Finally, I leave you with a great comic from xkcd:

comic strip of Science Valentine by xkcd.

Science Valentine by xkcd

Have a happy Chinese New Year on Sunday, read a lot, and the Waki Librarian will be back next week with more tips, tricks, and fun.

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