You may not know this, but I’m actually a full-time professor of mechanical engineering at one of the major universities in the Philadelphia, PA area. However, I don’t hold the typical professor position. I don’t have tenure. I never will. I have an annual contract, and every year I need to convince the school to rehire me.
Yesterday I had lunch with a colleague. I told him some of my current projects. His expression went from interested, to shocked, to concerned as I told him about the ways I am revolutionizing teaching and learning – side note, check out #ENGR1102 or join the “ENGR1102” Facebook group. He remarked that I was brave to challenge the status quo and asked where I get the courage to act this way without the protection of tenure.
It was at this point that I realized something about myself: I’m not afraid of losing my job.
No, I don’t want to lose my job. I LOVE my job. But I can find another one. If I live the statistic for my generation, eventually I WILL be finding another one.
What I am afraid of is losing myself – especially in some lame attempt at staying safe. So I speak my mind. I do what I think is right. Am I always right? Nope. But I admit it and move on. Above all, I try things.
If I no longer add value to my employer, then I shouldn’t work there.
It would be a drain on me, and a drain on them. Worse, it would keep the person who is custom-built for my position from moving in, and keep me from moving into the place that I fit best.
Everyone loses when the wrong person has the job.
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