Ask a Busy Person.

Sara Webb has been a beloved advisor to many students, a reader of English and History papers, college essays, and hundreds of senior assemblies, which she helps students get from “I have no idea what to talk about and I am terrified to do this” to a polished and confident speech. Some girls come to her for a pep talk. Every day. For eight weeks. And she gives it, with a smile!

One of her colleagues said that Sara loves to read with all her heart, is willing to promote you reading, always. And if that promotion involves warm chocolate chip cookies, this is a win/win for everyone!

She is a patient teacher of both students and adults. I walked into Sara’s Hour of Code session during this year’s Tech Crawl to find a room full of teachers raising their fists in the air in triumph. I want to emphasize the context: this was during hour 6 of an in-service day. Sara makes it fun to be here Every Day.

Regarding Sara ability to Blind you with Library Science, here’s what some colleagues from the history department say, “Sara helps you even before you realize you need help. She hunts down resources better than the CIA. She is a fabulous role model for students and a generous colleague to faculty and staff.”

I do hesitate to drop a Ben Franklin quote because I regard them all with suspicion, but when I asked about Sara, it came up more than once: “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

So the research on this shows that people with full lives and many interests are good at estimating how long projects will take. If they take something on, they’ve really thought about it, and prioritized it, and they make it happen. As writer Laura VanDerKam says in Fast Company Magazine, “Good jugglers can juggle more. They intuitively think like project managers.” Continuing the juggling metaphor, she says, “someone who has figured out how to juggle six balls won’t be flummoxed by a seventh. It just goes in the queue and cycles around like the rest.” For a visualization here I would like you to replace the juggling balls with this busy job, a toddler, all of the books, three prize winning corgis, training to ride dressage with an off track thoroughbread horse named Homer, and a husband who is away every other week all year long.

VanDerKam has an insight that goes a step further than the obvious fact that busy people are good project managers. After I say it it will seem obvious: you ask a busy person to do something because you can count on them to do it. It isn’t just that busy people are reliable, the insight, according to VanDerKam, is that reliable people become busy.  She says, “Being a person who can be counted on builds trust, and trust is the foundation of deep, long-lasting relationships.”

So when I think about my ten year relationship with my excellent friend and colleague Sara Webb, who makes me laugh Every Day, and brings me chocolate and tea and asks me if I’m ok when she sees me cleaning my desk because she KNOWS me…

I know that I am lucky to work with someone who actually likes to do the detail oriented tasks that make a library run, and that we are all lucky to have this amazing colleague who provides puzzles and fidget toys and vocabulary calendars and hydroponic fish/plant condominiums because she’s done the research that shows that puzzles help people to engage the pattern recognition and problem soving part of their brain and fidget toys help students to concentrate on something that’s slightly boring but that they need to understand, and that surrounding students with live animals and plants is good for everyone. And I think I speak for all of us when I say that having you here for these 10 years has been good for everyone.
VanDerKam, Laura. “Why Already Busy People are More Likely to Get More Things Done.” 22 April, 2015. Web.


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