Saturday, April 21, 2007

Why Should I say No to this?

One of my favorite children's stories is The Zax.

The Zax

by Dr. Seuss
From The Sneetches and Other Stories
Copyright 1961 by Theodor S. Geisel and Audrey S. Geisel, renewed 1989.
One day, making tracks
In the prairie of Prax,
Came a North-Going Zax
And a South-Going Zax.

And it happened that both of them came to a place
Where they bumped. There they stood.
Foot to foot. Face to face.

"Look here, now!" the North-Going Zax said, "I say!
You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
I'm a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!"

"Who's in whose way?" snapped the South-Going Zax.
"I always go south, making south-going tracks.
So you're in MY way! And I ask you to move
And let me go south in my south-going groove."

Then the North-Going Zax puffed his chest up with pride.
"I never," he said, "take a step to one side.
And I'll prove to you that I won't change my ways
If I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!"

"And I'll prove to YOU," yelled the South-Going Zax,
"That I can stand here in the prairie of Prax
For fifty-nine years! For I live by a rule
That I learned as a boy back in South-Going School.
Never budge! That's my rule. Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
I'll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!"

Of course the world didn't stand still. The world grew.
In a couple of years, the new highway came through
And they built it right over those two stubborn Zax

And left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks.

It demonstrates what can happen when two stubborn people do not budge. I find myself in situations where I can be very stubborn, especially something that I feel very passionate about.

The lesson to be learned in the story is that by stepping to one side would get both to their respective destinations. Maybe your pride gets hurt, but everyone gets what they want. I think as a Manager, you need to set your pride and ego to one side. Otherwise, you never go anywhere and you only end up proving how stubborn you can be. I recently had this situation with my staff and decided to step to one side. I wasn't happy about it at first, but I realized that for better service and for a better work environment I had to step to one side. It is not easy, but I felt it was the right decision.

This type of scenario can ring true for librarians trying to implement library 2.0 concepts, or in just trying something different. Whenever I am asked by a staff member to change
something, the first thing I think is why should I say no to this?

Many times there is a good reason for things to remain the same, other times, its important to try something different. By creating change suggested by staff they are empowered to look for ways to improve their job environments AND it increases morale.

It's not always easy to change since change can often mean more work. However, the reward for forward thinking is immense both for staff and the public. Its better to get where you are going then to stand in each other's way making no tracks in the prairie of prax :)


Martha Hardy said...

Thanks for sharing this story. I think I work with some Zaxes. ;-)

jdscott50 said...

Yes, but I am focusing on not being one :)