The Two Sides of Resolution #OneWordOnt

Posted: 7th January 2018 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

My first grown-up job was working in PR and event planning for an arts council in the Toronto area.  It was a pretty amazing job for a fresh high school graduate (except for the commute.  Hamilton to Toronto was not fun even in those dark ages).  I learned that I did better writing about the arts and promoting our events if I tried some of them out.  Sometimes I did this as a spectator or audience member but other times I jumped in as an active participant.

One spring, a few of my colleagues and I decided to have one of our artists who specialized in photography teach us her art.  Remember, this was the dark ages, so no iPhones or self focusing point-and-shoot cameras for us.  Nope.  We each had a big, clunky camera with various lenses and buttons.  Over several sessions, we learned how to hold the camera (pro tip:  using an unnatural-feeling tripod hold under the lens instead of above will steady the camera for mid-exposure shots and will keep your fingers out of the shots), use different lenses, aperatures, framing shots, using lighting, and focusing for close, mid and long distance foci.  It was, and still is, one of my favourite “arts” to study because of how much science was involved.  I learned more physics during these workshops than I did in OAC physics.

Each week,  I would diligently put into practice all of the lessons:  frame the perfect shots, judge light, set exposure, focus and click.  Then, I would wait until I could get the photos developed to see how I did (dark ages equals no instant glances at the digital shots.  This was real film that took at least a week on my meager student budget to develop).  More often than not, my photos were far from perfect.

My biggest problem was always mistakes in focus.  I adamantly insist that this is as much a fault of my incredibly bad vision as my actual photography skills.  Yes, that must be it.  My coke-bottle eyeglass lenses MUST be impeding my ability to focus the camera lens, right?

I’m still not great at taking photos; even now the self-focusing, digital variety don’t turn out for me as well as I would like them to.  But the story connects well to my #OneWordOnt goal I wanted to set for this year: resolution.

I don’t actually hold much with official New Year Resolutions, but for the last few years, I have taken some time over the winter holidays to reflect on my professional practice and determine a small course of action I could take to improve my skills.  In 2016, my One Word goal was stretch.  And I did stretch, sometimes uncomfortably so.  In 2017, my goal was relate.  This, too, was a good goal for me and one that I have made some progress on but plan to continue to work on.  This year, the word I have chosen is “resolution”.

Did you know that resolution has quite a number of meanings?  We often relate it this time of year to those goals we set.  But it also has meanings ranging from characterization (e.g. “he went forward, with resolution, into the path of trouble”), conflict (e.g. “they determined a resolution beneficial to both sides”), musical (e.g. when a harmony changes, fixing a discord), medicine (e.g. “the resolution of symptoms indicated an end in infection”), chemistry (e.g. reducing a solution into its separate components), physics (e.g. using two or more forces together in replacement for a single, but equal one), and, of course photography (e.g. the extent of detail seen and focused in an image).

While I appreciate the many meanings, it was the last that I initially thought of when considering my goal.  Just like when I was a photography student, I am frustrated these days professionally by how often things are fuzzy or not quite seen with the the detail I would like them to have.  My work days pass in a dizzying series of experiences, decisions, conversations, and impressions.  I don’t have a moment to breathe, eat or reflect in the course of a day/week/school year.  While I know the pace is just a part of the job, I feel that I sometimes have to make decisions based on only fleeting glimpses of information or impression.  I don’t have time to stop and think before pressing on; there are too many demands on my time and energy.  I don’t like it.

So, my goal this year is to try to find ways to stop and think in order to bring clarity to some areas before making a decision.  Interestingly, I am expecting that focusing on resolution will slow down my efficiency in problem solving.  This isn’t going to make me very popular with people waiting for me to decide.  I think waiting and considering will also have the effect of considering more sides of an issue instead of quickly responding to a single side (often making that person happy, but maybe not others).  This, too, may affect how those around me feel about my treatment of issues.  But, anyone in leadership has to develop a thick skin to criticism and conflict, and I am slowly resolving myself to this as well.

So why do it if it isn’t popular?  I’m in a position where I need to make lots of decisions every day.  That is a big part of my responsibility towards the school, the employees, the students, and the community.  It has been important to me to be efficient but I wonder more and more about the value of effectiveness vs efficiency.  I want to make effective decisions, impactful decisions, right decisions.  To do this, I need to spend more time stopping, thinking and bringing the full issue into focus.

So, let me stop and ask questions.  Let me do more research or observing or considering or consulting before moving forward.  Let me slow down the pace, when possible; to weigh effectiveness over efficiency in an impatient world.

Hopefully it turns out better than my photographs.  I’ll let you know.


  1. Aviva says:

    Kristi, I love this goal, and while it may not always make you popular at times, I wonder if it might inspire others to slow down and weigh options. How often do we all lean towards efficiency versus effectiveness, and are there some better ways? I’m very excited to hear your check-ins throughout this process.


  2. Sue Dunlop says:

    Kristi – this idea of resolving to slow down to make decision is the part of your post that most resonates with me. We do work and live in a whirlwind and rescuing time from that is hard. I always remember a leader who told me that we always have time to make a decision unless it is life threatening. Now I try to take a least 1/2 hour before deciding bigger things.