saying no, a very fabio story

One of the big lessons in life is that you have to say “no” sometimes. A lot of people will say, “hold on, if I say no to everything, then won’t people hold it against you?” If you refuse to do your job, such as chair a few committees here and there in your department, then of course, people will hate you. But beyond this reasonable expectation, most people will not sanction you for saying no.

For example, many years ago, I got an email from the university asking, “Fabio, do you want to be on the faculty senate? You’ve been nominated!” At the time, I was director of undergrad studies, I had two tiny kids at home, and I had a book in progress. I was doing plenty of work. I wrote back, “I’d prefer not. But thank you.”

A few weeks later, I got the faculty senate ballot. And guess who got nominated? Me! So I wrote back and said that I’d prefer not to. And guess what? I won! Politely, I wrote a small note saying that I resign, effectively immediately.

A few weeks later, I got a note saying that my absence was against faculty senate rules. I wrote back saying that I was trying my hardest to resign from the position. Next email: “Fabio, you have to start showing up! If you miss three meetings in a row, you might be removed from faculty senate!” This was my chance. All I had to do to resign the position was … absolutely nothing at all! A few weeks later, I got a final email, “Fabio, we regret to inform you that you’ve been removed from the faculty senate because you failed to show up.” Victory at last!

In retrospect, I feel completely justified. The faculty senate continued as usual, the university did not burn down. Maybe I missed a chance to get to know an administrator and begin my ascension to associate deanship. Perhaps, but my children have a dad and my spouse has a real husband. And that book got done,I got promoted, and my duties to my department got done. That’s not a bad trade off.



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Written by fabiorojas

October 1, 2019 at 12:18 am

Posted in uncategorized

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