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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Forest, Trees, and the Role of Your Narrative

- Thursday, January 14, 2021
Greg sitting in the woods...

Last week we discussed key questions about the A&P Promotion process. Go here to see that post. I’ve read a good number of draft narratives the past couple of weeks that inspire me to focus this post on telling your story in the three-page narrative.

We most often report our work as individual, stand-alone events or creations. For example, we might report teaching ‘Leadership Styles’ on January 12 with 22 learners. And we report writing about grain markets for a column in the local paper published the week of October 5. Or we note writing a newsletter that we sent to subscribers in December.

For no fault of our own, we make a long list of such items. These lists are important, but how do all these things translate into value? That is, how do they all work together to help others grow personally or professionally, capitalize on opportunities, address a widespread concern, or in some way improve a situation? We want to be able to report these things too.

If we think of each of the activities and accomplishments on our lists as ‘dots’, the point of authoring a narrative is to connect them. If that seems easier said than done for you, try this:  Take a step back from your list, a step back from the work you do every day…What do you see? Ask yourself what ultimately have you been trying to accomplish? Where do you work? What is your assignment? Who is your audience or audiences? What are their needs and their opportunities that in partnering with them you can help address? What have you accomplished in carrying out your work?

Look at you go. You do some really important stuff with some pretty amazing partners when you stop, reflect, and see the bigger picture. Inspired by this, what would you like to do next to help strengthen people, organizations, and communities? Write that down too to make it feel more real. Look at us go now, you have set a course for future efforts. Try to practice seeing both the trees and the forest!

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