Things People Have Said to Me About the New Library That Turned Out to Be Untrue

  1. Henrietta will never build a new library. Someone said this to me seven years ago, on my third day on the job. At the time I hadn’t given the idea of a new library even a tiny thought as I was preoccupied with learning everyone’s name. We’ll open our new building in July.
  2. Henrietta will never bond for anything. We’ve bonded for a touch over $8 million.
  3. Voters will never pass a project that costs over $9 million. I also heard $5, $6, $7, and $8 million cited at the highest amounts voters would tolerate. 62% of voters approved our $12.5 million dollar project when we went out to referendum in November 2017.
  4. They will try to cut _________. Many people have said this to me, and the blank has been many things, including square feet, shelving, the children’s room, the book drop, air conditioning, and the elevator. The implication of “they” also changed depending on who was speaking. What actually happened is that the building team used data and input from the community to build a rational and sensible building plan focused on the library’s mission and the community’s goals. The library we’re building is the library we need.
  5. Everyone will try to take advantage of you. This is a wearying position to put yourself in. Everyone I’ve dealt with has been fair and open, and there is nothing wrong with honest negotiation processes and businesses trying to turn a profit. Making a profit is the point of building a business, and it should concern you if you are dealing with a businessperson who doesn’t care about the financial health of their company. From your end as someone purchasing goods and services, there are laws, regulations, policies, and best practices to follow to make sure everyone gets a fair deal.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. If you’re looking to do a big project of any type, people will get uncomfortable–even, maybe especially, if they support your idea–and they’ll say things to you out of that discomfort that may be based more on feelings than facts. Your job as a leader is to know and remember what is true. That’s a strength and skill that you can build, nurture, and support.

Maybe I’ll do another entry on coping mechanisms.

1 thought on “Things People Have Said to Me About the New Library That Turned Out to Be Untrue

  1. I just read an old piece in the LA Times about how people can avoid saying the wrong things. It was couched in terms of dealing supportively with a person and their family in crisis, but I think it can be considered from the angle of someone in the middle of A Big Thing and those surrounding that person, and how they should work to support them, and not make their burden heavier.

    I wish more people would consider their words, definitely.

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