Lean into the Curve: A Message for 2015


It’s hard to believe that my first month as SLA president is almost over and I haven’t said hello to you yet—well, not to all of you, anyway. I was in Baltimore last week at the SLA Leadership Summit and met many of our chapter and division leaders, and in the months ahead I’ll be visiting several SLA units and attending the 2015 Annual Conference, so I’ll be getting to know more of you. Until then, please accept this “virtual hello” as our introduction!

This is the first of what I plan to be regular communications with you as SLA president. Communication will be critical this year because we are in an uncertain period—the economic climate is still cloudy, our leadership is in transition, and our headquarters building is up for sale. Our profession and association are equal to these challenges, but we must work together to address them, and communication is integral to our efforts.

If you were in Baltimore at the Leadership Summit last week, you know just how powerful we can be when we’re united. After three days of presentations and discussions on everything from radical leadership to membership recruitment and retention to strategic thinking, everyone came away feeling excited, energized, and confident of our ability to grow and revitalize SLA.

I’ll share more about the Summit in the coming weeks, but right now I’d like to leave you with one message that I think captures what I hope we accomplish this year. The message is to “lean into the curve,” and to understand what I mean, take a look at this picture, which I showed to Summit attendees during a presentation.

In my presentation, I shared an analogy of riding a motorcycle, which is something I like to do with my husband. One of the toughest things I had to learn when riding is that, when going into a curve, you should lean INTO the curve. Doing that feels so wrong, and for a moment you’re sure you are going to tip over. But you don’t, because you are also accelerating out of the curve in order to round the corner. (Basic driver’s ed, right?) That’s what we’re doing right now in SLA—leaning into a curve and accelerating as we get ready to turn the corner.

Of course, the one thing you absolutely don’t do when you’re turning is look backward! So it’s critical that we keep looking ahead, using the experience and insights we’ve gathered along the way to help map our path forward as leaders and as an association. If we do that, I have every faith that no matter what lies ahead, the ride will have been worth it at the end of the journey.

Thanks to all of you for coming along!

—Jill Strand, SLA President

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