Remember That Guy?

Kevin King —  May 10, 2016 — 4 Comments

Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else. – Unknown

My past few weeks have been filled with incredible highs and depressing lows. The problem is that I am perseverating on the lows. These lows have been very tough and I have caused me to fall prey to a very defeatist attitude. I write this not to elicit sympathy or emails that encourage me to “hang in there” but to remind all of us that this is part of being not only a leader, but human.


When I feel this way I start to create a movie in my head. A cinematic masterpiece in which I am the downtrodden hero combating evil on all fronts. This means at work, I start to interpret all slights as criticism. This “movie” when watched by others will often result in your team wanting to create some distance from you. Thus you are less likely to give them what they need to succeed.

The challenge is to stay focused on not only taking care of yourself, but also the immense responsibility of leading your team towards success. Smashing the projector that is currently screening that horrible movie in your head is the first step. The people you work with are not villains, so stop thinking that they are out to foil your plans. The second step is to start taking care of yourself by practicing mindfulness. In a recent article from Harvard Business Review, the benefits of taking time to relax and breathe at your desk throughout the day helps both your focus and awareness. Being more in tune with your leadership goals and team will help pull yourself out of the quagmire of misery.

Most importantly, I remind myself that I do not want to be the guy people forgot. I do not want to be the guy that gave up on his team. I especially do not want to be the guy stuck crafting sequel upon sequel for the cinema in my head. I focus on taking care of myself, so I am truly present for my team. This intentional action only will help me escape the lows that threaten to keep me down.

How do you keep away the depressing lows that threaten not only your team, but your own mental health? Please share in the comments below.

Kevin King


Kevin King is the Head of Branch and Circulation Services at the Kalamazoo (MI) Public Library. Previously Kevin led Teen Services at KPL, where he helped build a nationally recognized program. Kevin has presented all over the country on many topics including teen services, innovation, graphic novels, and programming. As a member of ALA, YALSA, PLA and the Michigan Library Association, Kevin has served on various committees and has luckily won a couple of awards. In his spare time Kevin obsesses over the Detroit Tigers, listens to music and does his best to be a kick ass dad to Abigail and Rachael.

4 responses to Remember That Guy?

    Megan Hartline May 10, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Hang in there, pal!

    One of my fellow librarians recommended journaling about work. It might sound a little hokey, but it truly helps process feelings and take some of the venom out of disappointments.

    I keep a Moleskin journal in my desk drawer. Whenever I have a particularly tough day, I pull it out and write about it before leaving the office. It helps me not to unload ALL THE FEELINGS on the first non-work person I encounter.


    Just trolling the comments. LOL! I really like Megan’s suggestion. I think I will do that when I start my new job.


    As a school librarian of 30 years who has watched the profession be decimated in Michigan in the past decade, there is much to be depressed about. I’ve watched excellent colleagues have their positions eliminated despite their talents and positive impact on student learning, making coping strategies key. Between worry over losing my own life’s work and the survivor’s guilt that I am still doing the job I love while others cannot,, there are plenty of factors to bring me down. The hardest thing has been to not take these cuts personally as an indictment against the good work of these librarians or as an assessment of my own self-worth. Some days are easier than others. I’ve continued to strive to do my best in my job, but I’ve also worked to maintain a balance of work, family, and fun in my life so that my identity as a school librarian is not the only important facet of my self-esteem. Finding a particularly fun project to pursue or a partner in crime to scheme with helps too. And, finally, involvement in my professional organizations is invaluable. The support and diversion provided by working with a group of librarians outside of my normal contact has had enormous benefits, intellectually and emotionally.


    I needed this today. A checklist of tasks every day helps me to keep pushing forward when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Also, a phrase painted above the locker room of the Detroit Red Wings – “Greatness is a daily choice”.

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