“No.” It is one of the first words we hear as human beings.’  And, in turn, as I have learned from my one year old and her friends, it is one of the first words we learn to say.

So how do we deal with this heavily loaded word when we hear it as a response to our library advocacy and the issues within it? How do we continue in our pursuit of our goals when this blow is dealt to us?

Well, we could handle it in the same manner we deal with it with toddlers-by smiling and expressing our understanding of their refusal, but then returning to the pursuit of our issue with increased emphasis and the knowledge that WE WILL WIN the’  battle. This is all well and good; however, when someone rejects the unbelievable effort and passion that we have into our work, it is extremely hard to get back up.’  But, it is something we HAVE TO DO! In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, we must “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”

Here are some tips to help’ us get past the discouragement we often face in advocacy.

  1. First, we must look at who we are advocating for-our communities are worth our efforts! Their needs can be the encouragement that we need to get back up and dust ourselves off.
  2. Call a meeting and get to the bottom of the word.’  What I mean by this, is that we need to have an understanding of why we were rejected or turned down.’  Is the “no” simply a reply to the whole issue or part of the issue? Is it because of an extenuating circumstance? Or, can compromise happen?’  Can the hurdle that issued the “no” be overcome? It is imperative to find out the narrative behind the “no.”
  3. Re-examine your message. Is it clear? Does it make sense to differing stakeholders? Is there another way to frame the message or is there more information needed to get it past the “no” phase?
  4. Look for other partnerships. Just because one person or organization rejects your ideas or suggestions, it doesn’t mean that all of them will. Don’t be afraid to approach others about the issue.
  5. Be inspired by many of our great leaders who never gave up! Think about what the impact would be if we gave up-who would it impact? What would the final result be?

Lastly, remember the words of Henry Ford, a man who certaintly knows what is to like to try and fail, “One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.”

About Krista McKenzie

I am a Children's Specialist at the Ruth Enlow Library in Garrett County, Maryland. I work with kids from the ages of 0 to 18 and am also a reference librarian. In addition, I am member of the YALSA Legislative Committee, and the Children's Services Division of the Maryland Library Association.

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