Career Goals!

You are never to old to dream a new dream.

C.S. Lewis

I would love to say I have achieved all my career goals, but I don’t believe leaders should lie.  As a matter of fact, this past year has been one that has required some deep soul searching about the direction my career has taken since I became Dr. Karavedas.  The truth is, the career doors did not fly open after I defended my dissertation.  In fact, after trying and applying, I’m in the same place I was before I became a doctor.

When a person finally achieves their dream, it is not unusual to think everything else will fall into place because the goal has been reached.  After all, hard work and effort should be recognized – right?  Unfortunately, the world isn’t always a party to our dreams and life doesn’t always turn out as expected.  Was it all wasted time and effort?  The answer is a resounding – NO!  Although external rewards may come, the reward of an achievement must be the achievement itself. 

It may take time to actually believe this to be true, and there may be a period of doubt, questions, and, perhaps, even a little self-pity.  Your future is still in the making and to make the most of that future, it is important to look inward and truly reflect on the value that exists in the achievement of the goal or dream. Rather than running head first onto the next thing, spend some time contemplating what you have achieved.  Ask yourself, what does it mean to you personally?  How does it impact your leadership?  Before worrying about where you may be headed next, reflect on who has helped you get where you are now, and do they know it

I have had to remind myself to slow down and take time to savor the moments that helped me become Dr. Karavedas.  I am learning to enjoy this time and lean into the satisfaction of this achievement.  This is only the first step toward so many more experiences, but there is no need to rush.  The next dream is out there waiting for me, and it doesn’t mind waiting just a little longer.

Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 12

I was in line with the colleagues and friends I had made through the program.  Someone somewhere told us to begin walking.  In the distance, I could just make out Pomp and Circumstance.  The moment I walked through the door, it became real.  Suddenly, I became emotional.  This was the end of the journey, the moment I had dreamed about and worked tremendously hard to realize.  Or, perhaps, it’s just the beginning – the beginning of a new journey…a journey that will lead to new dreams and new places.

As the Dean placed the doctoral hood over my head to welcome me into the academy, I realized I was part of the next generation of doctors eager to take on the world.

Only 1% of the people in the United States can call themselves doctors. 

Academics, researchers, experts, and scientists – we come from many different places and are headed out to even more.  The one thing we have in common is that none of us reached this destination alone.  My doctorate is a significant accomplishment, but it is not mine alone.  It would not have been realized without those who have gone before me, walked alongside me, and will follow after me on this journey. 

I dedicate my work to …

My Dissertation Chair, Dr. Jeffrey Lee – the scholarly expert whose advice, support and expertise consistently challenged me and made me better; beyond that, he provided vision for the future I couldn’t always see.

My Dissertation Committee, Dr. Andrew Barton and Dr. Cheryl Marie Osborne Hansberger – the support team whose gentle guidance was consistent and always available.

My Cohort Sisters, Dr. Tess Breen and Sister Dr. Mary Amanda Nwagbo – the women who traveled alongside me during this journey and provided strength, drive, fun, and maybe a glass of wine or two, along the way. You truly are my sisters.

My Grammy, Esther Tune – a woman so far ahead of her time she couldn’t see the impact she would have on those who followed after her. I will always be indebted to her for my strength, my resolve, and my endless quest to know more.

My Mom, Jean Davidson – the woman who taught me I could do whatever I set my heart to and the future was a wide-open door.

My Grandchildren, Allison, Kara, Nicholas, Kyle, and Joseph – the joy of my life and the future that drives my legacy. Each of you is strong, brave, and full of potential to impact the world. Nana loves you all.

My Family, Peter, Ashley, Erin, LJ, and Joseph – the ones who keep me grounded and help me remember who I am is just as important as who I want to be.  It is my joy and pleasure to watch you journey through life. I am so very proud of each of you.

And, finally, my Husband, Nick Karavedas – the man who has loved and supported me unconditionally for over 37 years. Without your willingness to sacrifice your own needs and desires for mine, I would not be Dr. Karavedas. I love you more than you know.

Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 9

It’s been an incredibly busy six months. My days and weeks have been filled with reading, writing and more reading, more writing. But, I’ve also finished all my coursework, written the first three chapters of my dissertation, defended my study proposal, passed both quality review and IRB, secured and confirmed several interviews for my research, and will conduct my first interviews next week. I have to tell you, it’s exhilarating!

I’m not a doctor yet, but I am well on my way.

Most days I march forward and approach each aspect of this doctoral journey with eager anticipation, but I freely admit there are other days I am scared to death. During the days full of fear, I ask myself “what am I afraid of; who am I afraid of.” The truth is I’m afraid of a lot of things. I am afraid I won’t be able to gather the data, people won’t want to be interviewed, I won’t interview well, I won’t get the data I need, I’ll write a bad dissertation, won’t finish on time, and I won’t graduate. My greatest fear…that I will spend my time and money on earning a degree that I wouldn’t be able to use – it will all be wasted.

Brene’ Brown (one of my favorite authors) writes “daring greatly is being brave and afraid every minute of the day at the exact same time.” To be great, we must dare greatly. Greatness doesn’t happen without facing the mountain and climbing it. On this doctoral journey, I see my doubts and fears, but I don’t let them stop me. I don’t let the voices of others – or the ones inside my head – stop me. Each day, I commit to doing one thing that moves me toward my goal – one more thing each day. Step by step, the dream WILL become reality. In the words of another one of my favorite authors, Jo Saxton,

“I’m just a girl who decided to go for it!”


Books I Recommend:
Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown
The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 8

I’ve entered the world of Prospectus.

Prospectus is the first step toward dissertation. During prospectus, each student must bring their research thoughts and ideas together into a cohesive document that synthesizes all the information and explains why the research they have chosen to undertake for dissertation is important. Every doctoral student must pass Prospectus in order to advance toward candidacy. In other words,

if you don’t pass, you don’t become a doctor!

This is where the rubber meets the road. Until now, I’ve been a doctoral student, which has been fairly similar to any other kind of student. You have an assignment, you complete the assignment, and you turn it in. The assignments may require a different level of analysis or effort, but essentially, they are schoolwork. I can do school!

Prospectus is different. This is the first step toward becoming an expert in my field. This is where I set myself out as being different – as having something important to say on the subject. Entering into this stage of my journey, I realize it’s no longer simply about the work. It’s not even about becoming a transformational leader. Within the field of education, my research will become how I am known – my identity as an academic. It’s an important next step.

I have been struck with the realization of just how important this next step is to me. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. But, I am ready. I have been well prepared as a skilled leader and a confident professional. This is just the next step in the journey.

Let’s go!

Dr. K is Going Away … But Just for a Little While

Dr. K is going away …. but just for a short time.

I’ve been away for quite a little while already. The holidays came upon us and were quickly followed by the next stage of my journey toward becoming Dr. K. I’ve entered the world of “Prospectus.” It’s a strange and wonderful place that offers an enormous amount of reading, a fair amount of writing, and very little sleep. It’s part of the journey, and I have embraced it wholeheartedly.

I’m excited to announce that I’ve decided to revamp the content this blog just a bit. I will still post occasional Reflections through my dissertation defense. However, I have a new idea that I will share with you as soon as it’s fully developed. In the meantime, Dr. K is taking a little hiatus. I may post the occasional Reflection as seems appropriate, but look for a full return somewhere around late March or early April.

Until then…

This One’s For You Grammy!

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my grandmother quite a bit. Esther Tune was an amazing lady. She was a single parent who outlived two husbands. She worked in the medical field, although I can’t really tell you what she did. I do know she spent a year serving on the hospital ship USS Hope in Jamaica. She traveled as often as she could – either by herself or with others. For most of my life, Esther – or Grammy as she was known to literally everyone – drove a bright orange Karmen Ghia with a big stuffed tiger sitting in the backseat. That’s who she was – a tiger, but a soft one. Grammy passed away several years ago, a month before her 102nd birthday.

When Grammy spoke, we all listened. Grammy was wise. Whatever she said was worth hearing. She wasn’t one to tell you what you wanted to hear, but she would certainly tell you what you needed to hear. Grammy believed in the people around her and, because of her, they believed in themselves. She knew how to motivate people toward success. I can’t wasn’t in her vocabulary.

But what does all this have to do with leadership? Grammy wasn’t college educated. She wasn’t a CEO or Manager of a multi-million dollar corporation. Yet, she was definitely the leader of our family. Grammy never led a corporation or a division or even a team. She led our family. And, we followed – willingly. We trusted this woman – her strength, her character, and her wisdom. Wherever she was going, we knew wanted to be there. The road might be rocky. But it would definitely be an adventure worth taking. And there would be growth at the end.

Good leaders know how to develop their followers into people beyond their own dreams. Grammy was authentic, inspirational, confident, and certainly visionary. These traits were passed along to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. None that knew her were ever the same.

Grammy was born into a different era. She never had a chance to go to college or get her doctorate. Nor will she ever see me receive mine. Her presence is here though – every day. She inspires the leader I will become. This one’s for you Grammy!


Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 6

My first class to begin year two is a course in Creativity and Innovation. It’s my most difficult course so far. Make me read a book … or write a 25-page paper … or make a presentation … or all three. But, don’t give me an obscure idea and tell me to be creative. It’s killing me!

Truth is, we all need to be creative. The world in which we live and work is changing on a daily basis. Students sitting in classrooms today are being prepared for jobs that don’t even exist. In a recent Ted Talk, Sir Ken Robinson links imagination and creativity saying, “imagination is the source of creativity, but they are not the same thing.” Robinson defines imagination and creativity as follows:

IMAGINATION: The ability to step outside your current space, to bring to mind things that aren’t present to our senses.

CREATIVITY:  Creativity is putting your imagination to work. It’s creating an idea from your imagination that has value.                                                                                                                                   (Robinson, 2011)

As a child, I had an imaginary friend named Jack Jones.  Jack Jones was a girl who lived in a purple house. My mom even set an extra plate at the table for Jack Jones. Somewhere along the way, Jack Jones faded into the back of my mind, and I determined that following the rules was the road to success. In 2017, the rules have changed. Pushing the envelope is expected. Thinking outside of the box is admired.

So, I embrace this course of study. I dedicate myself to becoming more creative – to exploring new ideas and thoughts. It’s time to get out of the box and see the world around me. I will find my Jack Jones again.

My office now has an idea board. I review Pinterest daily. I am trying to read about and surround myself with creative people. Most importantly, I am doing my best to move away from the screen and use my fingers for a more creative purpose.

My imagination is working already. I think I see a purple house.

Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 5

Year One is in the books. All coursework is finished, signature assignments completed, and articles read. I am officially a second-year doctoral student. I have to admit – I’ve loved every minute of it. In fact, I wonder why I waited so long to get started. Of course, there are several practical reasons why it took me over six years to send in that admission application – time and money to just name two. But, that’s in the past now, just like year one.

As I reflect back on year one, I see growth and it makes me smile.

First, I am finding my professional voice.  I’m learning to speak as the expert.  As students, we are all being challenged to find our voice as the expert in the field.  There might have been an attitude of “fake it until you make it” when I began this program.  However, it is becoming clear, I don’t have to fake it.

I AM the expert!

My examination of literature and experiences allowed me to grow as a leader in my field.  My understanding of leadership, mentoring, higher education, and talent management has surpassed my expectations.

I can’t examine my growth as a professional without evaluating my personal growth as well. This is a doctoral program in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Transformational Change. I am finding that the transformational change isn’t only professional. I am personally changing as well. I am becoming more self-aware. I am aware of the way my actions affect those around me, including those I lead. I am also learning to listen – and listen well. Listening well is critical to good decision-making (look for a blog on that soon).

Year one is done. It’s been an amazing year of growth and learning. Bring on Year Two!

The Wall

I hit a wall. The Wall. The wall I didn’t think actually existed. Currently, I work full-time as an administrator in a teacher preparation program at a private university in Southern California. I am entering year two of my doctoral program, which means reading, writing, and reading some more. I also just began my first term as an Adjunct Professor, teaching Graduate level courses. I write a leadership blog and have a side business as a Notary Public Signing Agent,  Plus, I am a wife, mother, and Nana to five amazing grandchildren.  I’ve reached my capacity.  There isn’t anything left.

I’ve hit The Wall.

Technology allows us to work around the clock. We answer email at midnight, write reports in the early morning hours, and take conference calls in our pjs. The lines between work and life have merged so closely we can’t determine where one ends and the other begins. Creating work-life balance is not just a goal; it’s a necessity.  Experts agree that stress from the never-ending workday can damage relationships, health and overall happiness.1

Every person must determine their own method for balancing career and home.  The Wall will be different for every individual and every family.  These tips may help you find the balance that’s right for you.

  1. Unplug – It’s important to find time to unplug – move away from the phone and the computer. If you have a chance to eat a meal with your family, turn off your phone and eat. When watching your daughter’s soccer game, turn off your phone and cheer. When out on a date with your spouse or significant other, turn off your phone and engage. Relationships will always be more important than careers. Give your family the same attention you give your clients.
  2. Move Your Body – This is a message I need to give myself. We find ourselves locked in our offices and at our desks too many hours each day. Get up and move! If you can get to the gym, that’s great. If not, take a walk. Recently, my spouse and I have started taking short – very short – walks around the neighborhood after dinner. This allows time for us to reconnect, moves our muscles a little bit, and even allows us to get to know our neighbors better.
  3. Schedule Downtime – Sometimes it’s necessary to actually schedule time to relax. Schedule time each week to recharge and reconnect. Put it on your calendar and guard it as much as any other important appointment. Date night at your favorite restaurant, movie night at home, a massage, or just thirty minutes with a good book – put something on the schedule every week.

Every person’s wall is different. Understanding when you’ve reached your capacity is critical to achieving balance between home and career.  Protect your life from the sneak attacks trying to steal your work-life balance.

Guard the Wall



1 Deborah Jian Lee, Oct. 20, 2014, Tips for Better Work-Life Balance Forbes Magazine

I Can See Clearly Now

I am a woman of a certain age – an age that requires glasses for close work.  It’s interesting to realize you need a little assistance with something you’ve been doing quite well for years.  Humbling, yes.  Essential, also yes. Fortunately, I have accepted the fact that I’d rather see than not see and now own several pairs of very stylish eyewear.

The information about my eyesight is pertinent to another recent revelation.  I found that when I put on my glasses and look in the mirror, I am able to see my flaws much more clearly.  There they are – big as life itself.  Once I recovered from the shock of seeing myself much more clearly, I immediately thought, “how long has that been there?”  The imperfections I see so clearly may have been evident to others for quite some time.

As leaders, we can be blind to our leadership flaws because our eyesight has grown tired over the years.  We no longer see as sharply as we once had.  We can grow complacent within the daily routine.  We aren’t doing anything wrong, but we aren’t doing a lot of things right either.  We spend a little more time in our offices than we should.  Our conversations are a little less constructive than they once were.  And, most important, we haven’t invested the time developing those followers as we once did.  We aren’t seeing clearly.

Our leadership glasses sharpen our vision and bring the picture into focus. Look closely now.  You may see opportunities to…

  • Motivate your team to hang in there with a difficult project
  • Encourage a junior employee to step forward into leadership
  • Collaborate with others to find new ways to be innovative
  • Inspire your team to move from mediocrity to greatness

Put on your leadership glasses and take a closer look.  What do you see?