I just want time to do my one life well.
What does it mean for me to set my sights upon the coming year? My commitment as an educator, whether teacher, principal or Director, has always been to make a difference from where I stand. I do not want to wait for some better opportunity, for some day when the grass is greener or when I can be on the other side where the pastures are more fertile. I want to make the difference now. It is never a tomorrow ideal. We choose each and every day to make a difference regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. Regardless. No excuses. No second chances. No waiting for a better day. Or, dare I say it, a peaceful political context. Or a less toxic work site. Or when relationships are better. Whatever the circumstance, real leadership digs deep, strategizes, pursues alternative courses of action, and finds a way toward the better future. Real leadership does not let the vision go stale. No excuses. Real leadership creates opportunities for others to flourish and become the best they can be…as educators, as students, as colleagues. For me, it is all about leadership. My leadership. The leadership of those around me.
I want to create an environment where others can excel at what they do. I want to give people the support they need to do their best learning. When educators are learning they become excited about their new understanding and it becomes contagious, an enthusiasm that spreads to others. I believe that means creating opportunities for teachers to be inventive, to experiment, to create and to play with their teaching. (And, yes, I said play). Being engaged in our work is just as important for us as it is for our students.
If we look at the ideas of Daniel Pink (Drive), Martin Seligman (Flourish), and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (Flow), the same threads are woven through their writing. Daniel Pink talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose as being key to motivation. In Seligman’s theory of well-being, he refers to positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning (purpose) and accomplishment as being central in allowing people to flourish. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) goes as far as to say this:
It does not seem to be true that work necessarily needs to be unpleasant. It may always have to be hard, or at least harder than doing nothing at all. But there is ample evidence that work can be enjoyable, and that indeed, it is often the most enjoyable part of life.
While some may find his notion of work and joy paradoxical; it doesn’t have to be so. It is about defining your purpose, and pursuing it with passion. We can do that in an organizational context. We find the match between our personal passions and the organization’s goals. It is what creates organizational health, a place where people want to come to work, want to do their best, and want to make a difference. I think that when teachers are given the opportunity to focus on their learning, refine their craft, ultimately students benefit.
What will be my focus? What do I want to do? And you? What will be your focus? Will it be a year of excuses? Waiting for a better time? Or will you make a difference each and every day?