Sunday, January 29, 2017

Remember, YOU Make the Weather

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 Vic Goddard, Principal of Passmores, UK. Photo credit: Marlene Oswald
I already had an essay about the importance and value in investing in public education fleshed out when I stumbled upon this gem of a leadership mantra. Bam. 5 words linked to form pure awesomeness. I had to share it and explore it.

I wrote what I felt was a strong essay. However, when I looked at it again this morning, in light of all that is going on in the world today, I stopped yet again. It still wasn’t right. It was too flippant- too tongue-in-cheek. These 5 words need something else.

Mr. Goddard was talking as a school principal. He understands that his role is to captain the ship- the HMS or USS “INSERT SCHOOL NAME”. If the captain possesses traits such as enthusiasm, a keen human insight, creativity and having a deep knowledge of the craft, the mood of the ship cannot help but be positive and the weather, even it it is literally only a tiny bubble around the school, will be fair. The captain’s subordinates (teachers) and crew (students) will have hope they can weather the storms swirling about them and will do their best to sail onward together. I confess I’m envisioning a leader like Errol Flynn in his swashbuckling pirate roles to demonstrate the power of a principal’s role but but in truth, today’s female captains like Kate McCue are better real-life examples. Diligence, determination and flexibility are not nearly so glamorous traits but also play key roles.

What if the ship’s captain cannot construct that bubble of fair weather for the school? The same thing that happens when we are unable to do that for ourselves but on a much larger scale: feelings of defeat, despair, hostility, injustice and/or hopelessness for everyone within the bubble. Perhaps overwhelming amounts.

Guess what, though? We all create weather and are influenced by others’ weather. Whether you are a student, a parent, a principal or a president.

The weather we can control is what life coach Steven Covey referred to as our circle of influence. He described our world as being a series of nested rings. We have total control of our inner ring: ourselves. We can influence a larger ring called the Circle of Influence, including those around us. Beyond that, we have little to no control but that ring does touch our influence ring.

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We ALL have circles of control and circles of influence. We need to be aware of them and use them on a daily basis in positive ways. By doing that, we change ourselves, our communities and our cultures to something better than what we are today.

We tend to feel we have no control or influence when we are possessed by the demon known as FEAR. This emotion is deadly to both individuals and society on the whole. Think about it. When you are afraid, you lose your ability to think clearly. You react purely on instinct to protect yourself. Kids on the playground do it: they deny doing anything wrong, they blame others and they lash out physically or run away to hide. We do it as adults when we ban people and restrict people wholesale.

Living with FEAR as our driving force destroys us. It lures us into thinking there is no other way because it shrinks our feelings of control and influence. Our circles are still there- it’s just that they then become sources of those negative outcomes I outlined earlier. Defeat. Despair. Hostility. Injustice. Hopelessness. For us and everyone around us.

There’s hope! We can change our ways if we’ve slid under FEAR’s control. We can change our weather starting today and moving forward.

  1. Support our truth selves.

Each day, commit to our values and stand by them. That could mean anything from meditation, prayer or just giving ourselves a pep talk in the car every morning.

  1. Validate ourselves and those connected to us.

We need to feel like we’re moving forward. To achieve that, regularly give positive feedback. Say it, don’t assume it.

  1. Don’t allow negative ideas to gain ridiculous strength over us.

Admit mistakes. We all make them. In addition, let go of slights. Let others see us doing both to embolden them to do the same. Ignoring or denial of wrong is the root of many storms in our lives.

  1. Avoid the damage caused by irrationality.

Desperately want to go off on someone? Resist it! Back away to regroup. That way, we will not contribute to the rankness of attacks based on raw emotions and we can find another, more progressive way to deal.

  1. Build a sense of community.

Reach a hand out and ask for help. When you are able, extend a hand to help another. Also, show your appreciation. Sometimes we forget that we need to graciously accept help in order for someone to experience the blessing of giving.

We’re stronger together. The weather is fairer. The burdens are lighter. The rewards are far greater than living our lives based in FEAR.

Remember: YOU make the weather.

Peace and love to you.

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