Saturday, August 19, 2017


Serendipity: (noun) the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for

I decided to take a picture of one of my favorite t-shirts and post it on Twitter on Friday. It was a spontaneous decision and I’m glad I did.

My shirt came from TeeSpring and reads:

Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Learning

I love the mental space this message offers. It was sold as a math shirt, however I think it applies to quite a bit more. Like...everything. I’ve made mistakes in math, writing and science. I’ve also made some pretty epic ones at home and at work. With things. With people.

The very fact that we HAVE to make mistakes in order to grow has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I grew up with a nasty combination of both high expectations from outside and anxiety from inside. I suppose I posted the tweet to encourage others to embrace the strength of this message in a more timely fashion than me. That way of living is so painful and destructive.

What came after that post was the truly beautiful bit.

Two individuals stood up and responded. One from New Jersey (Jace @inspire0818). One from Georgia (Chris Shearer @hbprincipal). Between the two, something clicked in me. I found myself back in Wisconsin combining their thoughts into a brand new statement:

Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn, but either way, you cannot lose.

Then, Mr. Shearer took it up another notch and designed this cool graphic and shared it with us all. (As an aside, I can even see this as another t-shirt opportunity. I know I’d buy one.) Let’s dig a bit into this collaboratively-crafted sentence.

Sometimes You Win & Sometimes You Learn

There are times when we totally get it. There’s nothing better than feeling that wave of adrenaline when we achieve what we had hoped for and we can raise our arms up and howl in triumph. We’ve won! And yet, typically, we reach that AFTER we’ve failed. Whether it’s catastrophes or a simple series of minor hiccups, the victories come AFTER we learn from our mistakes.

Teachers remind students of this every day. We all could benefit from a voice gently whispering this reminder into our ears as we go about our days. “It’s OK! What worked? What didn’t? What can you do differently next time?”

Either Way, You Cannot Lose

When do we really lose? When we quit. When we lose hope. When we close ourselves off from people, from experiences and from the rest of the world. Initially, it may feel like we’re protecting ourselves. However, when we lock ourselves away from opportunities to win or learn, we in fact become adrift. Why? We don’t obtain the tools needed to captain our ships. Adrift, we are tossed about by the storms of fear, doubt, depression, and anger that brew for us all.

My experiences on Twitter over the last year have been amazingly uplifting. If you’re in education and aren’t active on it, you should check it out. You can find some fantastic peers and sources of inspiration. This was one of many beautiful connections. I’m encouraged to see what resources I can find as I continue my memoir/journal book for those with diabetes and begin writing another edition of Dear Teachers.

We’re all stronger #together. We’re all stronger when we win and when we learn #together. As long as we’re doing one or the other with positive intentions, we cannot lose.

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