I recently went to a store to pick-up some vitamins. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the exact brand I was looking for, but the store manager was very helpful, and we were able to find something similar in another aisle. Overall, the store manager was incredibly kind, caring, and attentive, and I had a wonderful experience with her even though the store didn’t have what I needed. The manager even went as far as to say that if after trying them, I didn’t like them, I could bring them back.
I’m very cautious about which vitamins I take and what foods I eat, so upon leaving the store, I started to get buyer’s remorse. Therefore, I tried the pharmacy down the street, and eureka! They had the exact type of vitamin that I needed.
So, as you might expect, having not opened the previously purchased vitamins, I drove back to the store to return them. I found the same store manager, and I apologized and shared that I had found the exact vitamins that I needed at different store, so I wanted to make a return.
This time my experience with the manager was very different. She did not make eye contact. She was not friendly. She did not speak to me other than to ask if I had opened the vitamins within the 20 minutes they were in my possession. This interaction was cold and uncomfortable, and I was happy to get out of there.
This made me wonder how often we make others feel this way in our schools. When they bring us a unique situation or require more care and attention, are we honoring people’s humanity and extending care or are we making them feel like a nuisance?
It is not the job of those we serve to make our jobs easier. Parents are bringing their very best to us every day. Kids are showing up and doing their jobs every day – being kids! And we must love and teach them all to the best of our ability.
Teaching some of our students is going to come easier than teaching others. Leading some staff is going to come easier than leading others. Partnering with some parents is going to come easier than partnering with others.
And none of that changes that fact that all of us are worthy of love and belonging. All people have gifts, talents, and special kind of magic they bring to this world. It is our job to love people through their difficulties and to discover those hidden gems inside of them. It is our job to grow and nurture those gems inside of people, so they can reach their fullest potential.
As educators, when we nourish others in reaching their fullest potential, we are one step closer to reaching our fullest potential. We are one step closer to reaching our highest professional purpose.
So, the next time someone feels like a lot of work, let’s try to see that as a big opportunity to show that person that they are worth it. Because behavior is communication. People are fighting battles we cannot see.
Let’s listen and care for people in a way that makes them feel in that moment, they are the most important person in the world to us.
We are not too busy for this. This is the work. Everything else is secondary.
We must take care of ourselves, so we can show up fully for others.
And we aren’t going to get it right every time.
So, when we struggle, we need to dust ourselves off, learn, and do better next time. And when we’ve negatively impacted another person, we should apologize.
Picture someone in your professional world who feels like more work to you. How might you find a smidge more energy to show up for that person in a more constructive way?
What is something small or big that you could do to care for yourself, so you can care for others?
How might you become a bit more genuinely curious about the behavior of someone who has challenged you?