Many of us are gearing up for some much deserved time away. Yesterday felt a little bit like limping across a finish line, but we made it.
Earlier this week, I was watering a small plant in my office that’s been struggling. I was tired and in a hurry and didn’t feel like taking special care of it. I noticed that about half of the leaves were brown and drying up. In a rush, I thought to myself, “I’m throwing this plant away!” And into the garbage it went.
For a moment, I just stood there looking at that plant in my garbage bin. I started to feel guilty. Something in my gut told me to scoop that plant back up out of the garbage, prune those dead leaves, and try again.
Days later, I went back to my office, and I briefly glanced at that plant. To my surprise, she was looking pretty good! In fact, dare I say, it was almost as if she was thriving. With a little water, some pruning, and some sunlight, she seemed to be on the mend.
And this got me thinking about all of us. How quickly we jump to conclusions about our potential and the potential of others. In the hustle and bustle of every day life, it’s easy to defer to limiting beliefs such as “I can’t or “These kids can’t…” (cringe.)
So much of our work is about the environment we nurture and cultivate. It’s easy to draw conclusions about ourselves and about other people without asking, “What conditions are contributing to the way they are (or I am) showing up?”
It’s a lot easier to blame and shame than it is to relentlessly own the role we all play in cultivating conditions.
People are deeply human and imperfect and complicated, and yet they are filled with limitless potential,. People are worthy of love, belonging, hope and the conditions that make all of that possible.
What would happen if instead of obsessing over our sign-in sheets for staff meetings, we obsessed over creating experiences that made people want to RUN into our meetings? Experiences that made it a big loss for anyone who missed them!
What would happen if instead of focusing on consequences for student tardies or hoods up, we instead focused on understanding why our students want to hide in their clothes or why they don’t want to come to class? What would it look like to throw our energies into making school feel more psychologically safe and academically engaging?
Because listen, I get it. It’s tough out there. And we are all trying. Some days, we feel like giving up.
And there is a lot that’s competing for our attention. And we can’t make everyone happy. We are not pizza.
But what would happen if we became more focused on owning the role we play in school and classroom environments, and we became less focused on other things that seem to chip away at our time and energy?
Because I fear that there are staff members and students out there who feel as if we’ve thrown them in the metaphorical bin. They deserve better. We all deserve better.
My challenge to all of us is this: get the rest you need to come back stronger. Get the rest you need to see others more clearly. Get the rest you need to challenge your limiting beliefs more honestly. To be relentless in your pursuit of cultivating environments where others can thrive. Where you can thrive.
This is the work. The work is getting deeply curious about whatever the thing may be, in it’s current state, and to be willing to try and try again. And to love yourself and others through that process.
It’s not easy.
But it’s worth it. You’re worth that kind of effort. Our students are worth that kind of effort. Our colleagues are worth that kind of effort.
Prune what’s weighing you down. Get some water. Get some sunlight. Get whatever rest you need.
And then return to work with brave hearts and curious minds.
We need you.