Two weeks ago, I felt sassy. Not in a fun kind of a way although I think it was entertaining to some. I felt a bit out of control with my feelings and opinions. Have you ever had one of those moments, days, or weeks? You know, the kind where you are wondering why you are talking, why you have an opinion on that particular topic, and why you are choosing to say that thing out loud?
I had one of those weeks. I’m used to having moments. That’s human nature. But an entire week of moments – shew. It was a red flag. Something was up with me.
When I’m doing my best work, I feel more thoughtful about what I say and when I choose to say it. Because the truth is, not everything in our work is equally important. Not everything requires a strong stance and opinion. And when it is necessary to share our opinions, there are ways to share that are honest yet productive.
Two weeks ago, I had all kinds of opinions about things. I didn’t like the way one of our meetings was being handled. I didn’t like the naming conventions of a particular document. I was frustrated that an evening meeting went over by 30 minutes. I shared my opinions and “solutions” with those professionals directly, but why?
These weren’t my meetings. This wasn’t my document. What was I even doing? Did I feel better? No, I felt negative. In fact, I think I felt worse afterward.
So, I asked myself before going into this past week, “How am I going to show up better this week?” To start, I decided that I would pay attention to my thoughts. And I would ask myself before saying my opinion out loud, “Will I feel better if I say this?” If the answer was yes, I would ask myself, “It is helpful if I share my opinion and solutions on this matter?” If the answer was yes, then I would ask myself, “Is it so important that this particular thing improve right now, that I spend my energy and this person’s energy in a conversation about it?” If the answer was yes, then I shared my thoughts. But before speaking, I tried to coach myself into being kinder than necessary. Honest, clear, but kind. Because no one shows up to work trying to do a bad job.
I know that seems like a lot of questions and a lot of thinking, but it’s amazing what taking a deep breath and giving yourself a pause can do.
A lot went unsaid. Because it didn’t need to be said. And that is OK.
And it made me feel more than OK. I had more peace at the end of the day. Not the kind of peace that comes from artificial harmony. That’s a more sheepish, avoidance-related calm.
I’m talking about the kind of peace that comes with feeling in control of your thoughts and feelings.
I’m not going to beat myself up about my sassy week. I apologized when necessary and moved on. Life is hard enough. We don’t need to make life harder by feeling guilty about being human.
It turns out, that first question I’ve been asking myself, “Am I going to feel better if I say this or write this?” Often the answer is no. It doesn’t make me feel better. All it takes is a split second to ask that first question, and we have an answer.
And feeling better right now is golden. We need to find ways to feel better. Because when I give myself a pause, and when I’m feeling better, then I can get deeply curious. About the world around me, about why things are or are not happening – and getting curious and asking good questions is a big part of discovering how we can make things better.
We all want our schools to be better. We can’t make our schools and organizations better by being judgmental. We can, however, make them better with genuine curiosity, calm care, and a can-do spirit.
It starts with being ridiculously in charge of ourselves and the way we show up every day.