I began writing this post upon my return from a CUE Rockstar camp. This particular camp happened to be for administrators. I am not an admin, why was I there? I began the first day with this chip weighing on my shoulder. Well, just like most things in me life, a chance happenstance lead me to exactly where I needed to be. One thing that I was aware of within the Admin camp, were "hero groups". In these groups, all participants discuss their journey in terms of Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey". Not only were there to be discussions, but we were to present our journey to the group.
Now, I do not generally get nervous when presenting, but I know I don't do too well without some planning. Improv never has been my thing. (I used to disappear during improv in drama/speech classes). But there I was, in a room full of administrators, feeling like an impostor.
BUT, one of the beauties of these camps are the people. I was made to feel completely comfortable by both the presenters and the participants. No one knew or even cared what my title or role was. We were all there for a common goal...learning and growth.
So...I did it! I stood up there and spoke from my heart. I was vulnerable and I was real. I shared my story...my journey. I would like to now share it with you here...in hopes that others will connect.
I am always very purposeful in my image choices. I wanted to use The Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for my journey, which has been a "transformational struggle". As I walk along my "yellow brick road", I learn and grow with each step. The back ground image does not show a perfect path, it shows imperfections, flaws and bumpiness. THAT matches my journey. It is through our struggles that transformation happens. But where was I journeying to? What is my "Land of Oz"? That final destination is still unknown, because I believe once we reach one destination, a new one appears. So for now, I shared my six word memoir that sits above my desk: "One who encourages and inspires others". I believe that is my purpose and that is the destination of this current journey.
Here are my steps on the "Hero's Journey":
Assistance: Around my 13th year, our school received a new administrator. For whatever reason, she took me under her wing. She saw something in me that I didn't and walked with me as she grew me. She pushed me to present with her, then without her, then beyond our district and so on. She gave me both roots and wings. This was a game changer for me...this is why I try to now do the same for others.
I have also been extremely blessed to have since collected quiet a few of these kinds of people. The ones who see that potential that you can't, who believe in you, when you don't and encourage you and provide opportunities to stretch and grow. These "Wizard Of Oz" people have changed my life. Each in their own special way. I would not be who or where I am, had it not been for these people.
Departure: It is through these people that I began to find my voice. I began sharing my ideas and it appeared some people were actually listening. WHAT? This was very new to me. I suddenly found myself passionately talking about things in education. I found myself writing, sharing my stories and ideas to help others. This was the beginning of a new journey.
A few of my "Wizard Of Oz" people were brutally honest with me and gave me several wake up calls. It does no one any good, for me to go down the wrong road! So with that, I changed. If I wanted to reach my full potential, and truly help others, I needed to first help myself. I flipped the switch and decided to just look at everything...EVERYTHING as a vehicle for learning and growth. From then on, every "trial" I went through, I reflected on the other end. What learning can I take from this? How can I use this learning to grow and move forward? GAME CHANGER!!!
The rest of the journey...is still unwritten. For many, that may be uncomfortable, for me that is exciting. I am excited to see how this story unfolds.
Here is what I HAVE learned, that I would like to pass on. We all have potential...a spark. Sometimes it is easily seen, but sometimes it is dim or hidden. But it's always there...always. We need to find that thing within us and within others to elicit great. We all deserve it, our kids deserve it from us. So my parting words, as I continue on this journey actually come from Glinda the Good Witch...
I try my best to have such integrity...to do what I say I'm going to do, be true to my word, with others. I work hard to follow through with things, show up and support. But I have found a loop hole in my "integrity plan": ME. Am I living what I am "preaching" to others? This thought hit me like a ton of bricks as I was participating in #Ditchbook chat this week, that was led by Aaron Hogan (Author of Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth). I like to believe that I reflect often, but his questions stopped me in my tracks. They forced me to reflect in a way I hadn't before. Unintentionally, that chat has sparked deep thinking and this post, today.
There are many "phrases" that I repeat often (I get tired of hearing my own broken record), but I say them because I whole heatedly believe in them. But am I "walking the talk" and believing in them for myself? I think until very recently I would have said "no", but I think I have turned a corner.
Time to reflect on these...
Tune Out The Chatter: Up until the very near present, I really struggled with this. I would let what others say, get into my head and deter my journey. I would let one comment send me down the rabbit hole and take up a lot of my energy in a spin. I have recently (with a lot of help from some amazing friends) realized how insane that was. If I believe in my purpose (which is always to do good) why would I let someone else knock me off that path? It doesn't do me or anyone else any good to spend my energy on it, time is better spent on continuing forward, if I know it is what is right.
Dare Greatly: Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly, changed my thinking and changed me. It is based around the Theadore Roosevelt quote:
I didn't realize that I had actually made the switch, until about a week ago. I was in conversation with my friend, Jon Corippo. He unknowingly brought it to my attention. He said "Now you just say yes to things, not even knowing where you are going." WHAT? Talk about a switch flip moment! As I thought about his statement, I realized that a year ago, he, himself had asked me to do something and I responded with "I'm not sure..." Which in my head translated to "I'm not good enough". He told me, that day, that I needed to just say "Yes" to such opportunities and since then I do. And OH MY GOSH, life changer! I now live by this "Leap Philosophy" of saying "yes" (to opportunities that match my purpose and passion) and figure out the rest after. So far, it has proven to be an amazing journey!
I have talked with those that I support about this topic, when they start to get overwhelmed. We talk about focusing only on those things that are in our locus of control. We can't be at our best, if we are putting our energy into those things that will never yield the results we want.
Within the last few weeks, I have finally taken it to heart, myself. I have been examining what takes up residence in my mind. Is it anything that I actually have control over? Is it something that will yield positive results for myself and more importantly, others? If not, I need to just let it go and find where I can actually make a difference. Place my energy where I can do good and help others, where my efforts will be received. Since making this cognitive switch, my overall outlook and attitude has changed for the better. It is a definite, huge win.
Why am I writing all of this? To be totally honest, it is to keep myself in check. I AM my own worst advocate! We need to be at our best in order to serve our purpose for others. This can only be done by constant self reflection and course correction. I am very blessed in that I don't have to always do this alone, in my head. I have some how collected an amazing tribe, who helps me with this. They do not even know their impact, but it has been life altering and I am thankful.
My call to action for you is to examine your words and thoughts and make sure YOU are advocating for YOU.
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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