I don't know about you, but I often wonder..."Why am I here?" I talk a lot about purpose, because it is something I think about multiple times, daily. Am I living my life the way I should? Am I doing what I am meant to do? Am I fulfilling my purpose?
With these thoughts, comes the doubt. Am I good enough? Is there value in what I do? Am I making any difference?
Welcome to the movie that plays on loop within my head. I set an intention every day, to live my truth, to share my truth and to do good. But am I? Am I living up to my potential? Am I on the right journey with the right purpose? Sometimes I just look around and wonder. Do I belong?
At times, this wondering can lead down a negative road, but it can also lead to a hugely positive one. It all depends on what happens at the fork.
I was lucky enough to hear Brad Montague keynote a few days ago at Fall CUE. EVERYTHING he said resonated with me. Everything. I was sitting front row and center and I don't know how I managed to not cry throughout. One of the many profound things that he said was "You are perfectly cast". I felt that one right in the heart, wind knocked out of me, wet eyes wide open. If I wasn't surrounded by a row full of strangers, I may have just broken down right there. I wholeheartedly believe that one thing that all humans want to know is that they have worth. I believe that people often question their own worth...this leads to doubt, fear and road blocks. These things can be holding back a lot of people from a whole lot of great.
So what if we all just flip the switch? What if instead of wondering "Why am I here?" let us wonder "What is my role here? I am perfectly cast to be right here and right now. What am I going to do with it?". That little switch, at least for me, makes a world of difference. Instead of burrowing down the rabbit hole, I use my looping movie as a launch pad, a spring board. I am here now...let's make this great! How can I use what I have to help create something positive?
I can only think back to how much heart ache and pain I could have avoided, had someone just said those words to me "You are perfectly cast". So let us be that for someone else. Let's let other know their power, their strength, their good, their value, their potential. Let's let them know that they are seen and they are worthy and they matter. Let's let them know that they are right where they should be and they are exactly who they should be and that we are happy to know them and that they are amazing. This holds true for adults as well as students. My call to action is to brighten someone's day tomorrow and the next day and the next. We are all perfectly cast...but we all don't know it...yet.
I have this awesome friend, who is a lot of great things. One thing he is known for, is motivating others. I have been in a pretty deep rabbit hole recently and actually reached out to him for some motivation. He had kind words and offered encouragement. But sometimes, what we need is found in unlikely places. He posted this video on Facebook yesterday and I was not expecting the result. Adam Welcome Video
But then I pressed record. The result that was recorded was an actual switch flip moment. You see, I never shared with Adam, all that I had been struggling with, I really haven't shared with anyone. For that reason, my last few days have actually ended with me going home an attempting to just sleep it off. When I pushed record, (after admitting that I meant to make a funny video) I told him that instead of going in and hiding in my bed, I decided to put on my running gear and JUST DO. I needed to "shake up" my routine, because what I was doing wasn't working. And so I did. I ran...it wasn't good, it wasn't pretty, but it was better than what I had been doing.
As I ran, I began to reflect. I thought about the idea that a "shake up" doesn't need to be as big as waking up at midnight to run 10 miles, it could be one small decision. Sometimes, that is all the capacity that one has at the time. But one decision, usually leads to another and another and another. Just put one foot down, then the other, then the other, then the other.
What happened was not only a physical shake up, but a much needed mental one. That one small switch, changed my whole evening. It caused me to reflect, enjoy some fresh air and beautiful surroundings. It also led me to reach out to some people and have some really good conversations. I need people...I have figured this out, but it is hard for people to hear you when you are deep in that rabbit hole. This small switch helped me to dig out and see the light, find those bright spots.
Why am I writing this? For the same reason that I always do, to try and help just one other. I have taken Adam's words to heart. It is important to change things up, ruts are no good to anyone. What is one small thing that you can change in your day, your life? Just do it. See what happens. What can you change in your classroom, your routine, with your kids, within your school? Just do it. See what happens. Small shifts can reveal huge gains.
A few weekends back, I did something that I NEVER saw happening, in a million years. I got up in front of a group of people and spilled my guts! I had the pleasure of giving a mini-keynote to educators at #EdCampYO. The topic was: #FailForward, which is one of my favorites. As with everything I do, I was totally vulnerable and took a huge risk. When you do something like this, you never really know how it is received, unless someone tells you. The most amazing thing happened throughout the day. People were coming up to me, thanking me for inspiration! ME? Inspiring? That is what others are for me. Were people just being kind, because we were in the same space? I don't know. I am still trying to wrap my heart and mind around the whole experience. I will share the most amazing moment, in another post.
For this post (this may be multiple posts), I wanted to write out my message from that day. Mostly for me, but hopefully someone will connect to it. So here goes...
One such moment that sticks out, doesn't even belong to me. About 8 years ago, my grade level partner was moved to a different school site because of numbers. She told me this story from the first few weeks. She passed out paper to her 4th graders, gave them each a brand new paint set and a cup of water. Her directions were "go forth and paint". She turned around to paint herself. When she turned back around, she was met with 30+ pairs of eyes staring at her, frozen. When she inquired why they weren't painting, they said they didn't know what to paint, they were worried that they wouldn't paint what she wanted, they were scared of making a mistake or a mess. This broke her heart and mine. These students were frozen by fear of failure that was put upon them by some other. My friend spent a lot of time, deprogramming these students. I didn't know what to do with that information, so I filed it away in my heart and mind.
She told me that she admired that I didn't hesitate to try new things with my students. Up until this point, I didn't even realize that was a "thing". I thought that was just what you do. You try new things, see what happens and move forward from there. Apparently, not. She told me that she wished she could take risks for and with her students, but she was afraid of failing in front of them. She was scared of failing in front of her 6 year olds, so she didn't even try. This broke my heart. This broke my heart because I thought of all the great that was being lost, not only for her, but for her students. I didn't know what to do with that, so I filed it away in my mind and my heart.
I guess, at some point, I had developed this "Leap Theory". I just did things, not worrying about the consequences (if it was tied to my purpose). That may just be my switch flip moment, I didn't realize that was what I was doing. I wasn't afraid to fail, for the benefit of my students.
To conclude this piece in the series, I will leave you with this. It is important to distinguish between a failure and a fail. I think when we talk about a "failure" we make it about us, we internalize it. We may beat ourselves up and begin to believe that is who we are. I have been down that rabbit hole and it is dark and doesn't do anyone any good. We need to flip that switch and shed light on the situation. We need to look through our "perspectacles" and look at it differently. A fail happened, it is not us. It is what we do with that fail, that is important....
Stay tuned for more...
Mother, Teacher, Administrator, Presenter, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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