While in Hawaii last week for Thanksgiving (I was thankful I was in Hawaii, where it was warm), we got a chance every couple of days to walk down to the Hilton resort to watch the dolphins. You know the deal...you can get in and play with the dolphins, be a dolphin trainer for the day, OR....you can not pay a dime and you can sit on the grass next to the lagoon and watch everyone else for free!!
Here are the lessons I learned from the dolphins:
Smile---Okay, maybe that is an anthropomorphism, but they do seem to be so happy all the time. Have you ever watched a grumpy dolphin? In our workplaces, maybe it sometimes feels like there is nothing to smile about. But have you ever just smiled even when you didn't feel like it? Smiling makes you feel better---watch one of those baby laughing videos or a video of puppies learning to swim and maybe you won't be able to help yourself. Have you heard the claim that kids laugh between 300 - 400 times a day, while adults only laugh 14 - 18 times a day? I have worked in schools where adult laughter filled the halls because of relationships among the staff members. Lance might tell a funny joke or Vicki might tell us something funny her kids said and in no time, we are all cracking up. I want to always work and live in an atmosphere like that.
Have fun with your work--- As we sat and watched the dolphins one morning, we noticed that if they had a "free" moment, they would still play. They might chase one another around the lagoon, they might repeatedly jump out of the water, they might throw balls at trainers, but whatever it was, they seemed to enjoy life. I want to always live like the dolphins and enjoy my life and my work. The Serenity prayer helps me remember I can't control every little thing that happens to me in my life, but I can ask God for the peace to allow me to be serene no matter what is thrown at me. In the workplace, especially in schools, my peace can either rub off on others, including children, or my anxiety can rub off on people. Which would you choose? I choose peace every time I am asked, and yet somehow we allow anxiety to leak out of our pores and spread to others like wildfire. Deep, cleansing breaths can help and just finding a moment to be still can also help.
Relationships really do matter Have you ever seen the dolphins with their trainers? They are hovering around the trainers, waiting to find out how they can be of service, next. (and yes, it is possible, they are also begging for fish, but leave my analogy alone and write your own blog if you wish. :) When asked to hug or be still so kids around them can touch their skin and kiss their mouths, they are always ready to do whatever is asked.. I want to have that servant's heart, at all times. I think teachers and educational leaders are prone to that mentality, anyway, for the most part (you know some anomalies and so do I), but to truly have that ever-present desire to do for others is not always easy. Relationships with others make the difference between feeling burdened and feeling uplifted by our work. I choose to feel uplifted most days, but that doesn't mean it is an easy feat.
Just for today, perhaps we can take notes from the dolphins and smile, build relationships, and have fun at our work.