Being a consultant and getting to work with teachers and school leaders all over the world has been the best job ever! Before this, I was a principal at the best elementary school in the world, Edge Elementary School. Being a principal was the best job ever! Before I was a principal, I was a guidance counselor. Being a guidance counselor was the best job ever. Wait…what? Well, trust me. All those statements are true. I have adored these roles, as I so enjoyed being a teacher for so many years. When I was a school counselor, I wrote a poem about self-responsibility. It went like this:
I always have a choice,
No matter what I do.
I make the choice
And I can’t blame you.
I would have the students from Pre-Kindergarten to 5th grade say the poem outloud in an effort to get them to realize that they shouldn’t ever allow someone else or something else to “make” them feel a certain way. We would say it in a loud voice, in a soft voice, as a cheer or chant. We’d say it in a British accent. We’d say it in a Texas accent. We’d say it like a big, fat whale in the ocean (after all, I speak Whale). We’d say it like a tiny little mouse (complete with squeaks). While attending a conference one year, I got a chance to meet Dr. Philip Fitch Vincent, my favorite “guru” in the field of Character Education. He shared a quote with us that has stuck with me and will, likely, stick with me forever. Helen Keller said:
“So much has been given to me, I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
Wow, just wow, I thought. In which alternate universe could I have anything to gripe about while Helen Keller was looking at the positive side of things? Why should this particular verse come back to me this week? Perhaps it might have something to do with getting food poisoning while I was traveling to Bogota’, Colombia. Now, I am pretty certain it is fair to gripe just a little bit about not being able to hold down any food for three days (when Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins didn’t even sound good to me, I knew there must be a real crisis at hand). But, I am fairly sure that my memories of the trip to Colombia will not solely consist of food poisoning but instead will be primarily focused on the amazing learning opportunities I and the 50+ participants had for three days. I figure that decision to look at the positive side of life influenced my decision to write the silly little poem for those elementary school students. Or maybe I don’t like the idea of Helen Keller being able to trump me in optimism. Whatever the reason, I believe three things:
a. One person with whom you can trust (a mentor or spiritual advisor)
Just for today, perhaps we can learn a life lesson from Helen Keller. After all, if she could see the good in life, how can we not at least try?