Stick with the winners!
“The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.”
― Shannon L. Alder
“You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people.”
― Joel Osteen
I’ve written two books about communication and trust (“Communicate and Motivate: The School Leader’s Guide to Effective Communication” and “Building Trust in Teacher Evaluations”). Both have a common theme that being around people who are busters and not builders is harmful to our psyche. I had a good many questions I would ask potential teachers when I interviewed them, but one of my favorites was something about “How are you going to ensure that you get ‘fed’ what you need to stay motivated to teach, even when the going gets tough?” The answers I loved and ultimately helped in hiring were things like, “I cling to people who build me up” or “I am looking for a team that I can work with, people who will come to me for help and I can do the same with them.”
When I was an elementary principal, the Kindergarten teachers were ROCKstars at this. As different as the six of them were, they would share ideas at grade level meetings and late evenings at school. Jil was also one who, once she found a website that had great ideas, she would share with her grade level. If they used it, great; if not, great, too. I still brag about the teachers at our school who were so willing to share and grow and not be focused on the negative (“oh no, there she goes again, bragging about some great idea she just found”). Of course there are always a couple of people in each school who have that attitude (folded arms at a faculty meeting when someone enthusiastically shares an idea, as if the sharer is trying to “one-up” everyone else instead of “boosting up” the others around her). I told new teachers to ignore that nonsense and stick with the winners. I hope all principals tell their staffs that---there will always be the Negative Nancy (oh brother….here we go again) or Naysayer Nellie (that will never work; we’ve tried it before) or Poo-Poo Patty (do we have to try one more “good idea”?)
But those are few and far between when the culture has been built to stick with the winners!! Stick with the folks who will boost you when you are down, not keep holding your head underwater while saying, “I know, doesn’t this drowning suck? But we all have to do it, so here you go.”
Being diagnosed with breast cancer in May was a devastating blow, no doubt. Finding out I had to have a double mastectomy was a pretty tough pill to swallow (not to mention all the actual pills I HAVE had to swallow, despite trying to be “drug-free” since I quit drinking 17 years ago). I am not trying to make light of breast cancer or the pain or the tough times it has created in Dave’s and my life. But wowee! I have been blessed to see the good in all this. Here are a few:
*the dearest friends in the world who came to stay with me post-surgery (and pre, also) so Dave could go back to work after the first few days of me throwing up on him from anesthesia overload.
*friends who called and continue to call to see how I am doing and just to make me smile and laugh
*doctors who have combined a caring bedside manner with a wicked sense of humor (exactly what Dave and I needed)
*cards, emails, facebook posts, songs, and sweet thoughtful gifts that continue to uplift me
*Glenn and Callista who may wince when I talk about needles but will take me to doctor appointments and then to Baskin-Robbins afterwards for a milkshake to help with that post-surgery weightloss
*friends in AA who have texted me the most beautiful sayings and met for diet coke/pastry runs to talk me off the ledge
And, finally, one friend, Susan, who I met through AA a couple of years ago. When I came into a meeting literally 30 minutes after finding out I had to have the double mastectomy, I shared with the women’s group my fear and tears. Susan, who has been through her own hell of cancer and chemo, etc., came up to me after the meeting, in tears, and she said this, “Shelly, I can’t give anyone advice because what works for me may not work for you. But my best advice is this: Stay clear of people who want to tell you their horror stories of ‘My aunt went through breast cancer, and even though she died, I’m sure you will do fine.” I laughed out loud but got the message, loud and clear. She finished by saying, “Stick with the winners.”
Susan passed away last week and her memorial is this week while I am away for work. I can’t pay homage to her in person, but I can promise you that her words will live on in me, long past my last surgery next month.
Perhaps we can take a note from Susan and remember to stick with the winners---at work, in teaching, in administration, in whatever line of work---how about in life, in general? “Just for today, I choose happiness. Why? Because I like it better than the alternative.”
9/5/2015 08:42:35 pm
😂😂😢😎👍🏻💁🏼💓 thanks Shelly I sat here crying like a baby. Your so humble. Think I'll stick with the winners. Have another diet coke. I'll celebrate 18 end of September. Hope you'll be here. I'd like to read part of your homage to Susan at memorial or afterwards when we all meet at One of her favorite places. Saffron.
9/6/2015 05:18:53 am
Of course you can read it, Patty! I wish I could be there in person but if I can't, please feel free to share my/her words with all.
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