In church this morning, we read from the book of Isaiah, in which this passage caught my undivided attention:
"Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"
I was struck by how often I have focused on the mistakes or poor choices I may have made in the past instead of focusing on what I am presently doing or even applying lessons I've learned for the future.
I've come a long way in this regard, believe me. As a card-carrying member of the "I want to please everyone in the world" club, I spent most of my growing up years people-pleasing. What can I do to get accolades? What will get me noticed in a positive way? What can I say that will make you like me more? These are all questions (plus a whole slew of others) that guided my actions. God bless you if you didn't grow up feeling this way. I tried hard in school, not just because I wanted to learn but because I wanted my parents and teachers to be proud of me. I could justify all of this by saying I was simply driven (Dave would attest to the fact that I am definitely driven). But the fact remains that part of me was simply trying to impress others. After hearing Colbie Callait's song "TRY" (click on the song title to listen to it for yourself) for the first time, I figured it was written with people like me in mind.
The only problem with this attitude is that I am called to do the best I possibly can for a higher purpose than simply getting attention and getting noticed. These days, I like to believe my motivation and my purpose for doing a good job working with teachers, school leaders and university folks is to improve the quality of education, not to impress people with my knowledge. I truly have a passion for improving the culture of schools by working with pre-service teachers, budding administrators, current teachers and school leaders, and upper-level school administration. Last week, I had the honor to work with superintendents in the Yukon Territory who are also highly motivated to improve teacher growth in their area. One of them said something about wanting desperately for all administrators to find their growth areas and build trust with their teachers. I almost got teary-eyed, truthfully, as I feel so passionate about the same goal.
And yet....I still catch myself wondering if educators with whom I work "like" me. Why do I really care if they like me as long as they are learning something from what I have to share? Ummm...because, apparently, that people-pleasing little girl hasn't totally disappeared. That would account for the fact that, despite having 95% of my graduate or doctoral students rate me highly as a professor, I still focus on the 5% who say, "She graded my grammar too hard" or "She was too hard. I've never gotten a B in graduate school before her class". Ugggh. Shouldn't I actually be proud that I am not letting poor academics slip through the cracks? Nope, instead I want to somehow reach out to those students and say, "I promise you would like me if you met me in person." Double Ugggh.
A teacher with whom I used to work many, many years ago told me she knew I wanted everyone in the school where I was principal to love one another, and she wasn't going to love me or anyone else in that school, so I should quit trying. I can tell you that this broke my heart. Why? Because she was right. I did, indeed, want everyone to feel a love (whether you use that word or not) for the field of education, for the fellow staff members, and for the students. Even though I knew 100% of "love" was likely an impossibility, I still wanted it, desperately.
Today, I try to focus on the "wins" instead of the "losses". Sometimes, I am not going to get a job that I wanted. Sometimes, a participant in a workshop may feel I am not their cup of tea. Sometimes, I am going to feel like I gained too many pounds on vacation. But that will no longer be my primary focus because "I am about to do a new thing". I am going to focus on the present and apply any new growth learnings to my future, in work or even in my relationships with others.
I pray you are able to do the same. I'd love to hear from you about this topic (and whether you like me or not).
Happy Communicating to all!!