I read a great post a few weeks ago on Lolly Daskill’s website “Lead from Within”. I frequently read her blogs. They are thought provoking and inspiring. This particular post, entitled “Spend Your Time Feeding Your Soul” opens with a great story from a Cherokee elder, as told to young members of the tribe. The story is about two wolves who are living inside of us and constantly doing battle, basically the wolf representing good and the wolf representing evil. Of course, the children want to know which wolf is going to prevail. The elder says, “whichever wolf you feed”.
The elders’ sage advice applies to us as educational leaders as well, especially in today’s climate. The clamor to decry America’s public school system as “broken” and beyond repair, the constant attack on teachers, the bureaucracy that creates laws that are illogical at best and damaging to the public school system at worst all contribute to an environment that can be frustrating to those of us whose sole job is to help kids. During this time it is important to make sure that you are feeding the right wolf. It can be easy for us to feed into this, either openly or inadvertently. It can be easy for us to feed the wrong wolf. Here are some ways that you can ensure that you are feeding the right one.
Take Some Time EVERY DAY to Look at What is Going Right
As human beings, we tend to look at the negative. It tends to dominate our discussions and eat up our focus and time. If you let it. I am constantly reminding my staff to make sure that we spend time looking at the positive. I think we spend 90 percent of our time dealing with the 10 percent of things that cause us problems. As leaders, we need to take time and look at all the good things that are happening, and not let the negative monopolize our thoughts and actions.
Remember Why We Do This
It’s for the kids. It is not for us, it is not for accolades, it is not for money (duh). We are in this profession (I refuse to call it a business. Dealing with kids is not a bottom line function) to help kids. Period. Take some time every day to get out and actually experience what the kids are doing. Interact with them. Visit a class and participate in the activity. Take a quiz, answer a math problem, participate in PE class, cook with your Family and Consumer Science kids. What ever. But be a part of it. When we see all the great things that are going on it makes it easier to handle the negative stuff.
Take Care of You
Make sure, especially during the summer months when things are slower, that you are doing what you need to do to take care of yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally. If you are not healthy, if we are not at 100% (or close) of our best, then we are doing a disservice to those we serve. Make an exercise plan, and more importantly, stick with it. Look at your eating habits. Are you putting good things in? How are you challenging yourself mentally? Are you writing, reading, taking classes? Make sure you are doing something during this time to learn and grow professionally. Finally, how are your support systems? Are you spending time with family and friends? Are you putting those relationships at the top of your priority list? Do you have a faith you rely on? If so, are you nurturing and strengthening that faith for the times ahead? Now is the time to set priorities that will take root and last into the hectic school year.
While these are just a few suggestions, you get the idea. Every day is a battle for supremacy within us, between the two wolves. Which one will you choose to feed?