Saturday, October 10, 2015

What We Could Be

The key to lifelong learning and personal development is to be more excited about who we could be than who we are right now.

I work in leadership in a school district and in a church. In both places we deal with personal growth and learning. Whether we are leading 5th graders, staff or retired adults, the challenges are the same.

When we present to someone an opportunity to stretch, or in a bigger way, to be transformed, excuses are quick to follow. It's similar to asking someone to pack up their belongings and move to a new state. Or maybe it's a weekend stay in a nearby city. It wasn't in the plans and even if it promises some benefits, suddenly the way things have been sounds good enough.

Our lives are busy. The many pleasures and pastimes of our society, that break up the routine and give a semblance of change, offer more than enough distraction from the vision of what we could be. We are consumed with what we are and what we've got on the schedule for the near future.

Our resistance to change is a retreat to comfort in what we are and the world we know.

  • "I'm not really into...."
  • "I'm too busy to...."
  • "I tried that once and now I know...."

    On the other hand, an openness to opportunities is focused on who we could be or how life could be for others. If there is comfort in the moment, it doesn't compare to the promise of possibilities ahead. This requires a shift in thinking and often a herculean effort to resist the pull of our culture.

    There are other factors too, of course. Perhaps change is easier for some because there isn't comfort in the moment. And there also can be a sense of responsibility. Sometimes we plunge in, leaving comfort behind and dreading what it will make us, but we feel it's something important that we must do.

    To get practical, though, what does this mean for us as teachers and leaders in education? 

    Consider the benefit of highlighting the stories of transformation. In church we call those testimonies. Let the people who have grown the most talk about the experience. Lift up the promise that we could all be something more than we are now. Open doors of opportunity to those who are willing to step inside, then ask them to share it with the group.

    Publicly value personal growth as if it were more rewarding than a family trip to Disney. Because it is. It's not without tremendous cost at times, but it is worth it. If the leaders among us are living it, the community will begin to believe it.

    I'm doing a challenge this month to post on one of my blogs every day. It's in preparation for my conference session, The Way of the Google Drive. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or on either blog to keep up with the "thoughts and tools to inspire". 

    Click here to see all the posts from this blog with the tag The Way of the Google Drive.

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