Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Am Thankful

I remember learning in philosophy something about never knowing pleasure without pain.  I'll not take time to explain in detail but here are a few examples: 

We can only know beautiful weather if we have experienced extreme cold or extreme heat.
We can only know true love if we have been truly heartbroken. 
We can only know if something tastes good if we have had something that tastes bad.

You can decide what you want to believe about this but I do believe this philosophy relates to being thankful and experiencing true thanksgiving.  I believe the more hurt we have experienced the more thankful we can be. 

I am thankful for my wonderful wife because I have been heartbroken.
I am thankful for my health because I have been sick.
I am thankful for a job that I love because I have had many that I did not.

We can also better experience thanksgiving when we hurt for other people.

I am thankful for my memory after spending time with my grandpa who has Alzheimer's.
I am thankful for my parents after spending time with my students that only have one.
I am thankful for my food after eating beans and rice every meal in Costa Rica.
I am thankful for my job after spending time with those that are unemployed or have temp jobs.
I am thankful for my friends after spending time with those that are lonely.

It is the things that bring us hurt that cause us to be the most thankful.

What circumstances have caused you to be thankful?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Copy Cat

Have you ever noticed that when you greet someone they usually say the same thing back to you?  If you haven't you should test it out ASAP. 

Let me give you an example.  If you walk up to someone and say "Good Morning", they will most likely respond with the same "Good Morning".  This seems logical but it gets better.

It doesn't matter what you say as long as it is a common greeting.  You could say hey, hi, hello, howdy, what's up, what's going on, or even buenos dias and the person will respond with the same greeting a vast majority of the time. 

Think of how you can use this to your advantage. 

If you want someone to greet you positively, all you have to do is first approach others with a positive greeting, attitude, and smile.  I think it has something to do with that treat others the way you want to be treated and love your neighbor as yourself kinda thing.

Try it out and see if it works.  It isn't fail-proof but it does work more often than not.  Worst case scenario is you positively greeted some people and were a bright spot in their day. 

If you do it everyday, you can slowly begin to change the attitude of a person, classroom, school, office, business, church, organization, neighborhood, world...

Again, don't take my word for it.  Try it out for yourself and see if it works.  I think you'll like the results.  Guaranteed or your money back.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hope For The Future

Last week a teacher at my school received a phone call at work that someone in her family passed away.  This was unexpected and as you can imagine she cried in front of the class.

Later that day, a few 6th grade girls came up to me and said they wanted to do something special for their teacher.  I thought this was a sweet gesture coming from 6th graders and assumed they wanted to make a big card or something.  I asked them what they had in mind.  Their response blew me away.

Their idea was to put on a "Walk" in order to support their teacher's family.  After working through some details they came up with "Walk In Your Socks", a day in which students can support their teacher by walking in their socks.  At first, this was only to show support (think wearing ribbons) but they then decided to turn it into a fundraiser by asking students to donate $1 to be able to not wear shoes one day at school.

The next thing you know, this idea from a few 6th grade minds raised nearly $150 and more importantly, showed love and support for someone in need!

I contacted the Public Relations Director from my district to see if this is a story that the local news might be interested in.  The news was interested and had planned on coming out but canceled at the last minute to cover a negative story in the district that popped up. 

Although you weren't able to see it on the news, I want you to know that there is hope for the future.  I have no doubt that stories like this are everywhere.  Although the media usually focuses on the negative aspects of today's youth, we are educating the next Dr. King, Mandela, and Mother Teresa.  Their hearts are just as big if not bigger than previous generations and they are as creative as they are courageous.  If we can figure out how to get them to channel their hearts, creativity, and courage the sky truly is the limit for this generation.

What evidence of Hope do you see for the future?  How can you tell people since the media doesn't?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fruits of Labor

Lately my wife Katy and I have been "fixing up" a house.  New paint, carpet, tile, light fixtures, deep cleaning, etc...  It has been so rewarding to watch our progress.  We remember what it looked like and smelled like in the beginning and have worked hard to develop it into the end product that we pictured in our minds.

This isn't something we get to do very often.  Not fixing up a house but getting to see a whole project come together.  As educators we rarely get to see the end product.  My wife works with college students and I with middle schoolers and although they are not "fixer uppers" (I guess some of them are), they are still developing as young men and women.  Yes we remember what they looked like (and smelled like) when they came to us and yes we are able to see some progress. Unfortunately, we rarely get to see the final product as the students are still developing as they move on to the next stage in their lives.

I can speak from experience and say that the feeling you get when you create something from start to finish is rewarding, whether it be fixing up a house, knitting a scarf, making a video, writing a book, making a craft, etc...  However, it is only a fraction as rewarding as getting the opportunity to see a successful student that you have poured your life into. 

Being educators (or parents, pastors, managers, supervisors, mentors, or any leader really), we rarely get to see the fruits of our labor.  But when we do, it sure makes all the time, effort, and energy worthwhile and fuels us to continue to work with the students we have, while we have them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Help Yourself

I don't get to travel as much as I would like, but I have been on airplanes enough to have their spiel memorized.  You know the seat belt, emergency exits, oxygen mask, no smoking, stay seated, seat-back and tray table speech.

I always found it interesting when the flight attendants tell you to secure your oxygen mask on yourself before attempting to help anyone else.

I have come to realize how important this way of thinking actually is.  It is so important to take care of myself so that I can take care of others.  Sure, I may save someone's life by helping them with their oxygen but if I don't put mine on first, it may be the last person I am able to help.

In the world of go, go, go that we live in it is always difficult to find time for you.  I'm not suggesting that we overindulge in self pampering or retail therapy.  I am saying that it is important to set aside time on a regular basis to make sure you are spiritually, physically, and mentally healthy.

Somewhere in your busy schedule is 30 minutes for you to exercise.  Maybe not every day but probably at least 3 days a week.   Ask a friend to join you and hold you accountable so both can stay physically healthy.

You can also find an hour on the weekend to attend church or participate in a Bible study.  With church online ( you can have a church experience any day of the week.

In order to stay mentally healthy your brain must be challenged.  This can be done by reading books, blogs, magazines, educational television, or participating in healthy conversations.  This can be as little as 15 minutes a day.

The reality is this.  You will not be able to take care of others if you do not take the time to take care of yourself.  Don't wait for an emergency to decide to start.

How do you take care of yourself?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Be You

This summer I accepted the position of Assistant Principal at a new school.  Knowing that I was going to now be leading new people, in a new school, with new students, new culture, new rules, new everything; I wanted to make sure that I did everything right and got off to a good start.  So I asked for advice from a friend of mine that is experienced in making first impressions.  It went something like this: 

Me:  I know you have had the opportunity of going to churches and establishing yourself as a leader in a new culture with new people.  What advice can you give me as I attempt to make a good first impression with new people in a new culture?

Pastor Busic:  Just be YOU.  YOU are the person they hired because they thought YOU were the best man for the job.  If they would have wanted someone else they would have hired someone else but they chose YOU.  Just be YOU and YOU will do great!

Not what I expected to hear.  I was wanting him to give me a special formula for success but it was such good advice. 

Too often we try so hard to be like someone else to our friends, family, spouses, employers, etc... but in all reality if they wanted someone else they would not have chosen us.  Yes, we still strive for excellence in all that we do, but we do so in order to become stronger in who we are, not in who someone else is.

Scott Williams says it like this:  Do You!  It's a statement not a question.