Friday, October 23, 2015

Don't Give Up the Ship

I've had a bad week. I will not lie. Things were not going well from the outset. Generally, I am a fairly positive person, but I struggled this week with negative thoughts.

Without going into the painful details of what exactly went wrong, I can tell you that the underlying problems were, well, problems. Things not running smoothly, disruptions to the schedule, set backs in "the plan."

In my more frustrated moments, I did a lot of complaining. My message was clear: "This will never work."

This is not a sentence I utter often. For most of life, I believe in possibilities and work hard to make them realities. This historically has been easier for me, but maintaining this mindset this week has been a challenge.

I was fortunate to be exposed to some forward thinkers this week, who helped me to focus on what could be and what was working. I've taken their thoughts and put them into a handy list to help myself when I have another bout of negative thinking.

Focus on what is working. Things will always go wrong, but it is important to pay attention to the things that are going right. Not only does this help us be more positive, it helps us find solutions for the things that are going wrong. If we pay attention to what creates success, we can use those strategies when things aren't working.

Remember why you came. We took jobs in education for a reason. To have an impact, to support students, to grow professionally. The list is long. On days (or weeks) that go poorly, it helps to remember why we do what we do.

Surround yourself with good people. Nay-sayers and haters have their place in our lives, but not when we are struggling to remain positive. It is best to keep it real with people who are willing to remind you of the vision and encourage you not to quit. Be intentional about calling them, e-mailing them or walking over to their classroom.

Keep working... It is tempting to call in sick and take a break from the failure. Don't. That just prolongs the agony.

But do take intentional breaks. Going next door to chat and laugh with a colleague, walking around outside to get some vitamin D, or watching a few mindless YouTube videos can help you refocus and stay positive.

The bottom line is don't give up the ship! While there are times  when we need to know when to pull over from a project or idea, quitting prematurely never feels good. Chances are good we won't end up like James Lawrence who died aboard the USS Chesapeake in 1813. More likely, we will survive with the ship in tact and sailing towards our goals.

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