Winter Break! Just in time! Whether it started for you this past Friday, or sometime this week, you have got to love winter break! The Holidays, the New Year, a well deserved break from the pace of your work, and an opportunity to relocate your perspective – just in case it has gone out of whack over the past four months and this first semester of the 2011-2012 school year.
After all, the pace of the school teacher and leader’s life is relentless and our perspective can drift from one of hope to one of complaint.
Ask most seasoned teachers and school leaders - their greatest fear - and the most frequently given response will perhaps surprise you. Their biggest fear is endurance. How do you endure and sustain a high level of energy, hope and positive inspiration for students and others year in and year out? Being part of an inspiring work life requires a well-balanced perspective on life… and every year, the winter break offers an opportunity to do a personal perspective inspection.
What is perspective? To a great extent it is how we view something. The term literally means “ Looking through… or seeing clearly”. And this is very hard to do, when immersed in the smothering details of your professional and personal life. Your holiday break - the New Year “break” from 2011 to 2012 offers the opportunity to look in two directions – back on 2011, and then ahead on 2012. To slow down just long enough to examine progress on those vision aspirations.
As you look back on 2011, one overriding thought is that life is short. Where did 2011 go? Where did the time and energy and effort of ending one school year in June and starting another one in August go? Pretty soon all of those school years become a blur of sorts. Your career becomes this connected series of school year segments as thousands of students roll through the kaleidoscope of your work.
Although each year is unique – 2011 had its unique moments for you, each New Year is also a renewed opportunity to do better in the next cycle of your work experience. And so, you look ahead. And one thing you know for sure about 2012 – and you know this from experience, life is uncertain. The singe adjective that best describes the future events of 2012 is unexpected. There will be unexpected… sickness, accomplishments, transfers, benefits, promotions, surgeries, triumphs and tragedies. The events of 2012 are indeed, uncertain.
Because of this, your professional life is filled with the need to prepare for and embrace challenging adjustments as each New Year brings a series of challenging opportunities disguised sometimes as unsolvable problems. And here is the reason for you and me to take the time to know our response and our perspective. Our response can either lead to the complaint of disappointment and failed expectations or to optimism and positive motivation in 2012, which will it be for you, or for me?
In the “The Secret Ailment,” presidential advisor and educational author John Gardner summed up the goal of our journey as teachers and school leaders:
We cannot dream of a utopia in which all arrangements are ideal and everyone is flawless. Life is tumultuous—an endless losing and regaining of balance, a continuous struggle, never an assured victory. Nothing is ever finally safe. Every important battle is fought and re-fought. We need to develop a resilient, indomitable morale that enables us to face those realities and will strive for every ounce of energy to prevail. . . . We have to believe in ourselves, but we mustn’t suppose the path will be easy. It’s tough.
Every important battle in your professional life during 2012 will need to be fought and re-fought. What a great statement about the perseverance perspective needed to meet and embrace adversity with hope. And know that although everyone will not be flawless and there will be no assured victories in 2012, you will build the story of how you will be remembered this coming year, every day, one brick at a time - by the way you choose to respond. May your perspective on life help you to build and choose wisely.