A 3rd year teacher had great, innovative ideas about how to help her English Language Learner students, but she was never given an opportunity to try them out. Finally, she decided to partner up with the teacher across the hall and just get started. As they gained ground with the ELL students, the administration took notice, offering them the opportunity to share with the rest of the team.
A churchgoer wished her church had a choir. She had been in show choir in high school and missed singing in public. She mentioned it to her pastor but was told her there wasn’t enough interest. She finally decided to get a few friends together and meet at the church on Saturday afternoons to sing and play instruments together. Over time others at the church started coming, until the pastor had to admit that he had been wrong and the group was invited to sing and play at the weekly service.
A woman told her husband for years that she would love to learn to speak French. For two years, she dropped hints around the holidays and her birthday about a french class at the local travel book store, and the French Cultivation Society that does movie nights… but nothing ever came of it. Finally, she confronted him. “I know you don’t want me to, but I am going to learn French! I’d like to sign up for this class.” Her husband looked at her, dumbfounded. “What makes you think I don’t want you to learn French? That class sounds like fun, you should do it.”
In each case, things started to change when these women stopped waiting for someone else to choose them and chose themselves instead
Don’t get me wrong, it IS nice to be chosen. It’s a great moment for the ego when someone says “I’ve considered all the options, and you are the one I’ve chosen.” But…
I work with a lot of teachers and so many of them have great ideas, big plans, and groundbreaking projects they are dying to try! But they’re all just sort of waiting… it seems that the desire to be chosen has been replaced with the necessity to be chosen- in their classrooms and in their lives.
Here’s why it’s better to choose yourself and get started than it is to wait around hoping to be chosen
- There is less pressure to master things quickly because no one is paying any attention! Consider the teacher in our first example. She was able to experiment, make mistakes, and try again- all without any real scrutiny! Then, when she started to see results and people began asking questions she was ready to share. There’s nothing like undue, early pressure to kill a cool idea.
- You have more fun, sooner. Think about the churchgoer in our second example. If she had waited for her pastor to OK her idea, she’d still be waiting…. and she would still be yearning for more music in her life. By diving in with whoever was interested, whenever the church was available, she filled her life with music and was happier.
- You take the pressure off your relationships. Think about the woman in our third example. She waited and waited and waited for her husband to allow her to learn French. And not only did she miss out on two years during which she could have been happily eating croissants with her friends at the French Cultivation Society, she became more and more frustrated with her husband. When she finally “stood up to him” she learns he was wholly unaware of her hints. It’s too much to expect the other people in your life to anticipate what will make you happy and make it happen. That’s YOUR job.
- It’s not the chosen who change their world. It’s the audacious. I believe that at the deepest level of our psyche the thing we want the most is to carve our own path. To pursue our dreams. To create our potential.
Even when we are talking about something like learning French… yes, it will be amazing to go to Paris and order your eggs in French. But, what’s way, way more amazing than that? Taking that dream seriously. Taking action on it’s behalf. Showing yourself that you are going to make this life of yours exactly as rich, and fun, and multi-faceted as you want it to be. And that, my friends, takes courage.
It takes courage to choose yourself
Courage, according to the dictionary on my computer means “the willingness to do what frightens you.” Sounds kind of intimidating, doesn’t it? When I tell people that they should be courageous on behalf of their dreams, they worry that I’m suggesting that they do something really big, like set up a huge greenhouse in their backyard or enroll in an expensive 6 week program. This is not what I’m saying! In fact, I think those would be terrible first steps!
Instead, I suggest that you show exert your courage through everyday, routine experience. Every day, do one small thing that gets you closer to your dream.
- Send one email asking to have coffee with the director of the local theater who also goes to your gym and ask about her how people get involved in set design
- Go to the travel book store and browse books about Peru
- Get out your guitar and play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
“Those doesn’t sound frightening!” you say– and you’re right. Because the frightening part, the part that requires courage, isn’t that small action... it’s the belief you infuse in yourself by doing it.
Each and every day you act on your dreams, you declare “I’m no longer waiting for you to choose me. I’m choosing myself in small ways, every day.” That’s the courageous part!As you act on your dreams, you declare 'I'm no longer waiting for you to choose me. I'm choosing myself in small ways, every day.' That's the courageous part!Click To Tweet
The courage to choose you, changes you
In each of the examples that opened this essay, the woman eventually got what she wanted. The teacher was given a chance to lead PD in her school, the churchgoer got to sing in the choir and the woman’s husband enthusiastically endorsed the class she wanted to take. That’s the thing about choosing yourself… if you choose yourself, you will be chosen.
As you show the world that you possess the confidence, the gumption, the audacity to make things happen, regardless of who believes in you, you transform in the eyes of the world from sone who might be able to handle an opportunity into someone who they really, really want to agree to take on their new opportunity. You’ll see.
Choose you. Choose NOW.
As educators, there’s a good chance that summer is much, much less stressful for you. Many of you will have some actual time off, and even if you are involved with summer school or teaching an online course, it’s still nowhere near the hectic chaos of the school year. This provides the perfect opportunity to make progress on your project.
Take a few minutes and ponder this question:
If you could spend THIS SUMMER finally making progress on one thing… what would you choose?
Be bold! What you would really love to move the needle on? How amazing would it feel to go back to school in the fall having made real, substantive progress on your project?
During the ice breaker at the all staff meeting where people are sharing “What they did to recharge this summer,” how great would it feel to say “I grew an organic kitchen garden for the first time!” or “I started playing the piano again!” or “I finally learned how to juggle!”
THIS IS YOUR SUMMER.
I know you can do it.
Next week I’m going to share my best tips for exactly how to use this daily strategy as s springboard for a summer that recharges your spirit and creates major progress on your own project.
In the meantime, if you want some inspiration, I invite you to download my list of 30 projects that will recharge your spirit this summer!