The First Conversation

1 Feb

Again I succomb to the thoughts of George who it appears has accessed my meanderings and philosophies, although despite the ‘good’ advice of other professionals – I have resisted the urge to become a gym junkie preferring to simply participate in a variety mild -mannered team sporting activities.

First Conversation

 “Our careers, our companies, our personal relationships, and our very lives succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time.” Susan Scott

We are currently in a workshop entitled “Fierce Conversations” (where the above quote came from).  The focus of the workshop (that I have obtained so far) is about the relationships and connections that we have with people; how we talk to them and how we move forward both personally and professionally, in a way that we build relationships and trust.  Relationships, as I have always believed, are the foundation on which good schools and organizations are built upon.  They do not necessarily make an organization great, but without them, excellence is less likely to happen.

I haven’t been blogging much lately.  Honestly, for one time in my life, I feel that I have had nothing much to say.  Now in reality, I always have an opinion on something, but just in the case of my career or my experience in education, I just haven’t felt the need to share anything, nor have I seen anything that has inspired me to write.  It is not that there are not a lot of amazing things happening in our school division and around the world, but I have just tried to purposely disconnect for a bit.  I have been thinking a lot about my job, the work I do, and my own personal life.

Last year as a principal, inspiration came seemingly every day when I worked with students and their stories affected me profoundly.  This year, being in central office, I have been around students, and have seen different ones a fair bit.  The problem is that seeing a mass amount of students for a limited amount of time has not created the same connection that I have always longed for in my life.  The relationships are there, but they are just not as deep.  I miss that connection often and have sometimes struggled with it.

It is not that I don’t love my job, but there has definitely been an adjustment.  Any time I felt I needed a break from ‘office work’, I would get up, walk around, and go visit kids in the classroom.  I have found now that I get up, walk around, and have nowhere else to go.  It is just different.

Schools, I believe, are like no other business in the way we build relationships.  Leaving a school or classroom, impacts people to a point where students, and sometimes families feel abandoned and hurt.  I remember specifically students at my last school in grade 6 (the highest grade in the school), wondering how I could possibly leaving them.  I told them that it would not matter to them since they were switching schools as well, but you could still feel that they were at a loss because the world that they had known was going to change.  Although I think in a positive way of the relationships that I had built in my former schools, there is always a feeling of guilt when you leave, even if it is to do what you feel is right for your own life and family.  Kids impacted me in a way that I could never imagined when I first started teaching and I miss seeing them every day.

As my career has moved quickly, and I have always felt that if I wasn’t busy, I would be bored, I noticed that I started to check out of many things outside of work.  It wasn’t that I hated the things that I was doing, but I was continuously doing things, as opposed to sometimes just soaking in moments.  Last year, I taught classes at a gym 6 times a week, refereed basketball on my nights off, all while running a school. I had no time for anything else.  My blog posts in this year have focused a lot less on educational technology, leadership, and teaching practice, but a lot about balance.  The term balance has always perplexed me as those who are seemingly successful aren’t necessarily ‘balanced’; they are focused and determined to be successful in what they are passionate about.

So this year, I have decided to cut back on several things.  Reffing basketball was off the table.  I teach classes at the gym only four times a week (as opposed to seven).  When I leave work, I tend to not check my phone at all hours and I spend much less time working at Starbucks.  This does not mean that I am not passionate about my job, but I just know now that I do not want to be defined by it.  I love what I do.  I love connecting with people, both kids and adults.  But I also know that I needed to focus on things outside of work.  I have spent more time connecting with friends, working on relationships, and just enjoying life outside of work.  To be honest, it has been great.  I had “blog-guilt” for awhile, but I promised myself when I first started that I would not write unless I had something to say.  The guilt goes away.

So when we talk about the ability to have “fierce” conversations with one another, we always have to focus on our own readiness to talk.  We have to look at where we are at as individuals.  Are we at the point where we are truly ready to listen and empathize with someone else’s point of view?  To get to that point, we have to look at our own situations and make sure that we are able to have those conversations.

In the workshop, the following quote (unknown) said it all to me:

“If you don’t like the conversations you are having with other people, look at the conversations you are having with yourself.”

We always need to be able to work on ourselves if we are truly going to be effective leaders.  What I found from my lack of blogging lately is that sometimes the best reflection comes from saying nothing at all.  We need to be comfortable with those breaks as well.

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