Approaching the new year, I fell upon the #OneWord concept as I was perusing Twitter. I loved the idea of narrowing my focus to just one word for 2018, rather than choosing several “resolutions” that would likely only last through January. This post isn’t really about my #OneWord2018, but I’ll share it anyway.
I began contemplating my “one word” and made the decision to choose the word, “NOW”. I chose “NOW”, because I am naturally a “forward-thinker”. I believe it is important for leaders to be forward-thinkers, because without forward-thinkers an organization is in danger of becoming complacent. What I have come to realize, though, is that you can’t become so forward-thinking that you forget to appreciate your NOW. There are too many positives in my life right now to lose sight of the present, so NOW represents the HERE AND NOW in one aspect.
NOW- for me- also represents NOW OR NEVER. I want to remember that you have to grab life by the horns and accomplish tasks now. Now is the time to do those things you tend to put off– like blogging for instance…
While I have read many posts about others’ “one words”, the purpose of this post isn’t about my personal word. What I wanted to share was the unexpected outcome of this concept that I gained as a leader. After reading about #oneword2018, I decided this would be a great “back to school” activity to share with my staff for the new year. I gave them a little heads-up to allow some think time before our first day back, and this was one of the first activities we completed when we returned. It was a simple activity. Everyone grabbed a marker and a piece of paper I had printed, and they simply wrote down their “one word” and discussed its purpose with their group. I then asked if there were people willing to share their “one word” and what it meant to them. THIS IS WHEN THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENED. Word after word had similar meanings. The words were different, but the meaning and purpose behind many of the words was very similar.
Balance. Pause. Purpose. Mindset. Peace. Consistent. Word after word was a glimpse into the soul of our organization.
I was quickly reminded through this activity that teachers are givers. They often give of themselves, not only at school, but outside of school as well. I think I knew this before, but it was amazing how apparent this became through this “one word” activity. It was a little “aha” as the leader of these great people. Our teachers and staff (and maybe any employee in a successful organization) need to be constantly reminded to take care of themselves so they can take care of others and work to their fullest potential. As their leader, I need to take care of THEM so they have the balance and peace they need to take care of others. Many teachers will give, give, give until their bucket is empty. (Many leaders do this, as well.) Each of us must take time to refill our buckets and take care of ourselves. If we do not, then everyone around us suffers. As the leader of any organization, it is our job to build this level of respect and empathy into our organization. We can’t suck the life out of people and in-turn expect their best work. I feel this is applicable to any profession, but as educators it is incredibly important due to the nature of our work and the fact that we are touching the lives of children.
Interestingly, what I thought would be a positive, uplifting New Year activity for my staff quickly became a learning experience for me. If we want to see our schools, teachers, and students rise to their fullest potential we must take care of them, respect them, uplift them, support them, inspire them, and provide opportunities for them to flourish. We need to do this for our teachers. We need this for ourselves. Most importantly, this needs to happen for the betterment of our students. And we need to do it. …. NOW.