When is the last time you thought to yourself “I just don’t think I can do that.”? I think that many of us have those thoughts from time to time. I know that I do! In my last post, I shared a bit about setting goals that make us feel a little uncomfortable. I know for some, that is a challenging thought.
Most of the people who read this blog are educators, and one thing that most educators have in common is that we like to be sure that we are doing things “right.” Because of that, setting a goal that we might not reach just feels wrong. But as a reminder from the last post, growth happens when you are in that zone of being a little bit uncomfortable. I am sure that if you were a reading teacher and you noticed a student always picking books that were really “easy” for them, you’d challenge them to pick a book that pushes them a little more. We’re really good at pushing our students to the next level. But sometimes it seems that we aren’t so good at pushing ourselves to that next level. Hopefully this post can help provide a gentle nudge!
As you may know, our family is pretty active. Because of that, our kids are typically given the chance to try lots of different things. When Lainey was in kindergarten, she decided that she wanted to run in the Liger Mile – this is a one-mile fun run put on by the cross-country teams of both of the high schools in our district. We did a couple of “training runs” in the neighborhood and thought that she would do great – I mean, it’s only a mile. Little did we know! That run was a struggle for her! I promised to wait right by the finishing line so that Lainey would know where to go when she finished. Diane made sure to be along the course, which turned in to her almost running the whole mile with Lainey. She needed the encouragement, but finally made it to the finish! Just check out the finishing picture:
After that experience, we didn’t expect her to want to run ever again. But sure enough, sign up time came for the first-grade version, and she said she wanted to try again! This time it went MUCH better! We even got smiles at the finish (and it didn’t hurt that the weather was a LOT better):
Lainey has run the Liger Mile every year that she’s been in school and is looking forward to it this year! Brody has even joined in on the fun! What this experience taught Lainey (and Brody) is that they have the potential to accomplish difficult things, but it takes hard work to get there. So, in an effort to help model the importance of pushing ourselves, we signed up to run the Geist 5K as a family in 2018. We went on a few training runs (probably not as many as we should have), we had some struggles on the course (Brody was ready to walk about a half-mile into the run), but ultimately we all finished the run successfully, and with a smile on our face:
As a family, we have now all run multiple 5K races together. The kids are going to soon be at the point that Diane and I won’t be able to keep up with them!
One of the things that I’m concerned about is that too often people have this mindset of “I could never do that!” when they think about something that’s challenging. I’ll admit it – I still am not sure that I’m ready to make the jump from half-marathons to the full-marathon. We’ll see if that changes some day! But what concerns me about that mindset of thinking that you don’t have it in you, then you take yourself out of the game before it’s ever really started! I think we all have this internal fear – of doing something new, of not being successful in what we try.
Recently many of the staff members in my building read the book Out of the Maze by Spencer Johnson. It serves as a reminder that sometimes we get stuck in what we do because it is comfortable. Because of that focus we have on what we know, it makes it hard to let go of what we’ve done, even when it isn’t working. One of my takeaways from the book is that there are no limits to what we can believe, and that our beliefs allow us to have experiences that are more joyful. All we have to do is to choose a new belief.
So, here’s the question I have for you – what’s the jump up that you haven’t made yet? What’s the thing that you’re curious about, but say to yourself “I just don’t know if I can do that”? What’s the belief that you’ve noticed that it might be time to let go of? All of us have tremendous amounts of potential within us. And when we set that potential free in our classroom, we have a tremendous opportunity to impact learning for our students! Start thinking a little bit more about that thing that gives you the uh-oh feeling and make the jump! Or at least take a few steps in the right direction!
So… Before I ask you what you plan to accomplish next, here are a couple of my goals in no particular order:
- Ride the RAIN Ride (Ride Across Indiana) next summer – this is a one day, 160 mile bike ride from the Indiana border with Illinois to the Indiana border with Ohio
- Create and share out a weekly update video – something like a “5 for Friday” – to send to our families along with our newsletter
- Start a social media club to allow students to share things happening at The River to the @RSIHawks twitter handle
- Make at least 3 #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay phone calls per week
So now, I want you to reflect – what’s that thing that you have been considering but just haven’t done yet? Share in the comments below! I’d love to know what you have in mind!