If you are on Facebook you have seen the Memories feature. Facebook pops up with the comment, “We thought you’d like to look back on this post from (however many) years ago.” I have no idea how they determine which post is something I would like to ‘look back on’ but when they offer one up, I check it out. Am I sad when I look at the post? Surprised? Still in alignment with what I agreed to years ago?
I write my newsletter a few weeks before I post it at the start of the month. So, two years ago today, (March 18) I posted that I was in Curitiba, Brazil. The school where I was to present at the following day just had their first case of COVID. Hence, my presentation was cancelled and I headed back home to the States. It was a scary time and it was eerie to go through O’Hare with so few people in it. I arrived home and my second bedroom became my presentation space and truly a home office. Since then, I have Zoomed around the world for the last two years.
The memory from two years ago says I went to a church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Santuario Nossa Senhora do Perpetuo Socorro) to pray that day. And two years later, I am still praying. On the COVID front, things have gotten better for many, yet millions have died and there is a new variant in the UK which is more infectious. Hong Kong and China are in quarantine with new waves of COVID. Ukraine has been invaded. The debates around schools teaching CRT are amping up. Abortion rights are being taken away in Texas and Idaho. And with all we are dealing with globally, climate change didn’t give us a ‘bye’ and a break. It too continues to challenge us and be front and center. And, And, And. We need perpetual help.
One of the facets in the Stretching Your Learning Edges: Growing (Up) at Work is building resiliency. Building our capacity to manage our disappointment and our grief is so essential at this time. How can we manage the pain we feel as we see senseless killings happen, as we watch others choose to vilify colleagues for wanting to teach the truth to students? The world is in a fragile place. We are feeling tender. So how do we build our resilience? A few ideas….
ASSESS YOUR FRAGILITY
We all have our learning edges. Perhaps you are too prickly when faced with criticism (me!), too vulnerable to moodiness, too easily swept by change, or too under-resourced in important areas of your life. Where do you need to shore up? Read little news but still stay informed. Take a walk in the sunshine and breathe. We all need you to be that self-regulated person during our time with you. Work on your ability to sit with being disturbed. Your self-care helps you become emotionally and psychologically healthy. It supports you and others with whom you interact are grateful for your self-care.
DO SIT-UPS FOR YOUR PSYCHE
Your energy can positively or negatively impact your teams and your family. Whether you know it or not, whether it is intentional or not, your energy oozes out and affects others. We need to our ‘strong inner core’ work to radiate more equanimity, calm and peace. You can build resolve, strength, and stamina to manage your energy and the volatility that comes with your work. Jennifer Garvey-Berger just wrote a beautiful blog about doing the inner work to handle the ‘promise and the peril of our times.’ We need to take responsibility to do so.
- What might I do so I am less depleted for myself and others?
- In what areas am I most fragile, i.e., not the best at taking care of myself?
- What can I tell myself in order to shift my mindset during challenges to turn them into learning moments?
- Do I know what motivates me?
- What methods do I use to regain my perspective and balance myself?
- What energy do I absorb from others? How can I recognize and discharge negative energy?
- What energy do I radiate most often?
I am not suggesting that when you are feeling fragile or tender or under the weather that you ‘fake it until you make it’ and show up as inauthentic. We all need outlets and moments where we can cry or share frustrations and grief in messy ways. And (not ‘but’ or ‘however’) we can work on our emotional and psychological hygiene so we can show up even more as how we’d like to be. Meg Wheatley in Who Do We Choose To Be: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity teaches us that 1) things will fall apart and 2) we can be still be humane with each other when that happens and 3) it starts with our inner work so we can show up in our outer life as a generous and compassionate individual we want to be. I will still pray to Our Lady of Perpetual Help at this time (and the next time and the next time) and I can do so with a strong inner core. Join me.
The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively by Todd B. Kashdan. From Amazon: “Based on cutting-edge research, The Art of Insubordination is the essential guide for anyone seeking to be heard, make change, and rebel against an unhealthy status quo.”
The Confident Mind: Battle Tested Guide to Unshakeable Performance by R. Nate Zinsser. From Amazon: “[F]or the first time, Dr. Zinsser distills his research and years of experience, offering a fascinating guide to the science of confidence and providing readers with a practical, step-by-step program to best harness their belief in themselves to achieve success in any field. The Confident Mind is a complete guide to confidence: how to understand it, how to build it, how to protect it, and how to rely upon it when your performance matters most.”
And if you are looking at a book to dig into for a team ‘reset’ or to start off the new school year with work on building a positive and healthy professional learning culture, check out my newest book, Stretching Your Learning Edges: Growing (Up) at Work. This is the book for anyone who embraces growth and learning as an individual and as a workplace colleague. You’ll find an introspective view of personal development and an insightful foray into the potential for influencing groups. This book offers research-based tools and templates to guide the journey towards becoming one’s best self.
For a short article on the reasons that individual growth is essential for group effectiveness, check out the column I wrote for The International Educator, There is an “I” in Team: Being a Better Team Player.
Jennifer Abrams, "It Never Seems to End ... " , as originally published on Jennifer Abrams Developing Individuals Transforming Schools,4-01-2022, https://jenniferabrams.com/it-never-seems-to-end/