Always On The Lookout

Ok I am not hesitating, I am plugging away and making another blog post right away. I have had a stressful day, and the way I have handled it brought to mind a great lesson I learned during my time in behavior education.

I got into behavior ed after my first paid year as a teacher. I sort of got tapped for the job, told I seemed like a good candidate for working with the type of students that attended the alternate school. I was excited by the idea of the challenge and thought I might have a lot to offer as a young teacher still able to connect on my students’ level. It started out that way, a nice week-long honeymoon period where I had the chance to connect and get to know the unique group of individuals I would be working with. Then things changed. The behavior issues started to pop up and I was constantly running from fire to fire, doing my best to put them all out while taking the time to work with each student and help them learn new strategies to deal with their difficulties. I was run off my feet, stressed out, and so tired. I could barely keep up. I found myself stretched pretty thin, but this was what I had signed up for.

In the coming weeks I found I was stressed and tired even on the quiet days. It didn’t make sense. Even if the day went by without a single significant student issue, I went home exhausted and still stressed by the day. I shared this with my boss and he immediately knew what it was that I was doing. He said, “You are always on the lookout aren’t you? Even when nothing is going wrong, you are looking for what will. You are anticipating the next problem and sitting on the edge of your seat until it does”.  He was right. I was waiting for the next fire to pop up, in a state bordering on panic, wondering what I would need to do to handle it. I was already living in a reactive state, before anything had even happened. His advice was so on the money, that it is something I repeat to myself even now when I get into that super-vigilant state. He said “Relax. Whatever happens you will be able to handle it, you have the skills and you will know what to do.” It was the one thing that kept me sane that year! I learned, over time and with many reminders, to get off the edge of my seat and sit back and enjoy my job. I loved working with kids, I loved helping them and it took that perspective to see all the great moments my position would provide me with.

So now, as a new administrator I am reliving those moments of putting out fire after fire, and it is the kind of experience that can throw me back into that hyper-vigilant head space if I am not careful. I need to remind myself to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. I need to trust that I have the skills and that no problem is so big it can’t be solved by taking the time necessary, listening and working with all parties to find the most appropriate solution. If I do this, I know I will find more joy in the interactions I have and I won’t always be on the lookout for a problem, instead I’ll stumble upon the opportunity to connect with a young person who could use my help.

No Excuses

It has been a long time since my last post. Far too long. I have been busy. Busy with work, busy with coaching, busy with my wife (don’t go and get all sick-minded now), and busy living my life. Those are excuses, and not one of them excuses me from what should be important. Is blogging that important? You bet it is. It is my reflection, my self-assessment, my sounding board, my place for development. To channel Covey, it is my chance to “Sharpen the Saw”.

What I have been doing lately is neglecting those things in my life that I need to take care of myself. I haven’t been blogging, that much you know, but I also haven’t been exercising, eating well, keeping in touch with or spending time with my friends. If there is a question of doing something, it seems like I am willing to do anything and everything except those things I need to do to keep me at my best.

Its starting to affect my performance in so many of the roles I fill in my life. As an administrator, I have found I lack the energy and enthusiasm every student and teacher in my school deserve from me. I find myself second guessing my career choice and looking for an easy way out. I have no excuse for that. As a coach I find I don’t bring the focus and intensity 15 hard working young men deserve from a coach. I find I keep looking to the schedule counting down the games left in a long and tiring season. I have no excuse for that. As a husband, friend and colleague I could be so much more to the people I care about, yet I find any reason to not give them the time or attention they deserve. I have no excuse for that.

But this is no pity-party-post (don’t you love alliteration?). This is the first step in the right direction, and I will make more steps like this to do a better job in every role I fill. I will do this by taking the time for me. To exercise, to make myself a healthy meal, to reflect on my profession and to pause and enjoy all the great things I have going in my life.

So why write this? I want to know if any of you out there find yourself making excuses? Do you neglect your own needs for the demands of a busy work life? How did you cope? How did you make change happen?

While I needed this to take the time to reflect, I also need to reconnect with my PLN. I’ll try to do a better job of posting more often because it would seem I am all out of excuses.