“What did you get to do today?”
I’m not sure if Lori Jeschke, our former Director of Education was the first person to ask this question. But she was the first person that I heard ask that question.
Not, what did you DO today?
Not, what did you HAVE to do today?
But what did you GET to do today?
What a difference that one simple word makes.
Growth mindset is something that we talk about a lot: that the way we think about things or frame them when we talk to ourselves is important.
I’m partway through watching “The Last Dance” that details Michael Jordan and the Bulls quest for six championships. (I don’t know what happens! No one tell me!!) But in a plot twist, after his dad dies, Michael retires from basketball to be a rookie in professional baseball.
But as he says in the documentary, being away from basketball gave him a chance to adjust to a life without his dad.
*here’s the growth mindset and resiliency part*
He says, “I gotta play catch-up, but I’m gonna do it.”
When we face adversity in our lives, how we look at it and how we frame it to ourselves is crucial. There is a delicate balance to not tip into toxic positivity, but it’s clear that having a positive outlook is imperative to weathering tough times. And the last 18 months has been tough.
A social media post caught my attention this weekend and puts it more succinctly: “There’s a reason you feel like absolute sh*t right now.”
“The psychological reason for this has something to do with ‘surge capacity.’ Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems - mental and physical - that humans draw on for shirt-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. The issue is that our surge capacity only allows us to adapt to major disasters if they are temporary. However with the pandemic, the disaster stretches out indefinitely. The emergency phase has now become chronic. So because this is going on, and on, and on….your surge capacity is depleted and it needs to be renewed.”
I spend too much time on Twitter following COVID charts and forecasts already and have heard a lot about surge capacity and system failures. If I didn’t feel like sh*t before I read that little tidbit, I do now.
Ahhh, but here’s the list of things we can do to feel better.
“Accept that life is different right now. Expect less from yourself. Recognize the different aspects of grief. Look for activities, new and old, that continue to fulfill you. Focus on maintaining and strengthening important relationships.”
Yes! So important!
“Build regular practices into your life that promote resilience such as better sleep, good nutrition, exercise, meditation, self-compassion and saying no.”
Okay…also important! Going to try harder with these ones.
Right now, everyone is tired. I didn’t write this blog last week and was determined not to let it go two weeks in a row. But I am tired too. COVID has sapped our mental and physical systems. There is no doubt.
But I have also seen resilience. Growth mindset. Looking for the positives in crappy situations. Extra-curr starting back up. Masks back on. Excitement to be back in classrooms, and a fervent hope that we can stay there.
And always the important growth mindset question: What do I get to do today?
This summer we went to visit a 93 year old relative in Prince Albert. The conversations we had are worth a blog post of its own! So many amazing stories (his memory is astonishing!) from a life well-lived.
But that’s not what this is about.
This is about a McDonald’s coffee stop on our way home. Not the coffee per se, but the cashier.
It was a young man at the till, and he was wearing a button. It said, simply: I’m new and I’m trying.
I told him that I was starting a new role this fall, and that if he was able to get a new button, could I have his to wear?
He shrugged, said “Sure!” and handed it to me.
I wore that button very proudly for my first days at work last week.
I got quite a few laughs, one person that said my subliminal messaging was making them crave fries, and there was one sincere question wondering if I was also manager at McDonald’s now.
It gave me a bit of cover as I was fielding questions and learning all sorts of new tasks. On more than one occasion, I just pointed to the button and smiled.
But it also gave me a chance to remind the people that noticed it, that we are all learners…
…that when you learn something new, you won’t be good at it…that you won’t know everything that you need to know right away…that learning something new requires struggle, vulnerability, and courage.
Or like the meme that passed my timeline today so eloquently said: Be brave enough to suck at something new!
I love learning. I love challenges. I love that learning comes with challenges. But it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves, and others, that challenges in learning are not only okay, but part of a growth mindset we should try to maintain.
It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that we are going to mess up along the way.
That we should grant ourselves some grace when we do, and extend that grace to others when they mess up too.
One thing I always stress to students on the first day is that if you get to the end of the year without having made any mistakes, then you haven’t learned anything, so make a lot of them!
I’m not wearing the button anymore but I’m keeping the lesson in my head and in my heart:
I’m new and I’m trying!
This week, let’s remember that in some way, everyone we encounter is doing the same.
Have a great one!!
Perpetual amateur. Lifelong learner. Vice-Principal. Teacher. Musician. Mom. Annnnd if you're reading this, then I'm still a blogger.