I think we can agree that things don’t always go our way, right? We can make intricate plans, dot our i’s and cross our t’s, take care of everything on our end, but sometimes things just don’t turn out. There are forces beyond our control that will often derail our best-laid plans. We can’t stop traffic on 610, we don’t command the weather, and we have very little control over the actions of others around us. In the midst of situations like these there is something that we always have control over: our reaction.
People are going to make mistakes and when that happens we should heed the words of Alexander Pope when he wrote to err is human; to forgive, divine. We aren’t defined by how many difficult situations we find ourselves in, but we will frequently be viewed by the way we respond to them. Sometimes we call this being resilient, or having the ability to bounce back. When we coach our students through these situations we discuss it in terms of the 7 Habits – being proactive or seeking first to understand and then to be understood. If we adopt a mindset that we are going to actively seek to understand the people and situation around us before simply reacting to a set of unfortunate circumstances then we will usually respond in a more solution-based way.
What does this mean for our Condit Cats? We need to help our students understand that when things don’t work out it isn’t personal and their response to their anger or disappointment is critical. We need to provide this framework of understanding to our students and to provide them tools to calm their body and their mind when they find themselves in frustrating situations. It is reasonable to expect adults to respond appropriately to difficult situations and disagreements, but we need to remember that our young leaders are constantly learning how to respond to their bruised feelings.
I’m not sure we are ever going to stop the tears that accompany spilled milk, or the feeling of personal wrong that can be associated with drivers who get cut-off in traffic, but I do believe that we owe it to our students to help them grow the mindset and develop their skills to forgive others and get past disappointment. Until that point, I will keep crossing my t’s, taking care of what lies within my circle of control, and staying #conditproud.