Has anyone ever told you that Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it? It’s a fairly common refrain that I wish I could change and it all hinges on one small word. I don’t like the idea that nearly all of my time is spent reacting. When I think of what that means I think of knee jerk, emotional, shoot from the hip decisions – not the state I want to find myself in if I can avoid it. Maybe an instantaneous, dangerous situation might call for a reaction, otherwise I would to respectfully suggest we change that word to respond. Responding is all about measured, thoughtful, proactive discourse that addresses the root cause of an occurrence. Reactions have a way of making things worse, responses can often prevent something from happening again.
When I’m responding I’m shaping the path forward and addressing the cause of a situation; when I’m reacting I’m providing a quick reply to a situation. Herm Edwards, former NFL player and coach had a terrific rant on one of the morning shows and it all surrounded don’t press send. In Herm’s case he was chastising a player for a poorly thought out tweet that he had sent. His rant boils down to my essential point, simply reacting has a high percentage of getting you in hot water; responding usually involves stop and think time. When I receive an email that I feel like I need to reply to RIGHT NOW…I usually don’t. Providing time to absorb and reflect will usually allow me to respond in a way that I’m proud of instead of reacting in a way I might regret.
When I was an assistant principal I remember a conversation I had with my predecessor, Mr. Bowyer, about decision making. We were talking about instructional arrangements for the upcoming year and he told me about a time when, on the last day of school, a few teachers came to him with a suggestion that was a bit of a departure from the ways things had been done in the past. Fred reacted. The idea sounded pretty good at 4pm on Friday when everyone was packing to go home and he told me he regretted the decision that entire next year! From that point on he always told me he doesn’t make decisions on the last day of school. What I took from that conversation was that when a decision doesn’t allow space for conversation or reflection it’s best to make time for further consideration. Hungry? Tired? Early? Late? If there is a time when you don’t feel like you are ready to make an important decision, don’t. Most decisions we have to make can wait until you’ve had a snack 🙂
Speaking of returning, while we are only days away from enjoying the hazy, lazy days of summer we will be walking into our brand new campus before you know it. August will bring all manner of excitement, and a new building will require us to design a new normal. While we will do our best to anticipate things like traffic, circulation in the building, and normal ebb and flow of the day, some of the decisions we will end up making will be in response to the way we use our new school; in some cases we’ll wait to see what patterns establish naturally instead of reacting to each individual circumstance.
Thank you for a tremendous 2015-2016 school year, it has absolutely flown by and I am extraordinarily proud of all that we have accomplished. Enjoy your summer and if there is anything you need send me an email, I’m usually close by and and quickly