A teacher recently passed along an article entitled Find Your Marigold, and while the post focuses two types of teachers that a first year educator will likely run into, I find that that premise holds true when we talk about our school community.
I was surprised to learn, through the article, that marigolds are a nearly ideal companion plant; place them next to others and their partner will thrive. While I’m no gardener, the theory sounds plausible. As a professional educator I can attest it is absolutely true. As in most walks of life, there are going to be some people that will build you up, make you feel like you belong, and inspire you to greatness. These gems are what the writer calls marigolds. Find them in your life, cultivate your relationship, and eventually aspire to grow to be a marigold yourself. Simple.
Sadly, there are other folks that will do the opposite. Apparently, planting next to a walnut tree has the contradictory effect; walnut trees essentially poison anything that grows around it. If you are looking to grow you should avoid these folks at all costs. These people focus on the negative and seemly look forward to the failure of others.
I think this analogy extends beyond teachers, so here comes the big question: are you a marigold or a walnut tree? Take a few minutes to reflect on the following questions.
Do you instinctively fear the new, or do you look forward to new possibilities? Are you quick to look for shortcomings, or do you regularly search for the common ground? Do you find sharing your gripes more satisfying than seeking the perspectives of others?
In many ways this connects solidly to Habit 1: Be Proactive. Perhaps this is nothing more than choose your own weather, but I suspect there is more to it. Being proactive is about private victories, taking care of yourself even though it may reflect on others. Becoming a marigold is about shaping the life of others; it is a very public way of creating a culture for those around you. Choose your weather to create a positive personal change, become a marigold and help create a positive vibe in others.
Unlike trees and plants, we all have a choice. In reality, a walnut tree can’t grow into anything other than a walnut tree, but each one of us is in control of ourselves and can have a significant impact on those around us. My advice: be a marigold, be awesome, and watch as your companions are better off for your decision.