Tag Archive for 'inspiration'

Respect for teachers!!

Just back from the Land Of The Long White Cloud. I really could live in New Zealand (well.. except for a few months in winter…). Beautiful country. At a metaphorical level, I see it as two stunning little gems set into the side of Planet Earth.

I worked over three days with several hundred teachers, who were all on holidays at the time. For my readers in Aussie, Asia and the US, the Kiwi teachers are ‘required’ at times to attend professional learning facilitations during their holidays. I cannot speak highly enough of their professionalism. Enthusiastic, and open to any advances in classroom practice. Alright!

While I was there, I paid very careful attention to the media coverage of the recent drowning tragedies over there. Now, before I go further, I wish to offer my profound condolences for the accidents that occurred last week. It is obviously everyone’s worst nightmare to ever have to experience what occurred with these students while they were on their outing.

Of special significance to me was the media reporting about Tony McClean, the teacher who was drowned. It was so gratifying to see the inspirational manner in which he was accorded respect for his heroism. In fact, the main weekend paper in NZ featured a comprehensive front page article about him, and quite rightly acknowledged his valiant efforts to save one of the students. Accolades to the NZ press for this coverage.

Do we REALLY make a difference??!

Does each of us really make that much difference to life on the planet….? Or is that just an antiquated and misguided belief that simply cannot be applied to a world of 6.5 billion people? I walked past a women’s gym in Wellington NZ, and noticed the oft-quoted Gandhi lines about ‘being the change you wish to see in the world’.

And I thought to myself: Is this simply an ego trip, or even delusional? Well, I wrote about this in ‘The Ripple Effect‘, and that was a few years ago. I’ve altered my stance quite a bit since then on lots of issues, but I’ll stand firm on this one. And it goes like this:

How you live your everyday life does little to make a difference to the macro-issues around the earth. Air pollution, global warming, terrorism, social injustice. Yes (sob), it’s true. You can rarely change the world all by yourself. Whether you, all by yourself, decide (or not) to reduce your petrol consumption, will not even register in the grand scheme of things.

What IS important is that you become part of the critical mass who decide to make the changes. And that’s when it all begins to add up. The tiny bits eventually can carry a lot of weight. While your 10% drop in petrol consumption makes little difference, it sure counts when 5% of your town or city’s population do so. And this is where you CAN make the difference. You can initiate and inspire actions in others, and encourage them to form part of that critical mass.

My reading of (most of) the world is this: Lots of people are well-meaning, and they intend to eventually get involved in whatever the cause may be at the time. They’re just a bit busy, and don’t always get around to it. What often does get them going is someone with the vision and the passion who is prepared to initiate the whole process. It’s then easier for the masses to jump on board.

It all has to start somewhere. It may as well be you. After all, we each have to do something. I’ve always laughed when people say:”When’s EVERYONE going to do something?” And I think to myself: “EVERYONE is EVERY ONE.” So, when we ask: Can YOU make a difference?, it’s a yes and no. No if you’re looking at the standard everyday stuff you do (eat, drink, drive), but wow, can you change the world if you inspire others to take action!!! Because that’s when you may influence 1000’s. And that’s why a profession such as teaching is so important. It’s a core principle of the work that you do every day.

One little wrap-up point on this: If I had my time over, I would change the sub-title of The Ripple Effect, from ‘How You Can Make A Difference Every Day’, to ‘How We Can Make A Difference Every Day’. We’re all in this together.

Teaching Moods

Our daily moods are part of the human condition. Let’s face it. Some mornings, life just doesn’t feel like smiling upon us (or us on it, for that matter). Other days (if we choose; or even, if we’re a little lucky), we exhilarate in the joy of being. I’m more and more convinced that this is predominantly a matter of choice. I would like to believe that I pay deep respect to those who suffer from depressions or other forms of psychological illness, and to the misfortunes that can lie in wait for each of us in our lives.

In spite of (and perhaps even because of) those misfortunes, I’ll still maintain that the majority of us can decide how to feel each day. Admittedly, I have many people who consistently challenge me on this. “It’s beyond our control,” they claim. Or: “Look at what happened to me today. Anyone would be bitter about that.” Nope. I don’t agree. Regardless of your circumstances, you can choose your own responses. In fact, what hope is there for the world if we all collapsed in a mental heap as soon as the going gets tough??

Many people who are reading this are involved in the most important profession in the world: Teaching. And I can tell you now. If teachers start to collapse under the strain of their work, and their mood states are consistently very poor, then we’re all in trouble. The ripples will spread far beyond schools, and into family life, workplaces and the wider community.

So. How do we consistently alter our mood state? Lots of practice, actually. Your brain sets up neural pathways that are created by your regular thinking patterns. You must make the effort to focus on what is affirming and inspiring, and especially on those thoughts that boost up your mood. For now, here’s one very simple way to do a ‘boost’. Sounds almost too simple… and yet, one of the easiest ways to enhance your mood is simply to smile. Go on. Try it now. Keep smiling for at least 30 seconds, even if you’re only pretending. And note the way that your brain can be tricked into believing that you’re feeling OK. Given that, check out the image. Nature knows.

smiling-birds.jpg