Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions. – Dalai Lama

 

My friend Tim Kight and I recently had a conversation about our culture journey in Hilliard. We are preparing for our sixth full year working with Focus 3 . . . and we are still on the journey. I am proud of the work we have done as a Hilliard Community, but it hasn’t been easy. We are still on the path . . . we are still on our journey.

Our VBO, R-Factor, and the culture we strive to live isn’t ready made . . . we must continue to do the work. Culture isn’t words; culture is our actions. If we want a positive, optimistic, service focused culture we must act with purpose. It is our actions, not our words. We must do the work each and every day

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

I find myself struggling more and more with an either/or proposition. As schools across America embrace the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) it seems that many want to focus on either belonging or grit. We hear criticism when adults – be it coaches, teachers, or directors – push student to reach their edge.

I don’t believe that pushing a student, challenging a youngster to fight through a difficult situation, is diminishing their sense of belonging. I don’t believe active coaching isn’t cultivating a sense of self. Motivation and encouragement is personal . . . it is different for every student. We want our students to fail from time to time; learning from failure is a true characterization of a growth mindset.

As adults we must teach students that work is hard; we must do the work. We must teach students that not everything is fun; it isn’t always about voice and choice. We must do the work. We must show students that teachers, friends, and colleagues are support; that we are stronger together. When times get tough, when we travel difficult roads, there are often beautiful successes at the end.

If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be more happy with more?

If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be more happy with more? – Roy T. Bennett

We live in a “more world.” From social media to popular reality television shows, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others with more. Our children are developing in a culture where someone always has more, bigger, and better. Society is seemingly tipping, or has tipped, to value “stuff” over valuing “people.”

The growing field of happiness research is clear – having more doesn’t lead to happiness. Living a happy, positive life that has purpose leads to having more. We must be grateful every day for the blessings in our lives. Our gifts are plentiful. Let’s commit to shifting value back to service and purpose.

People who avoid discomfort create more of it. Discomfort can be delayed but that only makes it grow deeper and harder to climb out.

People who avoid discomfort create more of it. Discomfort can be delayed but that only makes it grow deeper and harder to climb out.

How often are you faced with choice to either have a difficult conversation or put it off to another time?  How often do you hope, do you wish, that a situation will “work itself out” without you needing to get involved?  

When we avoid discomfort more often than not we make the situation worse.  When we delay that tough decision or that challenging conversation, the ultimate solution often becomes more difficult with time.  

We must press pause to get our minds right, but then we must step up.  We must act with purpose because making a difference requires action.

Where there is a void in communication, negativity fills it. 

Where there is a void in communication, negativity fills it.  – Jon Gordon

We live in a hypercritical, immediate response world.  When there is a void, unfortunately there is a panoply of negative, pessimistic people to fill it.  From Facebook to Twitter, from blogs to online editorials, there is no shortage of people who want to blame someone else for their problems, complain about their position in life, and defend the very behavior that created their current environment.

We have a duty . . . an obligation . . . to shine light into the darkness of pessimism.  As educators we have a responsibility to teach optimism; to model the scientifically proven fact that positivity creates success.  For every opportunity provided to us, we must fill any void with positive communication.  

The more you expand your power to those around you, the more powerful you become.

The more you expand your power to those around you, the more powerful you become.

True power isn’t individual.  Exceptional leaders exponentially expand influence through the empowerment of those around them.  Authoritarian, top down leaders, are limited to their own knowledge and skill.  Collaborative leadership is limitless; it has endless capacity.

Don’t lead by your title or organizational authority.  If you truly want to lead, do so through trust, respect, and service.  Model the behavior you desire from others; lead with humility, kindness, and love.

Grit is believing in yourself.  Without belief, you will give up.

Grit is believing in yourself.  Without belief, you will give up.

We hear a lot about grit these days.  We know we are living in a global, rapidly changing world that demands we learn from mistakes.  We are going to fail . . . we are going to miss the mark from time to time.  

When we live our lives with purpose, when our values are in alignment with our behaviors, we don’t give up.  When we believe in the work we are doing, when we are committed to the Power of the Team, we demonstrate grit.  If something is worth doing, you must believe in it.  When you are purpose-driven, and you have trust in your team, you will persevere and do the work together.