This year I decided once again to participate in the 30 day challenge at my yoga studio. As I walked in for my daily class, people were marking themselves off on the board of participants before class had even started. I laughed because in the car I thought about doing the same thing, but decided I would wait until the end of class to put my mark. The goal is 30 classes in 30 days and I hadn’t done class yet. When I told my friend I was going to wait until after class she said, “Oh no, the challenge is showing up! Once you get here class is easy.” For those of you who have ever done Bikram yoga, class is NEVER easy. It is 90 minutes of yoga in 105 degree heat and 55% humidity. (I love this hilarious account of a husband taking class for the first time.) But when she said that, my thinking completely shifted. I felt accomplished and grateful that I’d done the hard work to get there. What a difference! I went in to class a little lighter and ready to do the best I could.
I’m really good at making excuses why I can’t get to class – too much work to do, kids need help with homework, too tired, you name it! Don’t we do this in leadership too? We tell ourselves there is not enough time, money, technology, resources, we don’t have the right people, we’re unsure what to do…the list goes on and on. I’m not saying there aren’t real challenges in education, there are! But that is even more reason we need great educators to show up everyday to serve our students.
Sometimes it is difficult to show up because of the fear of criticism. Everyone believes they are an expert about education since they’ve been a student. Parents, grandparents, business leaders, legislators…these days everyone seems to have a critique of education and what is wrong. And there is a platform to share their thoughts. But the more you show up to lead your classroom or school, take the opportunities to connect with your students and share the great things that are happening, the more support you are going to build. Brene´ Brown shared this section from a Theodore Roosevelt speech in Daring Greatly, which is a book every educator should read, actually every human should read! I absolutely love the message and have repeated these words to myself many times in the face of difficult challenges and failures. (We don’t really need motivation when everything is going swimmingly…)
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
-Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”
delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910
I get it, the work is hard and the demands are endless. But Congratulations – you showed up today! Give yourself credit for it. You are in the arena and giving all you have . Put that checkmark by your name. You are present and ready to get to work.Keep showing up and I bet something good will happen!