I have my Master’s Degree in Administration. I got the degree from BYU back in the dark ages before the common core or new math were the latest trends. I was encouraged to do this master’s degree by my principal and very trusted friend, as it would be the one degree that would benefit me the most in my chosen field of education. Attending graduate school in tandem with working full time in education, was a grueling, but amazing experience. The classes that we took focused on leadership, encouragement, direction and making not only schools effective, but people effective. I had a job as an administrator lined up and fully intended to go straight forward into my career.
The last semester of schooling I was pregnant with my first child, but that had not swayed me from wanting to pursue my ambition and then passion of inspiring and leading others in the school system. A hiccup in my plan happened the day of my graduation, why my baby decided to make an early entrance into the world. Instead of walking across the stage and receiving a diploma, I was wheeled into an emergency room and gave birth to a tiny 4 pound baby girl. That moment changed my life forever. When I was finally able to look upon that teeny tiny face, (she was whisked away immediately after delivery for a myriad of reasons) I knew that my future had changed. I needed to stay home and take care of that tiny beautiful baby girl.
I called my boss and my future boss and resigned my positions at the school district and embraced full time stay at home momhood completely. Although the ensuing 11 years would be full of diapers, boo boos, bottles, baby food, kindergartens, book reports, dioramas, slides, swings, ABC Books and Barney (yes, Barney) I never forgot some of the great lessons that I learned while attending my classes in leadership.
One particular class that I remember with a particular clarity is one on the seven habits of effective leadership. This class focused on the best selling book by Stephen Covey. My father had worked closely with Stephen Covey and had encouraged us to live the seven principals growing up. At the time, the point was rather lost on my frazzled teen aged mind. However, this class clicked for me. I loved it and it all made sense.
I remember one lesson in this class in particular was based on the habit, Seek First to Understand then to be Understood. We watched the motivational video, Change Your Lens, Change Your Life. I was trying to attach the video here, but I am unable to. It is a very powerful video that talks about getting the perfect picture once if we are a willing to change our perspective.
The video was followed by a very powerful story. This one hit home really hard to me and had me crying during the class (probably prego hormones, but still…)
The idea is this, you cannot always change a situation that you find
yourself in, however, you can always change the way in which you
interpret that situation and apply meaning to it. This change of
meaning is the shift. Perspective would be another good word to describe
a shift; to change your paradigm is to change your perspective.
To illustrate this Stephen Covey uses a great example of a man on
a train with some very noisy and poorly behaved children. A fellow
passengers becomes more and more irritated at the parent’s inability to
make any attempt to control his children, believing that the parent just
doesn’t care, the passenger becomes very upset. Finally the angry
passenger snaps at the parent demanding that he controls his children.
The parent responds with an apology and an explanation that their mother
had just passed away hours earlier and neither he nor his children
really knew how to deal with the situation. Immediately the passenger
changed his attitude from anger and frustration to one of sympathy and
understanding. This change in attitude was the paradigm shift, you
could also say he gained a new perspective of the situation and found
As you can see, the situation this passenger found himself in did
not change at all, what changed was how he viewed and interpreted what
was happening in that situation. To quote Wayne Dyer, “change the way
you see things, and the things you see will start to change”. The
lesson here I think is this: if a situation seems poor, do not
immediately judge it at face value! Look for paradigm shifts and look
for alternative meanings. Take a second and ask the question “what else
could this mean? What else could possibly be happening here?” Sadly
it is very easy and natural to jump to conclusions, often the wrong
conclusion. Thus, by asking yourself some good questions it is possible
to change your perspective and generally make life easier and more
The school where I teach is considered a Lighthouse school where we teach and implement the seven habits in our classrooms. I embrace this concept as I think these are amazing life long skills that help mold us into amazing human beings.
Today, my team (Go Second Grade) was chosen to present this particular habit at faculty meeting. I told the story that was mentioned above and another teacher gave an example and taught us a quick lesson that we could do with our students. It was an emotional moment for me, as I feel this is one aspect of life that I have been struggling with lately.
I have talked of this before, but I will try to reiterate. Throughout the last ten years of my life, I have tried extremely hard to reserve judgement and look deeper into situations. This is not because I am a great person, it is in fact because I have found myself on the other end of judgement.
Looking back at my life, I have found that I have been judgmental, only to find myself in that exact same situation later on…. feeling horrible and sheepish.
I judged people going through divorces (I mean seriously people, keep it together for the kids) …. and look at me now… two divorces later. I judged moms that chose to work (Money is NOT worth the time at home with your kids) … I work full time. I judged people at the grocery store with ill behaved children (How hard is it to discipline your kids, I mean really) … I have an autistic son who HATES the grocery store and has a hard time staying still. I judged people for coloring their hair (What a waste of money)…. bottle blonde now days. I judged people for being trendy (Stupid trends go away in a year and clothes can easily last several decades) … somedays I feel that my life is in such chaos that if I can simply pull together a look, I can at least look like I have it together. My embarrassing list goes on and on and I truly am ashamed when I think about it. It still occurs however and I still find myself on the other end of judgement. I am sure it always will…. but I try to keep a MUCH more open perspective now.
Over the last several weeks, I have found myself in a position that I was not anticipating. I have received criticism for the way I maintain my friendships. It has been very hurtful to me and has made me really search deep into my soul to see what I can do better and how I am lacking. I know that I can do better and I am trying.
Life is an iceberg though. We only see the very tip top of the surface without having a complete understanding of what lies beneath. We don’t know how deep, how wide or how sharp the edges are that lie under the seemingly benign ice statue.
Sometimes I wish I could simply explain:
* I am not avoiding your call…. I turned my phone ringer off at work and forgot to turn it back on. I am not avoiding your call…. I am in the middle of making dinner, helping with homework, the kids are playing on my phone or heaven forbid… I can’t find the darn thing.
* I am not intentionally not texting or messaging you back…. I have phone issues. Either I didn’t get it, you didn’t get my response… or I am such a space cadet that I responded but forgot to hit send. Really. I do that a lot.
* Yes, my child has more than one pair of pants. He has chosen that he won’t wear anything else because he likes the color. I am not going to fight every battle.
* If I seem grumpy or I am venting too much… I am not a negative person. It could be that I haven’t interacted with an adult and live in a home of all children. I don’t get to come home and tell someone about my day. I don’t get to have someone tell me that it is going to be ok. I try to keep it in, but sometimes…. you gotta let it go.
Anyway… Today was one of those days that made me contemplate what I can do to look deeper, see what people need and what they are lacking. It is hard to not take offense at times. It is easy to assume the worst and take things personally. It is hard to look past what seems to be the obvious iceberg and realize that it may not be all that it seems. However, it is something that I feel I need to work on in my life. Maybe too, I can help others understand by explaining what is going on under the surface sometimes. A paradigm shift is always welcome.