- Making mistakes means opportunities to reflect and make progress.
- Self-talk to work through ideas.
- Set goals for yourself.
- Surround yourself with a supportive community.
Remember those younger years when you could hear the school bus rumbling as you hustled to toss down that last bite of breakfast, walked out the door without brushing your teeth, and sprinted out to catch your only mode of transportation with an overstuffed backpack in tow?
Those were the golden days.
I wished that I could have ridden my bike to school. Or even cruised on a unicycle. Yes, a unicycle. I never quite mastered that skill, although it always intrigued me. Mainly because it was always tempting to think I could go it alone. I wouldn’t have to wait on a bus driver or make uncomfortable and awkward conversations with kids who were much bigger than me.
Oh, I tried alright. I strapped on all the protective gear, borrowed a unicycle from my friend John that lived next door, and attempted to hop right on. I felt confident that I could do it with no practice. After all, I was an expert at riding my pink Huffy with the handle streamers and banana seat. Piece of cake.It is pretty impossible to learn something complex unless we are willing to repeatedly fall short and miss the mark. Click To Tweet
Well, when this didn’t go according to my plan for success, I felt defeated. Honestly, I have never been on a unicycle since. I didn’t give it a fair shot or make time for practice. Maybe that bus wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I have some ideas to share about rethinking that you are more than your accomplishments.
Get back on the BUS…
B – Bring on the mistakes. And I don’t mean just learn from them like we hear all of our lives. Let’s modify our perspective because anything we learn to do will require a lot of mistakes with little sign of momentum. To explain it in simpler terms, consider this quote taken from Samuel Beckett: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” It is pretty impossible to learn something complex unless we are willing to repeatedly fall short and miss the mark. Most likely, progress will come by purposefully and authentically varying our actions and evaluating what changes can be made. What a critical step that we often avoid as educators and leaders because it’s messy and leaves us frustrated!
This leaves me to mention simply, that when we avoid mistakes, we avoid growth.
U – Understand how to keep your mind engaged. When you are feeling discouraged or have had a disagreement with a friend or colleague, it’s tempting to want to ditch the distress. After all, it’s easier to tap out or walk away from the confrontation. I encourage you to not do that. Self-talk can become an important strategy to facilitate reworking connections in the nervous system, which requires focus and dialogue. Just like trying to ride that unicycle, I should have kept it up by reminding myself, Head up! Watch in front of you! Don’t look back! Keep your back straight! Oh, and keep pedaling!
Self-talk isn’t all for our motivation, it is a guide to keep the mind immersed in the essentials of the task so we can reframe our approach to circumstances with joy.
S – Set goals and celebrate them generously. In the case of the unicycle dilemma, an obvious goal would be staying upright before toppling off the seat. Looking back, I could have worked up to counting pedal rotations, going short distances, and eventually creating a successful longer cruise. Goals don’t have to be huge. They should be attainable with positive feedback and encouragement. Run towards your goals with persistent vision and desire. Be passionate about your aspirations. Stay determined to find your path and enjoy the journey.
Learning anything ultimately requires personal effort. It is about who the learner becomes in the process. No one else can cause the learner to learn; he must decide for himself what is worthwhile and rewarding.[scroll down to keep reading]
It’s no secret. You don’t have to do life alone. Find someone that you respect and trust deeply. Talk it out. We need each other.
Here is what I believe to be true. At its best, when you have a solid community of people surrounding you and make big mistakes, they will be there to pick you up. Every time I consider the relationships that matter the most to me, it’s always those people who run toward me when I fall, not away. They are the ones who listen, lean in, and love unconditionally.
They don’t tell me how to do things better or right, they just show up and stay. That unicycle may be a great vehicle, yet it makes for a lonely one. But that bus? Think of it as one filled with people. Your people. Your community. Those who will get you to where you are going safely with no feat of balancing required.
Feeling inspired? Get off of the unicycle and let’s get back on that bus.
About Jillian DuBois
Jillian DuBois currently serves as an elementary school educator in Clearwater, FL. She has worked both in public and private educational settings for over 20 years. Her passion is to initiate, instill, and infuse joy to those in educational leadership through blogs and podcasts. Jillian uses her voice to help foster hope for student equity and empathy. Outside of school, you will find Jillian outdoors, soaking up the sun and surf, or finding new paths to hike with her husband and son. You can visit her website here!