Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Power of Perspective

Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist? How do you look at situations & circumstances? From your view, does the proverbial glass more often appear to be "half-empty" or "half-full?" Your answer to these questions may reveal much more than you realize about your leadership style and ultimately your ability to positively influence the lives of others around you. A phrase that has resonated deeply with me recently is the notion that, as educators, our work must become "profoundly personal" to us, if we hope to make a lasting difference in the lives of others within our circle of influence. This begins with our attitude. For instance, one individual has suggested that instead of labeling low-performing students as "at-risk" (which could be construed as a pessimistic view), we may want to consider them as students "at-promise." While this may not seem like a revolutionary concept, it may help to foster a change in the way that we look at the potential of students & other educational leaders with whom we work. When some individuals share stories of difficult or challenging situations in which they are engaged, it is not uncommon to hear them use the cliche "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." This, again, implies that a situation is "hopeless." A teacher that I met recently gave me a clever, thoughtful statement in response to this cliche: "Did you salt the oats?" In other words, have I done everything that is necessary to positively change a situation, or am I just going to choose to believe that there's nothing more I can do? I invite you to read the following: OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE. Does the statement read "Opportunity is nowhere?" or "Opportunity is now here?" Once again, just a small shift in our perspective can allow us to become more confident leaders and result in positive differences in the lives of those around us.

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