Thursday, December 31, 2009

Again, With Passion!

Today I spoke with a woman who works in retail.  She shared with me that her manager is not much of a motivator.  Recently, the store fell just shy of their monthly sales goal.  "Why," this woman asked, "didn't our manager tell us we were only a few hundred dollars short?  Why didn't she call all of her friends and family to come in for an end-of-the-year spree?  Why didn't she tell each of us employees that if we bought one item, the store would make its goal? Why didn't she do SOMETHING to help us succeed?"

The type of passion and enthusiasm it would require for a manager to do such things is woefully lacking in many a workplace.  And when it is lacking in leadership, you can be sure it is lacking in the flock. Selling clothes may not be saving starving children or finding the cure for a debilitating disease, but that does not mean it cannot be something that is done with ambition and enthusiasm.  Making the goal is not only about the money; it is also about a sense of accomplishment and pride that the entire team enjoys after reaching a particularly high standard that has been set for them.  Such accomplishment is what helps us put our feet on the ground each morning instead of pulling the covers over our heads!

As we end one year and begin another, we are tempted to throw off our old selves and morph into new beings.  Ones who eat well, exercise regularly and live in a peaceful, highly organized homes.  We want to lose weight, throw out the clutter, stop biting our nails.

This year, I am encouraging each of us to add something into our lives rather than remove what is already there. How incredibly different would your 2010 be if you discovered your passion? And what if you took steps to act on that passion each day of your life?  What if you then made it your career?  Or what if you took your current career or role you have in your life and approached it with a renewed fire?  The change it would make in our lives, and then the lives of others, would be awesome in the truest sense of the word.

Being a teacher in these times can be discouraging -- greater accountability, increased pressure, more restrictions and all with less support.  Sometimes it can be tempting and even stress-relieving to complain about how impossible the standards set before us are.  But imagine what would happen if, instead of stopping at the reasons why we cannot achieve, we went on to imagine and passionately pursue every avenue to make success attainable?  What if we decided that each and every day we would approach our profession with passion and eagerness.  In the end, if we reach our goal, it becomes a realization that the number isn't what matters; it's the unity and strength we get as a team of people, staff and students, who work toward it together. And if we don't reach the goal, we still have our individual dignity and a collective sense of pride.

Every year, I welcome over 200 ninth graders into our GATE Program.  And among all of the information and advice I give to these college-bound, sometimes grade-obsessed students in our first meeting, I always include an exhortation for students to decide what kind of people they want to become, what passions they must pursue in their lives to be fulfilled as human beings, and then, if they make their educational decisions based on those ideals, they will not be disappointed when they leave high school.

This attitude, though, cannot stop when we are 18.  Today, at 36, as the ball drops and people kiss their way into 2010, as my children fall asleep and slip obliviously into a new decade, I need to ask myself those same questions: What kind of person do I want to be?  What passions must I pursue to be fulfilled?

And I am pretty sure that if I add all that passion, enthusiasm and fulfillment into my life, surely a bad habit or a few extra pounds will be pushed out.  We can always hope!

Happy 2010!

1 comment:

Shannon Marie Pace said...

Hi Stephanie,
I am so glad you visited MY blog, because it led me to YOUR blog, which is soulful, thoughtful, polished writing! I must say, too, that the list of similarities between us (you left on my blog) is pretty striking! I'll add that I used to teach English.
And, I must say, I feel quite akin to your comment about being as careful about what you don't write as you are about what you do write! Well-put.