I was counseling a student the other day who had been experiencing some major problems in her life. Everything she did just seemed to turn out wrong. Even when things turned out right, she'd get nervous, and then she would sabotage her success by doing something out of character (for her), because she couldn't deal with the pressure of high expectations. Obviously, she needed to make some dramatic changes in her life; old patterns of behavior were starting to rob her of her future.
As you know, there's nothing wrong with making mistakes; the problem is when we fail to correct those mistakes based on stubbornness, ignorance, fear, pride, or even anger. Whenever I find myself guilty of that, I describe it as being "stuck on stupid."
The problem is, we WANT to change (or see change), but we're afraid to make the change required for success. Even though we might not like where we are or what's happening around us, sometimes we become so complacent that we allow ourselves to accept and adapt to the current pain of our situation. In other words, we become numb to the pain of NOT changing.
Although the person of whom I speak is a student, her situation isn't much different from what we experience as teachers. We often resist change, but we're also aware we can't continue our current mode of operation without changing.
Even though this student knew she needed to change, she insisted that changing would be too difficult; it would take too long to see results; she didn't know whether or not she could sustain the change; and she worried if the required change would even change her current outcome. The battle of wills between us was monumental.
However, we were able to reach an agreement that not only excited her, but enlightened me as well. I asked her, "Instead of changing, what if you decided just to be willing to change?" She hesitated, and asked me to explain.
Sometimes what's required of us is hard to do. What if we didn't have to face the pressure of actually doing it right now, but instead, just be willing to do it right now? In other words, don't worry about being the answer to your problem, just be willing (and open) to receiving the answer to your problem.
Her response was, "I think I can manage that." Personally, I believe we all can. So let's make a pact today that we'll agree to at least start the process of change.
Be encouraged, my friends. It's okay to hold onto your convictions, but you must be willing to let go of your comfort. So don't change, just be willing to change. Remember the Law of Inertia: An object in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. The willingness to change is what starts us in motion, and it won't stop unless acted upon by an outside force. So, my fellow teachers, let the force (of change) be with you.
Article by Joe Martin
Copyright © 2008 Education World