Learning to Lead by Being Falafel


Thanks to morguefile for the photo

My permanent residence is in my head.  Often I am a wee bit philosophical.  Talking about my thinking helps me to create space and relevance for it in my daily actions.  Currently, I’m trying to cultivate more positive thoughts so that my actions reflect that positivity.  And I’m forcing that on the people with whom I work.

Today in my department meeting I tried something new.  Instead of talking about what isn’t working and what we are all struggling with, we talked about what we are all doing well.  Now I know this can be uncomfortable and this type of activity often makes me look a little crazy but I think it was worth it.  I had done a little reading about Appreciative Inquiry and had been wanting to try it, especially after the last meeting that made everyone feel a little on edge.

Inspired by this TedxTalk, in particular the analogy of the brain being velcro to negative thoughts, I thought I would take a risk, look a little crazy and get falafel on them (that’s what my teaching partner said in an attempt to call me philosophical!)

Mindfulness in Schools: Richard Burnett at TEDxWhitechapel

I’m glad I did it.  Although it was difficult to “toot their own horn” it turned into an honest conversation about what we individually are achieving success at or getting good at and what we do well as a group.  Being honest isn’t easy either, even in a positive or neutral way, because it generally makes us more vulnerable.  However, I was transparent with them, like this quote, I wanted to be very intentional about feeding the good wolf.  I wanted a humble and truthful conversation about where our strengths lie so that we could not be envious but build each other up and know where to go if we are struggling in that area.  Because as we highlighted, we are a helpful team and we understand that encouraging each others’ successes is what is going to ultimately help our students be more successful.

A Cherokee elder sitting with his grandchildren told them, “In every life there is a terrible fight – -a fight between two wolves. One is evil: he is fear, anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment and deceit. The other is good: joy, serenity, humility, confidence, generosity, truth, gentleness, and compassion.”

A child asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

The elder looked him in the eye. “The one you feed.”

How do you feed the good wolf?  How do you encourage others to feed it too?