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The Power of Just

Hot Air Balloon
Hot Air Balloon

Image: goldsaint / www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

I’M JUST DOING IT…!

If you have kids, you’ll almost certainly have heard them using the word ‘just’ in the above context – meaning, of course, ‘I’m about to do what you asked me to do <insert your own time period> minutes / hours ago.’

The word ‘just’ is so often used as an excuse – an almost throw-away word that we hope lets us off the hook – that gets us out of a scrape.

But, at the other extreme, it can be incredibly powerful.

 

THE POWER OF JUST

A well-known sportswear manufacturer use the words ‘Just Do It’ along with an affirmational logo that reinforces the motto.

We all know what we need or want to do. But we all also know how not to do it – how to put off doing the do-able.

Why?

What is the enemy of ‘DOING’?

Is it fear? Procrastination? Disbelief? Lack of confidence?

My mind often overflows with ideas of what I want to do and even how to do it – what it looks like. But there is an enemy and its name is ‘fear’. Fear can be paralysing. It invents scenarios that don’t exist in the present and which may never exist in the future. It clouds our vision and limits our perspective. It dents our confidence and squeezes our self-belief.

What if I could just brush aside fear and just do something? What if I just took the first step? What if I just did what I thought I couldn’t do…? What if I just…?

I really believe in ‘the Power of Just’.

Just do it.

And, yes, you will make mistakes – and learn valuable lessons from them. But you will also be wiser – and happier. Because you tried. Because you stepped out. Because you stepped forward.

The following anonymous truism carries a great deal of weight:

Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.

 

NOTHING TO LOSE

What could possibly go wrong? Everything!

What is there to lose? Often – nothing!

If your life is only measured by material value, then you could potentially lose everything – but if what you value cannot be seen and is difficult to measure, then it will be very difficult to lose and is worth risking everything for.

So – what are you waiting for? Decide what you want or need to do and take the first step.

Just do it.

Now.

 

 

 

And then, when you’ve started out and scared yourself silly doing it, do it again and JUST KEEP GOING.

 

A friend of mine, Nicola Marshall, espouses the idea of ‘one word’ goals: building your intentions around a single word that encompasses your objectives.

Read her post here: http://www.bravehearteducation.co.uk/looking-forward-to-2015/

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear

Listening to the news on the radio recently, I was interested to hear a commentator talk about the fact that, as a result of the recession and consequent employment and financial difficulties, large numbers of people have got to the point in their lives where they are now in a position of hopelessness. They have lost pretty much everything and then, just when it doesn’t seem it could worse, the last bastion has crumbled: hope.

Why have they lost hope?

I personally can’t think of anything more terrifying.

You and I both know of situations where hope is the one thing that keeps us going. Hope that things will get better – because they can only get better. But what if that hope is lost?

We live by hope – or faith, if you want to use that expression. Nothing is certain (apart from death and taxes) so hope is essential to our existence.

Being amongst children for most of my working day, I frequently come across children for whom there seems to be little hope – but what is worse is when I occasionally witness a lack of hope expressed by their adult mentors (be they parents or school staff). When adults have no expectation of a child, that is more worrying than the child’s own sense of hopelessness: a child can be restored if hope is put into them by an adult mentor but, if that is lacking, there really is very little hope.

Never deprive someone of hope – it might be all they have.  (H. Jackson Brown, Jr)

I try to imagine what it must be like to be a child who has little hope. It must be very scary: as children, we need security, love, warmth, compassion – but if those are in short supply, a child must live in perpetual fear, scraping an existence from what little exists in the form of healthy self-esteem. You’ve met them, I’m sure: scared on the inside (but they won’t show it) and manifesting all kinds of worrying behaviours on the outside, be it withdrawal, frustration, lack of engagement, defensiveness or  just plain and simple anger. How terrifying to have to live with that  – constantly trying to establish one’s own identity and worth but failing miserably. Fortunately, we have moved on from the time when children were simply labelled as ‘naughty’ and we now know that external behaviour is an indicator of what’s going on inside – a coping mechanism, if you like.

How reliant are children in your care on the hope that you can give them?

How do you look beyond the behaviour and see a child crying for help?

How do you instill hope within a child?

How do you help a child to overcome fear?

I could go on about fear in our own lives as educators and those who lead in education but I think that requires a different space. Suffice to say that there aren’t many of us who can face fear and hopelessness on our own own: each of us needs someone to believe in us, to encourage us, to instill hope within us when fear looms large.

For there really is nothing worse to fear than fear itself – the absence of hope.

Because ‘Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.’ (Suzanne Collins)

Please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page if that’s where you found this post.

 

The way you do anything is the way you do everything

Image: nuttakit / www.FreeDigital Photos.net

Image: nuttakit / www.FreeDigital Photos.net

I was supposed to write this post weeks ago. When I mentioned this to an acquaintance (read: ‘friend’) with a pithy sense of humour, he quipped, ‘Is that because that’s the way you do everything?’ A wry grin and his tongue firmly in cheek.

I often include aspects of leadership in my posts and I can’t get away from it here, either. Because it’s true: the way you do anything as a leader is the way you do everything. And the reason for this, I believe, is deep down within us. It’s about what we believe about ourselves, about our relationships with others and what we believe about their perception of us.

All of us have a values system that we live by. We have deeply-held beliefs about life, about rights and responsibilities, community, fairness and justice, education (my own pet subject) and religion. We also have beliefs about our value – our value as human beings, our value to others and the value of what we have to offer. The fact is that each of us has immense and immeasurable value and what we have to offer to the world is priceless (even though publicists try to put a price on an individual’s worth).

A friend and I were discussing what drives people and why some appear more successful than others at promoting whatever ideology or principle they happen to believe in (and, let’s face it, there are a lot of us at it). We talked about the fact that many of us have a passionate belief in something but that we are often overwhelmed by the fear that others might not ‘buy in’ to that belief. We therefore do not push ourselves forward, even though what we have to offer is clearly of value. Our fear of rejection or failure is greater than our faith in ourselves. What turns the tables is the point at which we see that our message is greater than our fear of how it will be received.

In her book, A Return to Love, Marianne Wilkinson writes these oft-quoted words:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world (emboldening mine). There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

© Marianne Williamson, 1992

Returning to the opening theme, we all must recognise that our identity is what drives our behaviour before we can start changing the way we think – and it is about changing thinking. In an education context, we need to embed this discipline in the minds of our children: their behaviour, whether good, bad or indifferent, is undoubtedly a manifestation of what they think about themselves, which, in turn, is a product of their early experiences of nurturing – or lack of.

I often start my workshops with children by engaging them in a simple game: we stand in a circle and, altogether, recite each other’s name in turn round the circle, finishing with the words, ‘Everyone matters in our class.’ I remind the children that, even if we don’t feel that we matter, we must still believe it: it’s a simple case of ‘mind over matter’.

What we keep repeating often becomes a habit.

The way we do anything is the way we do everything, but it must reflect what we believe – not what we fear.