“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.” -Guy Gavriel Kay
There are times when our negative experiences can extinguish our spirit, push us down, hold us back.
And there are other times…
When our negative experiences extend us, become our drivers, our engines of change.
For many an educator, school as a system worked for them. Great grades. Honor roll. Awards assemblies. Praise. Offers to major universities. Scholarships. They excelled within the system and the system served them well.
For others, the journey is quite different…
The system is an upstream struggle. Boredom. Behaviors. Frustration. Poor grades. No awards. No honor roll. No scholarships. And definitely not much praise. A grinding battle that many don’t escape from unscathed.
You could probably say the former was my journey…yet, one that has taken me to where I am today.
For example’s sake, once I took the position of Principal I used to joke with my mom that, “I became a Principal because the office was the one place in school that I knew the best.” You could definitely say I was a frequent flyer.
And yet, looking back over those difficult years, through all of the struggles and hardships, it gave my teaching and leadership a different lens, a different perspective, that the winners of the system did not always have or share.
My experience of school became my driver…
Turning our negative experiences into positives provides us with a gift, a gift of perspective. An empathy and compassion lens that those who haven’t shared those experiences may not be able to engage or enable.
Negative or difficult experiences have the opportunity to increase our capacity, to heighten our awareness, our emotional intelligence. Giving us perspective and empathy for others, increasing our understanding. Of their struggles. Of their experience.
As educators, self and social awareness are incredibly vital to our work. Very often engagement is matter of understanding both, of ourselves and those in front of us. Engagement, for lack of a better word, often flows from an awareness, from an understanding.
And it often begins with empathy, compassion, awareness, connection…
What negative experiences serve as your engines for change?