What Makes Me Angry About the World?

The prompt supplied for the LYL challenge is the title of the post. I’m surprised nothing is jumping out at me.  But, I do have some things that upset me.  A good place to start would be listing those.

  • Watching people not try
  • Not trying my best
  • People blindly accepting things
  • People hurting others for entertainment
  • The school system and its regimented standards
  • How we fail to use the creativity of students

I’m beginning to understand more about myself.  There are some things that annoy me that are within my control.  How I act and how my classroom operates is within my control.  Those should be my focus.

A key thought that continues to run through my mind is how I don’t know what my goals are.  I am complaining about not giving my best, yet I couldn’t tell you what giving my best looks like.  Moreover, I want to use the creativity of the students to help solve problems within the community, yet I don’t know what that would look like either!  Knowing what to focus on is also an issue, for I know the future will never be exactly what I envision.  How much detail is enough detail?

Create Time to Create

Where does the time go?

We tend to get distracted quite easily.  For example, I just watched an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee which I didn’t have planned.  I just happened to see Jerry Seinfeld on an episode of The Daily Show.  Then there are the times when I start looking at Facebook and find myself continuously scrolling down absentmindedly.  Been there too?  This also occurs at our jobs.  Microsoft surveyed their workers and reported that 2 out of 5 days per week were unproductive.  Yet, we often times wonder why “there just isn’t enough time in the day.”

So where does our time go?  I encourage you to make a list of what you believe are your key distracting activities.  Then, spend two or three days tallying the number of times you do the distracting activity.  I think you’ll be amazed to see where the time goes.

Create Life Standards

Remember the easy days when parents controlled our life?  Just one cookie for dessert.  Just one hour of TV tonight.  We spent time complaining, sure, but we also did something amazing.  We did other things!

Look at the list of distracting activities you made.  Choose one activity and set a limit for how many times you can do it.  Maybe only check Facebook once per day.  Watch only one episode of The Big Bang Theory instead all six on TBS (yeah, that used to be something I did.  No wonder I didn’t keep that first job).

I decided to limit how many hours I spend playing video games per week.  I decided on limiting myself to 4 sessions and/or 5 hours, whichever comes first.  Here is the document I created to help myself keep track.  It is currently on our counter where I see it daily to help remind me.  As a side note, I noticed a benefit to limiting the activity: I allow myself to be fully immersed in it.  The internal nagging voice saying, “do something productive!” is no longer present.

But Now I’m Bored!

Good.  The purpose of this is to create time to do other things.  Let go of your crutches and security and start being the person you deeply want to be.  Being creative is challenging.  But, think about how good you will feel by living up to the image you truly want to be.  Let me know what you are starting to limit.  We can do this together.

Have a Voice

Imagine a world where we truly could be like Sara Bareilles wants us to be.

What would the world be like?  I think it would be full of action, full of honesty, full of development, and, dare I say it, full of smiles!  But, that isn’t how the world is.

What keeps us from being brave?  Our fear keeps us from doing a lot.  We fear that we may hurt ourselves by exposing a dark secret or by looking stupid in front of others.  We fear that we may hurt others.  People will think that we think they are stupid or that we don’t deeply care for them.

This post is meant to help us practice being brave.  I hope to help with two mindset changes: 1) A fear of the world full of action, honesty, development and smiles not existing if we don’t speak up and have important conversations; and 2) A mental toolbox to help us have important conversations.  I wanted to share what I found most useful from my reading the book Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler.

Tools for a Crucial Conversation

First, knowing what a Crucial Conversation is will be helpful.  Think of any time when you felt nervous to speak.  Chances are you were in a situation suited for a Crucial Conversation.  Here is the wordy definition in case the emotional one didn’t work: A Crucial Conversation occurs during moments of high emotion, high stakes, and (potentially) opposing opinions.  As a general example, telling a friend or family member to get their act together would be considered a crucial conversation.

Below are the tools which I found most useful.

Look for signs of being uncomfortable, then start the conversation

Here are some common signs.

  • Rapidly beating heart
  • Wanting to move away and be alone
  • Thinking the other person is stupid
  • Wanting to hit something

Once the signs are realized, saying, “I am uncomfortable,” is a way to start the conversation.

Create Safety with Others

Be upfront about the importance of the conversation.  Share the goal of the conversation with the other person.  This helps to avoid letting the goal suddenly switch to winning.  Usually, at least one of the goals is to understand what the other person thinks.  Coming from the angle of trying-to-understand is much safer than the angle of trying-to-change.

On a similar note, ask for the other’s help or opinion.  People will need to be reminded that the conversation isn’t meant to be an attack.  When others cause us to question ourselves, we become naturally defensive.  Therefore, being able to be an empathetic listener will also help to consistently create safety.

State Objective Facts

Compare the following two comments.

“You are a weak, dispassionate, and lazy coward while managing your classroom.”

“Students keep talking after the quiet-down signal.  Meanwhile, you sit straight-faced for about a minute after giving the signal.  No discussion takes place about the students’ inappropriate behavior takes place afterward.”

Both comments would be hard to hear, but the first will likely cause a much stronger defensive act than the second.  If we want to help, then we must avoid using emotionally charged phrases.  Plus, we can’t solve a puzzle without first laying out the pieces.  Using objective facts accomplishes this.

End the Conversation with a Clear Resolution

What actions will take place now?  What criteria will be used to evaluate the next performance?  How have your views or opinions changed due to the conversation?

Ending the conversation by answering one or a few of these questions will help ensure the conversation was meaningful to have.

Imagine a World Without Crucial Conversations

What if you never said, “Hello,” to your partner?

What if you never stood up for the kid being bullied?

What if you never said, “I love you”?

Remember how good it felt after those conversations.  That good feeling is what life would be missing.  I hope we can fear the losing of that good feeling.  If we truly do fear it, then we will all act bravely.

 

 

Measurement – One Key to Growth

Why Measure?

The feeling of growth is one of our motivators in life.  This is according to Tony Robbins, an extremely successful self-development guru.  As an example, let me share with you a personal story from my last summer.

Fitness has always been one of my goals.  Last summer, I decided to base my fitness on four criteria: 1. pushups; 2. pullups; 3. mile time; and 4. soccer ball juggles.  I had a set routine which consisted of me doing what I considered regular workouts every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  Then on every Sunday, I would take my measurements.  Everything was great.  I was consistently seeing improvement and feeling good about myself.  Then, I decided to stop measuring.

Here is what caused my decision to stop measuring.  I was reading many books, articles, and blogposts about “being in the present moment.”  There is a beauty that shows itself when we are in the present moment.  So, I decided that I am going to work out solely for the beauty of the workout moments.  Boy did this little experiment fail!  As it turns out, there is a lot of pain when you work out.  Guess what ended up happening to my workouts?

I stopped!

What’s the Benefit in Measuring?

Measuring allows us to visualize our growth.  When I was working out and measuring, for example, I saw my pullups, pushups, and juggles increase.  I saw my mile time decrease.  I was able to clearly visualize my progress.  The visualization leads to realization.  Realization leads to the feelings of accomplishment and importance.

To sum up: “Measurization” –> Visualization –> Realization –> “Feelings-of-accomplishment-and-importance-ation.”

How Can We Use This?

Come up with a way to measure any new goal or habit you want in your life.  More importantly, take and record the measurements!

Here’s a recent example from my life.  I set a goal to reduce the amount of water I use while showering.  During a water unit I was teaching last year, I found out that Africans use, on average, 5 gallons of water per day!  To bring this back to showering, I found out that the estimate for water use for showers is 2.5 gallons per minute.  Also, with one of my roles being an environmentalist, I wanted to reduce the amount of time I spent in the shower.

What did I measure?  I measured the amount of time I spent in the shower.  I also measured what my showerhead’s flow rate is (1.7 gallons/min).  After my measurements, I was able to create the graph below to help me visualize my results.

Water per shower

I was able to see, or realize, the progress in decreasing the amount of water I was using (the two spikes were when I shaved in the shower which didn’t happen during the other showers).  And, this caused me to feel great!  Woohoo!  The feeling of accomplishment!

Back to Create to Know

When we record our measurements, we are creating an artifact of our life.  I figured this was a good time to be reminded of the importance of creating artifacts.  Furthermore and on a related note, I wanted to share my complete write-up of this experiment.  If we truly are to be the roles we want to be, then we must create things which support them!

The Characters of Your Life

Dreams of Our Youth

What did you want to be when you grew up?  An astronaut?  A police officer?  A doctor?  A professional soccer player?  A roller coaster designer?  The world felt as if it was created for our pleasure.

With those dreams in mind, what did you do as a child?  As a teenager?  If you are like me, then you probably spent the majority of your time messing around with friends.  For example, we watched quality movies like Cube.

 

Don’t you worry.  We also watched the sequels.  And we spent time playing Guitar Hero, Halo, and watching The O.C.

There was a time in my youth when I wanted to be a roller coaster designer.  But, did the majority of my activities support that dream?  No.  Was what you were doing helping you achieve your dream?

Living Our Dreams

Dreams can change.  And that is okay.  But, what are your dreams now?  How did you respond to the Dreaded Question?

We all want to make an impact.  I discovered, through the answering of the Dreaded Question, that I want to make my impact as a humanitarian, an environmentalist, a scientist, and an inspiration to others.  Now the question becomes, What characters can I be which support my dream?

We all have multiple characters we play in our lives.  Some common ones are boyfriend/girlfriend, family member, and self-developer.  Others characters are more specific.  For example, I am a teacher/mentor.  You might be a salesman, truck driver, or manager.  Identify the characters you want to be in your life.  I suggest you have 7 or less characters with at least 3 directly related to your dream.

What do you do once you have your characters?  We must plan dream supporting actions for each character and schedule them into your next week.  For example, one of my roles is scientist.  I planned to measure the water flow rate for my shower.  This supported two of my dreams.  One being a scientist and the other being an environmentalist!  Another example is my role of being a boyfriend.  I planned to write to Abbie while I am visiting friends in Milwaukee.  This supports my goal of being a humanitarian.

This can be difficult at first.  I am finding out that I am not naturally a scientist or an environmentalist.  Planning those actions takes much more time than planning my actions of being a boyfriend.  Do not fret over this.  Achieving dreams takes disciplined work.  New skills will be learned along the way.  The benefit to this is that learning new things is immensely enjoyable once accomplished!  So, keep true to your planned actions.  Place them on a calendar.  We must plan to reach our dreams.  Otherwise, we get easily distracted.  Don’t let Facebook or re-runs of The Big Bang Theory keep you from your dreams!