Monday, December 1, 2014

Stay the Course

The idiom "Stay the Course" means to persevere, endure to completion. Educators live this. Educators work diligently, and passionately, to accomplish all of their tasks in a day. Those that do so give the rest of us something to strive toward.

The reality, however, is that many days we fall short of completing our lists. Not due to lack of desire or passion but often to the reality of our work. Our days are not even close to consistent. That comes with the territory and we knew that when we took the charge to be teachers and administrators.

Furthermore, to "stay the course" we also know that one has to be self-disciplined, organized, focused and have a thorough understanding of what their end result is going to be. Character traits that we each posses at any given time without a doubt. However to apply these each day with each task, challenging at best.

For me, there is a "compass" that points me in the direction to ensure that I do not deviate from the intended course. And it takes each of these points, not always as simple as they may seem, to increase the likely-hood of reaching my intended outcome. They are:

Write it down. Once you have determined what your goal to accomplish is, make sure to write it down on a piece of paper, journal it or place it on an index card and post it in your office. When the tasks are big, make the post-it note even bigger. Make sure you can read what it is that you are hoping to accomplish so you have a constant reminder of where you are heading.

Find smart people, inspiring people, and surround yourself with them. I often share with others that without the support of those around me growing up, I would hardly be where I am today. Without hesitation I can give credit to certain people that were somehow placed along my path that helped guide me to where I am now. Whether a high school or college classmate, my first teaching colleagues or members of my administrative team, each person played a significant role in my success. And in todays digital world, we are connecting with those inspiration people each and every day. I make sure to find brilliant, inspirational people and surround myself with them.

Breathe in, and out. Too many times we get so focused on where we want to get to that we forget to catch our breath, take
inventory of where we are in the process and regroup to finish off the work that needs to get done. I am not suggesting we take long lunch breaks or drop it for a long period of time, just breathe, appreciate what has been done, and then get back to work. The more rushed you are the less productive you will be.

Fail and move on. We have all heard the stories of the Abe Lincoln and his lack of success with voters prior to his Presidency. The story of Michael Jordan being passed over for his basketball team. And of course, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and the stories of how their success came via a less then "traditional" academic path. The reality is that we are each going to fail from time to time. And, the harder we work and the more the more failures we will endure. Accept that it is a part of the process. The challenge therefore is simply to learn from those failures and move on. As we tell our own children as they stumble in life, "pick yourself up and brush yourself off". Failure is part of the process.

Remain focused. Now that you have your goal written out, have your support system in place and your permissions to fail, you are off and running on your endeavor. Keep in mind these familiar quotes:
If want something bad enough, go out and fight for it. 

Or, as Theodore Roosevelt shared; Nothing in life is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty...". 

So as you progress through your tasks each day or each week, remember to keep focused on what it is you truly want to get accomplished. Many great ideas have fallen short of coming to fruition because the mind behind the idea lost its way. If you believe in what it is you have set out to do, then finish what you have started.

It is those that stay the course that bring the greatest success to their own lives and those around them. 


  1. Craig,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful post. I'm constantly rethinking what I do and setting new goals. This year, in a new position, I'm finding I'm constantly having to pause, reflect, adjust, and take new steps. When I started the year working in primary reading intervention, I had set goals to work toward strengthening and developing the reading community in our school. I knew I wanted the readers I work with each day to feel connected to other readers, authors, and books. While I have put some of these ideas in place, there is still more to do.

    Your clear suggestions here will help me to take the next steps. I have always written goals down, but I am grateful for the suggestion to post them where I can see them. That's something I don't always do and know that looking at the goals will help to remind me of what I hope to accomplish and keep it in the forefront of my thinking. Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions to help me stay the course.


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