Isn't your job hard enough? Why do you continue to make it harder on yourself by stressing out about the things that happen during your day?
Do me a favor, the next time something "bad" happens, ask yourself:
Is this a problem, a constraint, or an opportunity?
The next time someone says something can't be done, ask yourself: what's the problem, are there constraints, is there an opportunity to think differently about something?
The trick to great leadership is recognizing the difference.
In a recent post from Seth Godin (yes I read him a lot) and he talks about problems and constraints. I'd like to also propose another option: opportunity.
Seth defines both for us:
A problem is solvable. There is a solution to every problem. Even though every solution may not be the best, or is feasible, there is always a solution. A solution has to be made in the light of what's best for that specific student. As we know, not all solutions are the same for all students (and in my opinion all solutions should be made after a progression of collection of data through a response to intervention process).
A constraint is something to be lived with. Gravity is a constraint. It is inevitable, it is something that cannot be avoided. Like the one student in your class that causes the most trouble, he/she wil never be absent. Like a student with inconsistent parenting, the bottom line is you have to take that parenting issue out of your conversation, that is something that you cannot control and you can only do whats best for the student between the hours of 8-3 (or whatever your school day is).
I'd like to add.....the opportunity!
An opportunity is something that can (and should) be improved. (I always struggle using the word "should" because really, who am I to say.) Things around your school building are broken (see my blog post on things that are broken, and also enjoy the This is Broken website). Every chance you get to make improvements in your classroom, school, facility, or environment as a leader we can capitalize on that opportunity. I try to find one thing each day to make better.
When faced with an obstacle, Identify it. Is it a probelm, a constraint, or an opportunity?
One of my favorite quotes of all time is, "If someone says it cannot be done, then they should not interrupt someone who is doing it." I know this quote is a tad bit audacious and a little arrogant but I love it. I love it becasue it reminds me to always evaluate the situations in front of me, see them for what they are, and seek to overcome them, live with them, or improve them.
As leaders we can use this evaluation method to alleviate stress and move our organization forward.