Friday, October 9, 2009

Play to Our Strengths

This morning I am mindful that we all have our strengths in our life and work and we should certainly attempt to utilize them in the best way possible.

For the past 5 days, my wife has been out of town. This has necessitated that I take on the role and responsibilities that two of us normally cover. For those of you that don't know me, I have 3 sons, ages 12, 9, and 7 who are all involved in school, sports, music, and a variety of other activities and I, obviously, have a very busy schedule at the NC School of Science and Math. So, this week has bee a good opportunity for me to experience the work that my wife does every day and has been a stark reminder of the lifestyle that so many single parents lead on a daily basis.

I definitely made it though this test without too many failures. I am pleased with the fact that my kids made to all of their practices, games, and activities. They had lunch every day. Their homework was completed and signed each evening. They were fed, dressed, and generally cared for and I, while exhausted, also survived. But, I must admit, I am really spent. I can't imagine having to carry on this pace for longer that the week or so that it has lasted.

So, here is the over-riding thought that lingers this morning. I got everything accomplished, but did I do any of the tasks to the best of my ability? I am not sure that I can make that claim. I am sure that my classes at NCSSM suffered to some extent. My planning and thought time was significantly reduced this week. I didn't have time for many of the important roles that I play for my students outside of class. I cut meetings short, ran from one commitment to another, and put off ideas and new concepts that have shaped my teaching and work over the years. I didn't throw a ball with my boys. I didn't even practice music with my kids in the evenings this week. These are generally my strengths. These are the things that make me good at teaching and parenting. I am generally very "present" in the work that I do. I am not sure that happened this week. I was too overwhelmed with the multitude of tasks that had to be accomplished to simply keep the wheels turning.

Isn't life better when we have the time to do the things that we are truly good at? And, when we identify those roles and strengths, we should work to keep them at the top of our priority list. And, we should certainly work to be truly "present" in all that we do. I sometimes joke that in my two previous teaching positions, I stayed until I just got so busy that I had to "run away" to simply find some space in my life. That is not really true, but it sometimes seems that way.

I teach and work within a community of people that want to achieve. We are all in the same boat - teachers and students. We work hard and passionately. We all have lofty and ambitious goals and we are willing to make large sacrifices to achieve those goals. It is the way our school is designed. So, today, I encourage you to think about the way you are spending your days. Are you playing to your strengths? Are you able to spend your time on your true mission and strengths? Or, are you spread too thin? I realize that we all have seasons in our lives, too. Sometimes we find ourselves in seasons of business. That is certainly unavoidable. But, it is so important to feel that we are doing our best at our various tasks.

I am fortunate to be on the other side of "too busy" this morning. Oh yes, I have a busy day ahead, but it is all on the right stuff: orchestra rehearsal, advisee meetings, recording music for students to access on my course management site, music lessons, administering my program at NCSSM. Then, this evening, Barbra and I will focus on our kids. Together. The way it ought to be.

I hope you have the opportunity to do your best at the things that occupy your time today as well.


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