Every day we face numerous circumstances which require us to make decisions, starting with our alarm clocks! Do we roll the dice and hit the snooze button or do we jump up and attack the day? I've always wondered about people who hit the snooze button. Why not just set the alarm for 6:05 instead of 6:00? But, back to choices. Every day we make these choices and for most of them we don't even really take the time to think about it, we just do it.
What if we took just a little more time and made the choice that would make someone else smile? I don't mean running around all day telling jokes or showing copies of your favorite Farside cartoon. I mean what if we took just a little time to do those things to make someone smile. This year I started doing a simple thing that makes my students smile, and it's nothing I say, it's something I wear. Socks. I've started wearing colorful socks and it's crazy how something as simple as blue and orange striped socks will make kids smile, but they do. If you ask my grade 1's it's the blue socks with fried eggs on them they enjoy, however if you ask the grade 8's it's the bright pink ones. Something as simple as socks to bring a smile to my students. It's easy, simple to do and well worth it.
Today I was presented another opportunity where I needed to make a choice. We were out for supper and my 7 year old son and I went up to pay for our meal. At the same time a second gentleman came up to pay for his supper. There we stood, both of us holding our wireless payment terminals and the simple idea came to me. Debit payment race! I asked the other guy if he was up for a race and the smile on his face answered my question before he could even speak. My son was the judge and on his call the race was on. The cards were in and our fingers typed as fast as they could. The winner is not important (as every "non-winner" says), it is the fun and laughs that were created out of one simple choice. I could have just as easily not challenged this stranger to a debit card race, but then I guess I wouldn't have a blog entry today.
So, how does this have anything to do with leadership and education? So much of what we do each day involves interacting with other people, be it students, teachers or parents. We have a choice as to how we handle these interactions. We can play it safe and by doing so we risk very little, or we can take a chance and put ourselves out there. I don't know if my students will always remember my socks or if the stranger I met today will remember our race, but for a moment there was happiness, and that can never be a bad thing. When you have a chance to interact with a colleague, student or parent, take a risk. Sometimes it's okay to let your guard down and just be a little silly, as long as it is not seen as disrespectful or ill timed. For example, I will not be wearing my bright orange and purple striped socks to any job interviews or memorial services, but I might wear them to grad. If people see you as a real person they are probably more willing to come to you when they are in need, and these are the times when your leadership skills can really shine through.
As always, comments are welcome.