Each year millions of people all over the world celebrate the New Year by creating New Year’s Resolutions. With the closing of another year and the birth of a new one, we see this as an opportunity to revise, edit, and sometimes rewrite our life stories. Each year begins a new chapter and each day is merely a sentence to what will ultimately become our legacy.
If I were to ask you, What’s Your Story? You would probably have a difficult time knowing exactly where to start because our lives are comprised of so many “short” stories that have created the bigger narrative that we see today.
As I reflect on my personal story, I am reminded that all good stories have a few essential elements– a beginning, a build-up, a conflict, a resolution, and an end. This is important because these elements remind us that our journeys are not meant to be easy, especially if we want a great story. As a matter of fact, it takes strong determination and a lot of grit to walk in purpose as your story unfolds.
When you think about these essential elements as it relates to our life stories, we realize that without conflict, there is no story. So why then do we resist or avoid this element of our stories? Conflicts (internally and externally) help us grow and push us towards our purpose. Think about your favorite book or movie, the conflict or problem in the story keeps us engaged and makes the story interesting. Our life stories are no different. Conflict is the spice of life!
The resolution in our story is an opportunity to resolve our conflicts. Just as we do at the beginning of each year, we reflect over some of our challenges and make choices that we hope will result in a better outcome. We pledge to lose weight because we want to live a healthier life; we commit to saving more and spending less so that we may build a better future, and we promise to spend more time with friends and family to ensure we nurture important relationships. Resolutions bring about new learning and help to shape us in preparation for our purpose even further.
The “end” of a story is the only element that differs when writing our own narratives. As long as we are still breathing, there is no end, only new beginnings! We sum up what was learned from our experience which builds our strength, character, and motivation to tackle new conflicts which creates new opportunities for learning.
In Chapter 2016 of my story, I took a huge leap of faith. I’ve always had this burning desire to help create positive communities where every person feels valued and appreciated. I believe this passion started early in my life growing up in a family where communication was not always effective, which left members sometimes feeling rejected or unaccepted. How do you create families where all members feel valued and appreciated?
My passion to answer this question, followed me into my adult life as I started my own family as well as my career in education working with children and families. How do you create families where all members feel valued and appreciated?
I expressed this passion in my own family and in my classroom by embracing ways members could communicate their thoughts and feelings. I found ways to engage their talents and acknowledge their worth. But most importantly, I began to listen without judgment but instead for understanding.
As a kindergarten teacher, I remember asking my students’ questions about their learning and how they wanted to learn. I was always so impressed by what these 5 and 6-year-olds could do when given the opportunity. I’ve learned on my journey that this doesn’t only apply to students–but teachers, staff members, parents, principals, community members- all of us are able to perform extraordinary acts when we are in a safe, encouraging environment that allows us to take risks.
Over the years, my experiences have taught me that strong culture stems from providing every person, no matter how old or how young, with a voice. And in order for voices to be heard, communities and organizations must adopt and define common values which express who they are, how they will communicate, how they treat one another, and ultimately how they serve others.
In April 2016, I decided to take my passion for creating positive culture one step further. While working with one of my principal friends on creating guiding principles for her new school, I decided to write a message to Jon Gordon, one of my favorite authors. My message was brief and to the point. I introduced myself as an elementary principal who was interested in using the principles from his book The Energy Bus to create a framework for schools to build and sustain a positive culture. That was it. And I sent the message. Honestly, at the time I sent it, there was something inside nudging me to take the risk and give it a try. I really didn’t believe he would respond nor did I think anything would come from that message. I even think I chuckled at myself for doing such a silly thing.
So you can only imagine how shocked I was when I received a message from Mr. Gordon the next morning requesting a one-pager of my idea. I had no plans of how I would respond, all I knew is that I would do so within 24 hours. Over the next several weeks, the one-pager extended to phone conversations, emails, and other planning sessions regarding this idea.
In July 2016, I made the decision to leave my job as a school principal with no promise of income or a position. I boldly left with my faith in God and my passion and purpose in my heart to respond to that burning question- How do you create families where all members feel valued and appreciated?
From my commitment to answer this burning question, and through Mr. Gordon’s lifelong work, The Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey was born. Now one year and 5 months later, my passion to answer this question has resulted in purpose. Within this short time, our Energy Bus family has grown from 5 model schools in the first year to 50 schools from all over the country committed to creating/sustaining a positive culture.
As we begin Chapter 2018, think about Your Story and your Passion. What questions/problems do you want to solve? How will you leave the world in a better place? What actions will you take to make your story a reality?
Remember- every great story will have conflict. We wouldn’t know joy if we had not experienced pain; we wouldn’t know courage if we never experienced fear, and from our failures is the opportunity for great success.
This year, embrace conflict and commit to taking a few risks. You never know- the smallest act can produce some of the biggest opportunities! Are you ready? What’s your story?
Happy New Year!
Co-Founder, The Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey