Resonating and Resurfacing Words


“Maya, when you’re everywhere, you’re nowhere.” A Franciscan Friar Friend, 1999

“You’re getting too busy again.” Principal, 2015 (said a few times this school year and countless times last year)

I would like to tell you that my busyness is a result of my passion and leave it at that. I would like to just say that my passion fuels what I do. I try new things, and my high energy atmosphere is a result of that. Since this is true, I would like to just leave it at that and keep the status quo. I am good at what I do, but let’s face it–I could be better. Yes, my fearless leader continues to tell me what makes me good while at the same time challenging me to better myself, telling me he is not done making me the best teacher I can be. Since I tend to agree with him, and since I have come to realize that my blind spots were neglected far too long; I guess I will wrestle with my busyness and my scatteredness and begin to look at how I am going to work through this, so that I don’t appear too busy, and I am not everywhere.

Busy is good, right? It means I got it going on,  and things are happening–look at the view in room 502. 

The Friar was right. I knew it then, and I know it now. When you are everywhere, you are nowhere. 

Thoreau was right. I knew it in high school, I know it now.

(Quote should actually use the word industrious instead of busy.)

What am I busy about?  Hmmm? Oftentimes, the busyness is a result of trying to fit everything in, to try something new, or to try and play catch up. 

Siimon Reynolds asserts in his Forbes article  that our culture values busyness too much and that we need to learn to slow down and think. He explains that thinking helps with innovation and innovation is what makes entrepreneurs rich. Now I don’t know that I’m trying to increase anyone’s bankroll, but I do know that when I get too busy in my lessons, I tend to lose my focus. Now perhaps I am too busy engaging kids and getting techy that I sometimes lose my focus and direction.

Back to the prudence of the Friar–his wisdom continues to ring true in my life. I continue to recognize the moments that I have gotten to nowhere because I was trying to do too much in too little time without enough planning to how I would get to my destination. And so there I stood at the shallow end, no floaties, just treading water. I am not a shallow swimmer either. I like to dive deeply into the content, the conversations, the lessons–I like for others to go there with me, too. The question is–how do keep myself from getting so busy that I never get beyond 3 feet or as in my previous post my busyness causes me to fall. 

For some reason, as I began to question this tonight, I thought of a long ago past with an Army friend. At some point, talking about a lesson I was preparing for grad school, he mentioned some words in threes that are now coming back to me:

  1. Task, conditions, and standards
  2. Purpose, direction, and motivation

Looking up these trios of words I find that purpose, direction, and motivation are trifecta of leadership whereas task, conditions, and standards are the trifecta of objectives. In 1995 with little knowledge of military operations and leadership, I couldn’t really fathom what in the world my Army friend meant. 15 years later, the words resurface, and I find myself wondering if pondering those words as I plan and execute would help me. Education has similar verbage where objectives should be measurable, students should know how and what they can use for support, and what the end goal/mastery expectation is. Still, though, I see a certain clarity in the Army focus that sometimes I am lacking in my planning and execution. The Army has a certain clarity to their dogma–I kind of like it–here’s an explanation.

Okay, so the other trifecta of leadership is something I definitely didn’t grasp in the 90s. Simply put in Army terms, leadership is influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.  Hmmmm….clarity and focus even with motivation–motivation that allows me to still be who I am while streamlining my practice.

6 words to contemplate as I plan. Let’s see if this helps me navigate the waters to reach greater depths.

Busy should be in the mental work of the students, in their talk, in their writing, in their challenges.Busy is for them not for me. Busy with a purpose. Busy with direction. Busy with motivation. Busy with clarity of what they need to do and what resources they can use to get to their clear destination. Yes, I am still working harder and wondering if maybe I am finally going to figure out what is really meant by working smarter. 


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