Every year, as the leaves change and begin to form their colorful carpet on the ground, I am always reminded of a stay in the hospital years ago. It was in the fall of 1987. I had just graduated from high school a few months earlier and was in the midst of my new career as a petroleum transportation specialist (aka: I was delivering gas and diesel to farms in and around the Watrous area). I was diagnosed with mononucleosis, and I ended up being admitted to our local hospital. What I recall is looking out the window from my bed seeing the beautiful trees, wishing I could go out for a walk.
For several reasons, autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the cool, crisp air, my favorite sport, hockey, is starting up, my birthday is in the fall, and school returns to session. I loved returning to school every year, not so much for the learning, but for the chance to be with all my friends every day. At least I used to think that was why I loved going back.
Simon Sinek, in his TEDTalk (here) invites us to think about our why. I’ve written about this in the past, and am a firm believer in the importance of understanding our why. When I apply this thinking to how I feel about this time of year, I am able to identify what is at the heart of these feelings. I can identify my why.
I want to live in a world where everyone strives to make the people they meet feel better about themselves because of their interactions.
Another way to put it, I want people to feel better about themselves walking away from an interaction with me than they did walking into the interaction. This can be as simple as a conversation with the barista at Starbucks or as complex as a crucial conversation with a student, parent, or teacher. Regardless of the duration of the interaction, there is always a beginning and an end, and if the person or people I’ve been communicating with feel better about themselves at the end, I have honored my why. Before you start saying, “but how is this possible”, you have to understand, I am not always successful at this. There are many times people walk away from me frustrated or angry. I can, and probably will, write a whole blog post about what I feel is my greatest failing, why I am the hardest on those closest to me?
So, how does this relate to falling leaves? It took me a while to work through this, but I believe it has to do with routine. Like every child, I loved my summer break, and as an educator, I still look forward to July and August. But it’s routine that I crave, and every year, the falling leaves remind me of this, like clockwork. In a CNN.com article, it is noted that a “new study found that [a normal daily rhythm] is linked to improvements in mood and cognitive functioning as well as a decreased likelihood of developing major depression and bipolar disorder”. It is this predictable routine of the school year that helps me live my why.
I want to live in a world where everyone strives to make the people they meet feel better about themselves because of their interactions. What better place to do this, than at school? I get to work with learners, both young and old every day, and every interaction is an opportunity to feed my why. With over 380 students, over 25 staff, and countless family and community members, I have, at my disposal, a massive number of opportunities to feed my why.
That’s why I loved returning every year from summer break. That’s why I love going to work every day. That’s why autumn is my favorite time of year. It’s a signal that I’m returning to that routine that means so much to me. The routine that helps feed my why.
What do YOU think?
- what is your why?
- how are some of your favorite places, activities, seasons related to your why?
- in what ways to do you actively seek out situations that feed your why?
- when you are feeling down, depressed, or just out of sorts, do these feelings represent a misalignment with your why?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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