“Don't send me flowers
when I'm dead.
If you like me,
send them while I'm alive.”
I don’t do funerals. I have been to at least five, and I just don’t enjoy the somber heaviness that people seem to wallow in. To be fair, I don’t plan on attending my funeral either. But, I have imagined my funeral countless times, the curse of having an existential disposition. In my imagination game of my funeral, the speeches are not sobbing sentimental remembrances. Instead, I see countless friends and loved ones sharing stories about my countless shenanigans.
As I move from teacher to leader, I have found that shenanigans, being the Jack-O-nape, and modeling one’s life after most trickster deities does not foster a sense of reliability in those around me, my team, and my co-workers.
HABIT TWO: Start With The End In Mind.
Covey (1989) states that “there's a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things” (Covey, 1989 p. 45). Too often in my life, I have chosen the trick, jest, or shenanigan. This means that in my mind, my imagined self, I have visualized the practical joke to have more useful results than not doing the joke. Often my behaviors show a complete disregard to what the end results might be. For example, my friends and I are gamers, and we play lots of games. One of the great and classic games is Lairs’ Dice. I was once caught using a dice with five pips on each side; the dice was all fives. This caused quite a stir, and I gave up my single die that left me with only four dice. The true trick of this was that the all five-faced die was a red herring, the four remaining dice were loaded.
“Whether we are aware of it or not, whether we are in control of it or not, there is the first creation to every part of our lives” (Covey, 1989 p. 47). Now with that story, a lot is revealed about what I believe and what I do, my reliability is practically nulled. Even now, as one reads this blog post, the reader is making a mental note, “do not play dice with this bastard.” I have fostered this persona of being a trickster and it has not served me well. The challenge for me, now at this time, is to start seeing myself as the person who fosters reliability in his personal connections. As a parent, who wants a child to say, someday in the future, “I couldn’t trust my father.” What a horrible thought. To continue with Covey (1989) “We are either the second creation of our own proactive design, or we are the second creation of other people's agendas, of circumstances, or of past habit (p. 47).
I need to be more aware of my actions and the responsibility I have to myself, for that action. I am not trying to please those around me, I am not responsible for others, and they are not in my sphere of influence. However, I can change the script I use, written myself, in my daily interactions. Where I see myself needing to be and what my behaviors will be done not match the actions I have deliberately taken in the past. If I focus on my goals and plan for my better behaviors, there will naturally be a benefit. How could there not be? Bringing Covey (1989) back into the conversation he reminds us that “we don't have to live with those scripts” (p. 49). How powerful is that?
TEACHING THE HABIT:
In my Enrichment class for 6th graders, students spend 20 minutes of each class silently ready. Don’t get me started if I think silent reading improves reading. Out of 300 minutes a week, one-third of the student time is spent doing nothing. I have now taken 40 minutes of each week to instruct students on “Secret Stuff Adults Know, But Won’t Tell You.” The title is on purpose and is meant to get the students attention. The substance is a short little lesson on The Seven Habits. Each Habit is done about fostering academic work, and that is a great place to start. I am planting small little seeds that will hopefully take root. This week we wrote about “What will your promotion day be like” and then we discussed how does one get to promotion day.
Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New York: Simon and Schuster.