Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Gives You Joy?

In a previous post I created an animation to share some key takeouts from a keynote Brendan Spillane  presented at the NZPF Conference.  In that post I shared some general leadership concepts that relate to vision and taking stock.  Whilst I found those messages important and of great interest, what really struck a chord with me was a question he posed.

Brendan asked 'what gives you joy in your professional life?', and whilst it was related to our professional life, it is equally applicable to our life outside our working one.

It was one of his key messages, to find what gives you joy in your professional life, to seek that out and to use that to make you a better leader.

It was an interesting question that he posed.

When I asked myself 'what gives me joy', it was very easy to answer what doesn't give me joy.  Whats more, when I reflected on this further, I realised that by not seeking out the things in my day that do give me joy, I could easily be derailed by the less joyful moments.  In that kind of cycle, the danger is a loss of passion, and a faster route to leadership loneliness and burn out.

To sit and think about what gives you joy in your professional (or more importantly your personal life) is quite a powerful moment for reflection.  The power of it lies in its simplicity.  You see, once you nut it down, the things that give us joy are not the big things but those smaller, little moments that create a sense of sweet satisfaction.

For me it is the students.

I made a concerted effort this year to spend as much time in classrooms as I could.  Like every leader I know, it wasn't easy.  In the end, it came down to remembering that the only time during the day that I could get into classrooms, or to work with students, was between the hours of nine to three.  With that in mind, it was a matter of rearranging my day so that I could make it happen, scheduling in the time to conduct walkthroughs and observations, collect student voice and most importantly, work with my Inquiry and coaching students.  These are the times I love the best.  They are gentle reminders of why education is my life's work, and why I come to work every day.

It is a timely reminder to find those things that bring us joy each day.  Being an educator is hard work, and often it is thankless.  Finding the joy in our professional life is a simple recipe to increased happiness, better outcomes for our colleagues and our students and an increase in satisfaction.  If we are doing what brings us joy then we are indeed lucky.

So, I leave you with a challenge.   Find what it is that gives you joy in your professional and personal life because that is where satisfaction lives.

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