Teaching is hard work. Sure you get great holidays, but they’re both well-deserved and absolutely essential. Having said that, why is the first week back after a break so exhausting? If you work for a school that’s anything like the schools for which I’ve worked, most of the term you’re running at a supercharged pace. Usually this pace during term time is ok, however, for me, the start of every term is particularly taxing and I put it down to compulsory meetings about absolutely nothing.
There's nothing more boring and draining than sitting in a pointless meeting listening to someone rubbish on about strategic plans for the department. In my experience, these have been nothing more than pointless time wasting activities in which nothing is achieved, or if something is possibly decided as perhaps a good idea, the good idea is deferred to a committee or held off until ‘later.’ Everybody at the meeting knows that ‘later’ means never! So why is this?
The failure to achieve anything at all is completely counter to what teaching is actually about. Teaching is about everyone learning new things and about getting things done. It's about moving forward, about improving oneself and growing! So why is it so hard for this to happen within a school? As educators, we should be at the forefront of innovation and making things happen. Yet the overall culture of schools tends to be hell-bent against new ideas and innovation.
The sad fact is that the majority of the education system in Australia is still stuck in the 19th century. Principals who should have retired when Mr Squiggle was still drawing his upside down master pieces just keep hanging on to what worked ‘back in their day!’ Well their day has come and gone and now with Australia falling behind Kazakhstan’s educational standards, something has to change. But if the top down approach isn't going to work, who's going to change it? Well you have to! If there's ever a time to get to and do something, it's now! Every time you have a good idea that could improve the education of your students, then make it happen. You might get told no five times, but don't give up.
If you really want to make something happen, then it's up to you to find a way to do it. It's time to be bold and push the boundaries. Too often I've seen teachers spoon feed kids the answers to everything just so they get results, but this shows a complete lack of innovation and is ultimately damaging to the student. Sure they might get a good result on one thing, but then they become dependent on the teacher giving them everything. The same goes the opposite way. The teachers who are prepared to spoon feed their students everything, are the same ones who put road blocks up to new ideas and innovation. You know the ones I'm talking about because someone's name had just popped into your head.
On staff development days, they're the ones ready to kill off all good ideas because it's uncomfortable to them to try something new and something different. After all, they've just got back from the holidays so they couldn't possibly do something new so soon. They're great with the excuses! However, anything worth doing comes with challenges. To achieve great things, you need to be bold and it will feel uncomfortable, but it's so worth it.
To kick off this new academic year, don't give up on your bold ideas. Make them happen! No matter how grand the challenge might be, you can find a way! After all, it’s about developing the best educational opportunities for your students, through which you can help everyone to achieve great results.
Goal setting is something that’s quite often missed due to the busy nature of our lives, but it can create focus and lead to massive positive change in your life. We often think about it at this time of the year, because people throw around the idea of the New Year’s resolution. However, this is nothing more than a notional way people feel good for a day or two before they go back to their old ways. Let’s get serious about something here. Personal and business goal setting is completely different and it’s an excellent way to create a positive and proactive start to the year.
I constantly develop new goals, work out what I need to do to achieve them, then go and make it happen! None of my goals have just magically happened. They have all required planning and taking action. If you have the drive and determination to do this, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve in life!
Over the years, I’ve worked with both kids and adults to help them create a vision for themselves through goal setting. What do they like to do? What do they love to do? What do they want to achieve? Where do they want to take their lives, their careers, their businesses? What’s their timeframe for each goal? Today? Next week? Next month? End of the year? Next five years? What actions are they going to have to take to achieve these goals?
I have to use a cliché here, but it is warranted. It’s often hard for people to see forest for the trees! People get so stuck in the noise of life. The more challenging and complex the goal, the more likely people are going to think it’s all too hard and just give up. People often don’t put things into perspective. Huge goals are awesome, but to achieve them, you need to take massive amounts of action. Goals without actions don’t actually achieve anything! One day I was at the supermarket and a rather over-weight guy was standing there complaining about how he couldn’t get fit, yet whilst standing and complaining, he was eating a pie and drinking a can of energy drink. This is typical of a lot of people because they want to achieve something, but they’re not willing to take any real action towards achieving it.
Similarly, new businesses are particularly vulnerable to this lack of direction and lack of appropriate action. Like the guy with energy drink, they want to achieve a goal of being ‘successful in business,’ but why so many businesses fail is that they don’t put in the action required to achieve their goal of ‘success,’ because they haven’t mapped out what that success looks like and what actions must be seriously taken to achieve it. Instead, all their energy is put into other time consuming activity just to maintain the status quo. However, when you set goals for yourself and your business and the pathway of actions to achieve these goals, you’ll see just how much more clarity of purpose you’ll have and this clarity fuels your drive and determination towards those goals.
You don’t have to wait for a set point in time either. Start today! You’ve got nothing to lose by doing it and it’s not going to cost you anything at all, but will deliver great long-term benefits. Once you start to truly think about what you want to achieve, break it down into smaller goals or milestones. You’ll find that you can achieve so much more. Here’s a simple guide to begin with:
1. What’s your goal? (Be specific)
2. What’s your timeframe? (Set a date)
3. What actions must you take to achieve this? (Again be specific)
I do this constantly throughout the year. Over the past twelve months, I’ve achieved 5 major business goals. However, I’m still working towards a number of others, as the actions that needed to be taken, had to be taken over a longer period of time. Don’t be afraid of long-term goals, these can produce the most reward, but they require planning and commitment. In addition to this, I’ve added more business and personal goals all along the way! One for me for the next twelve months is to be involved in another Australian feature film! The last one was an amazing fun experience and whilst for me this isn’t a business goal, it still contributes to the challenge and excitement of life.
Take some time right now to set goals for yourself. What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to be in a month? In a year? In five years? What does that look like for you? What do you need to do to make it happen?
A very important part of this is to find some space where you can get some clarity. Where’s the best place is for you to think and reflect, that’s distraction free? Where do you have your best ideas? Where’s the best place for you to be inspired? Find it, go there and start setting out your goals.
Having a healthy and proactive mind goes hand in hand with having a healthy and positive life and it’s something that you can achieve. Now take the time, set some goals and have a wonderful, proactive and prosperous 2017!
This week, since it’s the new year holiday period, I thought I'd write more about adventures and well nothing about business. After a massive past month, I managed to jump on a plane and fly to Japan. I love flying and with my favourite TV show, now movie, Absolutely Fabulous on the entertainment system, the movie was just the right length to have dinner and then fall asleep. Having not stopped for weeks, it wasn't hard at all to doze off and wake when the stewards were serving breakfast!
After a muesli and a couple of espressos, I was all ready to go. Another thing I love about travelling is the fact that one moment I can be in stinking hot weather, the next I step into winter. It's not quite like going into your cupboard and discovering Narnia, but not that far off it either!
Shuffling through immigration seems to get faster and faster as they improve technology to check people through. The biggest hassle however, was trying to work out how to make all the connections to get to my destination. The Japanese I did at school hardly prepared me for any of this. It came down to a couple of options. 1. I could wait 4 hours and catch a bus directly to my hotel (boring). 2. Get a mono-rail, bullet train and bus to my destination. Far more interesting… and challenging! Whilst I already knew of these two options and had it planned out in my mind what I needed to do to make this happen, it's not until you're faced with a ticket machine that even when in English Mode doesn't make sense and no ticket sales desks in sight.
I managed to fudge my way through and buy a ticket. I wasn't sure if it were the right one, but hey it kept working everytime I stuck it in a machine so I guessed I was on the right track. (The track being a monorail, it was kind of hard not to be!)
I made my way to Tokyo Central Station and from here ran around madly trying to find the next connection. It was the bullet train! I again did battle with the ticket machine that had way too many options that didn't make any sense at all. However, I finally succeeded in getting it to spit out a ticket, yet when I went to the gate, it turns out it wanted two tickets. So after the guard said something I didn't understand except for the word two, I went back and got a second ticket (which was apparently slightly different somehow). Placing both tickets in the machine at once, it worked! With a strange feeling that this ticketing process was somehow inefficient and un-Japanese, I raced up to the platform as the train was minutes from leaving.
This was my first time on a bullet train and it was amazing! The sleek design, the aerodynamics, the whole train was awesome. I can't for the life of me work out why Australia hasn't built any lines for them. The smooth pace at which they accelerated and slowed mean that you were never thrown about. Although I have to admit I was slightly disappointed that leaving the station I wasn't nailed to the back of my seat by 5Gs of thrust. Now that would be cool.
Seeing the sheer size and spread of Tokyo was something itself. The high-rise apartments, the industrial areas, the sprawl of the city seemed to go on forever. As the urban centre became more distant, the train sped up hitting over 280kph! The world flashed by and in the distance, I could see the snow capped Mt Fuji dominating the landscape.
The train ride was around 1.5hrs and as the towns became more rural, the design of the building changed and there was some great tranquility about this transition.
Reaching Nagano (venue of the 1998 Winter Olympics), the bullet train ride ended. Stepping off the headed carriage, I was snapped back into winter by the frosty chill in the air. From here, I transitioned onto a bus for the final leg of the journey. As the bus wound its way through the rural townships, light snow began to fall, getting heavier and heavier as we ascended into the mountains.
After another hour and a bit on the bus, we reached the township of Hakuba, a great town now deep with snow. I explored town for a couple of hours buying and eating some random foods which looked like one thing, but tasted like something else. One such food looked like a cream bun and turned out to have some sort of black bean mash within it! Ha! It's always worth trying new foods and I eventually stumbled on something I liked for lunch.
Going anywhere new for the first time is always filled with uncertainty, but that's what makes it so exciting. I don't know what's going to happen next, but to an extent it doesn't matter, as enjoying the journey and everything that happens along the way is the most important thing. It's way too easy to get so wrapped up in work and ‘regular’ life that you miss out on the opportunities to travel, to explore and to experience new things. So over the Christmas break, think about somewhere new you'd like to go or something new you’d like to try. Ask yourself where your next adventure will be and go and book it in the next hour! Whatever it is, don't delay, don't defer it, make it happen and have an awesome adventure whatever it may be!
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