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Come to the edge

Posted by: Joyce Matthews   |   No Comments   |  Posted on: Dec 21, 2015

Sometimes we need a bit of a push to help us fly.

We might seem outwardly confident, knowledgeable and experienced. We might even believe that ‘we’re worth it”, but many of us falter when it comes to taking the first step to realizing our dreams.

My colleague Peter Smith often helps school leaders ‘fly’ by reading this Apollinaire quote at the culmination of a two week-long leadership programme.

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”

Whenever he says it, I see the faces of the delegates light up. I hear them inhale deeply as they straighten their backs, and I feel their pride and anticipation. It’s often just what they need to help them ‘fly’, to take the next step in their personal and professional journey.

But it’s hard to get this kind of feeling when we haven’t got someone around to give us that timely little boost. And that’s exactly the type of boost I needed when I left teaching to start working for myself. But without Peter around I knew I had to find a way to do it for myself. How did I do it? I simply took 5 minutes to list as many of my achievements as I could think of.

From big work related achievements like gaining a university degree, to smaller more homely ones, like baking a successful soufflé, to more personal ones related to my hobbies and my friends. It looked a bit like a CV, but covered a lot more than just work achievements.

It was just the lift I needed, because when thinking about starting something new, something as scary as a new job, or leaving the teaching profession, we all need a little bit of self-belief to help us understand our potential to achieve. I needed what Albert Bandura described as ‘self-efficacy’. Believing I could achieve would determine how I thought, behaved, and felt. My list of achievements didn’t just help me to think I could achieve it showed me I was an accomplished achiever.

And this is where teachers have a head start when it comes to tackling new projects or realizing our goals. By the time we start our teaching career, we’ve a whole pile of achievements to our name; and not just paper ones.. But how often do we stop to think about our achievements? Once every few years when it’s time to update our CV? Yet if when we stop to think, even for 5 minutes, of all the achievements we have each day (just take a look at that to do list with all the ticks on it), we realise, not only are we achievers, our history of achievements show we can achieve whatever we choose. We can even go to the edge and fly.

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