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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Running On E

Lessons Learned

Just Say Thanks

It’s really quite simple.  When the car is running out of gas, you fill the tank; that is, if you want the car to continue moving. People are not dissimilar to this with respect to appreciation and encouragement. Kind, gentle, affirming words fill the soul with energizing joy despite the age of the hearer. And kind, gentle, affirming words are free of charge; no need to add a line to the budget.  Balm to the soul. Impetus to run a little farther.  Uplifting to the heart.  The push to carry on, to try harder, to jump higher, to get up again, to not walk away.  Sometimes, all that’s needed is thank you. And yet it seems we have a strange propensity to hoard these sorts of words, as if uttering them diminishes us or will serve to arrest aspiration in the hearer. We, however, freely and generously pour out our unsolicited opinions that bite and snip, our whiney complaints, and our interminably long lists of chores and orders, in much the same manner as a spigot stuck on high. Is it really easier and more beneficial to beat people down with the work harder speech than it is to offer the encouragement or appreciation speech and watch them work harder of their own volition in response to verbal affirmation? Which stirs the most meaningful motivation? Which builds and nourishes the strongest loyalty? Which empowers for the long-term? In our classrooms, which, in obsessive pursuit of metric excellence, have frequently become places of scripted interaction driven by the time constraints associated with high-stakes testing, the unscripted but life-giving words of affirmation which desperately  need to be said and heard often get lost in a stressful flurry. Unless I tell you it’s not good, assume that it is good and keep at it. What sort of motivation does that limp verbiage inspire? Emptiness is the result of that limp verbiage. And no one can run on empty.  We direly need to stop. We direly need to breathe. We truly and absolutely need to look one another in the eyes and speak encouragement and affirmation and appreciation to one another. Students. Colleagues.  Family members. Neighbors. We’re running on empty and the fuel to share, the fuel we need is free. Why are we waiting?