I was flipping back through my journal this week and came across the sketch below. To be honest, I do not remember when I made this note, or what I was doing (or maybe not doing) that led to the sketch. Yet, it did provide me with an important reminder about growth. To improve and work towards where we want to be, we must hold the tension between our current reality and our vision.
Much like a rubber band, if you stretch it too far too fast it will break. But, if you apply tension to the rubber band over a period of time, it will eventually stretch out. Then there is the possibility for you to apply more tension causing it to stretch even farther, and so on, until it is stretched a much greater distance than it would have been originally able to stretch without breaking.
This analogy works the other way as well if we apply it to ourselves. If you never apply tension to your daily life, you will never leave your current reality. You can blame the rubber band all you want, but unless you are willing to move away from your current reality and apply tension, you will never move towards your vision; you will never grow and stretch yourself.
You have to stretch, you have to hold the tension between where you are and where you want to go. Tension is not always comfortable, in fact, it can be exhausting to hold for long periods of time. No tension means you never move. Add tension, hold that tension, and the stretch will help you to move to where you want to be.
As educators this idea is imperative. To move those we serve, we must hold tension between the current actions or current realities of those we are supporting and the vision for what we know they can achieve. I know we can see the people in front of us, but can we see the person they can become in 5 years…10 years…15 years. To help those we serve, we must sometimes see past the person they are to the person they will be. People cannot dream past what they can conceptualize. We often ask people to dream based on our reality, not their own. Sometimes, it is our job to help people make this vision concrete, not conceptual. We have to find ways to make this new vision a concrete image, helping people understand the world beyond their current circumstances. We must help them find ways to hold tension between their reality and this vision. Sometimes, we have to hold the tension for them because we are the only ones that can see the people they will be.
Hold the tension, deal with the uncomfortableness of the tension, and you can help move them towards the vision that will someday become their new reality.
Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing!