You Always Have Time

Time is what we want the most, but use the worst.
William Penn

As we wrap up the another school year, I have to admit to you that I am tired. Sometimes the end of the school year can be one of the toughest times for me.The busyness of this time of year always catches up with me. It is during these times that I need to be very cautious to manage my attitude and mood. When I become physically drained, it is always much harder for me to manage my mental and emotional state.

I want to you to stop reading for a minute and answer two questions:

  • What is something you have recently succeed at despite physical, mental, or emotional struggles?
  • What is something you have failed at recently because you could not handle the physical, mental, or emotional struggles?

Go ahead, think of answers to both and write them down.

Now, be honest with yourself, why did you achieve one but not the other?  Was it really that much more physically exhausting in one scenario, was the emotional demand exceptionally more draining, or was your mental capacity not up to one of the tasks? What is the difference? Why do we accomplish some things, while failing at others?

You can expand this idea to others, as well. Why do some people accomplish things that we cannot seem to get to? Where do they get the time to do all of these things that we just cannot accomplish? But, can time really be an excuse? Can time be to blame for when we are not achieving what we want? Time is the one factor that everyone on this planet has in common. We all have the same 24 hour day, the same 1,440 minutes, so it all comes down to what we are able to do with those 86,400 seconds. So, why do some people accomplish more? The answer is a difficult one to swallow. People who accomplish more, do more, and achieve more in each day, do so because they are better. They have better skills to tackle whatever obstacle is in the way. While some blame the obstacle or say there is not time, the best have developed skills that allow them to accomplish these things.

What we have to remember is that there is always time; we just may not possess the skill needed to accomplish what we want in the time that is given. This means that since we cannot create more time, we must then find ways to better our skills. This idea reminds me of a famous quote many times accredited to the Navy Seals: “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard.”

This is an important lesson to learn as a leader. If there are things you want your school, your classroom, or your students to accomplish and they are not getting there, we can choose two things: blame the situation (or complications of the situation) or get better. I am sure you have found through the trials and experiences of your life, blame has never fixed a problem. Complaining about not having enough time, never gives you more of it. The only way to accomplish the challenges of life (or to help the people you serve to accomplish these things) is to build the appropriate skills needed to address the problem.

Whether those problems are apathetic students, unmotivated workers, low test scores, kids that “won’t”, argumentative staff members, those who seem to push back on everything, pressure to be “on” all the time, too many standards to cover…the list could go on. The answer is that if you have not found a way to best address these situations, you need to build skill; we need to get better.

I am almost positive that there was something on the list above that struck a chord. Something that might have made you a little mad. I will admit, there are things on that list that few, if any, fully have the skill to “fix.” But, that is beside the point. If something was said in that list made you mad, and created a rebuttal that started with: “Well yeah, but…” You just decided to blame rather than try to solve and as mentioned before — and blame will solve nothing.

Our only choice when we are struggling is to stay stagnant or to try to get better. That means we have to find ways to learn. We have to find ways to get better.

As I continue my writing journey of Leading with L.E.S.S. (Love, Equip, Serve, and Self), this section is a vital part of helping equip people for change. It is the core of equipping people. We cannot change the people we serve. If we want our schools or our classrooms to improve, we have to equip people to build the skill needed to accomplish the difficult work that is in front of us in the time that we have. We only get our students for a controlled amount of time. And that time never seems like it is enough. You have two choices: blame or get better. Let’s choose to build skill and get better, our kids deserve it!

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