Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Candy Jar Mindset

"You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."  I've heard this statement many times and I've even used it a few times in my own household with my own kids.  I've also found myself saying, "It is what it is" often in response to things not going the way that I had hoped or planned.  While both of these statements are appropriate in certain situations, I'm not sure that they represent the perspective that I want to have the majority of the time.

The "you get what you get" and "it is what it is" mindsets have often been an excuse for me to give up.  I've used them as a crutch during those times that I knew I should've pursued something more or worked harder to get whatever it was that I was working toward.  Using those statements caused me to see life, projects, and goals as a slot machine. In doing so, I was giving myself an excuse to be a passive observer instead of an active participant.

I don't gamble often and don't enjoy it much at all.   I'm a really sore loser and get so frustrated when I begin to lose money.   However, I've been to Vegas and a few casinos closer to home with friends and family.  I typically just play the penny slots but very rarely win a dime.  When I think back on the times that I've played, I realized something.   When playing the slots I pull the handle and wait to see what happens.  If the outcome isn't what I had hoped, I become frustrated and often give up. I throw my hands up in the air, say something like, "It's just not my day," and walk away wishing things had gone differently.  Unfortunately, I sometimes react this same way when I experience struggle or failure in real life.  I sit as a passive observer waiting for something really cool to happen and becoming frustrated when it doesn't.

I recently remembered my grandma's candy jar from when I was a kid.  She had a big jar with a variety of candy options inside.  It always seemed that the candy I wanted the most (Banana Laffy Taffy) was at the bottom of the jar.  I had three choices, I could wait until everyone else ate the candy on top, I could eat some of the candy that I didn't like to get to my favorite, or I could put forth the effort it would take to dig into the jar to reach the candy that I so desperately wanted at the bottom.

Isn't life often like this?  Sometimes, we have to wait our turn to get what it is that we want and other times we have the option to make something happen.  There have been so many times that I have had to do something that I didn't want to do in order to reach a goal.  I've had to become comfortable with the uncomfortable and be willing to do things that required me to be fearless.  Other times, I've had to do the hard work, the digging, to make something happen that wasn't going to happen on its own.

I believe that doors are opened and closed for us every single day. I believe that when a door is closed, sometimes it is locked and never to be opened again.  However, I also believe that there are situations in which we just need to keep knocking and keep believing as we seek opportunities that have been laid before us.

I remember when I wrote, Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry.  That was definitely at the bottom of the jar.  I knew that I wanted to write and share the 6 Ps of Genius Hour but I also knew that time, willingness, and fear were all on top.  It was going to be some serious work to dig through those things to get to what it was that I really wanted.  But, I did.  And I'm so glad that I did.  Because, while I was digging to the bottom, I also tried some new things.  In doing so, I learned that some of the things that I thought I wouldn't like, I actually enjoyed.  I learned new things about myself and realized that if I never go after what I want, I'm allowing myself to be a passive observer, just like at the slot machines.  But when I'm an active participant and I'm willing to take the good with the bad, really cool things begin to happen.

So, in 2019, I will have the Candy Jar Mindset.  I'll do things that I don't want to do and will work hard to dig through the mess to get to what I know I can and will accomplish.  I say it all the time, but I believe in this generation of learners and want to work hard to continue to pursue change in education.  I've made my list of "candy" that is at the bottom of my jar and will soon make decisions on whether or not it's worth the digging to finally have it in my reach.

What is the candy at the bottom of your jar?  What will you work hard for in 2019?  How can you change your perspective from being a passive observer to being an active participant and going after what you want to accomplish?  Make your list and think about the new things that you will have to try to get to the bottom or what you will have to dig past to reach what it is that you really want.

Happy 2019!  Let's make it AMAZING!


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