Day 23 of 80 Days of Excellence
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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We know plants need fertilizer, sun, and the proper temperature to grow. As humans, we need proper conditions to grow as well. Children in a classroom depend on their teacher and school to help create a strong learning environment. As we get older, we become responsible for our own growth and learning. How are you promoting your own growth?
This upcoming week, plan at least one way that you’ll promote your own learning. But remember this, over time we can get complacent. Sometimes we have to intentionally bust up our routine and change things around so we can learn. Don’t settle in the land of complacency, move around and grow.
5 Ideas to Disrupt Your Day and Help You Grow
1 – Read a Book Not In Your Typical Topic
“Readers are leaders and leaders are readers,” says my pastor, Michael Catt.
He’s right. I always look to the book recommendations of my friends, family, and inspirational people. But sometimes I have to intentionally choose a book that I might not normally read. Lately, I’ve been reading When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink, a book about the times of day that seem to be best for lots of different things.
Reading excellent books that are out of your normal reading genre disrupt your thinking and spur on creativity.
2 – Look for a Different Perspective on a Problem You’re Facing
“There’s nothing new under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 1:9
If you want other solutions, find those who have grappled with your same problem. Take some time to read about others who have experienced your problem and overcome.
Find good books.
Don’t just do a light search, dig up some podcasts to listen to in the car or some books to read. Find a movie on a person who overcame the problem you’re facing.
I’ll tell you one thing that won’t solve your problems. Wringing your hands and moping about it. Spur your thinking with some different viewpoints.
3- Find Some New People to Get to Know
Dr. David McClelland, a social psychologist from Harvard University, determined that,
Ninety-five per cent of our success or failure is determined by our “reference group” or those who we habitually associate with.
As I write this, I’m fighting off the flu. And while I’m very sensitive to not go anywhere when I’m contagious, my deepest hope is to be well by Sunday so I can go to church. I go to church for so many reasons which I won’t name all of those here, however, one big reason is for the Koinonia “fellowship” that I’ve written about before.
Don’t Be Afraid of Awesome People
While it isn’t always comfortable to associate with people who may seem “larger than life,” I’ve found that it challenges me to grow and become better. Most of us feel like we don’t “fit in” and indeed, we want to understand that everyone among us can choose their friends. But amazing people need friends too.
Why not you? Why not me?
Look For Amazing People
First, BE the kind of person that others want to be around.
But second, look for people who are inspiring. Who take the high road. Who act with integrity and don’t compromise when the tough days come. Look for lifters. Look for people with a glint in their eye and smile on their lips. Look for hopeful people who find hope even in dark days.
I’m not saying give up previous friends, but find someone new this week who is awesome and ask them for coffee.Then, don’t try to impress THEM, learn about them. Ask questions. Don’t be weird about it, but just take a moment and be interested in another person.
And if that person has overcome a problem that you’re struggling with, even better.
Be Genuinely Interested in Others
The only thing I’d advise against is “picking someone’s brain.” There are times people ask me to coffee or lunch and I realize they aren’t really interested in me but rather, in getting free consulting. That’s a bummer.
As for my life, I’m gifted to know some incredible people. Some I know well and some are on my list to get to know better. They don’t always have big titles or even big bank accounts but great people are there if you learn how to spot them.
You become who you hang around so don’t just hang around with your cats or dogs!
4 – Look for a Growth Opportunity
Take an online class, ask a mentor to lunch, go to a conference, join a new Twitter chat. Look for an intentional new way to thrive this week.
You might just want to learn how to listen to podcasts and set up a set of podcasts to listen to on your drive time. Or, download some new books on Audible.
You might want to have a field of study. For example, as I’m learning about excellence and journaling about it, I’ve also challenged myself to write about excellence, six days a week, for 80 days. I’m learning so much from writing these pieces each day.
I’m constantly asking myself, what makes excellence? Who has excellence? How can I be more excellent?
Consider something you want to learn and intentionally make a growth opportunity this week.
5 – Improve Your Growth Environment
Make a playlist. I often have songs and playlists for seasons of my life. I have playlists called “strength” and another one called “hope” and “looking up” and “epic adventure.” Making playlists for a purpose can help you become stronger and help you grow.
Keep an idea book. Whether you have an idea board on Pinterest, a poster where you put ideas, or a small notebook you carry with you – jot down ideas and review them once a week. Just making sure that you have a place to put ideas can help you grow.
Experience great things. Great musicians, actors, and novel experiences do something to our brain chemistry as our mind releases endorphins and makes new connections. Be on the lookout for different things.
Memories. While living in the past can be a problem if taking too far, take time to look at photographs and memories. Think not only about the happy times but the trials and adventures of the journey.
Review your goals. Some people don’t grow because their goals (if they set them at all) aren’t a stretch. My sister, Susan, gave me a sign I have in my office quoting Eleanor Roosevelt saying, “Do something every day that scares you.” Being scared is not always so much fun, however, goals should scare you just a little bit. They shouldn’t always be easy, they should excite you. Sometimes, improving our growth means improving our goals.
Adults Grow Intentionally
Children grow because they are wired to do so and are placed in growth-rich environments. Adults continue to grow as we continue to intentionally craft the environments, habits, and relationships to help us grow.
I’ve often said that should I teach 30 years, may it be thirty new and better years each time and not the same year thirty times.
Complacency leads to decline. Intentionality may not always lead to growth, but it is the only way we have any hope of growing.
For we cannot settle in the land of complacency and go on great adventures at the same time.
Adventures happen out beyond the safe harbor and beyond the rocks where the dolphins jump, winds blow and leviathans emerge from the deep. You don’t accidentally get there. You decide to weigh anchor and move.