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Believe Coaching Teacher Life

Default: I Don’t Know

Instant gratification… every answer literally at our fingertips…

We need not retain or think or reflect or discover and when we do, there’s often some glorious person, standing on the sidelines, judging us as weird or a know-it-all or special for having a deep interest, a passion, as sense of curiosity.

I’m reminded of mic-drop moment that Earl Nightingale shares in The Strangest Secret… that men simply do not think.

Please—we’re saying men here in generality. Substitute in “people” before you start man-bashing (or not… it’s your brain).

I watch this phenomenon in my teenage students. When faced with a task or question, they click into “I don’t know” and give up mode immediately. They don’t give themselves moment or several moments to process, think, consider or get curious.

It’s just “I don’t know” and abandon.

I don’t accept that. I reject that and guide them to choose again.

From there, I watch the look of relief and burgeoning confidence.

This happens, almost without fail, when I ask my freshmen to create accounts on a website our school uses to check the originality of their essays. They type in the web address just fine. I show them where the “Create Account” button is… and then they slam on the brakes. “I don’t know what to do here” is the default response for some because, although they are the most internet-savvy generation, they haven’t necessarily registered for something academic, formal, something with “security questions.” They want to give up and they let distraction kick in right away before curiosity and inquiry. It’s easier to just click over to another website than to take 30 seconds to figure this out.

I never yell. I don’t get frustrated. I don’t fill out the registration for them. I sit down beside every student who slips into default give-up mode and say something along the lines of, “I know that you’ve used websites before where you’ve had to log in. I know that if the hottest pair of sneakers was on the other side of this instead of a plagiarism checker, you would fly right through these fields and questions. You already know how to do this. Show me. Prove me right.” I’ve never met a student who couldn’t complete this task. Some need guidance or more time and I readily give them help. But they can all figure it out.

In little moments like this, it would be easy to just yell, “Do it!” or create the account for them… or give them a zero for not having an account. But this way uncovers a channel in their brains, clears the brush from the default path and reminds them that they can. These moments compound to empowerment, resilience, and autonomy that is often overlooked in the default ways we learn to do things.

 

How often do you, dear readers, stop before you even start? Talk yourself out of trying something new, a recipe, an activity, a training, because it’s unfamiliar?

Sure, it’s easy and comfortable to stay right where you are… but you can’t grow there. And I know that you have some amazing feats to tackle and gifts to share.

Working to shift the default from “I don’t know” to “Let’s figure this out!”

Learning… unlearning… relearning.

Much love.

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The Essence

In the gaps of time this weekend, I’m watching season three of Netflix’s Atypical, a show that has given me more perspective about teaching individuals with Autism than any graduate or professional development course ever did. In the episode I finished this morning, protagonist Sam is tasked with an assignment about essence. Specifically, he has to depict the essence of a chosen animal, not just draw what the animal looks like. This throws his logical mind into chaos. Just what is the essence of a penguin?

As the episode spun on, I got to thinking about the little amber glass bottles that sit atop by bathroom counter, aside my kitchen sink, inside of a pouch in my purse and upon my desk and my bedside table. Essential oils. The essence of plants, some singular, some blended, all simply the best. I wasn’t surprised when Sam’s art teacher rolled on some lavender essential oil, saying it calms him. Girl… if you only knew what these essences have done for me.

Don’t get it twisted—the contents of these bottles cannot treat, diagnose, cure a darn thing. What they have done for me… how do I put this? The essence of these plants help me to slow down, look around and see this life for what it really is… and just how sweet it can be, if we chose to participate from that perspective. These aromatic liquids have been a tool for me to ground into my body and to use my senses and my higher faculties with clarity. They’ve reminded me that I don’t have to sprint through life complaining from Sunday through Thursday like so many choose to do. They’ve allowed me to find a way through the mind mess and into a place of peace… and they help bring me back into alignment when I fall away from that peace.

As Sam searched for the essence of his chosen penguin using his thoughts, his notebook and the support of his teacher, family and best friend as tools along the way, I couldn’t help but think of my journey, searching for the essence of me, of how I want to show up and serve in this world. I use my thoughts, I have many notebooks and I am surrounded by incredibly supportive people, many of whom I met through the essential oil community. I look up from my laptop and see these little bottles, donning labels like Humility, Acceptance and Hope, like Light the Fire, Sacred Frankincense and Harmony, like Lemon, Geranium and Peppermint… the essence of these plants helping me get to the essence of who I am, what I want and how I want to be in this world.

Take a moment today. Breathe deeply. Close those beautiful eyes. Listen to you. What is at your core? Drop the “stuff” and get down to the essence. Give yourself permission to shine in that truth.

And, if you need help getting down to it… I sure have a way to help you. Much love.

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