Pick One Battle

A colleague and good friend shared this:

It’s beautiful in its simplicity – but deceptively simple. That’s because the injunction to ‘let go’ presumes knowledge of the thing that was picked up, and how sticky, or heavy it’s since become. Of what, specifically, am I letting go? And how do I, specifically, put it down (and then not pick it up again when no-one’s looking)?

We humans are skilled at mentally revisiting issues about which we care, yet over which we have no direct control. Think about the future or the past or the news. Just three small examples for you there.

At least my friend’s poster provides a valuable sorting opportunity. But what kind of battles, here in early December 2021, can we choose?

20 months into a pandemic, as a new variant pops up its vastly mutated head, schools are being invited to keep calm and to carry on, regardless of exhaustion, uncertainty and day-to-day volatility. Energy is low, patience is thin, tempers are on hair triggers. Is there a battle worth picking? I’d argue, yes, there is always a battle worth picking, but make it the best one. Here are four:

Battle OneOthers

The battle that trumps all battles is the safeguarding and wellbeing of our children. I’ve seen some incredible fights over the years as teachers, leaders and other professionals battle to save children from harm and give them a future they would otherwise be denied.

Battle TwoAuthority

And then there’s Ofsted. A headteacher in one of my coaching groups (and the inspiration for this article) wisely recommends this approach: don’t try to control it all during an inspection (or in the transparent pantomime debrief). Pick one theme and fight for it relentlessly. Maybe you’ll win, maybe you’ll loose – you’re talking to the book regardless, but at least you’ll have demonstrated focus, passion, and commitment – rather than presenting as ‘against’ everything (even if you are).

Battle ThreePosition

Leaders often battle on behalf of others or for a value or principle. It’s what makes them leaders. Leaders step forward when others don’t; they speak out when others can’t; they act when others won’t. Leaders take a position and they defend it. Others see the stand they’ve taken and may join or attack. There’s a difference between being outspoken and speaking out. Positions of value are worth defending, worth battling for.

Battle Four – Self

Or maybe for you, the battle is about showing up each day and giving what you can. Teachers affect eternity – even when they’re exhausted. They rarely see the value they’ve added to the world but that value is added non the less. Maybe your one battle is to hang on, to face the world again and to make someone’s future just a touch brighter.

Many more battles are available. Choose one that’s within your control to fight, and one that is worth winning.

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