Look, I’m a gal who likes things, likes nice things and is always on the look-out for the next thing. I’m not materialistic, but I do like nice things. (Maybe this is my justification for being materialistic??? Ha!) What I know, though, is as I get older, I tend to spend more on one item of quality than a bunch of little items. When I was younger, I wanted 10 pairs of shoes, ½ of which would break or kill my feet. Now, I realize that, while I might want a zillion pairs of shoes, buying a higher quality pair that I’ll wear out over years just makes more sense. This is an example of less, but better. Fewer pairs of shoes, but what I have is of the highest (or at least higher) quality!
My brother gave me a book on the Non-Essentialist life – the idea is that when you determine what your goals are in career, life, relationships, etc. and then pursue only the things that are of high quality and important in relation to meeting those goals, you will live a more fulfilling life. I agree. But it ain’t easy!
In fact, the author says that living this kind of life takes practice and routine. The good kind, not the boring kind of routine! For example, even if something sounds like a great idea and actually is a great idea, it doesn’t mean that it’s a great idea for me. It just might not line up with what my goals are.
Of course, I started to think about what this means for educators like me. And maybe you.
I see us falling for the “shiny penny” syndrome…it looks good, so I must do it. Even when “it” doesn’t fit our goals.
Let me give you an example. We recently worked with a client of ours who had the opportunity to be granted $50,000.00. I mean, who wouldn’t want that? Sounds great, right? Well, to take this money, it would mean that they would have to dismantle their instructional schedule that they’ve worked so hard to perfect in order to make room for some additional curriculum that the $50,000.00 requires them to use. They were going to go for it. I mean, who turns down good money?
The thing is…it wasn’t good money. It was just money. I talked with the principal and asked him this question: Is accepting this gift of $50,000.00 so important to do you that you’re willing to work against the school schedule that you have protected for two years? Are you willing to impact instructional minutes for kids in order to get $50,000.00?
He thought for a really, really long time.
And hemmed and hawed.
And said yes he was willing to change the schedule to get the money.
He called me later and said, “I really thought about it. The work we’ve done on the instructional schedule is all about giving kids more instructional minutes and these additional instructional minutes are having positive impact on our data. I would be a fool to sell my soul for 50 g’s wouldn’t I?”
He knew my answer.
Can you relate to his struggle? I mean the grant money was AWESOME! It was a GREAT GIFT! It would have solved some pretty decent-sized problems around his school!
But it wasn’t essential to the school reaching their goals. In fact, it would’ve caused them to work in opposition of their goals.
So, I ask you the very question that I’m pondering and have rolling around my mind these days as I make decisions and lead clients to do the same: Is this essential to us meeting our goals?
If it’s not, keep it moving. If it is, then figure out what needs to come off of your plate in order to implement it.