Sunday, June 8, 2014

Leadership and Letting the Difficulties of Life & Job Be Our Teachers

Aren’t our difficulties always our best teacher, taking us to the places we rarely willingly go on our own?

Bayda, Ezra (2014-04-08). The Authentic Life: Zen Wisdom for Living Free from Complacency and Fear (p. 192). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

There’s something noble in looking at even the daily difficulties of life as teachers. These troubled situations in our lives do indeed impart wisdom if we have a willingness to allow them to teach us, but we must be willing to be openminded and drop the difficulty-avoidance strategies we often engage in. Many pray that their god will take away the difficulty so they don’t have to endure it, but I am reminded of the story of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he did do the human thing and ask that the difficulty be taken away, but also acknowledged that if it was his path, then he could accept it. There’s is true nobility in accepting our difficulties as our teachers. Regardless of religious faith, difficulties can be our teachers if we’re willing to let them be.

I once had an administrator who believed that with proaction, all difficulty and complication could be avoided. He painstakingly planned for every possibility. To him a school was a machine to be manipulated and controlled to the point that every issue could be avoided. That was, until the one difficulty he missed occurred. Due to this difficulty, he found himself transferred to another school, where he was free to practice proactive avoidance strategies once again.

We as administrators must do what we can to proactively prevent problems; that’s a big part of our mission, so I am certainly not arguing that we slacken our efforts to prevent issues and difficulties from happening. What I do advocate is a simple recognition and openness to let life use difficulty to teach us, because, as Zen teacher Ezra Bayda points out, these difficulties "take us places we aren’t willing to go on our own."

We don’t have to see difficulties in our jobs as something to be avoided. We can see them as our “best teachers."

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