As I’ve shared in previous blogs, my personal mission is to be a spark that ignites positive, sustainable change in the lives of others. While each of these words contains significant meaning, the word “spark” serves as a foundation for every choice that I make in life.
Last week, prior to beginning a lesson with a large group of 5th grade students, a teacher very graciously acknowledged one of her students for the notable changes she had seen in both his attitude and behavior. Furthermore, she mentioned that when asked what had prompted him to change, the boy replied, “I’ve really been thinking about all of the things Mr. Sissel has been teaching us.” I immediately noticed my ego jockeying for a front row seat in my mind, reassuring me that I was responsible for this change and therefore deserved a pat on the back. However, in a moment of self-awareness, I chose to override the ego and align my thoughts with my personal mission, which served as a powerful reminder that I had only facilitated this change. The real change occurred when the student decided to apply what he had learned. I didn’t force him to do anything. I was simply the spark that lit the flame. Remember my personal mission?
I want you to think about the last time you decided to make a change in your life. Maybe it was something simple like cutting back on your sugar intake, or much more complex like drafting that difficult email to your boss. Regardless of the change, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a result of another person forcing you to make this change. Whether you were aware of it or not, it’s likely that your choice was a result of a spark that influenced you. Your spark may have come from another person who had done something similar, or maybe it was something you saw on television or read about in a book. Either way, this spark served as a facilitator of change.
Let’s face it, no one wants to be forced into change. As you’ve probably experienced, it is always met with tremendous resistance. Furthermore, if any change does occur, it is usually short-term. On the contrary, if someone or something serves as a spark for change, it’s likely to be much more sustainable. Why? Because we develop a sense of ownership that makes the change our own, not the result of someone else’s agenda.
As teachers (and parents), I truly believe that our most effective means of change are through facilitation, not force. I invite you to be the spark of change for the people around you. Below is an analysis of the contrasting mindsets that are present in each.
I believe that sustainable change occurs from the inside-out (You change yourself).
I will share the tools and strategies, then invite you to use them.
I strive to live what I teach.
I’m interested in empowering others.
My role is the “guide on the side”, or coach.
I am driven by service.
I believe that sustainable change occurs from the outside-in (I change you).
I will share the tools and strategies, then make you use them.
Do as I say, not as I do.
I’m interested in exerting my own power.
My role is the all-knowing lecturer.
I am driven by ego.