The future doesn’t belong to the brilliant, but rather to the resilient. Resilience is the ability that allows people that have a setback in the goals to comeback stronger than ever in their life. Psychologists have identified a few of the factors that make somebody resilient, among them: a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to control emotions, and the capacity to see failure as temporary.
Peter Buffett wrote: “Our journey in life rarely follows a straight line but is often met with false starts, crises, and blunders. How we push through and persevere in these challenging moments is where we begin to create the life of our dreams.” Sometimes failure and pain are our life’s greatest teachers. The toughest people are the ones who love despite personal shortcomings, cry to themselves behind closed doors and fight battles that nobody may even know about.
Life is about transcending your circumstances, taking control of your destiny, and living your life to the fullest. Educators must embrace that mantra in the classroom, and out of it. As Jake Owen’s recent summer tour “Life’s Whatcha Make It,” he describes it like this: “[If] you wake up in the morning and you’re happy and you go forward with a smile on your face and want to make it great, most likely, it’s gonna be a great day,” he says. “If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed with negativity in your mind, that’s pretty much how your day’s gonna go.”
It was the movie character, Ferris Bueller, who reminded us that: “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” One of the things that’s people fail to do is appreciate the good things in life. For most of us, we enjoy a roof over ou
r heads, food on our table, good health, a family that loves us, friends who care, and the opportunity to work a job we like for money. So, the first step to making the most out of life is deciding what you want to achieve. What are your goals in life? Do you appreciate what you have? If you cannot answer that affirmatively, chances are you will never be happy.
Much has been made of what motivates people to teach. A career in public education is one of the most altruistic and generous career choices. It will never be for the money. And if you have been deceitfully convinced that it is a paycheck for what draws people into public education then you have lost the vision and purpose of education. Teachers don’t teach for the income. They teach for the outcome. It truly is about your students’ success. And that is not measurable on a test score, and their success might not be visible until those children reach adulthood.
Teachers are some of the most resilient people I know. Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students. Still they do not have the ability to control their work environment, their salary, or how those around them respond to changes—from supervisors, to colleagues to students. When you study great teachers, it is likely you will realize it is the immeasurable things like their caring and hard work, rather than their technique or test scores that set them apart. Teachers who take an actual interest in their students’ lives are the ones students become inspired by, and learn the most from in a classroom.
I was taught first at home, then reinforced later by my time in the Marine Corps to “adapt, improvise and overcome.” In my career in the military, and later as a classroom teacher, I learned the meaning of Semper Flexibilis, which translates to “always flexible.” It is true that sometimes the best things in life come out of change, even if the changes are unwanted. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
As adults we reflect on the lessons we learned growing up. We always remember and cherish the those who encouraged and supported us through difficult times. Nobody wants to be left out, or made to feel like they do not fit in. We all want to be seen, felt, and understood. Those adults who give us emotional support are as important as those who give us academic validation. Call it empathy, or seemingly being attuned to the needs of others. We never forget that adult who cared for us as children. As an educator how would students describe you to others? How do your neighbors describe you? How does your family describe you?
Joshua J. Marine wrote: “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” The ability to overcome obstacles is critical whether you are a student, classroom teacher, administrator or CEO of a company. Learn to chase your dreams, develop your own uniqueness and ability. Understand there will be disappointments along the way. Your ability to bounce back is essential to your success in life. We must also teach our children to be resilient.
JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee.