Thursday, February 28, 2013

Leaving the Water, Before it Boils Me Over

Image From Joyce Howard
When I was a boy scout we would go to camp every summer.  One of the myths of camp was that if you put a frog in a bucket of boiling water it would jump out immediately. However, if you put the frog in unheated lake water and then boiled the water, the frog would not jump out and would eventually explode.  We never tried this as we were not intentionally cruel to animals, but the story has stayed with me most of my life.  This past year has had me reflecting on this phenomenon a lot of late and feeling very connected to the frog.

This has been a year of challenges.  Taking on a new role within our school corporation, trying to find time balancing my old job with supporting the facilitators and learners at the Weidner School of Inquiry@PHS, and also stretching myself physically, emotionally, and publicly.

Given that introduction, it may seem that I am relating to the frog being thrown into the hot water, and wanting to jump out, but that has not been were my connection to the frog has been.  My connection has been to the frog who is put in the lake water, and then does not respond to the heating water around him, and thus explodes.

Let me explain.  As we go about our daily business of life, we become familiar and comfortable with our surroundings.  We often become so familiar that we don't notice the changes that are happening, but often we don't notice the changes that need to happen, and this is the greatest risk, this is where the frog gets fried.  It is not that he doesn't recognize the water getting warmer, it is that he doesn't recognize the change that needs to occur-leaving the water.

With this in mind, there are two events from this year that have stretched me personally, that has had carry over benefits to my professional work.  The most recent is flying to California for the New Tech Network's Spring Leadership Summit.  I have not flown for 12.5 years.  It is not that, I have not had opportunities to fly, but rather I simply refuse to do things that would force me to fly.  As I right this though, I am looking out the window of my room at the Claremont Resort in Berkley, CA after having flown from Chicago the day before.  I am enjoying an incredible view of the San Fransisco Bay and the city skyline in the distance.  It is something that I would never have experienced had I not jumped out of the bucket and what was comfortable.  Additionally, I have been able to spend some very focused time thinking about my school, where we started this year, how far we have come, and ways we need to continue to grow in the coming years.  I feel energized and excited to finish the year strong.

The second event happened earlier this month when I participated in Dancing with the Stars Marshall County.  I am not a dancer, I have very little rhythm, but over a three month period I went from novice Salsa dancer to performing this dance in front of several hundred people.

It was way beyond the comfort of the bucket, but it taught be something new, gave my students a new perspective on who I am, and gave me a sense of confidence on the dance floor.  From my initial tentative steps I was able to know the dance so well that in early rehearsal performances I was able to adapt the dance to where the music was when we got slightly off pace.  Later that night, this new confidence allowed me to have a blast dancing with my youngest daughter.

Whether the challenges we take on be personal or professional, physical or emotional, the key is that we venture away from the bucket so that we can notice when our environment begins to change, and we can adapt to those changes rather than be boiled over by them.