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 their goals to come back stronger than ever in their life. Psychologists have identified a few of the factors that make somebody resilient. Among them are 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 and may cry to themselves behind closed doors while fighting battles that nobody even knows 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 and out of the classroom. It was the movie character Ferris Bueller who reminded us that, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
One of the things that people fail to do is appreciate the good things in life. For most of us, we enjoy a roof over our heads, food on our table, good health, a family who loves us, friends who care, and the opportunity to work a job that 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 that 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. That is not measurable on a test score, as 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 cannot 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, you will likely 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.” Sometimes the best things in life indeed come out of change, even if the changes are unwanted. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
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 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. Resiliency is a critical skill needed today.
Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee