If You Can’t Get Out of It…

September 1, 2023

School has started. My friends are sharing photos of their children on social media. Schools are sharing first day back photos of both faculty meetings and of first drop offs. Kids look happy! They are regaled in their first day garb and smiling – seniors on their last first day, toothless elementary school kids in the midst of their primary school years, teachers with their 10, 20 or 25 year celebration mugs, large auditorium sized groups at welcoming day chow downs; the whole pomp and circumstance of the start of a new school year.

And with all the ups of starting again and the positive energy that comes along with a new fresh beginning, I also see the emojis of the vomiting face with green puke coming out in response to an event one ‘must’ attend and tweets with large capital letters saying, ‘No more icebreakers!’ and sighs of caricature cartoon people with exasperated faces complaining about administration or district offices or or or…

I get it. Everyone has their personal accounts online (that I choose to read) and they have a right to share their feelings on those accounts. They need a space to not be ‘performatively or toxically positive’ – a place to vent and be real. I do the same. I have my share of frustrations.

AND I am getting better at working on my own emotional and psychological hygiene so I am healthy for myself and for others and so I am not putting out complaints online. I am striving to not ’emotionally pollute’ the spaces I am in. Striving not to ‘Pig Pen’ and dust up the teams I am a part of, the schools I work with, or the relationships I am in.

I see folks already burned out and it is one or two weeks into the school year. When asked about their professional behavior they comment they admit they are already not mentally or emotionally present at meetings and they recognize they aren’t expressing enthusiasm for their work even this early in the year. Sigh. Boo. Ugh. What a bummer for the person and others working with him or her.

One participant in a workshop I facilitated on Stretching Your Learning Edges: Growing (Up) at Work told us that one of her colleagues said to her when she was oozing a bit of ‘ick’ into a meeting, “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.”

Her colleague wasn’t chastising her or piling on the guilt, but instead encouraging her to try to shift her focus and her energy toward being more engaged and being more proactive about doing it. It requires a bit of agency on the part of the person who isn’t ‘into it,’ but what an energetic change for them, and in turn for their colleagues. One could start off small…

  • Wave “Hi” to all the little ones on their way to school.
  • Wish the teenagers riding their bikes across the street you are trying to get through a good day from your car.
  • Say good morning and smile to those in the parking lot walking into a building with you. You don’t need to know them. Say “Good Morning” just the same.
  • Look up and towards those who are coming toward you in a hallway.
  • Smile as you walk into a meeting – and you can do so on Zoom as well.

Acknowledge that your sphere of control may not be large, yet your sphere of influence is greater than you imagine. Own what you can. And if you can’t get out of it, get into it.

There is an iconic photograph of the Milky Way with an arrow imposed on it that points to a little star and the notation, “You are here.” Many of us tend to not be able to look past our own belly button and if we do, sometimes we are ‘in a mood.’ Not ‘Pig Penning’ your life helps you be healthier self. Happy Start of the School Year!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please feel free to email me at jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cool Resources

Tim Elmore’s A New Kind of Diversity: Making the Different Generations on Your Team a Competitive Advantage “For the first time in history, up to five generations find themselves working alongside each other in a typical company. The result? There can be division. Interactions between people from different generations can resemble a cross-cultural relationship. Both usually possess different values and customs. At times, each generation is literally speaking a different language! How can we hope to work together when we can’t even understand each other?

This book provides the tools to:

  1. Get the most out of the strengths of each age group on your team.
  2. Foster effective communication instead of isolation among people.”

Restoring the Kinship Worldview: Indigenous Voices Introduce 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Planet Earth by Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows) and Darcia Narvaez, PhD. “The editors emphasize our deep need to move away from the dominant Western paradigm–one that dictates we live without strong social purpose, fails to honor the earth as sacred, leads with the head while ignoring the heart, and places individual “rights” over collective responsibility. Restoring the Kinship Worldview is rooted in an Indigenous vision and strong social purpose that sees all life forms as sacred and sentient–that honors the wisdom of the heart and grants equal standing to rights and responsibilities.”

The Power Code: More Joy. Less Ego. Maximum Impact for Women (and Everyone) by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. “New York Times bestselling authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are on a mission to reclaim power for women. In the wake of sweeping changes in the way we work, the veteran journalists challenge pre-conceived notions of what power is and what it’s good for, along with the insidious, mostly hidden structures of the status quo that hold women back.”