I wish I could remember the incredible story of perseverance I read this weekend. I do remember thinking that it was amazing that an individual could pursue through so many defeats to ultimately arrive at the place he could see in the distance all the while.
I've been working at a goal with tenacity, and I've yet to reach the goal. I've tried many, many, many different paths to achieving the goal and it still eludes me. Why? I can't even figure out all the reasons why the goal alludes me. Many advise to give up the battle, ignore the challenge, and move outward to other pursuits, but I feel deeply that I want to succeed in this realm, acquire this attribute, and use it to benefit my work and life.
My goal is akin to Nelson Mandela's incredible ability to welcome and work with his naysayers; to listen carefully to their words, and collaborate with regard to meaningful work. I understand that not one of us has all the answers, and I know that with collaboration together we can do good work, but when I know something to be true deeply, it's very difficult for me to entertain those that challenge me with questions and information that take us away from the main idea of our work, teaching each child well.
The other day I was challenged by an individual who had really good questions, experience, and information. Her challenge helped me to think deeply and carefully about my work, but some challenge seems like it's for challenge's sake or to demean rather than to build, develop, and grow practice to best serve children.
Yet, we all come at this work with varied perspectives and it is with our respect for one another that we will move forward. If I were in charge of the world, I'd change school structure, roles, policy, and practice a lot, but I'm not in charge of the world, and frankly no one is, so I think a good way to deal with all of this is to continue to use Mandela's words as a beacon for my work, perseverance, and effort in the days ahead:
"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." - Nelson Mandela
I believe these words offer one of the greatest challenges life holds. Do you agree?