Sunday, May 13, 2018

Finding Comfort in Growth

"Comfort is the enemy of progress." - Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman

Have you ever been complacent when it comes to undertaking or performing a task? Of course, you have, as this is just a part of human nature.  In our personal lives, complacency can result if we are happy or content with where we are. Maybe we don’t change our work out routines because we have gotten used to doing the same thing day in and day out.  I know I love using the elliptical for cardio, but rarely use any setting beside manual. Or perhaps our diet doesn’t change as we have an affinity for the same types of foods, which might or might not be that good for us.  So, what’s my point with all of this? It is hard to grow and improve if one is complacent.  This is why we must always be open to finding comfort in growth.  If we don’t, then things might very well never change. 

The issue described above is not just prevalent in our personal lives. Complacency plagues many organizations as well.  When we are in a state of relative comfort with our professional practice, it is often difficult to move beyond that zone of stability and dare I say, “easy” sailing.  If it isn’t broke, then why fix it, right? Maybe we aren’t pushed to take on new projects or embrace innovative ideas.  Or perhaps there is no external accountability to improve really. Herein lies the inherent challenge of taking on the status quo in districts, schools, and organizations.  

There are many lenses through which we can take a more in-depth look to gain more context on the impact complacency has on growth and improvement. Take test scores for example.  If a district or school traditionally has high achievement and continues to do so the rule of thumb is that no significant change is needed. Just because a school or educator might be “good” at something doesn’t equate to the fact that change isn’t required in other areas.  It is also important to realize that someone else can view one’s perception of something being good in an entirely different light.  Growth in all aspects of school culture is something that has to be the standard.  It begins with getting out of actual and perceived comfort zones to truly start the process of improving school culture. 

In a recent article Joani Junkala shares some great thoughts on the importance of stepping outside our comfort zones.
Stepping out of our comfort zone requires us to step outside of ourselves. If we are going to strive for progress, whether professionally or personally, we have to get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. This isn’t easy for everyone. For someone like me, who is a self-prescribed introvert, this can be difficult. Stepping out of our comfort zone requires extra effort, energy, and sometimes forced experiences. It requires us to set aside our fear and be vulnerable. We have to be willing to try something new, different, difficult, or even something that’s never been done before. We have to put ourselves out there — trusting in ourselves and trusting others with our most vulnerable self. It’s a frightening thought. What if we get it wrong? What if we look silly? Will it be worth it in the end? Will I stand alone? What if I fail? Oh but, what if I succeed and evolve?
Change begins with each and every one of us and spreads from there. Finding comfort in growth and ultimately improvement begins with being honest with ourselves.  Let me be blunt for a minute.  The truth is that there is no perfect lesson, project, classroom, school, district, teacher, or administrator.  There is, however, the opportunity every day to get better.  This is not to say that great things are not happening in education. They most definitely are. My point is that we can never let complacency detract us from continually pursuing a path to where our learners need us to be.  

Are you comfortable where you are at professionally? What about your school, district, or organization? Where are opportunities for growth? By consistently reflecting on these questions a continual path to improvement can be paved.  Questions lay the path forward. Actions are what get you to where you want to be. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Eric

    Comfort is indeed the enemy of progress. Joani's article touches upon the problem of vulnerability and fear of the unknown. The same happens when we are stuck in the past, in our weaknesses, like Joani says in the recent article Coping with Tragedies. Growth can't be potentially found in a weak mind that is not capable of struggle and persistence. That's what I always teach my students.

    Ashton Lynn
    My article How to Do Things You Hate (Writing/Research).