My college roommate used to say that arguing with me was like wrestling with a pig in the mud. After a few minutes you realize the pig likes it.
Back then, life was very binary for me. There were two sides to everything. I was on the correct side and anyone on the other side was wrong, dumb, or evil. I spent a lot of time and mental energy bothered by those with a differing viewpoint.
Over the past twenty years two things helped me grow out of this immature and harmful mindset: listening and reading.
When I was younger I never really listened to people. I stopped talking, but this was only to generate a counterargument. Constantly on the attack, the point of the conversation wasn’t to learn, it was to win.
Working in education, specifically in administrative roles, it is incredibly important to understand people. Implementing structures, protocols, professional development, or initiatives without understanding what parents/teachers want or how parents/teachers feel is a complete waste of time. A perfect plan, without the buy-in from those responsible for implementing, will never yield results.
Reading enlightened me to perspectives that were foreign to me. The diversity of backgrounds you can learn about via fiction or nonfiction is infinite. What I once asked myself was, “How could anyone think like that” became, “Oh, based on their life experiences, it makes total sense why they think like that.”
Curious to know how you are doing?
Ask Yourself These Questions:
- Are you getting angrier the older you get?
- Do you think the younger generation is worse than your generation?
- Are family gatherings/holidays an opportunity for you to share everything that is wrong with the world?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, see the graph below. If you answered “no” to all three of these question, see the graph below (it’s a cool graph, I spent time on it, and you already read this far).
They say wisdom comes with age. I think that is partially true. More time provides us with the opportunity to understand and appreciate others. However, for some, more time means the opportunity to dig their heels in even deeper.
It saddens me to think that some people have so much hate, concern, frustration, and anger that at 70 years old they can’t enjoy a Thanksgiving meal without sharing that outrage and trying to rally others to their paltry cause. I know in the beginning of this post I alluded to binary as being not beneficial. But, with the above 70 year, I consider that losing at life.
Winning is being able to be around loved ones and smiling because you appreciate the uniqueness of others, value the thoughts and opinions from those who have lived a different life than yours, and know that the world is in wonderfully capable hands.