Handling the Resistance

The growth mindset inspires a powerful, liberating,  and empowering foundation for leaders to be catalysts for positive change in education.  Vision, charisma, creativity, and a collaborative spirit have been at the core of many a successful program.

That being said, even the most gifted change agent innovator will be confronted by resistance.  Many a talented leader has stumbled upon the push back bumps in pursuit of a better experience for our students. This resistance comes from many sources: students, teachers, parents, policy – makers.  Sometimes they even come from within.  

The most successful pioneers are highly talented in navigating the volatile seas of resistance as the tumult is as inevitable as the rough waves in the ocean. 

(Disclaimer: I do not consider myself expert in this area, rather a conscientious student)

So what differentiates the successful change agents from the crowd?  Ultimately,  their talent lies in having relationships with their people- knowing them, caring about them, including them.   Likewise, this rapport allows the leader to anticipate the resistance,  make a plan, and proactively attend to the root of the resistance- which is often times emotionally driven. 

Secondly, getting buy in from all stakeholders represents an integral process in any successful shift.   Referring back to the relationship element,  a strong rapport allows the leader to frame the opportunity in terms that each stakeholder can embrace. Further, the relationship built on trust, respect, transparency and a genuine sense that it is safe for people to share what they really feel without fear of rebuke or repercussion represents the unwavering foundation upon which change agents can lead their people.
When met with a shift that inspires in an individual a feeling of discomfort that can manifest itself in displays of resistance (conscious or otherwise), the feeling that it is safe to share those feelings and have a voice in shaping the shift in a way that alleviates the discomfort galvanizes the person feeling discomfort to the change agent. Again, the relationship is at the core. A resistor who does not feel the comfort to share feedback will see that feeling of discomfort grow, and the manifestation of those feelings potentially become increasingly disruptive in the change process.

Ultimately, providing ownership through attending to the growth of buy in, which is gained by providing people with a genuine voice which they can share safely through giving candid feedback represents the primary catalysts in leading growth,innovation, and change.

Serendipitous Learning on the Farm

When we made the choice to knowingly buy a farm a long commute from school, we did so with a vision of the type of life – enriching experience we would be providing for our children (and for ourselves). 

Learning about different animals, how to care for them, breed them, have them provide for and/or work for us coupled with the agricultural endeavor to build an organic garden that would provide for us and friends represents an incredible learning experience for all of us.  Likewise a highly ambitious set of goals- a learning experience unto itself to turn a vision into such a reality. 
While we are in the neophyte stages of our process, there have been a few powerful moments that have been happily coincidental opportunities for us to teach our children not about farm life, but about important human values.  
Our first productive garden provided us with far more than we could consume ourselves.   The opportunity to teach our children neighborliness through the sharing of our plenty was powerful.  House to house we walked with containers of produce and herbs to offer to our neighbors.   To this day, my children always offer to share when they have plenty- we feel blessed that they so instinctively know to offer to give some of theirs to others. 

Shortly after moving to the farm last May, we expanded our chicken flock by bringing some different breeds into the family.  We currently have 5 laying hens (6 more that will be laying by mid summer). Of the 5 layers, we have 4 different breed- each laying eggs of different colors from their sisters. 

These 5 hens, from different breeds, that look different from one another, varying in size and even mannerisms in some instances all live together in the same coop, look after each other, protect each other and even share food together (they peck at each other, too, but heck,  they ARE family).

What an opportunity this provided when my son saw his first blue-green egg from our Americauna “Big Mama” and asked if it would taste different because of the different color.  Instead of answering what I knew to be true, I offered an experiment.  I suggested a taste test.  

When served a brown egg and the blue-green egg, my little guy exclaimed “they’re both yummy!”

We continued the conversation by talking about how people come in different colors, from different backgrounds, with unique qualities,  but really we are all made of the same materials and we all offer the world our own “flavors”. That we should never judge an egg by the color of its shell.  This opportunity to share a lesson on respect and tolerance was a serendipitous nugget of life on the farm. 

I look forward to each new day and the opportunities to learn, teach, and grow on the farm.