The Power of Your Circle
Have you ever noticed that trouble travels in groups?
I spend the first half of my day teaching leadership classes. We talk about purpose, core values, living intentionally … inspiring stuff. Things that give you life and make, as Sherri Coale says, “your heart sing”.
I spend the second half of my teaching day supervising In-School Suspension. While I spend much of the time building relationships and counseling these students, it is also meant to serve as a punishment - no talking, no phones, no sleeping.
As you might guess, the repeat offenders to ISS are considerable. It seems the same students find themselves back in lockdown week after week. One could make a compelling argument for the lack of effectiveness of a punishment that leads to such high rates of repeat offenses, but that’s for another day.
The more interesting commonality with our ISS clientele is their connections. They all know each other. Actually, it’s deeper than that. They all run in the same or similar circles, and all of the circles have been in ISS over the course of the school year.
That’s not a coincidence.
Look around. You are who you surround yourself with.
Why Should We Care?
The good news is, the opposite is also true.
I spent a few days last week at the Learning Leader Summit in Columbus, led by Ryan Hawk. The organization of the event was great. Each speaker was knowledgeable, passionate, and inspiring as they shared just a sliver of their expertise and excellence with the group. Yet, as incredible as all of that was, none of it stood out to me as the most powerful aspect of the event.
As I looked around the room, I noticed one thing very clearly - there were no slugs. No one allowing time to just pass by. No one answering emails or scrolling on their phones while the speaker was presenting. All the people were present, engaged, and intentional.
I certainly try to live this way all the time but, in this environment, I could feel myself being lifted higher. My standards were raised not by anything that was said or written down, but simply by the presence of the people in the room. I could feel the peer pressure.
Of course, we all know the importance of the people that we surround ourselves with. We've heard adults echoing the warning since entering middle school. Yet, we still dismiss the true impact of the company we keep. Events like this remind me of just how important it is to stay connected to those also pursuing excellence.
And, there’s not that many of them.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
As we get older, if we aren’t careful, our circle will be chosen for us. Family, co-workers, parents of our children’s friends are all examples of circles we could be thrust into. Nothing is wrong with any of them. I’m sure there are aspects of all that can provide happiness and fulfillment in our lives.
In order to grow in our pursuit of excellence, however, our circle can’t be left to the luck of the draw. We will need to select, grow, and intentionally engage with those we want in our excellence circle. Here are a few things to consider in this process.
Chance is a terrible story teller. We all need to consider the time we are spending around those that lift us up by simply being around them. It doesn’t need to be all the time, but it likely needs to be more of the time.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.