What’s Your Mantra?

Not too long ago I headed to Chicago to present on project based learning at two conferences, iEngage Berwyn and the Midwest Summit for 21st Century Learning. And yes, this was my first visit to the Windy City, and it was long overdue.

Of course, as a pizza enthusiast (and probably, elitist), during some downtime I decided to make the trip from my hotel, Chicago Athletic Association, to Lou Malnati’s for some Chicago-style deep dish pizza. While we can debate Chicago-style vs. New York-style pizza (which is a waste of time since deep dish pizza should really be classified as a casserole), the Uber ride to Lou Malnati’s was one of the more memorable moments of the day.

After some small talk, my driver, Robert, told me about his journal (pictured) in which he asks all passengers to record the day’s date and their mantra. What followed was an unexpected yet intriguing conversation during which Robert explained the significance of the journal — documenting his legacy while establishing relationships — and the fact that he was already in possession of four journals that had been completely filled by previous passengers.

Without any hesitation, I knew what mantra to include (pictured) as these are words by which I’ve always tried to live (but admittedly, at times I have fallen short):

Ain’t no time to hate! — Grateful Dead

As a lifelong fan of the Grateful Dead, these words are from one of my favorite Dead songs, “Uncle John’s Band.” (My favorite Dead song is “Terrapin Station.”)

As an educator, I make connections to my profession…

Three questions related to the quote and education/leadership:

  • First and foremost, are we being intentional about looking for the best in others, as opposed to the worst?
  • Do we seek first to understand (Covey), or do we write off (and possibly, mock) those with whom we’re not in agreement?
  • As leaders, if our goal is to get the most out of those around us (which it should be), do we do this by providing unconditional support or through baptism by fire?

Three questions related to the overall Uber ride, and education/leadership:

  • How are our students documenting their legacies? (And how are educators doing the same?)
  • Are we thinking for ourselves and infusing our “personal touch” into our work, or are we just following the job description and/or simply mimicking what others are doing?
  • As leaders, are we making every conversation/interaction count? (And, are we digging a bit deeper than “How are you?” or “How was your weekend?”)

In the End

The extent to which an experience inspires us often depends on our attitude and perspective.

A younger, less sociable version of Ross most definitely wouldn’t have engaged in conversation, and I may have even declined to sign the journal. Meanwhile, I’d be willing to bet that many other passengers, for one reason or another, have refused to give Robert the time of day.

But, if we keep an open mind, we can draw inspiration from almost anything or anyone.

If we keep an open mind, we can draw inspiration from almost anything or anyone. Click To Tweet

What’s your mantra? What inspires you?

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Originally published at www.rosscoops31.com on May 28, 2017.