Monday, March 4, 2013

Thanks For the GPS – I Hate My GPS

        Travelling to new places is an amazing aspect of the work I do. The only downside is that I’m terrible with directions and do not possess even a modicum of spatial awareness. (When I run in new places it’s always an out and back to void getting lost.) The best gift I received recently was a GPS. I know there was a reason behind why my wife got it for me. She grew weary of the calls as I was driving down some incorrect road trying to find the hotel I never stayed at previously. It has been a lifesaver, as I get into my rental car and just type in the desired address. I never question the directions “Mandy” provides, and that has become the problem. A recent trip highlighted my dependence. I was pulling into the small town of Santa Nella (population 1,380) and could see the bright sign of the Holiday Inn on my right as I was approaching the lights. Mandy said, “Left turn ahead”. So I turned left and proceeded down a dead-end street arriving at a truck lot. Mandy said, “You have reached your destination” and I’ll be darned if I didn’t think for a moment that I had! Fortunately, logic took over and I reversed my direction and went back to the hotel I initially saw (cursing Mandy all the way, as if that made a difference). A little reflection after getting settled in provided the following insights.

"Turn left….."

        I am not good at directions and need to work on that to get better – it is possible. My lack of comfort is remedied by investing in the directions provided by an authority – even a technology-based one. Since this authority is right more often than not, they get the benefit of the doubt even overriding logic and facts. I am prepared to deny the other senses. When this authority is wrong, it’s still not my fault, as “she” ought to know better (no matter how illogical that sounds). Mandy and I need to work out the kinks in our relationship, and I need to contribute more to it.

The translation to what we do in schools is clear to me. As new changes emerges, it is quickly followed by a request to “get us more information” or “tell us what to do”. We look for the comfort that comes with a defined plan and series of steps. Except when the steps appear to run counter to what we know is best, we run the risk of arriving at the wrong place and having our students also not get to their destination. The best plans are the ones we co-create and own. They are the plans achieved by listening to the wisdom of the ages, the addition of new practice, and the collaboration of brilliant individuals to achieve an even more brilliant collective.

I hate my GPS when it’s wrong, but I need to own the fact that I expected it to be right more than is logical. I need to understand that I’m better at directions than I give myself credit for and that I can override the suggestions by following my own intuition and obvious facts. I also know I can help colleagues overcome the stresses and fears about change and wanting security in things that also might not provide a guaranteed answer. I’m looking forward to my next road trip.

        Now, don’t get me started on my cellphone, which is directly responsible for my loss of ability to remember phone numbers!

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