Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Leaving Yorkton on a High Note (Having a Great Day)

            I’m writing this as I sit in my hotel in Stockton having arrived a few minutes ago thereby completing the rare Yorkton-Stockton, same-day double. (As an aside I’d love to hear if anyone else has ever done that trip.) I had an awesome morning in Yorkton with an energetic, enthusiastic, large audience of committed educators looking to ensure the year winds down with positive outcomes for their students and themselves.
            I shared with them the notion of choice and how we need to take responsibility for the decisions we make. I spoke of waking up in the morning determined to have a great day and then taking the steps to make it so. Beginning with an enjoyable early morning run through the streets of Yorkton where I greeted people I met and continuing through the breakfast at the hotel where I swapped travel stories with some seniors who were also on the road, to getting to the auditorium and greeting people as they arrived.

            You can start to feel the energy that emerges from these interactions and quickly see the contrast that appears with choosing to have a bad day. I am convinced that there are folks who get up in the morning and decide to do just that – and guess what happens? They have a bad day! From the person who cuts them off in traffic, to the colleague who jams the photocopier they needed at the last minute, and on to the person who only left three sips of coffee in the pot. The world is conspiring against them (or so their mindset suggests).

            No, today was going to be a great day and I’m thankful to colleagues who made it that way. Their feedback on Twitter (follow me @thierck), via e-mail, and in person lifted me and reminded me how fortunate I am to get to do this work. The behind the scenes work of Kelly Lambert well in advance of my visit and ongoing effort during my visit was awesome. Retired Principal and current board member Richard Haake giving up time to pick me up and drop me off two hours down the road in Regina meant we had four hours to swap great stories. The ongoing Tweets buzzing off my Blackberry made arriving late for my departing flight almost inconsequential. In fact, reading some of these messages made me want to turn around and do some more work with the group:

"don't lower the bar, just create steps for the students to get there" #heartoftheteacher

Really enjoyed your presentation today.  Thanks for providing some inspiration to finish the year strong.

Thanks for the inspiration this morning @thierck as I finish up the last six weeks of my first year as a teacher! #lovemyjob #gssd204

            A return to Stockton was becoming an even more viable option because it was possible that the stern face at the airline counter in Regina was not going to let me board my flight. Therein lies the moment of truth in making a decision and sticking to it. My great day was not going to be sidetracked. I was clearly late and I understood the consequence of that. I would not have traded the last 20 minutes of the morning session or feedback nor speed up the drive with Richard. My choice was to continue to enjoy the day. I apologized for my lateness and let the person at the counter know how much I appreciated them extending themselves for me. I did explain that I was not a regular traveler through the Regina airport and the importance of getting to my next site that evening. I didn’t think this was the time to get negative or louder or blame someone else. My desperation must have worked as I watched a phone call occur, permission be granted, and a boarding pass printed. The folks at security were delightful and gave me a smile as I raced through to get to my gate. The people at the desk graciously accepted my apology and let me know there was still time before boarding. Off to Denver I flew.

            Clearing Customs in Denver was a breeze. The Officer asked how I was doing and when I said “fabulous” she wanted to know why. I shared with her how great my day was going, the neat people I had met, and the good friends I was going to work with. The great day was on a roll! I picked up a paper in the airport and decided it was time to get some food. I have a confession to make – I have never eaten a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich (or I had never eaten one until that moment). I saw the restaurant advertising them and a huge line so I figured they must be good. I got in line and struck up a conversation with the fellow in front of me. He told me he grew up in South Africa but now resides in Houston where he does high-level security. We swapped stories about kids and travel and then I confessed my secret. He was dumbstruck for a moment and couldn’t comprehend someone reaching my age without indulging in the Philly Cheesesteak. He motioned for me to come to the counter with him and bought me my first Philly. Awesome! We headed to our gates without ever exchanging names but both sharing a view that great days are there for the making and the taking.

            I checked in at the gate hoping to get an aisle seat but there were none available. I thanked the person for checking and waited to board. I got to my row and middle seat (ugh) but thought, “if this is the low point, it’s a great day”. The window seat person arrived as I was reading through my newspaper and she was interested in the stories. I offered her the paper and she was so happy she offered me some chocolates! Awesome again! To make it even better, our aisle seat person never arrived and we were the only row with two people in three seats. Does it get any better than this?

            As I read this over it seems like I got pretty excited over some little things and may have made more out of them than necessary in my determination to have a great day. I know I’m not always this “Pollyanna-ish” but here’s the point. How often have you let the same little things make for a bad day? On the marathon that is the road of life sometimes you just have to stop and take the pebble out of your shoe so you can enjoy each successive step. Having a bad day begins with the choices we make. So does having a great day. Which choice are you going to make today?

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