If you don’t plan where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.
– Yogi Berra
This is the time of year for new beginnings, new hope, and new ideas. When taking a risk or trying something new, we commonly ask ourselves, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?.”
I find it is also important to ask myself, “What is the best thing that can happen?.” It is in the positive potential that inspiration is born.
By catching glimpses of that potential, I am given clues as to how I can best support the desired outcome. For me, desired outcome is more joy, more sense of well-being, and, inevitably, greater success.
As the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District, I am often introduced to young people who think and act outside the box.
I typically get called into programs to come up with creative solutions for meeting the needs of these unique, creative students. My mantra upon meeting any new student is simple: everything is perfect.
My job is to see the perfection, shine light on it, and encourage confidence in the perfection as I gently invite the sleeping potential to awaken more fully.
When I work with children and adults, I notice what you might call gifts. I look for a quick wit, a love for drawing, or an uncommon sweetness.
It might be that other people look to that person as a leader, or that they are really good at shining light and bringing out the best in others. All of these things can be used as a foundation to bring out a new sense of the perfection in each individual.
When that person and those around them start to appreciate and celebrate their gifts, great things happen.
One of my recent clients refused to sit down in the lunch group I run. He would pace the room and say things to provoke me or other members of the group.
The other educators that work with him believed the lunch group would be a good opportunity for him to make friends, and learn some more appropriate strategies for interacting with his peers.
I agreed to welcome him into the group and reminded myself that everything is perfect. I planned for the best.
Outwardly, the going has been a bit slow. After six weeks, the young man will stay for five minutes of the group and does not sit down. He does, however, sign in, say hello, and interact in a friendly way with the rest of the group while he is present.
The only thing I have done is treat him with respect, ignore his attempts to rile me up, and request that he speak to me clearly about what he wants. I have modeled respect for myself and for him.
I am aware that this young man knows how to do everything that is being asked of him. It is up to him to use what he knows. I do not know what he has experienced or why he chooses to behave the way that he does. I simply plan for the best and trust.
My goal is to create a loving space for him to come into in his own time. In my mind I see the potential for him to come in and enjoy the group, get to know me, and for me to get to know him as the amazing person that I already know he is.
I know this because every person is amazing when the walls and the acts are dropped.
I have another student who used to whisper when he spoke. He would take an inordinate amount of time to get out what he was saying, and by that time, most people’s attention had shifted elsewhere. I met him, and planned for the best.
I intentionally gave him all the space he needed to speak, even if the rest of the group had stopped listening.
I listened intently for the little clues about who he is, and responded enthusiastically and encouragingly to those things.
Within a few weeks, he came to the group and communicated more openly, and with more volume. A year later, and he is a beloved member of the crew, and acknowledged as a great artist .
He gives other members of the group pointers about how to draw, or play certain video games. He is visibly more comfortable in his skin and the results are inspiring.
Good things happen when I plan for the best. Planning for the best allows life to fill in the blanks in the best possible ways.
Like farmers of old who planted seeds and trusted the rain to come and water their crops—I plant seeds of hope and then trust life to come in and bring whatever is required for them to blossom in their own time.
I believe that within everyone there are seeds of genius. These seeds, or potentials, make themselves known through natural enthusiasm, curiosity, and effortless understanding of a certain subject area or activity.
It is often that natural eagerness which gives one the determination to overcome whatever obstacles present themselves.
When starting something new, I choose the things I love to do, like interacting with my students in fun and creative ways, and plan for the best.
What are you, or your children embarking on and what is the best thing that can happen?
Remember, it’s your imagination that you use to plan the future, so use it wisely.
Write it on your own heart that each day is the best of the year.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Edward Biagiotti, Inclusion Specialist for Culver City School District, writes about inspired education at www.TappingIntoGenius.com