Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Ultimate Belief

'Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe."

After beating Roger Federer in this year's Wimbledon tournament, Novak Djokavic said the following , "You have to believe in yourself".  This "duh" statement is so true. You can't accomplish anything if you don't believe in yourself.  Novak works as an individual, performs as an individual and succeeds as an individual; therefore, all he has to do is believe in himself and nothing else.

But this statement doesn't fully apply to education. Educators work in a comprehensive system; therefore, educators can believe in themselves all they want to, but there is a truckload of other factors and people that affect how one teacher can perform.  In other words, if every teacher in the system is to reach the pinnacle of success, it'll require beliefs that are much deeper than a tangible belief in ourselves.

So how does this apply to teachers, leaders, teams, schools and districts?

There are 3 levels of belief:  Belief in Self,  Belief in the Team and Belief in the System.  Let's explore the three levels.  

Level 1 - Belief in Self

Belief in yourself is not the ultimate goal for educators but the first step. If an organization desires to reach the pinnacle of excellence, a bunch of people who believe in themselves is a great goal but if the focus is on kids, individual belief isn't enough because believing in yourself and no one else can only impact 1 year in a child's life.   If you don't believe me that believing in yourself isn't enough, then watch "Freedom Writer's", "Mr. Holland's Opus" or any other Hollywood movie of a teacher with the ultimate belief in themselves who worked in a disastrous system.

Level 2 - Belief in the Team

Teams that trust in each other believe in each other. They have positive presuppositions about one another's motives, abilities and contributions. They lean on each other in times of difficulty and hold each other to high standards because of that belief.  A team of individuals who believe in themselves and in one another is a huge step up from any belief in yourself because it takes courage, trust and confidence in something bigger than yourself.  Furthermore, teams that believe in themselves expand a positive influence and impact directly onto more students, but this is not the ultimate belief. The team only impacts one segment of the system, not the entire system. There has to be something bigger to affect every kid in every day of their education.

Level 3 - Belief in the System

Most people are cynical of the system simply because they can't see it. No matter your role, you can't see every facet of a comprehensive system that you are a part of, therefore, for most people, they believe in the system with the following mindset, "Seeing in Believing".  Without tangible and immediate evidence, they don't have faith in the system.  Those who possess the Ultimate Belief know that the system is not perfect, but they also know that they are a part of that system.  That means they believe they can improve the system.  They understand that their role, no matter how small, is vital to improving the system.  Belief in the system takes a deep rooted understanding that what you are doing has the potential to influence every person in the system (including the leader).  Finally believing in the system means transcends belief and leads to faith in the system.  You believe that what you do have a ripple effect beyond anything that you can see or touch.

So Do You BEL13VE?

Believing beyond your own abilities requires seeing your role in the context of the system. While some believe their role can only impact things they can see, those with the ultimate belief see their efforts to the power of 13, the number of years it takes to prepare every child for college or career ready life.   What they do matters because not only do they have the faith.  They keep the faith.

While your on the Journey, "Don't Stop Believin'"

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