What story are you telling yourself?

Today is Friday. A Friday without children. Today is an inset day.

When you say the words ‘inset day’ to most teachers ( and I am generalising here) they often think “great a day without kids and some time to get into some planning”… Then the email arrives in your inbox that sets out the structure for the day and there just isn’t much time for that at all…. Most teachers at that point would look down the list and think “Great! We get to sit through loads more useless things which are in no way going to impact my teaching…”

This is where I am very lucky… School 21 inset days are not just a tick box exercise. They aim to motivate, challenge and ultimately inspire us to do better things!

Today is no exception!

Our day started with a keynote from Phil Lewis, Corporate Punk (@corporatepunk) and his opening line was that he wanted to be deliberately confrontational and that he didn’t want us to agree with everything he said…

He then said

“What story are you telling yourself?”

If I am honest, this really made me reflect on myself at both a professional and personal level and I guess that is what he wanted us to do. He went on to say that everything we do as an organisation follows a narrative when in fact it should be based on facts… You need to reflect on what you have told yourself. I guess this is true of so many things in life, let alone at school… How many times have you convinced yourself of something, when in fact the whole situation is completely fabricated in your own mind… Check the facts- what has actually happened? and move on from that!

This then led on to the fact you are always a significant player in the culture of your organisation. Going even further… culture should not just be something you expect to be there but something you are part in creating! You need to be aware of your own ‘blindspots’! I guess it links to one of my favourite quotes- “Be the change you want to see”

Finally he made the point that being aware of this and challenging this will be uncomfortable…and so it should be. “Nothing that is worth having ever comes easy” – you have to be willing to enter that grey area of uncertainty and leave your comfort zone to be truly great!

Your culture will reflect what you are doing – don’t mirror the dysfunctions you hate to see! I guess as a class teacher I compare this to coming into school in a bad mood – your children wholly reflect what you do… You frown and grump and be sad – your children frown, grump and be sad. If you come in with enthusiasm and smiles, then that is exactly what you will see reflected back!

People are hard to work with; we all come with emotional baggage, our own preconceptions, our own insecurities and our own opinions. It takes a reflective person to be aware of this and be aware of how this can aid or hinder the culture you wish to create… “Emotional labour is 21st century work”.

And finally, in the words of Mr Lewis… “Culture is a negotiation… Be your best self!”



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