Three hundred sixty-five days each of them with 24 hours and each of us presented with the opportunity to decide how those hours, and the minutes and seconds inside each, will be used. And that’s a year. Typically, we go from January 1 to December 31 and count that as one. Educators and students might wind the clock from September 1 to June 30 and define that as a school year, September to April for university, but each is a frame for how time passed. One year ago, Thursday, March 12, 2020, Julie Stern presented a session on Teaching for Conceptual understanding live and in person at the Enmax in Lethbridge. North America began closing down during Julie’s presentation. Alberta started to close down.
Before the end of the weekend, schools across Alberta cancelled classes on a Sunday afternoon, no less. Schools closed to students, and suddenly “pivot,” a fundamental basketball skill (all games cancelled, so no need for the word there), became an operative phrase for all endeavours. We will; we did, pivot from one to another form of instruction, engagement, assessment, connection, living, communicating, greeting new ones to the family and saying goodbye temporarily and in this life to some young and too many old ones across many families.
It has been a year, not so much to celebrate, yet there is so much to celebrate individually and collectively that it’s essential to find a way.
There has been suffering and, if not suffering, trials. Economic trials, holding on to jobs, homes, offices, yoga studios, restaurants, small businesses and large and over 2.5 million deaths accredited to the pandemic worldwide. So yes, I would suggest stick with suffering. The year Covid was and is much more than a trial. And loss. Any days we might have had with a loved one we didn’t have because of Covid is a loss. Christmas Dinner was delicious and lonesome. Zoom could bridge the gap somewhat, but a hug has an extraordinary power, the absence of which is…a loss.
There is magic in a calendar. The truth is every day starts a new three hundred and sixty-five. B.J. Fogg, the author of Tiny Habits, has one foundational habit I just love and frankly plan to use every day as long as I can speak, and then I’ll just think it but still do it. He calls it the Maui Habit. I love the name. It’s simply this, your trigger for the habit is the very first time your legs move out from your bed. As your feet touch the floor and you begin to rise, you say (out loud), “Today is going to be a great day” (Fogg, 2020, p. 20) then congratulate yourself for saying it. Obviously, saying doesn’t make it so, but it is absolutely a start. Building from there, we look at each day for the opportunity it presents to work at achieving all you can to achieve your aspirations, to learn a little more, be a bit more grateful, a day wiser, friendly, connected, fit, to live that day and Sisyphus like push that rock a little bit further up the hill.
In his book, The Leader Who Had No Title, Robin Sharma (2010) suggests that there are seven fundamentals of personal leadership, the first of which is the importance of learning. I’ve determined in these last 365 that learning is an eternal round, everyone, every day. There will be “Resistance” (Pressfield, 2002) to any learning; the resistance presents a form of learning itself. Embrace it, look for it and invite learning from every aspect of your life. Look for people and organizations that can help, read, listen, watch, experiment, try and try again tomorrow. Inventory the last day and the 364 before that, plan for the next day and the 364 after that but start small and remember as you go to get out of bed tomorrow, the Maui Habit is a great place to start. It’s going to be a great day.
ps. Any learning day would be a good learning day with a bit of reading from any or all of the three books below:
Fogg, B. J. (2020). Tiny habits: The small changes that change everything. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Pressfield, S. (2002). The war of art: Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles. Los Angeles, CA: Black Irish Entertainment.
Sharma, R. (2010). The leader who had no title: A modern fable on real success in business and in life. New York, NY: Free Press.