Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

Today, I read Jennifer Williams‘ tweet. One time. And then it festered, and it was slow-releasing in my mind. All day long.  She invited her #PLN to revisit its #OneWord2017. Summer is a great time for reflection. She concluded her blog with a challenge to be intentional; to organize yourself into a pie chart:

Me? In ONE pie chart? My #OneWord2017 was about giving up perfection; that perfection was unhealthy; and it was holding me back from expressing… anything.

But–I’m also just heartbeats away from a MAJOR change in my life. It’s not that my heart is torn, because I know my heart’s priorities. It’s just that I’m very worried. I don’t half–way anything. I do ONE thing–at a time–with my whole heart, mind, body, and soul. I do one thing at a time–with 100%. I love my opportunities to facilitate learning experiences for learners. But now I’m also fascinated and humbled by another heartbeat. And this heart. Beats…

After fifteen years as a classroom teacher, I guess I still have my routine and my pride. I still feel like I can do 100% in my career, AND I can do 100% in my family circle, too. If anyone can, I can. Right? Well, I have been used to 14-18-hour workdays for the last 15 years, so… maybe? I’ve already plotted my daily routine where I would still have “me” time to tweet, blog, read, and reflect, possibly 4am–6am. Is THAT going to happen? (And this is the time when all the parent-educators begin laughing hysterically, right? Sincerely, feel free to comment on this blog).

For years… I have done it all. All the time. I have lead several committees, after school clubs, our After School program. I have been well-versed in assuming the extras around campus, because I wanted to. I have attended several after hours meetings, and I have even presented at school, county, state, national, and international conferences. For 15 years, I’ve felt like this was not just what I do, but it’s who I am!

But the harsh reality is that I CAN’T be 100% in both circles. I tried. I’ve even pulled all-nighters in the workplace up until just a few years ago (I literally worked the whole night thru), until I got pneumonia… and by the doctor’s own words: “You should be DEAD right now!” I should have died. Literally. I have limits–And THAT is humbling.

I CAN’T be 100% in both circles—Because that would be 200%. And as much as I want to defy health and humanity, I only get 100%, just like everyone else. I have some really hard choices ahead of me, and I’m incredibly terrified.

I’m terrified that I won’t let myself let go of my #OneWord2017. I won’t let myself be content. I won’t let myself settle for “good enough,” because it’s not MY perfect. I won’t let myself express a halfway work ethic, because anything worth doing, is worth doing 100%! As surely as I compose this right now, I’m wrestling. HARD. What do you advise?

Will my perspective change when I see our child for the first time?

12 Replies to “Can I Give 200%?”

  • Kyle,
    I love your openness and honesty in this post. Your points and fears are all SO valid. While I did not go to your extreme pre-children, I was worried how I would get through a day at work awake let alone give my students by best. Scheduled time for blogging? Reading? Yea, right! Sometimes you may be lucky to get a shower or have those be your only 2 hours of sleep. Take them. You are so right. You can’t give 200%. You can be 100% motivated, fail, learn from it, move on, & enjoy life. Since I had my first child almost 6 years ago, I feel I have continued to improve each year as an educator and also gained more love & passion for teaching. I credit most of this to becoming a mother (and the rest of course to Twitter & an awesome PLN) Major lessons I have learned after working full time with 2 children under 5 (my new little #3 thrown in the mix terrifies me to go back to work again so we shall see😉) are: 1. Wherever you are be all there. (Very difficult at times, but valuable) 2. There has to be a line. Your family needs you just as much as students do (often times more). 3. Finding balance is key. Without it you will burn out in every role & be of no value to anyone. 4. There is a season for everything. Plans may change a bit for you when you become a daddy, but it is ok. Actually, it’s a great thing. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Your kids are only small once and you are so important in their lives. Your professional “plans” may not work out the way you planned but they may instead work out better…
    You will have new lenses to look at life through and it’s awesome. It only makes you stronger.
    Best wishes!

  • It will…eventually…but probably not right away, as involved as you are in your profession. Hopefully it won’t take as long for you as it did me. I still get conflicted sometimes, 18 years after my first born, about what my priority should be. I used to want to be involved in many, many things all the time…the first to know, the one to pilot, the one to share and inform and model. But I no longer strive to be what I used to. Instead, I have come to depend on you and several others like you to go do the leading, learning and reflecting, and come back to share it out and challenge me. I told my principal in some PDP reviews that I am no longer someone who thirsts to attend the numerous PD opportunities around the county, state and nation the way I would have in the earlier days of my profession. I want my 100% distributed a new way….closer to home on a more intimate level with the colleagues who I work closely with. I want to make them think and second guess their ways of teaching and learning and to be great; to push them to a potential of greatness they didn’t know they posessed. But I don’t desire to do it at the expense of missing moments with my family. I dont want my kids to say they wished I was there or my husband to remind me he was but I wasn’t. I don’t want to be too tired to enjoy the little league sidelines. I will not invest the time away from my family to be influential in my career. It is hard to put into words what I mean without sounding like I strive to be only mediocre, because I wzpwct more than that from myself. But the bottom line is that whereas I wanted to be incredibly influential and was willing to invest myself to be just that, I am now PROUD to say that my priorities have changed and I have accepted that it is OK to step back and let someone else do the dynamic things. It is ok to depend on other’s public reflections to challenge me and for me to decide what to do with that. I sure will miss your larger than life ways to learn and lead….but even tho you will slow down a bit…and it WILL happen….you will always be great but I am willing to bet it will look a little different. Your standards and expectation just as high…your thirst as big…your technique tweeked. You have the potential to shape a life like nothing you can yet imagine. And this will satisfy you. Time to give LIFE your 100%….not just your career. You got this!

    I can’t wait to see your future reflections 🙂

  • Wow! What great honesty and vulnerability! It is clear that you are one dedicated educator. However, I must advise that there is no 200%. You are only one person. Science has not allowed us the freedom to clone ourselves….yet. Thus we must seek BALANCE. Right now I’m being a bit hypocritical because this is not my strong suite either. I can only encourage you to force yourself to disconnect and unplug. Family must come first. There has to be a healthy balance between work and home. We must remind ourselves of this and challenge ourselves to prioritize correctly. I think the key is intentionality. Be intentional and make a plan to seek balance. You are a determined guy, I’m confident that if you make a plan you will exceed in the area of balance, too. As always, I enjoyed your blog. Keep on keeping on!

    • Thanks, TJ, I really appreciate your feedback. Even when it’s good, change is still hard. Specifically planning time to balance will definitely help.

  • Kyle, what I love is that you realize that your life is getting ready to change – – – in the most incredible way! Congratulations! And you’re anticipating and wondering ‘how am I am going to keep doing what I’m doing?’ Or ‘how can I possibly keep doing what I’m doing?’ And here’s what I offer: perhaps you need to reframe your thoughts about percentages … and instead thinking ‘give it 100%’ think ‘give it my best’. All we can ever give is our best, correct? And instead of thinking of different ‘pies’ for work and marriage … reframe and think of your life being one big wonderful pie … and give your 100% (your best) to where you are In your pie. (If you’re with your wife, be with her 100% – not thinking of the thousand other things you need to be doing while you’re with her – when you’re at school/in a meeting/at a conference – wherever you are in your pie … give it 100% (your best) at that moment. It’s not about perfection … it’s about ‘our best’ What a great guy you are … and will continue to be … because you give your best!

  • Beautifully and wonderfully written with so much vulnerability and authenticity. Thank you. Yes, you may not be able to give 200% and you worry it’s it will be good enough, considering your desire to give perfection. A mentor in my life always told me, “Do the next right thing. Whatever that is, is what you need.” Be present in what’s next. And that will be not only good enough, it will be perfect.

  • Hey Pal,

    I’m currently sitting in the back of a dirty McDonalds trying to read and reflect and write and grow. I just got home after a 4 day trip presenting on PLCs — something that I do to pay the bills. My daughter — who is eight and who misses me — just called and begged me to come home. I told her no because I have like 10,000 things on my to do list for today.

    And that broke my heart. My kid wants me to be with her and I’m doing part time work instead. There will be a time when she stops asking me to come home — either because she’s too old to care or because she’s heard me say no one too many times.

    Please don’t make the same mistakes that I do…..


    • I’m with Bill on this one Kyle…they grow up so super fast and you can’t get that time back. Renee has great advice about being 100% where you are and remembering your family needs you.

    • Bill, I really appreciate your speaking from heart and life experiences. What I’m hearing is that you invest “extra” time to earn extra income for your family and daughter, but your daughter would rather have your time. What a tough dynamic! It helps me to know that others wrestle with this balancing act. I get caught up in thinking that everyone else has it figured out already. Thank you for sharing so openly. I will heed your advice.

  • The secret is, that no one has it figured out. What works for one family will not work for others. I am conflicted every day with the choices I make. But I work to keep a schedule that only has me working when my children are at school or asleep. Does it always work? Nope. Just be honest with yourself, the people you work with, and your spouse. Have conversations about what you need to do, what you want to do, and what you can realistically do. I could not do any of the things I do without the support of my husband who is willing to take on most of the household chores so I can podcast, blog, tweet, vox, and present at conferences. Of course, I also have to remember to take some time to pull things off of his plate so he can rest too. When the time comes you will know what the right choices are and where you are needed and when.

  • Great piece Kyle. This is something every educator wrestles with. I’ve two quick comments that are just food for thought.

    You wrote: “It’s not that my heart is torn, because I know my heart’s priorities.”

    Hearts don’t have priorities. Brains have priorities. When that “heartbeat” is in your hands for the first time, you’ll know immediately how much you’ve never loved something like you love your child. The love your heart feels forces the priorities in your brain to re-shuffle. Get ready! There’s nothing like it.

    You also wrote: “I won’t let myself settle for “good enough,” because it’s not MY perfect.”

    A wise person once told me, “Stop asking yourself if it’s good enough. Of course, it’s not good enough. Nothing is ever good enough.” He went on to suggest that I ask myself, “Is it good?” Not in the sense of “good or bad” but in the context of right, just, good, decent, moral, etc. I’ve found that when I ask myself, “It this good?” in that context and the answer is yes then I know I’ve done right by my family, my students, and myself.

    • Luke! Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it. Interesting point on the brain versus heart. Deep down, I know you’re right on all points. I can’t wait for the day, and it’s the good kind of overwhelming that I will have when our child in my hands to LOVE. It’s the bad kind of overwhelming that I know I will really, really struggle with walking away from some parts of my career and work, knowing that it’s good, but that it’s really not great. Perhaps, I’m thinking it’s a rougher transition for me than others because I’m not in my twenties anymore, and I’ve been used to my way, routine, and life for a long time. Even good change is hard. To be continued… Thanks again.

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