Written by Founder and CEO, Sara Potler LaHayne
In response to everything happening in our world, I have sometimes felt defeated and helpless, without knowing where to make a difference.
During those times, my feelings of fear and anxiety spilled over into how I managed my emotions (or didn’t). I did not show appreciation and was impatient, operating from a place of deficit.
But when we operate from a place of abundance, with patience, kindness and generosity, we can offer more–especially tolerance and respect.
As an entrepreneur, it isn’t sunshine and roses every day. So how can we ensure that feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed or exhausted– whether inspired by something internal or external–are managed so that we don’t become a lesser version of ourselves?
In the workplace, it’s critical to practice cultivating abundance so we have the tools to help us on a bad day. That might mean taking time to yourself, or finding a quiet place to re-center, so you can present your best self to your team. Otherwise, an outburst could cause a serious rift, derail motivation in the office, or even cause you to lose your job.
Those devoting their lives to education–teachers, school leaders, and district administrators–battle an ever-increasing to-do list, juggling competing priorities and attempting to fulfill the roles of caretaker, nurse, social worker, friend AND educator all within a six-hour window. It’s reasonable to end your day feeling depleted.
And yet, most educators I know, enter the building the next day ready to offer the same patience, kindness and generosity to their students day after day. Teachers provide a clear example of what it truly means to operate from a place of abundance.
In schools, it’s important to model these behaviors for students. They are looking for cues from adults, and will pick up on our bad habits as well. If teachers have the space and ability to cultivate a mentality of abundance, their students will be able to as well.
So how can we follow this example as leaders of education companies? Whether we are at home, in the workplace, or in the classroom, it’s always important to treat people with respect and dignity. There’s no excuse for not doing so, even on one of our worst days. Moments of vitriol can leave a lasting impact on the people around us.
To prevent a short fuse and help ourselves function at a high level, we have to find our own abundance. This can be tough, especially when the sources of stress are external and seem outside of our control or ability to influence.
But we can find our own abundance in small but meaningful ways:
1) Love unconditionally.
No individual and no system in our world is perfect–we all have our flaws, and so do our social movements. For example, there are things about my dad that drive me crazy, but those qualities also make him special.
2) Make space.
It’s tough to operate from a place of abundance when we’re constantly responding, messaging, planning. When I’m always “on,” I end up operating from a place of deficit. I have to make space for stillness, for quiet, to just be, so that I can fill myself back up.
3) Practice forgiveness.
I am disappointed and even embarrassed by the way I have treated people I love while I was on edge. In order to move on, I needed to acknowledge and own my mistakes. I have apologized and recognized my errors. But now I need to forgive myself so that I can generate patience and kindness toward others. We also need to forgive the source of our stress so that we can move forward productively.
4) Identify a source of optimism.
In sad times, it can be difficult to find hope for the future. Even if we can’t authentically find optimism at this time, we can find something small to be hopeful for, and we can develop that spirit of optimism within us.
5) Nurture ourselves.
It’s impossible to give generously to others if we are not giving to ourselves. When I am sleep deprived, hungry, and void of creative and physical inspiration, I am not in a position to be present for others. It’s important t give myself the things I need–daily meditation, a good sweat, and creative joy–so that I can be the best version of myself for those around me.
Mistakes happen, and sometimes we snap. But we can work daily to cultivate abundance so that we have more to give to our teams, our families, and the world.
This article was originally published by EdWeek Market Brief on September 5th, 2019.