It was Wednesday I was tired, but we didn’t have another teacher to cover for me on the island. The principal was burnt out and needed a break himself.
I was drained, feeling very depleted and doing my best to keep my cup with something in it.
Me and the principal had both been experiencing some resistance after we both fell into the trap of burning the candle at both ends. We had a couple of honest conversations in the past week about the conflict and need for some adjustments to our working relationship.
In previous years, my tendency would have been to blame, judge and criticise him for not doing a better job. My track record suggest I would have gone into fight against the resistance and caused my harm than good in the process. My ego would have taken off and started a war with my boss over something so insignificant, but this time it was different.
I could see how hard he was trying to make things work, too hard to be fair, he needed a break himself, he had been teaching and running the school here all by himself for over 6 months. That’s a tough gig. Although our class is small, we are teaching 5 different year levels to a very mixed ability group. After meeting each other with some slight tension that week, I decided something had to give.
My own mindset had shifted and I was quietly confident that I could come up with a solution to assist both of us in our quest to making the lives of our students on island, awesome! I needed a break, he needed a break. We both needed a chance to reset and refresh, to administer a Mindset Reset.
I stopped and said “I am working with principal’s all over Australia. Helping them to find a balance and to fill their cup so that they can have a greater impact. You’re no different. I have seen many principals who just don’t know how to stop and slow down.”
I suggested we work together on this, that he assist me with the teaching, but I assist him with his own well being. It was the old “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back”.
I am super grateful that we could both collaborate and play to each other's strengths in this situation. This has taken me many years to personally switch my mindset around stress and also having a boss.
More like teamwork make the dream work.
When we are stressed we are usually in a reactive mindset, which leads to our ego wanting to be right no matter what. When two people are reactive, two egos go to war with each other and this creates… you got it… more stress! This is saps our energy, drains us and is a quick route to burn out.
Lucky for us we had the self-awareness and compassion to administer a three step process I had developed during the creation of a new school leaders program I am working on. I will call them the 3 Remedies for now:
The first remedy: CREATE SPACE.
It is extremely difficult to find a solution when we keep focusing on the problem. When the to-do-list keeps growing and our overwhelm keeps growing just by looking at it we need a Mindset Manoeuvre. We need an opportunity to create space so that we can unload the unnecessary baggage, quieten the mind and restructure our self-care routine so that it accommodates our work load. If we fail to find this balance, we gradually end up more and more depleted.
We need to SOFTEN and treat ourselves with care, self-compassion and love.
Just as Mother Goose said:
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.”
We didn’t want to be Humpty Dumpty.
The simple suggestion of allowing and surrendering was all we needed to relieve the pressure and improve the energy flow for both of us.
The second remedy: ALLOW and SURRENDER
Allowing yourself to not be okay and to admit you need some support is fundamental to building a strong and supportive working relationship. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed, tired, stressed or burnt out. It’s a part of life, we just need to understand the feeling and how to best handle it.
It was really important that we were both heard. Both parties spoke about how they were feeling and why they were feeling that way. We discussed reasons for it and made suggestions around how we could best support each other at this point in time.
If we both continued to go about our business pretending that everything was okay, this would have just manifested into more negative feelings and emotions for us, but most importantly, the students deserve to be around teachers who are present, inspired and positive.
We were on the same page and it felt fantastic to know we had each other’s backs.
When you feel this way. Drained, tired, burnout, stressed, anxious, depressed etc. it is imperative that you surrender to the feeling. Just sitting with it and allowing yourself to feel the feelings, to have the thoughts and to let the emotions flow effortlessly for a day or two is critical to moving away from that negativity and towards pleasure.
When we are in this reactive state of stress, we bounce of other people, we are critical, judgemental and often vile with the way we act or behave unconsciously. We are in a fear based response that can be easily triggered by somebody else’s seemingly insignificant behaviour.
If a student was to come and ask a simple request like “Can I play outside” we can often SNAP! With a harsh and dangerous response that fragments that relationship instantaneously… we have an obligation to be present, clear headed and showing up as our best self. When we start to slip into this negative loop we need to SURRENDER.
Surrender to the emotions, feelings, thoughts you are experiencing and just be with them. Acknowledge yourself and treat yourself with the utmost respect and care.
Thankfully, myself and the boss came up with a great solution together. He really needed a day to connect with himself, to slow down, switch off from work and to stay of technology. I really needed a day to do the same and to be away from work and to just be present with myself.
We agreed to take a day’s leave each… I would run the school on Thursday and he would use this time to reset and reconnect. We would reverse roles on the Friday.
This gave me a whole day of enjoying nature, getting out in nature really is the strongest and fastest way for you to regenerate positive ions in the body. Connecting to our source (the Earth) will rapidly shift your level of conscious and provide you with the perfect remedy for filling your cup.
The third remedy: NATURE to Nurture
Nature is your best friend when you’re feeling flat, low vibrational and depleted. Why? The big wide world is the holder of all the energy we need to increase our vibration. The ocean, forest, dirt, wind, water, plants, sun etc. all carry an abundance of energy far stronger than what is missing from us in that moment.
Take the ocean for example, a wave is the most powerful force on the planet, simply spending time in the big salty blue ocean revitalises and energises us so quickly. You can look into it yourself but in our busy, technologically rich environments we are constantly absorbing negative ions… these leave us feeling heavy, sluggish and low vibrational.
Get out in nature to start re-energising… I like to take my shoes off and walk around barefoot on the dirt or grass. I imagine the positivity flowing up my legs like an electrical current.
So we both took our days off.
Both of us spent the day out in nature and around friends or family in the evening.
For me it was sunshine, snorkelling, paddleboarding, fishing, sunset and whale watching. I feel like I'm buzzing now. I actually feel like I'm on drugs... the ocean does that to me.
I feel like instead of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again we turned him into a rocket ship who is now flying around the Universe.