It seems like yesterday that we were welcoming the new year of 2013 … and the new 2012, and the new 2003 and 2002, for that matter. But time passes, and the end of the old year is one of those times when people often pause to reflect, to consider what went well and what they might change in the new year. There are resolutions to make – and to break. Plans to make and, inevitably, to change. Goals to set and re-set, and of course life to be lived, sometimes in spite of the resolutions, plans, and goals. It must have been a year ago (or was it two?) when Ms. X and Mr. Y showed up at school, determined to lose that extra weight with a new, improved diet … but the year went by, and Ms. X and Mr. Y look and weigh about the same as they did. The new, improved diet, with its specially prepared frozen meals, lasted about as long as new, improved diets generally do … and then life happened, and the new, improved diet and its underlying resolutions were left behind, as resolutions often are.
I don’t want this to sound like criticism of Ms. X and Mr. Y, though. I’ve lost track of the number of resolutions I made, and promptly broke or forgot, over the years. Inevitably, life happens, and people get busy, and other priorities arise. And there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s terrible to feel shackled to a resolution (or to anything else, for that matter), to forge on, motivated only by will and stubbornness, when it’s clearly time (or past time) to let go and move on. There’s a kind of joy in making resolutions, but there’s also a joy in releasing them when it’s clear you need to move in a different direction.
If I still made resolutions, maybe I’d resolve to hold things loosely in the new year … but I haven’t been making formal resolutions, and I’ve been working on holding things loosely for a while.
When I woke up this morning, I found a link to this GigaOm post in my Google+ feed, and it struck me that “Bringing Your Own Mind” is as important in the school of the present as it will be in the workplace of the future. Go and read the article if you have a chance; it’s long, but rich, and it encapsulates a number of themes that have come up over and over in this space.
As I wrote this post, starting and stopping to make breakfast for the family, to tend to The Dog, and to try to collect my scattered thoughts, I started to realize that 20th-century style resolutions feel as out-of-date and uncomfortable to me as the 20th-century schools and workplaces I continue to work within, the ones described in the GigaOm post and in David Price’s book Open, which I’m still reading and attempting to digest. Changes are real, and they’re important, but they’re also slow in large organizations – and they don’t happen neatly just because a new year is starting or because we make a resolution.
When you’re working to build and sustain joyful learning communities, it’s important to remember that things don’t always happen on a set schedule there, either. Community growth is organic … but it tends to be more lasting, more real, more important than the artificial growth of the factory or the resolution. This New Year’s Eve, and in the new year to come, I hope we’ll all resolve to be open to that organic growth, to be aware of the communities we belong to, to see what – if anything – we’re being called to do to strengthen and sustain them.
I wonder what new discoveries await us today and in the year to come!