Finding your ‘Why’

Virtual meetings have become commonplace in many work and education environments these days. The process is fairly straightforward; the meeting participants agree on a mutually convenient time, a digital link is shared and you simply join at the agreed time and the meeting is underway. Unlike physical meetings where it takes time to walk or even travel to the place where the meeting is hosted, in an online meeting can you literally move from one task to another with just a couple of mouse clicks. While there are definitely benefits in this, I have found that a couple of mouse clicks is often not enough lead time for my aging brain to change its focus from one task to another.

Last week I was having a particularly busy morning when a calendar prompt reminded me that I had a Zoom meeting scheduled in one minute. I hurriedly joined just in time but for some reason my computer kept disconnecting me from the meeting. So, after a few stressful minutes, which also necessitated switching devices, I successfully re-joined my colleagues online.

After the obligatory salutations and introductions, I was asked this question by the organiser of the meeting  “So, tell me about the plans and vision for Cedars in 2021”. Now on the surface this seemed like a very reasonable question to ask one of the executive leaders of the College at the start of a new school year, but at that particular time it felt like I had a zillion other things racing through my brain – most of which had seemingly nothing to do with vision, planning and strategy. Just prior to the meeting I had been consumed by trying to resolve a timetabling issue; I was in the midst of addressing a complaint from a member of the community about traffic congestion and most importantly I was concerned as to whether the student I met on the way to my office who had just lost their lunch box would find it!

After taking a deep breath and pausing for a couple of seconds to refocus, I was able to step outside the grasp of this current cognitive commotion and calmly lift my thinking to a different plane by mentally reminding myself of the “why” behind the “what” I was doing.

I absolutely love my job, not because I particularly enjoy timetabling, helping to resolve traffic congestion or finding lunch boxes, but because I know that there is a greater purpose behind every big and little thing that comes across my desk.

Understanding our “why” or the purpose behind what we do in life serves to motivate us, gives much needed perspective and helps us to remain calm and positive during the tough moments we will face in life. Whether you are a student, a parent, a business owner, employee in the workplace or a combination of all these, understanding the purpose behind what we do helps us to make wise decisions and to prioritise our time and workload accordingly.

By nature, I am a planner and love to map out a good schedule or develop a policy, plan or process. Yet, as a Deputy Principal I resolved long ago to accept that unfortunately life does not always run to my prepared timelines. Instead, I have realised that many of these apparent interruptions to my daily schedule are not a distraction from my job but an integral part of it, providing unplanned opportunities to practically live out my faith as a Christian and outwork the values and vision of the College in a demonstrable way. However, there is definitely an art in achieving the optimal balance between having structure and allowing for flexibility. For me, the key in managing this tension is found in not allowing myself to constantly become bogged down in the minutiae and instead taking time to step back and remind myself of the big picture on a regular basis.