Saturday, January 17, 2009

Week 2 Wrap Up: Without Vision, the People Perish!

We began the week with an inspiring chapter from the pages of Sir John Marks Templeton’s, Worldwide Laws of Life in which he explains that without goals and a reason for attaining our goals, we won’t live life to its fullest. While this is probably obvious to most adults, I think it is an important concept for preteens, tweens and teens to learn as their understanding of life and self begins to expand. Why not help them discover that the secret to attaining their ultimate goals is based on implementing a few simple principles?

We learned that small incremental changes of one degree at a time add up to big changes over time—and that by using the concept of “compounding interest , we could achieve “compounding improvements” in our lives.

We learned how to establish a goal, define a compelling purpose for attaining it, and put a specific plan in place to achieve it. We learned that it is okay to have BIG DREAMS, BIG IDEAS and HIGH STANDARDS, even if most people they meet in life aren’t aspiring to anything. As part of our guided meditation, my daughter, Austin, envisioned herself shooting a movie on top of the Hollywood sign. In my mind, this was a perfect metaphor for being on top of your game. She pictured it down the last detail, explaining to me that the crew had cleaned the bird poop off the top of the letters before she had to get up there. That’s my girl!

We studied real life examples, like Walt Disney and his vision to create “the Happiest Place on Earth” and Mother Theresa and her vision “to provide hope to the forgotten” through her City of Hope. We analyzed how their inspirations coupled with an unyielding vision, lead to accomplishments beyond even their own expectations, thus creating legacies that have lived on beyond them.

I am finding this “law” challenges me daily in home school. I am very clear about my long-term vision of home school and what I want to create. I want to implement an expanded curriculum beyond that taught in a traditional school environment, work at a pace that challenges my children and is not grade specific, create a strong family bond and more time spent together, and include numerous opportunities to learn life lessons outside the classroom (i.e. opportunities to travel). While my long term vision is very clear, I am finding that I need to get my head around my vision for each day in order to keep the troops engaged and receptive. I now see why Susan Wise Bauer so firmly recommends a daily lesson plan. I must follow her lead, tightening up my daily curriculum plan so I know what the objectives are for each day. That way I don’t have the underlying sense that we might “perish”.

Sir John Marks Templeton illustrates this “law” with a wonderful story of Florence Chadwick, the woman who swam the Catalina Channel in Southern California setting national and international records. She eventually set her sights on swimming the English Channel and on her first attempt, “perished” very near the shore. She had trained and trained for this. She had physical and emotional support along the way. And unexpectedly, a thick fog rolled in, blocking her view of the shore. When interviewed afterwards about whether she knew how close she had been to the finish line, she said it simply didn’t matter. “You see,” she said, “I lost sight of my goal. I am not sure I ever had it firmly in my mind.” This story illustrates the fact that even well- trained, well prepared folks without a vision, will perish—or FAIL!

Now my kids can begin to learn how to embrace failure rather than fear it by understanding that failure is really God pushing us to grow and prepare for even greater things. They will learn to accept responsibility for their failures, realizing that when they do fail, it may have been that they weren’t really committed to that goal (i.e. no sense of purpose), had the wrong goal or didn’t keep their vision “in living color” in their minds. The next phase of this lesson will be to study failure in all its glory and to learn about the great leaders and visionaries whom have failed over and over again before finally achieving their greatest accomplishments.

But we’re not there yet. That’s another Leadership Unit and another blog.

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