Mr Manning's Thought for the TermPosted on: 15/01/2021
Since March 2020 near the start of this pandemic, when schools closed and the phenomenon of a national lockdown was imposed, life has continually felt other-worldly. The media and daily updates about virus transmission and Covid-related deaths are heart breaking and the lack of social contact, the inability to connect in the manner that we are so used to and innately so enjoy, has been stripped away for too long. Finally, what seems most debilitating is that no one can tell us when this thing will be over and without a clear end point, motivation and optimism are very precious and precarious commodities.
So how does one stay motivated and emotionally balanced in these ongoing circumstances?
The first thing for me is a pragmatic perspective and making an active decision not to worry about things that are not within my control. Until the next election, I have no say in how the government does things, let alone who is in post as Secretary of State for Education. I am unable to exercise any influence over societal behaviour and the general level of compliance and cooperation relating to national restrictions. I certainly have no power to stifle or suppress the genetic mutation of a virus. What I can control is what I choose to think about and what I focus my energy on. This for me is a good first step. Worry about what you need to worry about and keep the rest at arm's length.
Once we have created some headspace and much needed perspective, only then can we think about sustaining our motivation and pep. We have to be clear on what drives us - the essence of what we enjoy. I am incredibly fortunate to be in a job that I love and that offers me challenge and personal growth everyday. The responsibility for the educational experience and welfare of the young people and professionals within my school community fuels me, whatever the weather. Making progress every day, no matter what the increments, to the betterment of our school is a relentless source of drive and energy for me. Ultimately, progress is the best form of motivation and as Steve Jobs once said, "If you are working on something exciting, that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vison pulls you."
My simple advice, especially now, and restrictions permitting of course, is to focus on what you love doing. Focus on what you really care for and what nourishes you - what makes you happy. Whatever it is, do more of it, broaden your understanding, get better at it and make progress. It could be a certain subject at school, a hobby, music, sport, an ambition or personal goal.
If it is worth doing, it's well worth over-doing.