Brilliant. YES. Insightful. YES. Simple………..maybe not so much, at least not initially. To keep the main thing the main thing one has to determine what the main thing is. What is the main thing?
Thanks to sizable grant obtained by our brilliant, fearless leader (Amie Campbell), Ogden Preparatory Academy is implementing Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on a school wide basis; every student, kindergarten through high school freshman, will learn the 7 Habits. Because “we can’t take kids where we haven’t gone” ( Justin Ropelato, another brilliant, fearless leader), the entire faculty is being Franklin Covey trained.
I’ve had Franklin Covey training before—in fact, I’ve unofficially done some Franklin Covey training— and I’ve written many mission statements (dozens?) but I could not find any of them. (They’re probably tucked away somewhere, maybe beside the receipt for the hose that has a life time guarantee that I always vow I will put somewhere I can find but never seem to be able to encounter when the hose springs a leak which it inevitably does….) Recognizing that sincere introspection is not a bad thing and intense self-scrutiny can be a really good thing, I began once again to ponder my life’s mission.
Hum……….What is my life’s mission? Clearly I want to return, with my family, to live with my Heavenly Father. While this is true, it is not very Teresa-specific. “We detect rather than invent our missions in life.” (Victor Frankl, also brilliant and fearless) What is my unique errand? Taking into consideration the gifts God has given me, what task am I best suited to tackle?
I won’t bore you with the various mental paths I cerebrally trod on the way to detecting my mission statement. (I am already at great risk of boring you as I start the fifth paragraph on this topic….) Suffice it to say that I realized that my greatest joy comes as I connect with others, my greatest satisfaction occurs when I feel I have built others, and my greatest conviction is that pure love is the key to all that is good. A mission statement is born! My mission is to connect and built through love.
Brilliant? For me, yes. Insightful? For me, powerfully so. Simple? Now, yes. It helps me keep the main thing, the main thing. This week, as I drove from house to house, visiting members of Team:PRIMARY, I felt a lot better about the peaches that were falling unpicked from the trees in my garden when I remembered that my mission is to connect with and build up people, not bottle fruit. Likewise, thinking about my mission statement freed me from “there-is-a-puddle-of-gunk-at-the-bottom-of-my-frig-and-my-laundry-is-not-put-away” guilt as I strolled through the NFL store with Miles, admiring my son as he admired Green Bay Packers paraphernalia. Put first things first, right?
“Put first things first” is one of the 7 Habits. Another is “Sharpen the Saw”, a habit that advises people to do things that renew them personally. Telling stories fills my bucket, so to speak. In the spirit of saw sharpening, let the stories begin!
“I’m not going to run for class president,” Miles said. Though Grace and I both urged him to reconsider his decision, he left for school on election day firmly convinced that an election campaign was not for him….which made his announcement that he was elected to preside over his fifth grade class for the next quarter quite surprising. In an answer to our “what happened?” query, he explained, “I just changed my mind so I thought up a speech in two seconds and gave it.” Chick’s response, said with a smile: “I hated kids like you when I in school.” (Didn’t we all? …written with a smile—sort-of!)
My watch is lost (not written with sort of smile) so Lance gave me a fancy jogging watch he bought somewhere. I put it on and was puzzled by the display’s unnatural angle. To read the time I had to twist my arm 45 degrees away from my body’s core. Odd. Odd. Odd…….until I realized that jogging watches, like can openers, school desks, and scissors, are right handed. When I put the watch on my other wrist, the time displayed conveniently with a mere glance.
The flowers sent to me a school attracted a lot more than a mere glance; every eye in my second period classroom was riveted on the gorgeous bouquet the secretary delivered on August 26th. August 26th? The card read “20 years ago today I first met my beautiful wife. My shoe size is 10. You are not half bad for a teacher.” Lance, the darling man to whom I am married, remembered that August 26th was the date of our first date. (I would write something here like “if only he would remember to put his socks in the dirty clothes” but that would be totally UNCOOL.) The note was full of inside jokes (which I will explain if you care to ask), the class was full of ooh’s and ahh’s, and my eyes were full of tears (as were the secretary’s and those of the teacher who shares my room). TOTALLY COOL!
Also totally cool was hearing John say “Thank you for playing an active role in NASA product development.” Who would have thought this little dairy farmer’s daughter would ever play an active role in anything that had anything to do with NASA? [Sad but true disclaimer: It sound much more important than it is. NASA develops educational materials and federal mandates require the presence of a public educator on the product review committee. I am a token teacher. It makes for a great story though.]
In search of a great story I signed up to be an Ogden City Ambassador. Ogden, in an effort to impress the throngs they anticipated would invade the city in conjunction with the Ogden Temple Open House, organized a volunteer corps whose task was greet and guide the visitors. Fun, right? …..Associating with people from all over Utah, offering advice, welcoming guests…Who knows who I’d meet or what adventures I would have…. What I was hoping for was a story; what I got was a lot of papers graded. During my four hour shift I spoke with one family from Stansbury Park, welcomed about 20 people from Ogden to Ogden, and chatted, in Spanish, with a worker from Win-Co. I invited him to tour the temple; he invited me to teach him English. End of conversation. End of story.
There is no end in sight to stories about Miles’ and football. After 3 years of incessant, dogged, relentless pesting, we finally let Miles sign up to play little league football. He is the 26th biggest player on his team of 26. Most of the team has played before. Due to his inexperience (certainly not due to his size), his coaches put him on the offensive line. The same incessant, dogged, relentless effort that got him the opportunity to play football has earned him a spot on the defensive line where he manages to hold his own and has even forced a couple of quarterback sacks. “I hit them in stomach, below the shoulder pads,” he said, explaining his strategy. Their stomach is about where his head would reach if they were standing side by side. Who says linemen have to be big?
Who says letters have to be long? For those of you who think this letter has gone on too long, the end is near. Thanks for connecting with me. Let’s build together. I would love that.