The Risks in What We Don’t Do

One of my goals for 2018 is to read more books.  I read a ton of articles, but I have slacked off on the number of books that I have read in the last two years.  The balance I want to find is reading books that are new, but also non-fiction classics. I am trying to not only relearn from some of these books but actively seeking why these books have stood the test of time.  The book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” was first published in 1936, yet I only read it last year for the first time.  The ideas in it are timeless and influential.

The book that I have started with this year is, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey. I read it several years ago, but it has so many great ideas that seem to be common sense, but Covey wanted to make them everyday practice.  Common sense and common practice are not always connected; what we know and what we do not always align.

One of the things that I started thinking about in this book is about the risks we take in our learning and growth.  Below is how I see the idea of “risk”:

As I talked about this notion of risk yesterday with a group of teachers, I realized that “risk” is not only in the things that we do but often in the things that we don’t do.

For example, I am trying to focus on my health over the last few months (and onward), and have worked out harder than I have in awhile.  I have always gone to the gym, but how I used my time, there was not helpful. I would kind of float around and not break a sweat. Showing up is not enough.  But every time I get on that treadmill and push myself, I could fall off, injure myself, or whatever.  On the other hand, every time I don’t go to the gym, there are risks associated long-term with my health that I might not see now, but they are there.  I might have time to do other things if I don’t go to the gym, but will I do them as well.

“Risk” is not only what you do, but what you avoid to do.  They both have outcomes.

This thinking was sparked by Covey’s sharing of the “Time Management Matrix”:

Time Management Matrix


This has helped me to focus on how I spend my time and what it will lead to in the long run.  I have seen this used and have been familiar with this matrix for years, but for some reason, it is only making sense to me now. Where individual items go is based on the person looking at the matrix, but what matters to me is that I start sorting those things and focusing more on both where I spend my time, and how I utilize it.

This matters in our classrooms as well.  When I am asked, “Why would you change something that works?” My response is that I wouldn’t. If something is working for your students, that is what you want.  But does it work for all of your students?  Does it really work for the adult more than the learners?  Is there a better way?  Time is limited in our classrooms and schools, but we have more control of how we use that time than we often give ourselves credit.

Meghan Takacs, one of the trainers on Aaptiv (I love this app and might be a bit obsessed with how much it is pushing me), made the simple statement in one of the training programs, “The clock is going to do what it does.”  Simply put, I am focused more on how I use my time and what it will lead to not only now but long term. Showing up is a start, but it is not the end goal.

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