I recently heard a story about two shoe salesmen who were sent to the same small, remote village in an attempt to sell shoes.
The first salesman returned and told his colleagues that there was no opportunity to sell shoes in that village because none of the villagers wore shoes.
The second salesman returned and told his colleagues that there was tremendous opportunity because none of the villagers owned shoes, yet.
The distinction between the two salesmen’s perceptions, and the language they each used to describe those perceptions, solidified two very different pathways.
The first salesman denied himself opportunity. He closed a door. He stymied potential.
The second salesman created opportunity on the basis of the same challenge the first salesman faced. By articulating his perception in a positive and progressive way he opened the same door that the first salesman closed.
Like the second salesman, we can each employ a positive and progressive view of the world to expand opportunity and amplify potential.
When we choose a negative and stagnant view of the world we limit opportunity and stifle potential, for ourselves and for those around us.
I would argue that this equation is true of the challenges we face on a daily basis as parents and educators.
The word “yet” is critical in our ability to positively impact each child’s unique pathway to wellbeing and achievement.
The very nature of learning and growth tells us that children will demonstrate limited ability before they are given the modeling, the tools, the strategies, the practice, and the experiences that subsequently lead them to demonstrate ability in the same areas where it once seemed limited. They each need, and are hungry for hope, inspiration, and experience.
The very nature of learning and growth tells us that we must always cling to a foundation of potential over and above one of defeat.
As we guide and nurture the potential of each child in our care, we must always keep “yet” in mind. We must always speak the language of opportunity.
We must always perceive and believe that growth is seamless, no matter the rate or frequency of its visibility.
The road is long and winding. Moreover, it is unique for every individual.
As parents and educators we must always trust in progress over and above end points.
As parents and educators we must never define the children we serve according to any moment in time, but rather according to the continuum that we know unfolds over time, with kindness, hope, and an undying resolve for the ever-unfolding and limitless potential that exists within each of them, and within each of us.
We must face each challenge with the knowledge that there is a pathway for it to be it to be resolved, and where we encounter roadblocks we must tirelessly seek alternative pathways.
I, for one, have a long way to go in understanding how to meet the needs of every child I serve. Nevertheless, I firmly believe, and have experienced time and again, that the language of potential, with the word “yet” and as a reminder, provides for and builds upon hope and inspiration at every turn.
I believe that a positive and progressive worldview with limitless potential for learning, growth, and opportunity at the center is the way forward.
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.