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Your Journey this Year

“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” John O’Donohue

By Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director


Last week I suggested that you begin the year by planning for the history you wish to record in May 2015. Yet, as Irish poet, philosopher, and environmental activist John O’Donohue has suggested, the unfolding is important. I set goals and work with a vision in mind. However, once that is done, for me at least, life works best when I do not force the outcomes, but rather am with the flow. And often for me, the history I want to record is for others to have a better life.

Today, as I reflect on my own history over the past 5 years since CEI was created, I am remembering my journey from being an interim principal in Amritsar, India, to establishing CEI to bring academic gains to schools in the U.S. and Dubai, and joining forces with the National Association of Elementary School Principals. And the most recent leg of my own journey, reestablishing CEI to uplift schools and further the mission of 21st Century Learning.

Wow, it has been an incredible journey!  Sometimes exotic, sometimes grueling, hard work.  Sometimes a guest, sometimes the primary driver. At times it has felt like we have had a stroke of good luck, and other times it has been all I could do to keep the boat afloat.  Sometimes I have been able to gaze at the shoreline and at other times it has been paddling upstream.

Resiliency. This morning I wonder if in many ways this isn’t what most of us face. Of course there are the truly fortunate, lucky ones that just seem to have the magic– the green thumbs, golden touch, silver spoons.  Yet, when I ask what the world needs, what our children living in poverty need, it isn’t to be led by someone who doesn’t understand, who hasn’t experienced the downside of life.  Yes, I believe there is a certain wisdom that comes with experience. Consciousness and compassion, for example, come from having walked in someone else’s shoes, or if you will, riding in their boat. Courage comes from moving through the hard stuff, from assuming leadership where it is needed. Resiliency comes from problem solving, from going through a few trials.

Fulfillment. I am more fulfilled for having traveled down a few streams and journeyed across a few oceans. I am blessed to have survived that struggles I faced, from traveling through murky waters, and escaping the threatening whirlpools. I am a better leader (and follower) because I had the courage to explore some unchartered waters. Yet, the journey is ongoing.

So as others around the nation are questioning the Common Core, I am reminded of what Ursula le Guin said “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.’   Let’s enter the year, committed to leading others on a memorable journey.


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