We need to step back more often

I’m feeling a little pensive tonight. I attended a visitation today for a colleague who passed away suddenly last week. We’re a day away from a desperately needed break. Christmas is imminent. Another year is almost complete. It’s a time for reflection, it seems.

As I told @leftyeva, I don’t really write private stuff on my blog at all; I do that writing elsewhere. But there are a few things I’m thinking about that are okay to say here.

What are we trying to accomplish in the long term? In our work, we’re helping to develop students into happy, healthy, skilled, resilient people. I found myself getting frustrated over the last few years at what I saw as barriers in my work. I now feel like I’ve crested a hill/rounded a corner/[insert other journey analogy here] and can see some of the complexity of what we’re doing. I work to help people use educational technology to improve learning and improve lives. I work as part of a very, very long term plan in an emerging system, one which is full of false starts and spectacular, costly failures. I don’t need to be upset that we haven’t arrived yet, or that a particular website is blocked, or that people don’t know about a certain tool, or….

Stepping back, we’ve come a really long way. The problems we face today are very different from the problems of a few years ago. They feel urgent in the same way, but generally they’re not any more desperate. They’re challenges, and they’re frustrating, but in a few years I’ll be looking back and once again marvelling at how far we’ve come.

I’m going to try to stop losing sleep over this stuff. Everyone’s trying hard. No one has the answers. We need to give people time and space and support, in work and in everything else.

And when I step back even further, it’s clear to me that my family is the most important thing in my life, and that the work is a distant second. The work will get done even if I’m not the one doing it. I’m really thankful for that because it lessens the burden of responsibility somewhat and lets me be wholly there with my wife and kids.

Cut yourself some slack. Take a real holiday, forgive yourself for not being further along than you are, and remember what’s really important. Hug your loved ones, remind them they’re the most important thing in your life, and live your life so they never have to wonder.

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3 thoughts on “We need to step back more often

  1. You’ve provided some sound advice in this post, Brandon. I’m sorry that you had to go through what you did but that’s life. We all do it and must find some way internally to move on. It always helps to put the next couple of weeks into perspective.

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