Are You On Hold?

This blog was originally written on October 24, 2020

Are you like me? Do you dread calling those impersonal businesses that put you on hold? I know how it will go… There will be a voice telling me to press 1 for this department and 2 for that kind of information. I listen to the options, knowing that my request doesn’t really fit any of them, but I make my choice. And then there’s that endless wait while I listen to some music selected for somebody else and periodic reminders of how important I am. Is it just me? Does anybody enjoy this experience? 

But let me ask you this – what do you do while you’re waiting? I never know what to do. I don’t want to answer an email or start on a project because I may get distracted and forget why I called. 

But I’m restless. I can’t just sit there. Unlike the girl in this picture, I’m not tied to a cord. So I pull a dead leaf off a plant and walk it to a trash can. I open the refrigerator looking for a snack, although I’m not hungry. I close it again because I don’t want food in my mouth when a real person comes online. What do YOU do when you’re on hold?

Truthfully, I’m just keeping busy, marking time. It feels like my whole life has been put on hold. If only someone would answer, then I could get on with my life. Right?

Are You On Hold Professionally?

Ever since the COVID pandemic hit, I’ve heard teachers and leaders talk about surviving this temporary interruption to school. Parents have shared how hard it is to keep an even balance with themselves, new work demands, and having children at home with virtual or hybrid school schedules. We all hope that this is a blip in our life that will pass quickly if we can just hold on. 

I can listen with compassion, because I too have been looking for projects to do while I’m waiting for school to get back to normal. Then, I can get back to presenting at professional events and making school visits. Soon I can have productive conversations with school leaders and instructional coaches who won’t be distracted by critical life/ death decisions. I just realized that I’ve been operating as though I’m on hold. I want to share three insights, hoping they will help you too.

1. Being on hold means someone else has the power!

Who has the power here? Yes, politicians and policymakers may make decisions that affect whether schools are open or closed, whether we wear masks, what our schedule looks like, and when our favorite restaurant will be open. But they don’t control my moods or my daily effectiveness. Viktor Fankl lived through horrific experiences in Nazi concentration camps and never gave away his power to choose. I choose to take back my power.

2. Being on hold means no connection! 

Teachers have shared about a loss of connection as schools moved online. They miss seeing their students and watching their faces as they learn. They complain about students who keep their camera off or won’t log on. Yes! It’s a serious concern and so are thousands of students who are unaccounted for. More power to those who are working on that!

But what are we doing for those who DO SHOW UP? Are we building connections with them like our life depends on it? Are we listening without judgmentrespecting their perspectives, and building trust. A student’s relationship with a caring teacher has more long term impact on his life than academic success. And it’s what makes life meaningful for teachers. I choose to relate to each person I encounter like it could make a difference.

3. Being on hold means that this moment doesn’t count!

As I’ve gone through my day, there have been too many times when I’ve mindlessly completed tasks without bringing my full heart and mind to the pursuit. With my thoughts wistfully on the past or the future, I haven’t been paying attention to the present. It’s like arriving at a destination and not remembering anything about the ride. 

Who says I have to wait to chase my goals and dreams? This is the moment I’m alive – right now. I want to bring everything I have to writing this blog from my heart so that it can awaken something in you. Yes, this moment does count! I passionately care about giving teachers and leaders a new vision of what’s possible in schools. I am committed to empowering them to make incremental shifts that increase their effectiveness with students and families. 

I declare at this moment that I am not on hold. It’s true that many factors are not under my control, but I can control my mood. I can control my actions. I can control how I show up in my interactions. I resolve to make YOUR day a bit brighter and support you to find a hopeful opportunity in our present situation. What are we waiting for? This isn’t the time to be on hold! Let’s live as if this was our last day. What does life expect from us today? 

Thank you for caring enough to read to the end. I’ll count that as confirmation that you don’t want to live on hold either. Hugs to you! 

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