Like so many others I was saddened to read about the death of actor/comedian Robin Williams. As a long time fan of his many characters over the years, it struck me how such a talented person struggled in so many ways. Though his bouts with depression and addiction have been written about, I was more knowledgable about the roles than the reality.
When considering the students and parents in your school, the same is often true: You know more about the "roles" played in the classrooms and hallways than the full scope of their stories. It intrigues me how some people have incredible resiliency to overcome abuse, abandonment, tragedy, or other such traumatic life experiences, while others are unable to move beyond their past to live at peace in the present.
Some of the characters played by Robin Williams had a direct impact on me, especially one in particular.
Patch Adams is one of my top 3 favorite movies.
I like the irreverence of this medical student who reinvents himself through the joy of healing--bodies, hearts, and souls. He overcame the bureaucracy of education to find deeper meaning. It's a shame when school leaders are impediments to learning--we all know that poor quality education is much more about adult problems than those of the children.
Every day I try to remind myself: There are 8 fingers, not 4.
"See what no else sees. See what everyone else chooses not to see! Out of fear, conformity, or laziness. See the whole world anew each day."
Focusing on the people rather than the problems is a game-changer and a life-changer. It will transform your leadership, your school's culture, and especially your personal relationships. In the chaos of starting the school year and moving through the daily responsibilities, try to remember to look at the people, at their faces, at their desires, at their needs, at their unique genius.
The purpose of a teacher, and every school leader, should not be to simply avoid ignorance, but to increase the quality of each person's life.
Thank you for your many inspirational roles, Robin Williams, using your creativity to innovate and entertain. You will be missed.