Loving Recklessly: Hope Within Reach

Loving Recklessly

This post was co-written with Todd Nesloney. You can find his blog here.

The Way It May Seem

It seems these days that you can’t turn on the tv, radio, or surf the web without bearing witness to another atrocity that has happened around the world.  Sometimes those events are far away and easy to disconnect from, yet sometimes they happen right in our backyard.

As more and more of these painful events have taken place, something began to happen in both of our own hearts and minds.  While talking on Voxer one afternoon, we realized how heavy recent events had been weighing on our hearts.  But even more so, the thought of love kept coming to mind.  Loving unconditionally appears reckless to a watching world.

The Way It Really Is

As men of faith, we both know the power that exists in loving unconditionally.  We’ve both seen our own lives changed when we ourselves felt the unconditional love and forgiveness of Christ.  But even more so, we’re reminded of our charge to love others. No matter how hard it may seem.

Loving without limits can be difficult to wrap our minds around. We become conditioned to see people as transactions rather than relationships. Our exchanges with others can be reduced to position or to the role that they serve in our lives rather than the most basic connection: the value of them as a person. When we fail to see the humanity and the needs of others we in a sense lose our own humanity and our way.

Our Belief About Others

What we believe about others will in turn determine our behaviors towards them. Others around us are not looking for a piece, a part, or only half of who we can be when it comes to believing the best about others. They’re looking to see that we want to bring out the best one hundred percent of the time, loving without limits, filled with the desire to see that all people are given opportunities to surpass expectations. No one likes a half-hearted commitment, so our commitment to love people must be 100%.

At the same time, deep-seated in all of us is what we believe about ourselves.  And that too affects how we interact with others.  Many times we see ourselves as unlovable, easily abandoned, or not worthy. As C.S. Lewis puts it, “we are what we believe we are.”  Because of that belief about ourselves, we don’t give others all of ourselves.  We give them pieces of who we are.  We believe that if we give too much they’ll hurt us or use it against us.

Loving without limits is allowing our arms to be wide open to embrace a radical commitment to live beyond ourselves. We must always ask, ‘what does love require of me?’

A radical commitment to…

Compassion

One thing that this world can never have enough of is compassion. Compassion doesn’t come from a place of weak mindedness. It actually comes from a place of incredible strength. When you stop to help the least of these you are sharing your strength.  Being compassionate allows you to be vulnerable, a trait we need more of in our culture, not less.

We tend to overcomplicate what compassion looks like, reserving those moments for someone in times of loss or severe trial. However, what if we displayed this as servant leaders daily. Imagine if we taught this in our classrooms. We must model through our own words and actions for others what this looks like. Being generous with authentic words of praise and affirmation to those around us affirms others in ways they often will not ever communicate. For example, we have witnessed how students or teachers will hold onto that simple post it note we wrote. Why? Because you went beyond yourself and took the time to recognize their value.

Forgive

Forgiveness.  Probably the most difficult of all.  So often in society today we’re taught an eye for an eye.  When someone hurts you, you’re supposed to hurt them back.  Make them feel your pain.

If there’s anything we’ve learned it’s the freeing power of forgiveness.  Because often what you find is that when you forgive someone it frees you more than it does that other person.

We don’t need to hold onto hurt.  To hold onto hate.  When we chose not to forgive we’re only making the issue worse.  One of our favorite quotes is that “hurting people, hurt others.”

Forgiveness isn’t easy.  And honestly, we don’t believe it really comes naturally.  But it’s something that is so necessary.  We have to be the one to step up and say, I forgive you. And to remember that when you forgive it’s not an acknowledgment that what the other person did was ok.  It’s a realization that what they did to you will have no hold over you.  That you’re in control of how you feel and what you believe about yourself.

Hope

Hope is not based on wishful thinking but in the power of that which is not yet becoming reality through intentional belief and action. Hope is the power to drive out fear. When we give into fear we allow anxiety and allow the darkness to cast a shadow in place of light.

All we need is just the slightest sliver of hope.  Belief that things can and will get better.  Darkness cannot hide where there is light.  Together, we can be the light in a world that often feels so overrun by darkness.

So What?

As we both came together to write this post, we wanted it to be a beacon of light. A reminder that as people we can do so much good in this world.  And though it may seem that things are dark or that darkness is prevailing, we can still be the light.

Our hope is to strike the match, that leads to a flame, the ends in a full-on raging fire.  To push forward with unconditional love.  To show compassion in every situation. To forgive quickly, even when we don’t think we can.  And most of all to hold onto hope.

Just as Margaret Mead says, “Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world.  When indeed, it’s the only one that ever has.”

#Loverecklessly -Todd and Jeff

Advertisements

Land Your Dream Job: Interviewing and Hiring Insights

Adobe Spark (3)

 “Great leaders make all decisions based on the best people”. -Todd Whitaker

It’s an exciting time of year for schools looking to hire the best and educators alike in search of their dream job. And even though we are heading into the final half of the hiring season, quality candidates and exceptional schools are still in interview mode. Having been both in the hot seat as an applicant and as part of numerous hiring committees, we would like to offer practical advice directly from our own experience for those in the hunt for the best job in the world, Teacher.

We want to start by pulling back the curtain and letting you in on a simple, yet important truth about hiring. Every interview represents the committee’s desire to hire only the very best for their students. You might be thinking, duh! But there’s a great deal of depth to this. School leaders understand these wise words by Jim Collins, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” Administrators and hiring committees know that their numero uno objective is to hire only the very best, no excuses, and let’s face it, getting The Job at The School you want to be at is competitive. We hope these tips help give you an edge over other candidates and set you apart as The. Best. Candidate. Here goes!

Your Experience and Hustle is Your Best Resume

Your proven track record should speak for itself, but the committee won’t know what it is unless you tell them. Some get nervous or shy in an interview because they feel like they are bragging, but in truth, no one can speak about your experiences and success like you can! Look for opportunities in the questions asked of you to share about specific examples, scenarios, and experiences. Be sure to highlight your competencies. Tell the committee about your unique skill set and how you leveraged those skills to implement a special program, spearhead an innovative initiative, and supported student success.

Focus on Your Core Values

The interview committee is trying to get a feel for you during the time you are with them face-to-face. It’s up to you to communicate your core values clearly. The committee wants to know what you believe and if your values are congruent to their culture.

Do Your Research

It speaks volumes when you are aware of the strengths and areas of growth of the school you hope to soon be serving. This means not only looking at hard data, but also investing time to find out their story on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Know When the Interview Begins and Ends

  1. The interview started the minute you hit submit on the application and resume. In the digital age, admins want to make certain that your digital footprint matches the values and standards they want for their campus.
  2. The parking lot – your arrival is anticipated so don’t be surprised if a first impression is formed through a window. Dress and carry yourself in a way that communicates yourself as the professional you are. Don’t lose out on the opportunity because an outfit is distracting.
  3. Always include your most current supervisor as a reference. Not including this person could prevent the interview you want from even happening in the first place.
  4. The interview is ongoing. Though the formal 30-60 minutes may be over the interview is far from over. Even if you do not land the job today, you may be offered a different position by the same school or within the district later.  You want to demonstrate that you are such an asset that to not hire you would be a loss.

At the End, Ask the Right Questions

Inevitably, almost every interview ends with the question, “Do you have any questions for us?” Be ready for this by knowing what questions you want to ask (and what not to ask)! The tone and type of questions you ask will communicate additional things about you to the committee. We suggest asking high level questions that anyone on the committee could answer. Here are a few great closure questions:

  1. What do you hope people see about your school when they walk in the front door?
  2. What makes your learning community exceptional?

Shy away from questions that focus on easily searchable information about the school or district, like pay or the school calendar for example. And don’t ask about wearing jeans every day either.

Close Strong

Be ready for the committee to ask you, “Is there anything else that you would like to tell us that would help us make our decision?” Have your response to this question ready. Seriously, plan and practice your closing statement! This will be your last opportunity to make a final face-to-face impression with the committee and you want it to be memorable and strong! You want them to have the feeling that they need to offer you the job before you leave the school. Your closing words should punctuate your interview, summarize your core values, and inspire the committee to KNOW You are The Best fit for their school!

In closing we want to share a few signs that the interview is going well or not going well based on our own experiences.

Signs It’s Going Well:

  1. The interview goes longer than scheduled.
  2. When the interview shifts from a strict interview format into more of a conversational flow.
  3. The committee is telling you increasing details about the school or the position (ie When it starts to feel like you are interviewing the committee).

Signs It’s Not Going Well:

  1. It’s a short interview, very short! As in it was scheduled for 30 minutes and it wraps up in half the time. A short interview can be a sign that it’s probably not a right fit.
  2. One-on-one interviews. The absence of a committee could signal that the interview is nothing more than a courtesy interview. If this happens, don’t blow the interview off! You always give it your all and knock the socks off the person interviewing you because you never know, this opportunity could lead to your big break.

A final word is not to forget who you are in the process. Allow your genuine love and passion for students to shine through and you will be sure to find the right fit.

Let us know if these suggestions were helpful to you in your own job search. Anything else you would add?

This post was co-authored by Heidi and Jeff.