June 17, 2017
How Parents and Teachers Can Be More Fulfilled
The other day I was talking with a friend, a mom who has for years come up with incredibly novel solutions to meet the educational needs of her son and daughter. She was thinking that she hadn’t been creative for a long time because her kids, now teenagers, have never been into “glitter and felt.” I pointed out the creative problem solving that goes into her every day as a mom and teacher. “Thank you,” she said with a genuine smile. “I hadn’t realized I was being creative like that in my daily life.”
Author and speaker Todd Henry has a term for people who employ creative problem solving or creative production in their jobs: “create-on-demand professionals” or “creative pros.” Often we don’t realize that parents and teachers fall squarely into this category. Paul Torrance wrote, “Being a truly good teacher is indeed the most creative occupation in the world.” It’s the same with parents.
Todd Henry’s most recent book, Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice, is used by consultants, writers, designers, and entrepreneurs. It can serve moms, dads, and teachers, too. With deep-thinking questions that help us better understand our identity, vision, and how to realize our vision, it’s a perfect summer reading assignment to help us move forward as individuals, rather than as an amalgamation of our kids or students.
Too often as parents our own needs get squeezed out by what we do for our kids, and as teachers we feel crushed underneath pressures and requirements. But when we know who we are and what unique contributions we want to make, we can figure out how to claim the time and motivation to accomplish them.
When I spoke with Todd recently, he shared with me that his concept of “dailies” has deeply resonated with Louder Than Words readers. After readers define who they are and what they want, they absolutely need a framework to support them to get where they want to go. Dailies are practices that buttress these long-term goals and keep people “on track mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
As a writer and father of three, Todd himself has specific writing, reading, exercise, family, and meditative/prayerful dailies that he does each day. He also has separate business dailies to support forward progress in his work.
I have to admit that when I first read about the dailies it was hard for me to envision how I could actually be consistent about them in my own busy life. I was used to fitting things in—or not—amidst the busy-ness of work and family, usually late in the night. But as I realized that my prior approach was ineffective in supporting my goal to write every day, I made a concerted effort to follow Todd’s advice.
As a teacher and parent myself, I know how crazy life is. But I also know how draining it feels to not have time to work on my goals and to keep myself in prime mental shape. Too many parents and teachers neglect themselves for too long and then face burnout. If we can just get consistent about nourishing our own souls and goals daily to keep our thinking fresh, it will benefit our families and students as well. Everybody know that if mom isn’t happy, nobody’s happy!
If it makes you feel better, Todd Henry, one of the most well-known contemporary business authors and speakers, grew up in a small town where he had a lot of freedom to play, invent games, and make videos with those giant VHS recorders that we used to have.
He told me, “I’m so thankful because we had to invent our own world.” From studying the lives of eminent creators, I know that so many of them had this freedom in childhood to explore. So if you have to give up planning a lesson or driving to an activity in order to fit in one of your personal dailies, your kids will probably be all the better for it anyway.
Todd also gave insight into the deep motivating factors that drive him to keep such a rigorous schedule in order to help creative pros worldwide. He said, “What drives me is the understanding that there is a tremendous number of people out there trying to do creative work and each feels alone. I want them to know that they are not alone, that there is a path that can lead to meaning in their work, and that they are building something that matters and that they can be proud of.” Don’t you think it’s about time that parents and teachers get access to these ideas, too?
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Henry, T. (2015). Louder than words. New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin.
Torrance, E. P. (2004). Predicting the creativity of elementary school children (1958-80) —and the teacher who made a difference. In D.J. Treffinger and S. Reis (Eds.), Creativity and Giftedness (35-50). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.