Culture Of Potential
Potential is defined as having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.
I think the majority of educators understand that it is our obligation to see the potential in our students, our team, our school, and also in ourselves. We seek to understand and learn how we can improve ourselves and those around us to be something more in the future.
As I reflect back on my years in education, I see so many instances where recognizing both the potential of others and myself lead to both doing so much more than originally thought possible. In addition, it is always important to acknowledge the challenges you may encounter, however, you can not let them blur the innate potential in people or situations.
I separate potential into two categories: “positive” potential which focuses on improvement and/or growth and “negative” potential, or better yet, lack of potential, which is when a person lacks focus and growth which results in that person only maintaining the status quo.
Positive Potential vs Lack of Potential
Think back when you saw and felt the positive potential in a certain project, working with a new team, or wanting to help that one student grow into so much more. More than likely, you had a positive feeling of joy or a “can do” attitude. You knew what to do to win and the excitement that you felt overwhelmed any of the challenges that you came across. You saw opportunities in ideas and others. Determination overcame you and you wanted to get things done and help other to see their full potential. There was an overall positive atmosphere that propelled change and development.
Then there are times when we all fail to see the full potential of a situation. During those times, there can be a negative feeling or attitude that keeps us stagnant and prevents us from moving forward or helping others. We fall into a status quo mode and keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results. We look at situations with a, “Why should I” attitude. Instead of working with others, we choose to continue to operate in our own personal silo. There is an overall feeling of dread, despair, and hesitation.
Now I can honestly say I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to seeing or not seeing potential. Yet, I learned and I grew as a result of each situation. So as I reflected over these past situations this summer, I wondered if I was creating a Culture of Potential at my school. Am I seeing and developing the full potential of my staff, my students, and myself?
Culture of Potential
Think of the positive culture resulting from guiding and assisting each student in both academics and character growth. There would be an earth-shattering impact if we empowered our teachers to be true leaders in their classroom and on campus. Making our schools one where people would come from miles around to see what we do each day. How can you not have a good feeling when you look for the positive potential in all?
That’s not to say that if we see potential we will not have any challenges. Challenges are always going to be part of life. Yet, seeing potential and being willing to overcome those challenges that face us at school and in life can help us to move forward.
Ideas on keeping a Culture of Potential
- Each day is an opportunity. First and foremost is to recognize that each person and each new day is full of potential. We can’t develop a positive culture of potential if we choose to have a negative attitude. Smile and look for ways to make a positive impact each day. Find ways to connect with others, learn from them, and let them know how they have helped you or your organization to be better.
- Surround yourself with inspiring people. There are going to be times when life seems overwhelming and you may not see the full potential of others or in yourself. This is why it is so important to connect with people who can help lift you up and remind you of your potential. They can push you to stay the course and hold your expectations high. They also help you to see the hidden potential in others when you cannot see them yourself. Trust me, there have been plenty of times that I need to call upon my PLN team, my teachers, my family, or my students.
- Communicate potential. If you want to change your school/classroom culture, change your conversations. You need to focus on growth and improving each day. Don’t focus on the problems (lack of potential), focus on the solutions to those problems (potential). Work your hardest to find the good in your staff and students. When you find it, let them know about it and help them to reach their full potential.
- Seek ideas more than give ideas. Now don’t get me wrong, I still want you to share your ideas. You just need to make sure that you are collaborating with others to not only share but more importantly learn new ideas. Seeing potential means seeing, hearing and learning new ideas. There are many ways to help others reach their full potential. You might not have the idea, but there is someone else out there who may be able to offer just the right input or idea that you need to set ablaze an unimaginable potential. Always remember not to ask for actions, instead, ask for ideas.
- Choose your attitude. Each day you wake up to endless choices. You choose how you see your day. Look for the positive in each day and always strive to envision what “could” happen rather than what “will not” happen.
- See the potential in yourself. In order to inspire others to achieve their fullest potential, you have to see the potential in yourself. You have to be passionate about learning and improving. If you continue to act the same way every day, you steal something invaluable from yourself: the opportunity to improve. You have to want to improve, learn how to improve and take what you learn and add it to your overall potential.
Culture is the single most important part of any successful classroom or campus. In order to develop a positive culture, you have to see the potential in others and in yourself. View each day as an opportunity to help potential develop and that in turn will develop a strong culture for you and those around you.
Thanks for your time. As always:
Learn, lead, and inspire