"A miracle is a shift in perception.
If you allow your perceptions to be dominated by a status-quo perspective... these thought forms create a network of status-quo mental habit patterns.
The miracle is when you shift..."
I suppose I am taking this out of context a bit, hence the ellipses. But as a coach, the words rang true for my work as much as for my middle-aged life (which was actually the topic of the show).
One of the fundamentals of coaching is to guide another on a journey of inquiry about creating potential miracles... miracles that occur through a change of perspective, fearlessly striving toward our goal, believing that it is attainable, no matter how distant it seems or hard it might be to experience a break through (like a yellow brick wall)! This requires a shift in patterns of our mental habits.
Years ago in my initial coaching "training," I learned to look for that shift. It might appear as an exclamation, "YES!" or an exhale such as, "Wow, this is better," or "That worked." It truly is a miracle that we can learn to see our work (and lives) through new perspectives. We ask for help, create something new, and reflect with gratitude that this miracle has occurred. What didn't exist before now does. Amazing.
Anne Lamott (in her book, HELP,THANKS, WOW: THREE ESSENTIAL PRAYERS) says that all prayers ultimately contain one (or all three) of these messages. I am realizing that when instructional coaching is done well, the shift in thinking can be like an answered prayer. "Help, I want to try..." is the beginning of the miracle. When we realize that we want to make a change, the shift is already beginning to happen inside ourselves; with each new breath hope is inviting us to change the status-quo of mental habits. For this, we should be thankful. Isn't lifelong learning (and changing) a reason for gratitude?
Yes, sometimes we stay in the mode of requesting/needing help for a while; just as in life, this is okay. (Initially, as a coach, I thought that there was something 'wrong' with my work when it took time for the learner to make the shift. Now I know that this work is like anything worthwhile: it takes time and has to come from the heart of the seeker.)
Sometimes the shifts are subtle, going undetected, until we look back over time, students' work, lesson plans, notes about goals and strategies for reaching them... Then we see the miracle. Funny, we often think of data as drudgery, but what if we shifted our perspectives to think of it as a way to see the possibilities or actualization of miracles? It does take time to see results, especially when we challenge ourselves to "dare greatly" to create the most profound changes. Though we live in a "hurry up" culture that believes perfection is possible and can be accomplished without failure, the truth is that slowing down, being true to ourselves, and risking failure are the only paths to success. Wholeheartedness and authenticity = success... or at least happiness in knowing that we are doing our best.
Sometimes the miracle of the shift is sudden, dramatic--a realization. That is when the sigh or exclamation comes, often awe-filled, sometimes full of joy. Like Dorothy Gale, we work our way through obstacles, make lifelong friends, and then wonder, "Why didn't I see this before?" But we had to learn for ourselves to believe in the miracles that were always within us; the universe is invested in your individual curriculum of self-actualization--and that must include the teacher's soul, right?
That's what a coach can do for a learner... As Brene Brown says, "The two things that people really need to transform is language to understand their experience and to know they’re not alone." A coach aids the transformation miracle as she stands beside the teacher with some brainy research (like the Scarecrow), loving from the heart (like the Tin Man), and exuding courage (like the Lion), sprinkled with kindness and guidance (like Glinda)... and sometimes asking you to dare greatly, like the Wizard. As Lamott says (in STITCHES), "I found gentle, loyal, and hilarious companions, which is the heart of meaning... They help you see who you truly are..."
But first, like Dorothy, the learner has to be willing to put her toe on the road, taking the necessary steps that will lead to the transformation, the miracle, trusting that it exists. She might feel as if she will never make it, and there might be setbacks, but she has to persist in her quest.
Even Glinda, with all of her wisdom and magic, could not transform Dorothy--Dorothy had to willingly walk down that road, enduring the uncertainties along with the joys, until that final moment when she, herself, realized her transformation and shared her miraculous reflection with her coaches--the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Man, and Glinda. Even Toto is coach-like as he never strays far from Dorothy and fiercely protects her from harm.
That moment is when Dorothy experiences HER miracle--her shift of perception--and exclaims, "It's too wonderful to be true!" That is her, "Wow," prayer. She knows the answer to her questions, and she doesn't need help to solve this problem any longer.
She says her, "Thanks," prayer to everyone in context of her goodbyes.
Is affecting a child's life in a positive way a miracle, or have teachers grown so accustomed to it that we require more of ourselves to see it? How do we change our perspectives so that we can recognize the miracles that are right before us every minute of every day in our teaching lives?
Like Dorothy's following the Yellow Brick Road to Oz, a child's looking at squiggly marks on a page and making sense of them IS a miracle. And isn't it a miracle that these same squiggles can awaken the reader's mind to better understanding of the world and the human experience while building empathy and compassion, just as Dorothy's journey did for her?
In STITCHES: A HANDBOOK ON MEANING, HOPE, AND REPAIR, Anne Lamott says, "I wish there were shortcuts to wisdom and self-knowledge... Sadly, it doesn't work that way."
But we don't need a Yellow Brick Road; we are already on the path to becoming who we will be. We just need to appreciate where we are and consider where we we want to be. Coaches can help us map our course and learn recognize the signs along the road that show us our progress. Coaches can help us stay our course; but, if we stray, the coach is still close by, willing to guide us on this new path or shepherd us back to where we need to be. This compares to Gllinda's sending the snow to the poppy field--watching and intervening only when it was completely necessary for Dorothy to safely resume her journey toward her goal.
Dorothy is forever changed by her journey, the friends she met along the way, the challenges she endured, and the tolerance and compassion that she learned for a whole new world. The Land of Oz was a dramatic setting that literally forced a change of Dorothy's perspective, eventually leading to her shift of thinking about her life in Kansas--to help her live in the moment, recognizing the miracles in her life. What her before-Oz eyes could see was only a fraction of what her eyes will be able to see now. *
Coaches guide teachers to explore the unknown world of possibilities, constructing shifts in their thinking, just as Glinda did for Dorothy. Coaching can empower teachers to see their work and students with new eyes and new perspectives--creating their own miracles in their work. As the munchkins would say this is, "Morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely . . . true." :)
*derived from Marianne Williamson's book, AGE OF MIRACLES, p. 5)