The View From Our Room

“If I can do that it will be all my lack of genius can produce. For no one else knows my lack of ability the way I do. I am pushing against it all the time. Sometimes, I seem to do a good little piece of work, but when it is done it slides into mediocrity.”

Are these the words you would expect to hear from a Nobel Prize-winning author in the middle of writing his 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning work?

Probably not, but these are the words of John Steinbeck while he wrote The Grapes of Wrath.

During the writing process, which took five months, Steinbeck concurrently wrote a diary, which was later published as Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.

Steinbeck’s diary reveals something many of us feel– self-doubt which tries to stop us from letting our light shine. Our lack of confidence often tells us our gifts and abilities are not valuable. We perceive no one else believes in the work we are doing.

But while we may experience self-doubt and lack of confidence either sporadically or on a daily basis, we have a choice.

Where is our Focus?

What we pay attention to matters.

We can focus on the self-doubt and lack of confidence, or we can focus on how pursuing our own dreams and letting our light shine can inspire others to go after their dreams.

Because letting our light shine can help others see the world in a whole new way.

So here’s a challenge for ourselves to reflect on as classroom leaders:

Describe a dream you have, but you have not shared with anyone else (or very few people). Rather than focusing on how other people may not believe in you, imagine ONE person in the world who needs to hear your message. Envision what it would feel like to know if you followed your dream other people would be inspired to pursue theirs as well.

This challenge comes from our fundamental of success of Being a Lighthouse.

Writing our own story requires a balancing act between focusing on ourselves and focusing on others. It’s about going inside to create a better version of ourselves so we can lead others more effectively.

But it’s not for self-promotion…it’s for self-donation.

The Challenges of Goals and Dreams

Sometimes we can get caught up with our own goals, dreams, and desires.

We get fixated on thinking our vision of what we want to do, where we want to be, and when we want to achieve things is the way it has to be. We worry we won’t be successful unless things happen exactly the way we want them to happen. Or we might be like John Steinbeck who wondered…even if his writing brought him worldly success would he really make a difference in the world?

We can also get sidetracked when we encounter a lot of resistance, or when people do not believe in us and do not support us…or when we don’t believe in ourselves.

In Steinbeck’s diary he wrote, “My many weaknesses are beginning to show their heads. I simply must get this thing out of my system. I’m not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were.”

John Steinbeck’s response was to commit to the discipline of writing every day. To plunge himself into the work of releasing his gifts and abilities through his writing.

One of the tools we can use to make sure we keep our light shining in spite of our feelings is to figure out the view from our room.
We must determine if we are in the window room or the mirror room.

Mirror Room vs. Window Room

This tool comes from Frosty Westering and his book The Strange Secret of the Big Time.

When we are in the mirror room, we look out and our own image is reflected back onto us. Our mindset is all about ourselves.

Why is this happening to me?

Why doesn’t anybody believe in me?

Why aren’t my plans of how things are supposed to be working out?

This is where having a vision and having goals can get us off track if we are not careful. The vision and the goals are not meant for us to simply get everything we want in life so that we make ourselves happy.

The vision and the goals are meant to tap into everything we were created for and to donate our gifts and abilities to the people in our lives through the relationships and connections we create.

Which means we need to get ourselves out of the mirror room and get into the window room. Because when we look up in the window room, we don’t see ourselves reflected back…we see others.

We see their needs.

We see their pain.

We see their struggles.

And we look for ways we can provide value to their lives and touch their hearts. Our mindset is not focused simply on living for our own benefit. Rather, it is centered on following our dreams so others may be inspired to follow their dreams as well.

The Double Win

As we work on the inside mindset fundamental of Being a Lighthouse, we begin to see that genuine joy and fulfillment come in our lives when we are able to help others.

Frosty Westering also talked about the concept of the double win. The double win says we become our best when we help others become their best.

When we are in the mirror room, we can focus on ourselves, our performances, and our achievements. And we can be a winner according to what the world says about success.

But we can only be a double winner when we are in the window room. This is soul success…becoming the best version of ourselves as part of the process of helping others become their best as well.

So how about you?

Can you describe a dream you have, but you have not shared with anyone else (or very few people). Rather than focusing on how other people may not believe in you, can you imagine ONE person in the world who needs to hear your message? Can you envision what it would feel like to know if you followed your dream other people would be inspired to pursue theirs as well?

Lighthouses Illuminate Others

As obvious as it may seem that teachers and coaches are in positions to provide lighthouse leadership, it is easy to get caught up in the mirror room with the hustle and bustle of life. We live in a world which wants us to focus on external achievements and building our value from the outside-in.

But lighthouses are not meant to illuminate themselves. They are built to shine for others.

So sometimes we need to reset ourselves in the window room so we can focus on how our vision, our goals, our dreams are not meant for self-promotion. They are meant for self-donation.

John Steinbeck only had two requests for his diary: one was that it would not be published before he died. The second was that it would be made available for his two sons. He wanted his children to know the true character of their father and not just what others said about him, good or bad.

The view from our room makes a big difference in how we approach our work of educating young people. Doing the inside work to create a better version of ourselves helps make our light stronger and makes it more powerful.

The more powerful our light is, the more it can blind us if we shine it into a mirror and it reflects back on us. We need to make sure we are in the window room so our light is able to leave our room and give direction, guidance, and hope to others.

Because letting our light shine can help others see the world in a whole new way.

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...to give your students a better version of you!

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