Once I eventually started to learn some emotional intelligence in my 40s, after a series of broken relationships and stop/start progress at work, I became a secondary school teacher. It was one of those happy ‘accidents’ which led to some of the most fulfilling times of my life.
It also led to a vision that students could learn the principles of relationships, communication and confidence at school instead of in the university of hard knocks which we all experience in our 20s, 30s and beyond. This gives them a truly whole education and prepares them with life skills they need to have a better chance of early success in their relationships and their careers than I did.
Since then we have written programmes that are in nearly 500 schools in the UK, and trained many teachers in the fundamentals of emotional literacy. Still, we witness a huge conflict within education between the pressure of ‘doing’ better – assessment, exams, league tables, inspections – and the recognition of ‘being’ ok and doing our best. Most teachers we meet are caught in the stress of this tension and it is taking a big toll on their health and even on their commitment to teaching.
When I was a teacher I had a big realisation that changed my level of stress. Every day I moved my ‘to-do’ list with the feeling that I had failed because it wasn’t finished, and eventually I knew I couldn’t go on like that. So one day I switched my focus from my list to the relationships with my students and my colleagues and everything changed. Suddenly teaching was juicy again, and much more fun; I relaxed about what wasn’t getting done and it wasn’t a disaster, somehow it all got covered.
Take a moment to check in today. The quality of our relationships is fundamental to our fulfilment and success. But are you making the to-do list at home or at work more important than your partner, children or colleagues? How much does that block the connections between you that could make all the difference?