Stress 1.0

It’s not news that careers in educational technology have become increasingly complex and generate high degrees of stress. Many ed tech professionals feel the effects of this stress in their work, as well as at home. They spend longer hours at work missing out on the life of their families. When they come home, they bring the job with them. They spend many restless, sleepless nights. They live with the feeling that they can never keep their heads above water. They’re drowning in ‘to do’s”. It’s not a good feeling. It’s not a healthy state of being for one’s psyche or one’s body. The connection between stress and illness is well established in medical research.

The path to relief from this kind of chronic pain always starts with taking accountability for the problem. By taking accountability, you shift from being a victim with little power to change things, to someone who can do something about the problem.

This first step is probably the hardest for most people. They argue with all their being that their situation is not their fault. They argue that they have tried everything to change their plight but nothing works. They will try to prove that every suggestion for improving things won’t work in their situation, even if it has worked somewhere else. In short, they are fully committed to being victims, to keeping things as they are.

As a leadership coach, it’s important for me to realize that the individual needs to want to change, in order for the process to move forward. I can’t want something for the person more than they want it for themselves. This is tricky territory because just about every stressed out, unhappy, ed tech’er, superintendent of schools, or administrative team, that I have worked with, claims that they want to change.

No one says to me, “Pete, I want to stay stressed out and unhappy. I am committed to it!”

So, what’s tricky?

“Talk is cheap.” It’s important for me to observe how folks act, for that shows where their real commitments are.

A good analogy is losing weight. I may say I want to lose weight to my coach, to my Weight Watcher’s group, or whoever; but if I go out day after day and keep eating food that I know is not on my diet and if I continue to skip my prescribed exercise regimen, I won’t lose weight. Now, if I say over and over to my coach, or my Weight Watcher’s group, “I really want to lose weight; but I can’t seem to do it. I want to lose weight but It’s useless. I wan to lose weight but it doesn’t work for me.”

Which matters more? The words or the actions?

It’s important to note that these are genuine feelings. The individual believes this fully. They can’t see the problem by themselves because it is so much a part of them.

Sometimes a coach can be a great mirror to reflect back to the individual or team the gap between their words and their actions. The blind spot now becomes visible. Other times a coach can create a situation, a “breakdown’, that exposes the blind spot.

If there is no coach and the situation persists for years our bodies can get our attention by “breaking down”.

Sometimes, that is what it takes to “wake us up”. A heart attack that almost kills us, may awaken us to the importance of reducing the levels of stress in our lives. A “breakdown” in our lives, like a divorce; may awaken us to the need to spend more time with our families.

These are dramatic; but not uncommon examples of the consequences of living with chronic stress. There are many more subtle ways that stress can impact our lives and we may never have the “alarm” go off, that wakes us up; but that does not mean that we aren’t affected. We are.

I invite you to take some time over the next few weeks. Get off by yourself. Reflect on what you are feeling. If there is stress, acknowledge it. Notice the stories you tell yourself about it. “it’s not so bad.” or “I can handle it.” or “I’ll catch up in a few months and things will get better.”, etc., etc

Life is short.

There are things you can do once you take responsibility and make a commitment to change.

Let’s examine those in my next post,

pete

Your List of Essential Skills – Meme

Doug Johnson poses and interesting question this week at the Blue Skunk Blog.

Imagine this. You have been granted the genie’s wish and can give your children or grandchildren ten skills with just the wave of a magic camel (or whatever). Would basic accounting stay on your list?”

Unfortunately, basic accounting did not make my Top Ten list.

Here they are:

Number 10…Gratitude.
May my children appreciate life and the world around them. The world is filled with boundless gifts and the more they appreciate these gifts, the more they will appreciate their most precious gift, themselves.

Number 9…Sense of Humor.
“Say no more, say no more, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.”

Number 8…Compassion.
May they overcome self-righteous judgments and choose to connect with the ‘better angels’ in others.

Number 7…Courage.
May they understand that courage isn’t being ‘fear free’; it’s being afraid, and doing the right thing anyway.

Number 6…Creativity.
May they feel the thrill of making something out of nothing and let the wild and intuitive energy that inspires them, flow within them, and through them.

Number 5…Listening.
May they truly listen to others; for they will be sought after by many.

Number 4…Curiosity.
May they question, explore, and discover. They will never be bored.

Number 3…Openness.
May they be open to others, to new ideas, and new possibilities.

Number 2…Presence.
May they understand the role of their bodies. Feet firmly grounded. Head reaching for the sky. Shoulders and chest opening to the future, and their backs, their histories; supporting them as they move through this great world. If you have ever been around someone with presence, you know its power.

Number 1…Integrity.
May they learn that living in integrity is a lifelong journey; for to live out our beliefs, our values, and our purpose, without rationalizing why we are cutting corners or compromising them, is no small task. Integrity is the foundation of all trust.

Can these be taught? I’ve learned much from spiritual teachers along the way. How did they teach? By traveling the path just a bit little in front of me…

…and helping light my way.

Thanks Doug.

pete

The Journey…Step One: Look in the Mirror

The Director of Technology’s face was drained of all joy. She was sullen and unsmiling. Donna’s office was a sloppy mix of cables, computers, boxes, and papers. On her desk were a phone, a computer, keyboard and mouse. They where freckled with yellow sticky notes, each one with an urgent task to be completed. If her inner life was anything like her office, she was in trouble. It was obvious to me that she was in complete overwhelm and was suffering greatly.

Less than a week ago the superintendent had attended a meeting with some other superintendents and had returned to request that the entire district’s data and management resources be updated. He wanted a new student information system, and a data warehouse. He wanted parent and community connections and teacher web pages. All of this was great; but Donna was already tapped out, and sinking in overwhelm.

She had been putting in long hours and staying late, very late. She had a family; but she was sacrificing her home life for the job. She kept telling herself that they’d understand; and they did. But every time she missed dinner or one of her children’s school or sporting events, she felt terribly guilty. She justified it by telling herself that if she could just get this or that cleaned up, she would be on top of things again.

And then the superintendent threw all this new data stuff at her.

Added to all of this was her feeling that he and the rest of the staff had no idea of the amount of work she was putting in, and no idea how much of her home life she was sacrificing. She sunk in on herself; resigned and drained of spirit. She felt there was no way out. She showed all the signs of a growing depression.

At first Donna blamed those around her. The superintendent and staff didn’t “get it”. The demands on her time were inevitable and there was no way she could say “no” to he many requests that swamped her. If she said, “No” she might get in trouble or fired. People might think she didn’t care or wasn’t committed.

There was never money to increase staff or to get outside help.

“God,” she exclaimed in frustration, “if they only new how much time I spend updating the web page for them. Being webmaster around here would be a full time job for most people.”

I offered to coach her through this.

In our first meetings we talked about the predicament in which she found herself. Who was accountable for it?

Over and over, she fell back into the victim’s story. It wasn’t her fault. There was nothing she could do.

It took some time, more than one meeting with her; but eventually she began to see that it was she who had said “yes” to the requests that had plowed her under. It was she who created the unrealistic expectation that she could do everything, be everything to everybody, as if she had some magic abilities that no one else possessed. It was she who was unable to verbalize her value or take a strong stand for more staff, more resources, and outside help.

When “push came to shove”, she de-valued herself. She subordinated herself to others, and rationalized it as being dedicated. It was she who was willing to sacrifice her home life for her work life. She had lost her way. Her purpose for entering education was long forgotten.

As she began to see the role she, herself, played in creating this situation, she began to feel ashamed of herself.

“I can’t believe I am so weak that I let this happen to me. I am a loser.” was her general feeling.

Shame is negative self-judgment and added nothing to the situation except to make her feel worse about herself.

I continued to work with her.

“The past is done. We can’t change it. It just is. What we do from here is filled with possibility. You’ve taken the first step. You’ve recognized your own accountability. You’re looking at yourself, the one person involved in this drama that you can control; and you’re saying you can do better.”

She smiled for the first time since we started working together. It was a smile of recognition of some inner knowledge that she was remembering,

“I’m changing my story from ‘Oh woe is me! I’m a victim of people who don’t understand me; to a new story … I have a choice about how I do my job, and how I live my life!”

“How does it feel when you say that out loud”, I asked.

“I feel a little afraid; but overall it feels like a weight is off my shoulders.” she paused, “I feel hope for the first time in years.”

Her face dropped back into doubt, “But what am I going to do? What’s going to happen if I…”

I interrupted, “You’re slipping back into doubt again. Whose life is it, Donna?”

“Mine, Pete. It’s my life!”

Donna had taken the first step; she had looked into the mirror.

And so began this leaders journey

pete

Administrator or Leader?

I believe that each of us has a leader within and that educational leadership is not the sole domain of school administrators. I have seen classroom teachers step up and lead incredible school transformations without the authority of title or degree. But that is topic I will write about on another day.

Today, I want to examine the not so secret, ‘secret’ among educators:

While every school has at least one administrator, few have leaders.

A recent workshop participant paraphrased Peter Drucker and said it this way,

“Administrators do things right. Leaders do the right things.”

While that simple statement captures some of the gulf between leadership and administration, I think it falls far short.

I have a long list, developed over many educational leadership seminars, that outlines the differences between administrators and leaders; but today I will start with the one element that seems to encompass so many others…

Leaders deal from their hearts as well as their minds; administrators work almost exclusively from the mental framework.

We’ve all encountered administrators who kick off the school year with speeches stating the districts goals and objectives, or by reciting well meaning mission statements; but it is rare to find leaders who articulate a vision and inspire their staffs to embrace that vision.

Administrators are comfortable speaking from and appealing to the cognitive domain, hoping others see the logic of their goals and objectives; while leaders want to stir the hearts, as well as the minds of those they seek to lead.

It is the power of the heart that injects a special life into the team. Leaders who use their hearts and minds when they speak have an authenticity that creates trust. Administrators who speak only from their heads may say the right words; they may have perfect scripts; but they appear less authentic, less fully committed, and therefore they create less trust.

Without trust it’s difficult to lead effectively.

I remember the Principal at my son’s eighth grade graduation ceremony speaking to the audience of proud parents and students. His first words were,

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here with you tonight.”

Unfortunately, he spoke these words in a monotone with no emotion (heart). Even worse, there was no smile, no crack in his bland and blank façade. He continued this way through the entire speech.

While I have no doubt that deep inside he meant every word he spoke; because he closed off his heart when delivered his words, it destroyed his message. It reeked of an administrator fulfilling his job requirements, when it could have been a leader expressing gratitude to his victorious 8th grade troops and sending them off to the high school full of inspiration and hope.

Not every leader needs to be a charismatic speaker. Even speakers who speak haltingly and uncomfortably, if they speak from the heart, touch the hearts of those around them; their authenticity comes through and with that, trust flows. We feel their commitment.

One of the first steps in the transformation from administrator to leader is to access the power of the heart. Tapping into the heart shows up in every aspect of leadership, not just in speaking. It is a way of tethering ourselves to something deeper than just our ideas and thoughts. It ties us to our purpose, values, and beliefs.

When we work from this place, we are grounded. We don’t change directions every time the political breezes shift. We are more apt to go the extra mile, even if it seems risky. We walk our own talk. We don’t have hidden agendas, they’re all out there for people to see. When we work from the heart, we don’t make decisions based solely on complicated political calculations; but we factor in our beliefs and values.

Most importantly, when we are grounded in the heart, we have the courage of a leader. Interestingly, the word courage comes from the French root ‘cour’ or heart. As leaders we don’t avoid difficult conversations, or put off difficult decisions out of fear. We address them because they need to be addressed. The heart gives us the strength and passion to do the difficult things.

The transformation from administrator to leader is largely a journey of the heart.

pete

Laird

It was the late 70’s or early 80’s. (My memory doesn’t serve me well when it comes to dates.) I was a young English teacher and was carpooling with a teacher from the elementary school. Her day ended an hour after the HS, so I had an hour a day to kill before being picked up to go home.

Laird  and one of his friends poked his head in my door late one afternoon.

“Mr. Reilly, can we come in?”

“Sure. What’s up?”

“We were down in Mr. McCarthy’s office (the principal) a few days ago and we saw two boxes stacked there. They were computers.”

Now, for you younger folks reading this, you have to understand that there was not a single computer in the school district at this time. No labs, no classroom computers, no office computers. There might have been a terminal in the central office that connected to a mainframe for payroll; but maybe not.

“We asked Mr. McCarthy who ordered them and he didn’t know. He said he needed a few days to find out what was going on. We went back today and he said he still doesn’t know who ordered them or who they were for. We asked him if we could open the boxes and set them up somewhere. He said he’d be okay with that, if we had a teacher to supervise us.”

I knew what was coming next.

“Mr. Reilly, would you supervise us? We’d bring them up here after school and set them up and stuff, and leave them in your room. We’ll come after every day and figure out how to use them.”

To be honest, this sounded interesting. I’d never seen a computer other than in magazines.

“Sure, Laird. But you’ll have to leave when my ride comes.”

“No problem, Mr. Reilly. Thanks! Thanks a lot!”

With that Laird and his quiet friend disappeared. Laird was one of the most interesting kids I knew. He was a free thinker, quirky, and really smart. He had shaggy brown hair with bangs cut a little longer than the Beatles. I knew this would be a bit of an adventure. And it was.

The next day, the two of them showed up and unpacked the two Apple IIe computers. This was the black Bell and Howell model, retrospectively called the “Darth Vader” model. I hovered behind them as they slipped the large computer disks into the disk drives and turned the computer on. The drives made loud grinding noises and I thought they might be breaking the machine; but I kept my mouth shut. Suddenly, on the monitor green words appeared.

[HELLO}  Magic!

Each day they showed up and began to play with the machine. I sat at my desk correcting papers but I was really more interested in what they were doing. They had the Basic programming manual open and were figuring out ways to make the machine “beep” and play music. More Magic!

One day, out of nowhere, they appeared with a game, Asteroids, or something like it, that they had copied. Now, neither of them had a home computer, so I have no idea how they did this. This still baffles me to this day. They called me over to play and I did.

I began to integrate into their world just a bit. They taught me a little about programming in Basic. They showed me what a Word Processor was…another copied version from ‘who knows where’. They took time to make copies of programs for me to keep.

The three of us explored and played…and learned, for the remainder of the year.

Sometime during the next year or two I ordered a couple of more Apples and volunteered to teach programming during one of my prep periods. Whenever I didn’t know how to do something, I’d call on Laird to explain it to me.

It doesn’t seem possible; but I owe my whole career in educational technology to two curious students staying after school… to learn on their own.

Laird, eighth grader…inquisitive explorer…

…teacher of teachers.

in gratitude,

pete

Kelly

Kelly was a timid soul. She was a 7th grader in my English class more than 30 years ago. She sat silently in the front row over in the corner. None of the kids talked to her. She was a loner.

I was a first year teacher, full of enthusiasm and the raw energy of inexperience. The homework assignment for that week was to write a composition on a family pet.

After they settled into their desks, I started moving from student to student pointing out things in their papers that I thought were important. My focus was on the mechanics of the writing because most of the kids’ grammar, punctuation, and spelling was horrid.

I leaned over Kelly’s desk and looked down at her paper. I started pointing out the mechanical errors in her composition.

“Here”, I said pointing to the paper, “This is a sentence fragment. It has no verb.”

I pointed to another part of her composition and began to correct another mistake when suddenly, on the paper next to my fingertip, a teardrop fell. It smeared the blue ink. Before I understood what was happening another teardrop splattered on her paper. Her head was down and she was crying silently.

A wave of awareness washed over me. Her composition was about her pet dog, who she loved very much, and who had recently passed away. In it, she was sharing her sense of loss and hurt with me. I had completely ignored her message and had only criticized the structure and punctuation.

Another tear fell, and another; I felt like a jerk. I placed my hand on her back and patted her, as if that could take away the hurt feelings and sadness.

Kelly’s tears taught me a lesson that I will never forget,

We are human beings first.

There is much more going on in our classrooms than grammar and spelling. We, as educators, have more influence than we can possibly know.

Sweet Kelly, I wonder where she is today? I wonder if she knows what an impact she has had on my life? I wonder if she remembers those tears, as I do, thirty years later?

pete

Apologies: Part 1

I couldn’t understand the resistance of the team of volunteers who were working on generating and implementing ideas for improving our organization. They had been in a negative mood for many months and they were not moving forward with any sort of commitment. I began asking different people I trusted what they thought was going on. A few days later one of the members of the team came to my office.“Pete, you know why the team is not doing well? Why we’re just going through the motions”?

I answered, “No, I don’t.”

“Well, remember about 6 or 7 months ago we came to the Leadership Meeting and reported out some of our ideas?”

“Yes”, I replied.

“Do you remember how you treated us?”

“Yes, I asked you questions about how you got your ideas, and how you thought they would help the organization.”

“Well, yes; but to us it felt like you were attacking us. It felt like all the work we had done up to that point was insignificant. You made us feel like our ideas weren’t very good.”

I was stunned, “I didn’t mean it that way.”

“I’ve known you for a long time, Pete. I know you didn’t mean it that way; but that’s how they took it. I can tell you honestly, that they are really mad at you.”

“But that was almost 6 months ago.”

“Pete, They still haven’t gotten over it. They’re angry.”

I was embarrassed. I knew that this was true. The questions I asked were okay; but I had a pattern of asking them in a way that made people defensive. It felt like hostile interrogation rather then supportive clarification. It was one of the major elements of my leadership style that I was working with my coach to improve.

My coach and I discussed what I should do, and he suggested that I apologize to the group. I called the team together and after they got settled related to them that I had noticed that something was wrong and that they seemed angry. I told them that someone had told me it stemmed from the meeting earlier in the year when they reported out to the Leadership Team and I jumped on them with a lot of questions.

I centered myself and apologized. I didn’t mean for my questioning to produce what it did. I explained that it wasn’t the first time that I had been overly aggressive when I was questioning a group and that I could see why they were angry. They had a right to be angry. I let them know that I was truly appreciative of their work and that I was committed to not having this happen in the future.

I felt an immediate shift in the energy of the room. My authentic apology had punctured the pent up animosity of the team. They felt acknowledged and they felt my heart and my commitment to change. They were willing to allow trust to be rebuilt.

On the way out of the meeting each person on the team shook my hand and said thank you for acknowledging my error and thank you for the apology.

I learned two things from this incident. First, teams can get into moods that can last a long time. As a leader, I needed to pay attention to the moods of those around me, not just the superficial facades and words that often hide what’s really going on.

Second, a sincere apology, that comes from the right place, can have enormous power, and is an important first step to rebuilding relationships.

pete

Four on the Floor and a Fifth Under the Seat

we have this incredible technology…

..like a brand new car. we are really excited by it. but we leave it in the driveway because we are always working on it. we want to put new rims on. upgrade the speakers, soup up the engine, new shocks, new this, new that…if we take it out, we take it only to the gas station, to the grocery store…we don’t take it across the country to the ocean, we don’t take it to the mountains, we don’t take it to where people speak different languages, we stick to the neighborhood.

forget the upgrades. love the car as it is. remember what it is for….freedom.

where do you want to go?

go!

let creativity drive it.

don’t let the garage man, the mechanic dominate your life.

“if you take it there it will be hard on the shocks, if you take it to the ocean the salt air will be hard on the finish, if you take it to another country the dust and bad drivers will smash you up. be afraid. stay close to home.”

drive.

drive and let your students drive. bang your foot on the imaginary brake, if you have to, as you ride shotgun on the trip. They might not go to the tourist spots. they might be focused on a surf shop, or a swimming hole near a waterfall, or a place where they play soccer with a ball made out of discarded rags tied together in knots.

letting them drive is the ultimate subversive activity. watch for smokey. get on your cb. give yourself a handle. communicate with other like minded travelers. be careful at the borders. slide yourself into the drivers seat as you approach. give them a good story, then leave them in the dust as you motor deep into the new country.

drive! travel! go!

don’t wait for the person who poses as the tour guide to show up. he is a stranger in this place too.

use your wits. travel light. travel with others if you can. explore.

pete

I’m Obsessed

I am obsessed and have lost most of my objectivity on the subject of ed tech leadership. When I ask individuals and groups what elements they notice in the best leaders they have worked with in their lives they answer, almost unanimously, with a list of personal characteristics:

honesty, trustworthiness, clarity, inspiring, trusting, integrity, caring, accountable, vision, courage, and many more…

When I ask them how they go about developing one or more of these traits in themselves or in others, one of two things happens:

One, it gets deadly silent. I imagine the unspoken conversation goes like this, “What do you mean how do you develop honesty or trustworthiness? You are honest or you are not.” You are trustworthy or you are not. You can’t learn these things.”

Or two, the more reflective folks say they read about leadership, they observe leaders they admire, and they write about their reflections and insights.

What’s making me obsessive and nuts is the realization that our orientation in k-12 education is almost exclusively to the mind, not embodiment. Even those who want to transform learning, those that see that kids need to DO more and listen less; look at learning leadership as a mental thing. Learn the “7 Habits”, the “8 Secrets”, the “9 Tips” and you are on your way to becoming an effective leader. It’s that mental thing that has me flummoxed right now.

Imagine that you want to become a violin player. You decide that you will read everything you can about playing the violin. You go to concerts and watch master violin players. You listen to violin music all the time. You write about what you are experiencing and discuss it with others. This may qualify you as an expert on violin players and violin music; but all this study does not equip you to give a concert.

Leadership is similar. It is an action, not just a body of knowledge or a role.

In order to be the best leaders we can be, we need to embody the characteristics of great leaders. Embodiment is more than mental knowledge, it has to be ingrained so deeply in our bodies, our spirits, and our minds, that our very presence…the way we speak, the way we comport ourselves, the way we act, the mood we project, even the way we stand; all reflect the attributes of an effective leader.

The killer is we already know this intuitively; after all, what makes us want to follow some people and not others? It’s not how much they know about leadership; but what kind of leaders they are that makes the difference. We know, that taking courses that help us understand leadership, or reading books that provide us with the “Habits”, “Secrets”, and “Tips” of great leaders only gives us a mental understanding; but for most of us this is what constitutes our leadership development.

That’s what’s where my obsession comes in. I have been trying to articulate a new way to develop leadership and I am failing miserably. I know that there is a way to take this “head knowledge” from our traditional forms of leadership development and have it become thoroughly embodied, so that it becomes our everyday way of being. I know it is possible because I have experienced it myself.

We need to adopt a “somatic” approach to learning. What is “somatics”?

“The word Somatics comes from the Greek word ‘Soma’, which translates as ‘the living body in its wholeness: the mind, the body, and the spirit as a unity’.

Somatics works with the emotional, physical, linguistic and ontological aspects of each individual to achieve a depth of learning that academic learning alone cannot achieve. This pragmatic approach allows for the virtues of Leadership and Mastery to emerge.

Just as a martial artist or athlete trains in new and familiar skill sets over an extended period of time, so does a leader or coach train toward Mastery. We do not become a leader by taking a one-day experiential seminar in leadership, or because we get promoted to a leadership position. We prove our leadership by who we are and how we present ourselves. To achieve this level of leadership, we train over time (just like the athlete) always looking for new areas to refine and build competency, listening, and presence.

These relatively new concepts exemplify the need to expand our notions of what learning is and how it happens. ” –The Strozzi Institute

So, what is a concrete step we can take? You can find a leadership coach or teacher who is familiar with the “somatic” approach to Leadership Mastery. With the help of your teacher or coach you can develop a set of recurrent leadership practices that you engage in every day, so that over time, you embody more powerfully the characteristics of effective leadership. Over time you will become the leader you have always wanted to be.

I know, I know, I’m obsessed…I’m obsessed because we need great leaders so badly and there is a proven way to develop them.

pete

For the Sake of What?

In my last post I introduced the concept of “embodiment” and outlined a process, that if followed, insures that our professional development initiatives “stick”.

“When we embody something we can take action without thinking about it. In order to get to a place where a new behavior or action is embodied, we must practice it. “

Once again, here are the basic steps necessary to have the new skills and behaviors we teach stick:

1. Recognize that attending professional development is only the first step in our learning.
2. The design of the PD session includes a set of specific daily practices for participants to engage in after the session.
3. The design of the PD session also includes the creation of Learning Teams that meet to discuss individual progress and to support each other as they engage in new practices and behaviors.
4. Require that the teacher of any PD course, monitor the Learning Teams and their practices.

Intuitively we know that for any serious and meaningful (embodied) change to take place, we have to anticipate a phase of learning that will be uncomfortable. In this phase of learning we are “beginners”. As beginners, everything feels new, strange, and odd. We feel enormous pressure to fall back to skills and behaviors that feel natural and comfortable to us. If we are to sustain our commitment to change, we need a deeply rooted and felt sense of purpose; a “for sake of what?”.

Why would we take on a new skill or behavior? Why would we put ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being “beginners”? Why would we undergo the rigor of practicing skills and behaviors that make us feel like total losers because we are so bad at them the first times we try them? What will compel us to go back to our practices, if we slip and drift back to our old ways for a while?

Each of us needs to answer the question “for the sake of what?” in our own way. It is completely personal; yet larger than ourselves.

What is your, “for the sake of what?”

pete