The power of being genuine – story of my life.

Genuine. According to Merriam-Webster the word is defined as this:

1a: actually having the reputed or apparent qualities or character

  • genuine vintage toys

b: actually produced by or proceeding from the alleged source or author

  • the signature is genuine

c: sincerely and honestly felt or experienced

  • a deep and genuine love

d: actual, true 

  • a genuine improvement

2: free from hypocrisy or pretense: sincere 

  • His apology seemed genuine.

In today’s society far too many of us have gotten away from a true understanding of the word, much less putting it into action within our daily lives. The loose usage of important labels such as friend, kind, nice, etc. are becoming all too frequent.

I often speak to the power of Dr. John Maxwell’s “value added” approach in daily life. This is something I strive to do daily and seek those who add value in return. “Live your life with intentionality – make it significant,” are words from Dr. Maxwell to live by.

 The past few years especially more and more I have aimed to live not only by these “value added” principles but also by the sentence that I tweeted in a #SaturdaySpark⚡️ several months ago. Usually these are inspirational sayings, lines or quotes – but this was one that spoke to me as much, if not more than any — because it is something I am to live by daily:

The longer I live the more I realize that some people are good listeners, (uninterrupted – not hearing – listening) genuinely care and are tried and true friends. These will be there through the good times and the not so good times. Thick and thin. Sometimes its a learning process. Life is hard. The aches and pains of growing up as a person, professionally and personally can be taxing.
I know who these people are in my life. My tribe. My people. They build me up, encourage and offer constructive feedback on going and this is reciprocal. They have my back I love them. I know them and they know me. I love them. They love me. Do you connect with this? How genuine are you? It took me until my mid-30s to get to this point and I’m still evolving but I’m getting there – always striving for greatness. Sometimes takes weeding out. Quality > quantity.
Some people are good at talking the talk, but fail miserably when it comes to walking the walk. These people are not genuine. They need weeded out – no room for them on this train. Nonnegotiable.
One life to live, make the most of it. As the great Mike Ness wrote and performed so many years ago with Social Distortion:
“Life goes by so fastYou only want to do what you think is right.Close your eyes and then it’s past;Story of my life.”
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Listening, caring, reflecting. A true holiday gift.

Among the hustle and bustle of the final few days before winter break of cramming in meetings with grade levels, academic coaches, supporting students and getting in a few last minutes check-offs before taking a brief pause on the work flow for the holidays. This time of year we find ourselves reflecting on the past year, checking off final boxes at work, home, gifts, etc. before scattering about town or wherever life takes us for the holidays. It’s truly a joyous time of year but often chaotic – controlled chaos is a phrase I sometimes use to summarize the days prior to an extensive break.

A series of events (I’ll spare details both for time sake and insignificance for this post) led me to my prior school in our district today. While I taught and completed my administrative internship at this school for a total of 4 years, I had not returned to Powell since I left nearly 2 years ago. That changed today.

I never realized the true impact I had on so many children at the school until today. It made my heart beyond happy. As I walked down the hall to reach the 4th and 5th grade hall where I taught doors started opening in every room with calls of “Mr. Fetters!”, “Hey, Mr. Fetters is here!” and the like at literally every door. While I made it to most of the classrooms for a 2-3 minute visit per classroom to see former colleagues and meet a few new teachers to the school I was amazed how so many students came up to me with specific examples of how I impacted their lives academically and socially. Mind you, I never had any of these students in my class but always made a point to know every child in the school on some level – a connection, relationship – at least be able to say beyond hello to every single child.

While it was fantastic to see so many of the amazing teachers at Powell today the strongest  takeaway were the conversations that took place with the students. They were so fascinated to learn about what I’m doing in education now but also to tell me about what they’re learning now. “Remember when I was in second grade and you told me you believed in me? I couldn’t read well then but I have a level 3 in Reading now.” one child told me.  Another child who I worked with a lot in my internship talked about taking a chance a risk – something we talked about a lot. Now this child is a 5th grade leader helping out on the stage crew and setting a great example for his younger peers and siblings. Why? Because he took a risk and jumped out of his comfort zone. Many children whose parents I got to know directly or indirectly told me their moms and dads asked about me often and would be sure to tell them I came in today. Today’s visit, while brief, was empowering. Yes, it’s always great to connect with former colleagues but the connection with students we all serve and knowing we’re making a vital impact in their lives solidify why we’re in education. I’ve never regretted following in career path of my mother, grandparents and aunt for a moment and today only further cemented those feelings. angela-maiers-favorite-quotes-14-638

It also further instilled my belief in the language of mattering and Angela Maiers’ #YouMatter work. While I owe so much of my positivity, listening and caring to my inate abilities as a person and educator I feed so much off my PLN and others like Angela who drive me daily to strive for greatness and become better. Eternally grateful. Today was truly a wonderful holiday gift.

Angela Maiers’ “You Matter” TedX

Never underestimate the fact that #YouMatter and the world needs your contributions.

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