NEW YEAR, NEW BEGINNINGS
written by Gary Rupert, Leadership Coach & Cultural Strategist for ||:Leaders Creating:||
New Year’s Resolution — an exercise in frustration in which we set goals we intend, but have no plan, to reach
Ask any gym member, anywhere in the country, about the month of January and I suspect you will get the same answer. The gym is packed with all those people whose New Year’s resolution had something to do with losing weight or getting in shape. You will recognize them immediately. They are the ones dressed up in the latest workout gear and posing in front of the mirrors to monitor their success. By the end of the month, most will be gone. Some because they expected immediate results, some because they figured out that the phrase “no pain, no gain” is truth, some because they are just lazy, and ALL of them because they had a goal, but no plan! Actually, losing weight and getting in shape aren’t goals; they are results. The goal is burning more calories than you are taking in; eating healthy foods and exercising. Do THAT, and the natural consequence is that you get to lose weight.
As we approach 2021, I am sure we are all ready to leave 2020 in our rearview mirror. The New Year’s resolution is, in many ways, our attempt to create new beginnings. So what must we do to ensure that our resolutions find their way to the new beginnings and ultimately to the changes for which we hope? In life, we study where we have been and where we are, in order to determine how best to get where we are going. Perhaps this would be a good starting place for effectively creating and completing our New Year’s resolutions.
As a retired music educator, I have not had to deal directly with the chaotic changes to the educational process. But in my role as a leadership coach, I am tasked with helping band directors to navigate their way from where the educational process was, to where it may be in the future. New year….new beginnings. Like one’s New Year’s resolution, we too often approach things with a goal, but no plan. Even when we have some type of plan, we are often unable to follow it through to its completion. Why? I think it is because we focus too much on the goal and not the process. As a runner, I have run in excess of 1,000 miles and lost nearly 25 pounds in the past year. But I didn’t start out to do either. I wanted to become more physically fit and my plan was to run today. And each day I wake up wanting to run today. Pretty soon the miles piled up and the pounds fell off and as a natural consequence of those efforts, I am very fit.
So how will this help you move forward? I will tell you that I spend little or no time looking backward. I know where I am and how I got to this place. I know that in MY life’s journey I am most interested in where I am now, and how I am going to get where I want to go moving forward. That begins by understanding my WHY; what is my purpose. If I were still actively teaching, the pandemic and all the necessary mitigations would not have changed my WHY. Then I must have a clear vision of WHAT my purpose looks like in a practical sense. This is what most people call their goal and I would call a natural consequence of my HOW. This also wouldn’t change because of the pandemic. The HOW? Well that’s my process; what I must do on an ongoing basis to live my WHY? This is where the changes need to occur.
2020 forced numerous changes upon the education system. Well intended mitigations designed to keep our students and teachers safe had the unfortunate consequence of challenging the existence of school music programs as we know them; so much so that numerous students are either considering, or have already left their programs. Their reason? Virtual band simply does not meet their needs….and probably not yours either. But don’t let this change your WHY! As you enter 2021, I encourage you to be proactive in shaping your HOW. Yes, I know. The Covid-19 mitigations and the restrictions of virtual learning represent a great challenge. But YOU are in charge of the process within those challenges; the HOW! Get the process right today, and then tomorrow get it right today again, success will become a natural consequence.
Gary L. Rupert was a music educator for 40 years and was most recently the Band Director at Smithsburg High School in Smithsburg, Maryland where his bands consistently achieved Superior ratings at local, state and national levels. He is a sought-after conductor and adjudicator in the areas of symphonic bands and jazz ensembles. An avid blogger whose daily entries are followed by people in over 57 countries, Mr. Rupert is the author of a daily inspirational book for students and teachers, “Today, No Every Day.” He is also a sought after speaker on leadership, motivation and creating a positive learning environment.
Gary Rupert has been named an Outstanding Maryland Music Educator, a Teacher of Excellence in both the Frederick and Washington County public schools, and has been twice nominated as a Disney Teacher of Excellence.
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