Friday, April 20, 2007

Secrets of success meme

A great thing about blogging and using other web 2.0 technology is the opportunity it offers to connect with people beyond my typical orbit. It happened again this week; Patrick tagged me to participate in my first meme. As a result, I also discovered that he and I have two more things in common: we both attended Syracuse University and have both been tagged for the first time. Anyway, the meme (which as far as I can tell, originated here) is:

"List the top 5 to 10 things that you do almost every day that help you to be
successful. They can be anything at all, but they have to be things that you do
at least 4 or 5 times every week. Anything less than that may be a hobby that
helps you out, but we are after the real day in and day out habits that help you
to be successful."
This is no easy task, and although I am delighted to be included, I still wonder who is to say that I even qualify as a success. And reflecting on what I've consciously done to make that so-called success happen poses even more of a challenge. Where to begin to look for signs of success? Case in point: when I began blogging here, I had the intention of using it as a way to explore reflections and thoughts on teaching with a focus on Literature Circles and like teaching methods. In some ways, I think I may have envisioned my undertaking much like the reflective journals I kept during my teacher prep program. Of course it has become something else entirely. But a success, or more broadly does it make me a successful teacher? Through blogging, I've learned quite a bit about teaching and the use of technology, which possibly could become part of a success equation. However, blogging is only a small part of my life. How about what I do in the classroom? Is that a success? Again, that's not an entire picture of me.

As I thought more about it, it struck me: why do I have to equate success with specific actions or tasks completed, like blogging or teaching? If I rely on such a performance-based criteria, then do I logically have to start thinking about whether there will be a time when I achieve a certain level proficiency that I can retire or be elected to some kind of hall of fame? That doesn't quite work. Looking at success in that vein, gives it more of a competitive flavor, or one that is measured by someone else's yardstick. This is what Patrick seems to be saying when wrote: "External definitions of success place such undue stress on us, but are often what derail us as we move through life."

So I haven't blogged in a while. I also haven't organized my classes in Literature Circle groups lately either. I value both those actions, but I also do not mean to imply that they are somehow the most important or telling criteria for which to judge overall success. I'm not exactly sure if there is a strictly defined set of criteria for success. Instead, this meme gave me an opportunity to simply reflect on what it is I do and how it is that I conduct my life. On some of my things listed there is a blurred line between habits and state of mind, but I think both are important to consider. So without any further rambling, the things I do (in no particular order) on a regular basis are:
  1. make time for what I enjoy to do
  2. think about how my actions, reactions, even impressions given out, are viewed by other people
  3. ask questions of and talk to my colleagues about what they do
  4. use my lunch break to laugh about nothing in particular with people who's company I enjoy
  5. consciously think about how my students see their world, or at least the tiny part of their world of which I'm a part
  6. get up early and have a cup of coffee and a relaxing few moments before starting my day (maybe this is more of a routine, but it is an important part of my day)
  7. spend time to consider the "big picture" and how what I do and what I am asked to do is part of that
  8. sit down for dinner with my family and not start eating until everyone (there's four of us) is at the table
Now that I've shared, I guess I need to tag some other fellow bloggers. Here goes...
Brian Grenier (who has been generous with advice and input on issues with which I'm grappling)
Nancy McKeand
Stephen Lazar
Tamara Eden


Patrick Higgins said...


I am glad you took this meme and ran with it. Eating lunch with the family has to be one of my favorite things, too. We just got this huge dining room table made of some seriously old wood--the kind that you don't mind if the kids personalize it with fork marks--and sitting around it with all of the fam is so fulfilling. I certainly agree with you on that one.

Gotta ask--favorite Syracuse haunt?

Brian Grenier said...


Thanks you for the kind words and for thinking of me as someone to pass this on to. I have been pretty busy lately, and thus have not had much time to post on my blog. I just want to let you know that this will be on of the first items I address when I have some spare time to sit down and write. Thanks again for the kind words.