Discerning what we can and cannot change

Dennis Sparks

Dawn is breaking this morning over the first day of the Learning Forward Annual Conference in Boston, and I am not in attendance for the first time in more than 30 years.

Buddhists teach about impermanence, which in my modest understanding of the concept means that things inevitably change and that suffering is caused when we refuse to accept that.

A perennial challenge of school leadership is determining which of the many changes within and around schools should be peacefully accepted and which can be addressed because they are within leaders’ circle of influence and worthy of their best efforts.

If leaders are resigned to the status quo they may not see opportunities where they do indeed exist. If, on the other hand, they aren’t discerning about where and when to apply their energy, they may dissipate that energy and that of the school community by focusing on issues over which they have little or no influence.

What’s on your mind?

• By what means do you discern which changes you can influence and which you cannot?

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