“Accountability” sounds like such hard work. It sounds like a burden with lots of risks. In actuality, it is liberating and empowering. When you hold yourself accountable for your actions (and inactions), you practice self-realization and increase self-awareness.
My 15-year-old daughter just got a job working at her sister’s place of employment: a Thai restaurant. She started to bus tables, learn the computer system, give patrons water and even take their orders and bring their food by the time she had 8 hours of work under her belt.
I was sure she would come home and say, “No thanks. I hated it.” It’s not easy to be on your feet for a few dollars. She’s a straight A student and focuses on her violin playing. She does not do menial chores at home proactively. But she’s seen her sister make money and be able to purchase whatever she wants at Target or eat out on occasion.
She came home after working 6 hours yesterday. She served tables alongside her older sister. Her feet hurt, but she had a huge smile on her face and showed me the $36 in tips she made.
Later, exhausted, she said:
“I like working, it feels good to make your own money.”
“If you had everything in the material world (ambition, power, money), would that bring you happiness?
Go back in time when you got something you really wanted. Were you happy? How long did it last?
You can be happy without anything achieved through ambition. So why not skip that step and just be joyous?”
“Be ambitious for the work and not the reward.”
Jeanette Winterson, writer
“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” Dalai Lama
Sometimes, we want something very badly: a new job, a promotion, a raise, or an award of some kind. It’s usually because obtaining it would give us meaning, value or respect in the eyes of others.
It’s good to strive for better. It’s good to push yourself. But it’s in the effort that the reward sits, not in the fruit.
Eckhart Tolle says, “How do you let go of attachments of things? Don’t even try. Effort creates attachment. Attachment to things drops away by itself when you no longer seek to find yourself in them.”
Byron Katie reminds us that (for example) when it comes to working hard to get a new job (crafting your resume and cover letter, preparing for the interview), that is YOUR business. But when it comes to deciding whether you get that job, that is THEIR business and all the rest is up to “god” (her definition of god is reality).
So stay in your business. Live each moment fully. And let everything else go.
When I was eight years old, my teacher, Ms. Meretta, told my mother I was one of the hardest working kids she had ever had. Until then, no adult had ever said anything positive about me. Really. My parents were concerned that I showed no genius academically. They compared me to other kids (always unfavorably). My other teachers were either distracted by personal problems, or they just seemed mean (maybe they weren’t, but they seemed unapproachable). One teacher said she liked me, but I rushed through my work too quickly to get to the “book table.” I liked reading too much.
I loved Ms. Meretta. I worked even harder after her comment to my mom. But this time, I worked hard not just for myself..but for Ms. Meretta, too.
When I was a young adult, I worked as a summer camp counselor for the YMCA. It was a fun and rewarding job. I loved the energy the kids brought each day. I loved thinking of fun activities and working with them. I laughed every day. I laughed every hour.
I’ve held different jobs but none have had the creative opportunities or the intrinsic rewards of teaching. One of my favorite gifts from a student was a short letter. I had recommended him to go to a school for high-achieving students. He had older siblings who attended a school closer to his home. He always assumed he’d follow their footsteps. It was easy to hold the fastest track time there. It was easy to be the best student. I told him I knew he would succeed at the Academy, a school that was more rigorous and offered both Spanish and Mandarin. “Besides,” I told him. “if you go and you don’t like it, you can always go to the other school.” He went to the Academy and he loved it. He wrote a letter thanking me because he’s so happy and he’s learning so much. His younger sister now attends the Academy, too.
Helping kids is endlessly rewarding.
It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. I wish the media and politicians would stop with the negative talk about teachers and public education. Why pick on educators? Of course not every single teacher is highly qualified, but not every doctor, nurse, accountant, or politician is, either. For every lousy teacher you hear about, there are easily 1,000 fantastic teachers. I’ve had to handle a sixth grade student who slashed her peers with a razor. I’ve had to handle a fourth grade student who crapped his pants every week. I’ve had to handle students who complained of verbally abusive parents and who cried of hunger.
I teach in Arizona. We rank absolutely LAST in teacher pay. Last!
I did not go into teaching for the money and I will never expect the pay to equal the work or expertise.
My reward is working with the children. Yes, we get summer break, but most of my teacher friends will hold a second job (teach summer school, drive
Uber Lyft, etc.) to make ends meet in June and July.
Did you know…
- Teachers must get a fingerprint card renewed regularly and they pay for it.
- Teachers must get recertified and they must pay for it.
- Most teachers pay for school supplies for their students.
Let’s stand behind teachers who work to help students.
I have two daughters, ages 13 and 12. I walked by their bathroom and noticed a list on the wall. I read it. And I couldn’t figure out what it was.
“That is the list of foods Josie and I are going to eat in college, because you won’t let us eat them right now.”