Friday, April 4, 2008

Sour Grapes or Great Wine: What do you Make out of What You Have?

This is a VERY Special Post for me that I HAVE to share with you even though I already did one today...

I hung up the phone yesterday after a complaint call. I don't get them very often, but this person's perception was that nothing had been going right and Assistive Technology at her school was a big bust this year. At first I hung up and blamed myself and let myself get beat up over it. I cover 7 counties and 12 school districts not counting a district that doesn't have AT services that contracted me out for a special case. I can say that there were valid issues for this caller with networking all the specialists and coordinating trials, political issues with the district and budget issues, etc.
All that said and done (which were valid reasons beyond my control that caused things to drag out far longer than they needed too - but the trial was completed, the device was purchased by the district and the assistants have been trained - the student has the device - I don't know how that is a big bust, but...) as I said, all that said and done, the bottom line is that students need evals, assessments and implementation of devices in a timely manner, even if I am the only one. Legally, I am responsible to do my part to implement the assistive technology.

Ok. So I accept my responsibility, but there is an element to this that came to me today in my office while I was setting up funding grants, channels of money, requests that we are filling for students in need on my caseload. I am getting to be "Santa Claus" and love it when I can do that. We have a grant request right now with our local Indian Casino, Wildhorse, for AAC devices in EVERY early childhood and Early Intervention classroom in our area. We have a hospital grant we received for orthopedic support to decide how to spend from our pool of requests, state funds and county referrals for funds.
As I looked at all these requests we get to fill I have to share something about it that struck me. It has to do with the elements of advocacy that I have been writing about lately in articles, my series and on a free brief that I will be making available for download soon. As I was looking at the students in need, the requests, etc, I thought about the call yesterday.

What is the difference between the perception of the caller I had and the perception of others that are on the receiving end right now?
I don't know if you are familiar with the law of attraction, but it states that what we think, how we feel and what we believe dicatates what our reality is. If things are rotten, then look at the self-talk and the mode of operation you live in from day-to-day. Maybe if you change how you think, feel and operate, your future will shift into something much brighter.
I thought of that in this situation. There are certainly thousands of dollars worth of need in our area right now, but only a fraction of the educators, schools and administrators are actively believing anything can be funded, anything is possible or believe that "We will get what we need no matter what."
Those people are the ones in line right now receiving. Not because I chose them over someone else that asked, but because the flow of resources go to the ones that seek, put out effort, believe and develop relationships all around. This is the Law of Attraction in action. I believe that this law comes into play in our professional and budgetary lives just as surely as it comes into play in our personal lives. I feel as an administrator that I have an obligation and duty to keep myself positive and believe in the impossible. I also need to put that belief into action steps. I can't just sit and wait for it to fall in my lap. By living this way, I believe my department, my service and my program will benefit in huge ways. And it does by the way!
These folks on the receiving end are living this positive way too and they are the main ones who have networked with our agency, requested services, used our services and developed a relationship.

I can go to some schools or visit with some families and feel like a part of their world. There is a very cohesive and collaborative energy with them.
Other schools or families I visit feel cold, skeptical or even partially hostile. I wrote in my advocacy and elements of implementation posts that a key element to success is developing a positive relationship with the service, therapy and educational staff that a parent works with. I believe educators and administrators need to practice this in their networking too.
I am naturally a positive person and I gravitate towards others that are positive. I can bend over backwards to put out special effort and serve and still not make some folks happy. I serve with a smile anyway, but it is ironic how for the most part those folks never "swing for the fences" and consequently live in a "half empty" world.
I would encourage you - no matter who you are and what you do, to look at life as a wonderful place full of incredible opportunities. Be grateful everyday for what you have and be thankful ahead of time for what is coming. These are simple concepts that can be very hard to practice on a daily basis, especially if things aren't great right now. Discipline yourself to change and eventually your circumstances will follow- and that change will have a dramatic impact on the children that depend on you.

I sincerely wish ONLY the BEST for you today. Have a GREAT weekend.



hkalchemy said...

Thanks for an encouraging post. It echoes very much my own thinking - good things happen to positive people. The thinking comes first, then experience comes later.

I have written a similar article, though with the idea of money in mind.

narrator said...

One of the things we do too little of in these United States is appreciate our interactions with societies and others. Instead we sit caught between Algeresque myths of the "self-reliant American" and our infinite capacity to proclaim victimhood. Of course one begets the other. If you have problems in the achievement of "the American Dream" it is either your fault or someone else's. It can't just "be."

So I too see vast anger in my work. All too consuming anger. It is ok to be angry, of course, ok to fight for what you need, but at the same time it is essential to appreciate the world you have, the support you have, the community you have. Those social connections are not signs of weakness, they are markers of strength of spirit.

Lon said...

You are both SO right. The key word for me in narrator's comment is "appreciate."
When you say "appreciate the world, community and support you have", that is a challenge for some people. By starting out with gratefulness and appreciation for what we have, we start a catalyst for changing our own situation to get better and better for our personal, financial, and professional life. Thanks for your valuable comments