Each day I walk through the hallways of this school I am amazed by the potential I see hidden in the hearts, minds and actions of the people who pass by me. I hear the potential in what appear to be benign conversations or silly jokes. I see the potential in seemingly insignificant gestures. I notice the unrecognized talent before me, from the blithe kindergartner to the academically-focused senior. I see it in the most creative of our faculty and staff to the most organized of our administration.
Though, what is above the surface here at Randolph is impressive, there is so much more beneath the surface that can be galvanized to shape the world. I believe there is an untapped reservoir of intellect, imagination and innovation within our community. I often wonder how much more we would challenge each other if we saw the amount of talent beneath the surface. What questions would we ask? What goals would we set? What problems would we attempt to solve? What impact would we have on our community? However, though I see it, potential, even among the brightest of us, is elusive. Seldom do people see it, much more reach it.
Potential is elusive in that it always lies just beyond the borders of our comfort zones. Few people like to tread into this unfamiliar territory. My goal is to challenge my students and my colleagues to venture beyond those borders. This is difficult for many to do because in that same area where potential lies there also lies the possibility of failure, rejection and greater responsibility. People fear leaping into the unknown and landing on failure rather than the potential they desire to reach.
I am learning each day I challenge myself to reach beyond my comfort zone that I grow as a person every time I aspire to something greater. I grow because I discover that I can do so much more than I previously thought. I grow because I discover what I feared didn’t really exist. I grow because I discover that my failures, if I let them, are lessons that lead to greater successes. I grow because greater responsibility empowers me to help a greater number of people.
Mankind has accomplished great things because of those who aspired to something greater than themselves on behalf of their fellowman. Whether it was scaling the ominous mountain to view the world from its zenith; crossing the seemingly endless sea to travel a distant land or propelling through the expanse of space to walk the moon; people aspired to something greater on behalf of their fellowman.
The little things I see in students today foreshadow great accomplishments in the future. My newest challenge for myself is to help those whom I engage begin that journey from what is merely potential to what can be reality. Every day I hope to encourage them to reach beyond the borders of their comfort zone, even if it is in a miniscule way. Each time I engage them I hope to help them realize that most of what they fear is an illusion and that they can achieve what they dream. This is why I do what I do.
Photo: Administrators used a Critical Friends protocol to find their comfort zones, Summer 2013.