Finding Inspiration…

Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you.” 

Michelle Obama

The quote above prompted me to think about how, when we are faced with difficult circumstances, we continue to have choices in terms of how we respond to these ‘hardships and failures’. It made me wonder –where do I find inspiration around me? So, last week, I set myself the goal of recording where I gained inspiration each day. An interesting personal reflection exercise.


What I found interesting during this week of noticing, was the simplicity of the places and spaces in which I found inspiration. We often imagine that ‘inspiration’ is something big, a sign, a message, an ‘aha’ moment and it can be, but it can also be everyday. A simple conversation; when days are tough, and challenges seem many, a single voice can help inspire. I was inspired by another’s words to look beyond the here and now and think of possibilities. Most importantly to reframe my capabilities to acknowledge I am capable. This enabled me to reposition myself in my own thoughts and gain perspective to be able to then act with greater clarity. It is not often that emails inspire, but this week one did for me. It brought me back to connect with my instincts, to question and not simply accept the status quo, and most of all it prompted me to really think. Think about what my values are and how these connect with my actions.

So, what did I learn? Inspiration doesn’t just happen to us as if by magic, even though it might appear this way. I believe we must have the dispositions to allow ourselves to be inspired. Fostering, openness, appreciation, observation and reflection are important practices. Overall, we have to give space and acceptance to opportunities when they present themselves. Most of all, inspiration drives us to take action in whatever form this might be.


“Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities”

Scott Barry Kaufman

Interesting ‘inspiring’ Reading

An Open-Minded Attitude

Attitude is something I have been thinking about a lot recently. The power that it holds. The influence that it can wield. The impacts it has. This last year has been tough on everyone. It has demanded attention, in many respects, most of all towards our attitude; to examining our beliefs and values and our response to circumstances at any given moment. So finally, in a moment of quiet, I got to thinking more about attitude and the power it has to determine outcome.

The familiar range of reactions bubble to the surface when a group of students, young or old, are faced with a new task. There are those who approach the given task with confidence and a certain degree of nonchalance, ´This will be easy´ or ´No problem, I know how to solve this.’ Whilst there are those who tentatively step forward and quietly express they will ‘give it a try‘, or say, ´I think I can work it out‘, and others who simply declare ‘I´m no good at this.’, or are absolutely self-deprecating and poke fun at their own capabilities. All within a somewhat ‘typical’ range of reactions.

But which of these reactions actively impinge upon learning and become an unseen barrier to the learner making progress? What have we learned about the importance of attitude during the recent COVID 19 Pandemic? How has our attitude helped or hindered us transform as teachers? How can we develop resilience to navigate emotions and be an agent of our own attitude? These and many more questions are bubbling to the surface for me.

I shared the below image and statement during our back to school meeting in August to provoke thinking around how critical our mindset is in helping us navigate, be successful and thrive and how we need to support each other as a community during this marathon crisis period.

Three things I think I have learned about fostering an open-minded attitude during this past year are:

1. Acceptance enables us to be open-minded and embrace the circumstances we face.

This year has taught us all more than anything that many things are out of our control – we just have to accept and look forward, we cannot dwell. Accepting the bumps, the twists and turns and the nosedives are the only way to be able to keep an open mind and thrive.

2. ‘Self talk’ matters more than we realise.

‘Self talk’ helps and hinders us in equal measure. We are often our own harshest critic. However, a kind word to a colleague, to a student, to a friend can also help us to remember to be kinder to ourselves. Spreading gratitude and value can help us manage our own ‘self talk.’

3. Finding time to be mindful, is essential to being able to thrive.

We all have experiences that centre us, that help us feel refreshed, remind us of what is important and this can be anything from sport to cooking to reading. For me, being able to participate in a Mindfulness course with colleagues was a wonderful experience that not only fostered community during this difficult period but also helped me find practices that I can embed in my daily life to become more mindful.