A Gap That Can’t Be Closed By Achievement

“Genius comes when you disconnect from task and reconnect to source.”

Good Life Project: Embrace the Space

“Creating space, those moments of in-between that we increasingly fill with tasks.”

My breath gets taken away during the course of the school day. Not just because I live in a country where the PSI (pollutant standards index) has been in the unhealthy range for a month, but because we move at a pace that is startling. We fill every second, every moment with something. Then I ride home on the train and I watch lines of people on their personal devices, going into shutdown mode on candy crush in an ironic attempt to unplug. We unplug by plugging in. How else could I explain why the last thing I do in the evening is to watch my favorite Netflix or HBO series?

This got me to thinking about one of my quadrants of all time, . I love it not only because I like things that are visual but because it is a reminder of how much time we spend in this digital age in quadrant one, also known as “important/urgent.” (Note to self: write a blog about how texting has become the new email). And our our default to the high energy/high burnout quadrant one is NOT quadrant two (important/not urgent) but actually quadrant FOUR which is not important and not urgent (candy crush). I found this fascinating.

If quadrant TWO is where growth, renewal and creativity live (and what all the conferences we go to talk about), then why can’t we get there? We know the answer to that question but that answer is not sufficient. We have to do better. One of my colleagues told me that he refuses to let his email inbox be his “to do” list. He aggressively fights to live in quadrant two and I applaud him for his courage. Me? I’m the new guy. I am barely keeping my head above water in quadrant one. It will take time before I can regain equilibrium and join him. But I must.

It’s too easy to spend our days reacting to the instantaneous demands that are put in front of our faces when others push buttons (both literally and figuratively). Doing things that seem important and urgent structure our days and make it look as though we’re ‘getting stuff done.’ But the truth is the exact opposite. We get burnout and candy crush. And loss of focus. And all the downsides that come along with neglecting quadrant two.

I guess I could conclude by making a trite comparison to the age-old “less is more” clause which is probably apt. What I’d rather do is challenge educational leaders to stop thinking you’re getting stuff done by living in quadrant one and slipping into quadrant four when you burn out. Regardless of what everyone around you does and says, it’s your responsibility to fight back so that you can spend more time in quadrant two, and do the inspirational work that got you into this crazy business in the first place.

Good luck. You’re going to need it.

About Stephen Dexter, Jr.

Stephen is an international educator and administrator. A native of the United States, he lives with his wife Stephanie (a specialist in families in global transition) in Croatia along with his daughter and son. With a career that spans over twenty years in public, private and international schools, he writes when he can and is on a quest to discover if "text walking" is changing the human brain.
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