Monday, March 26, 2018

Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate?

I'm really interested to know where passion comes from. And that's because I can't think of a single passionate educator who doesn't make a greater impact for kids. And on the other hand, I can't think of a single educator who seems burned out who is still able to be their very best for kids.

Who wants a teacher for their child who doesn't have passion for what they're doing? Anyone?

There are so many benefits to being passionate. Passion overcomes and eliminates apathy. It makes us stronger and more willing to take on challenges. Passion is caring deeply about work that matters and doing something about it.

When we are feeling passionate, we have more energy and enthusiasm. We are energized and not victimized. We believe we can overcome obstacles. We are able to translate that passion into commitment and do hard things, really hard things to get the most out of our abilities. 

When you listen to someone who is burned out, they often point to circumstances as the reason for their malaise. There is lack of support, lack of resources, problems with students, parents, administrators, other teachers, lawmakers, the department of education, society, you name it. And all of those things might be true.

But others faced with exactly the same circumstances seem to tell themselves a different story. They view the challenges as something to learn from and overcome. They seem to think differently. They focus on solutions instead of problems. They don't deny the problems or the barriers, but they are determined to focus on things they can control and not on the things they can't.

So why are they able to stay positive and passionate in spite of the challenges while others burn out?

People who avoid burnout and develop more passion do the following:

1. They believe they are growing.

People need to feel like they are making progress. We are wired to make progress. So if we feel we are stuck and not getting stronger or more capable, it can make us feel hopeless. People who are growing always have hope that things can get better. 

2. They feel like they are making a difference.

People need to feel like what they do matters. They want to feel like they are creating and contributing. Some people are making a difference but all they see are the problems and the ways they aren't having success. And that's when they burnout. We need to celebrate the little successes we have and know we are making things better.

3. They have a strong sense of purpose.

People need to feel like their work is connected to an important cause. We need to feel like we're part of something bigger than ourselves. Passion flows from a strong sense of purpose. Burn out happens when we focus on problems instead of purpose.

4. They have a strong sense of autonomy.

Passionate people need to feel like they have some control over their destiny. We burn out when we feel we can't make the decisions or take the action needed to create change. But regardless of how much autonomy you actually have, you need to feel empowered by the autonomy you do have. There are certain things you always have autonomy over, like your attitude for instance.

5. They share and connect with other passionate educators.

The people you share with and connect with most will have a big influence on your outlook. If you are around passionate educators and connect with them, you will likely feel your passion growing stronger also. On the other hand, if you are consistently around people who are negative and who lack energy, you will start to feel that way too.

6. They know when to set aside the work to rest, renew, and recharge.

Passionate educators don't have to be martyrs. It's great to have a high level of commitment, but you also have to know when it's time to be content with what you've done and take some time to set aside the work. Constantly worrying about your kids or your classroom won't help you in the long run. Create some white space just for you to find peace and rest.

For the most part, our choices determine our level of passion more than our circumstances. You can't control the environment of your school or the kids who are placed in your class, but you can control so much. Most importantly, you can control your mindset.

What else would you add to these thoughts? What are your thoughts? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

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