Each year I select a word to guide my year. Before choosing a word I first take time to reflect on the past year. I reflect on how I grew, what I learned from my experiences. I reflect and then turn my focus on to the future.
My word this year is CULTIVATE.
Webster defines cultivate
1) to prepare and use
2) to foster the growth of : to improve by labor, care, or study
apply oneself to improving or developing to foster friendship or favor
Synonyms: try to develop · work hard at · foster · nurture · encourage
Author Lara Casey said about her book, CULTIVATE, something that really resonated with me: “We can’t do it all, and do it well. But, we can choose to cultivate what matters. It’s in the imperfect—the mess of the dirt–that good things grow. Peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we.”
Growing up in Iowa, I saw the cultivating of the land that farmers did before planting crops. It took work. It took hard work and this work could not be skipped. There are no shortcuts to farming. They invested in the land to get their crops to succeed. I want to invest in the things that matter.
In leadership, there are no shortcuts. Developing your leadership takes time. It takes work. It takes going through both positive and negative experiences. As a leader in education there is a daily whirlwind of pressures you are asked to address. The role is bigger now than ever – mentor, coach, guide, instructional leader, relationship builder, budget manager, community liaison, crisis manager, cheerleader, entertainer, disciplinarian, quasi-parent……among others. 😊
Throughout all of this, one of the most important steps you must take is identifying your area of growth (growth goal) and doing the intentional work to grow. You cannot leave this for someone else to decide for you. Remember, it’s not what you are going to do, it’s who you are going to become through this process. When you are clear about what’s important to you it enables you to focus. If you’re not growing as a leader, then the problem may not the seed, it most likely is the soil.
I’m in a new place this year – literally. My husband and I have a new home, a new hometown, and I have new professional responsibilities. I have a lot of things to cultivate and I couldn’t be more excited. Cultivating myself, however, will be my most important task. To cultivate myself is to grow what I’ve been given, (developing, nurturing, encouraging) right where I am with what I have.
Cultivate what matters. You matter. What will you intentionally cultivate this year?