“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey
I think what makes hard work so unappealing is the adjective that describes the action: hard. There have been so many things in life that I have started and not completed because of the hard work that goes into it. When I hear hard work or effort, I cringe. Not because I cannot do the work, but because what if all of this hard work ends up in failure?
Three years ago, my daughter’s principal asked me to be involved in the school council, an advisory board of parents and teachers that come together to ensure quality education in the school. Around this time I was employed and thirsty for any opportunity to network and maybe get my face in the newspaper (vain, but true).
I jumped on board without hesitation and began to imagine the greatness that would derive from this decision. I did not know what a school council was about, but I imagined it to be prestigious. Me, making executive decisions and running thangs. Yep, I had certainly arrived. I was able to sit with other educators and parents around the city and talk about the importance of school councils. I was given an official handbook and everything.
The power surged through my body, I felt like King Arthur pulling Excalibur out of the stone. I beamed all the way to my first school council meeting…
And then reality kicked in like a mule. Not only was the school council in shambles, I was asked to be the council chairperson.
“Sugar honey iced tea! What have I gotten myself into?” I thought.
I was allergic to hard work and was not ready to lead anyone anywhere. Nevertheless, I was once a student of the school that my daughter attends and I wanted to help, so I pulled up my boots and started to learn the ropes.
For two years the school council would start with a good 7 people and would dwindle down to about 4. We would get together, talk about what other schools were doing, try to make plans like theirs but never followed through with any of them. I became very discouraged, especially when some of the parents transferred their children to other schools in the city with “better” opportunities for them. At the close of the last school year, I began to question if I really wanted to stay a part of the council. It seemed like a hopeless cause.
Then I was “separated’ from my job.
My daughter’s principal, who has also been my mentor since the 6th grade, was the first person I ran to right after the event took place. We talked and he gave me practical advice (as usual) and encouraged me to get the school council ready for the upcoming school year.
At this point, I really didn’t have anything to lose. I had often wondered, in the prior years, of what kind of parent would I be if I had been given another opportunity to be truly active in my children’s education. Now, I had the opportunity and I was willing to take it. I sat down and weighed what worked in prior years and what had not worked.
Though I wanted my daughter’s school to be as good as any other school I lacked something that the other school’s had: Perseverance.
It takes work and dedication to be successful. While my council and I were looking at how well the other schools were doing, the other schools were making plans and following through. We were so blinded by the money that they had earned for their school that we missed the bus to succeed like them. We focused on the negative things that seemed to hold the school back instead of building on the positives that the school possessed.
With all of this in mind, I began making strides to follow through instead of wallowing in defeat. I began to be more proactive and sent out letters to parents and teachers giving them two weeks notice to be prepared for our first council meeting of the school year. I prepared an agenda and most importantly asked questions.
The lust for the limousines of success almost made me miss the bus of opportunity to make a change that my daughter’s school desperately needed: people who are willing to work hard to make a difference.