“Sometimes you need to get lost in order to discover anything”Katie Knovinsky
In May 2019, I can say with absolute certainty that I was lost.
I’d seen it coming, at speed, like an out of control train hurtling down the tracks towards me. I had nowhere to go, I was frozen to the spot and had resigned myself to being crushed as it thundered over me.
The details of the “what”, the “how” and the “why” have to stay with me for legal reasons, although that probably says what needs to be said anyway.
It was a beautiful day – clear blue skies, warm but comfortable. I’d arrived at work, after stopping on the way to breathe through the nausea that had been attacking me daily on my journey – my body telling me that all was not well and that I was afraid, stressed and filled with dread. It wasn’t the job, it was the actions, attitudes and behaviours of some key people. I was waiting for the axe to fall squarely in my back.
And it did.
A twenty minute meeting, behind closed doors, with no-one there to act as a witness to the absolute hell in the words that were sent my way. That was all it took.
If I had my time again, things would be different, but hindsight is a marvellous thing and one of the things I have discovered about myself is that I don’t want to waste my time wallowing in regret and thoughts of vengeance (although sometimes I do!).
Over the next six months, I spent a lot of time reflecting on whether I wanted to return to the profession that had been my home for twenty five years. I came to the conclusion that I did not. It was at that realisation that the discoveries started.
So many teachers become lost in the profession. My research in our group of twelve thousand members shows that there are many things that have gone wrong in teaching. There are other organisations developing in the last couple of years, advocating for different approaches in schools, because the level of overbearing, authoritarian leadership and restrictive decision making is draining the joy out of the profession. So much of what our teachers do is bureaucratic nonsense, designed only to create a culture of accountability that rests on a foundation of mistrust. This is not how things were back in my first ten years of teaching; the slide into treating children as statistical sausages, who all need to be uniform and ‘above average’ (yes, I know – how can they all be above average?) happened so quickly that very little could be done to stop it. This has happened at the expense of the mental health and wellbeing of teachers – the very people who should be at the heart of the system are the ones who are being chewed up and spat out, leaving them damaged and often unable to see a way forward.
Despite this hurt, the very nature of the people who choose this profession means that they experience guilt – they feel that they are letting children down – when actually they should be attempting to discover how they can stay true to their core values whilst working in an environment that values them as much as it values the children within it.
NB: For every school that damages adults, there is another school that treats them with trust and fairness – the key here is addressing the ones that are acting without integrity, not tarring all with the same brush.
My discoveries came through my work with my own coach, through adopting an attitude of “lets try it and see” and by throwing myself into learning. As a result, I find myself starting 2021 with three distinct business interests and being a strong advocate of multiple income streams. I’ve discovered that I am a multipotentialite.
“Multipotentialites have three superpowers: idea synthesis, rapid learning and adaptability. These are all skills in that in my experience, entrepreneurs, particularly those ‘accidental entrepreneurs’ have in abundance.Emilie Wapnick
I no longer worry that people will look at my LinkedIn profile and see that I currently do multiple things. Yes, I am a coach. I’m also a great photographer as well as being a GCSE tutor and running my own tutoring business that is just in the process of expanding out into overseas tuition too. I do not accept the attitude that having diverse interests and business activities means that I am “jack of all trades and master of none”. Let me explain why.
Firstly, I don’t do anything unless I can do it well. I research, I study, I prepare, I plan. If you ask me to do a job, I will do it properly. Discovery is at the heart of everything I do – I learn, I seek the answers, I figure out the solutions.
Secondly, I was a teacher! Teachers are the ultimate multipotentialites. They often just don’t realise it. In any given day, a teacher will:
- Teach a group of 30 children for a full day (5 teaching hours) or teach 5 groups of 30 children for an hour each.
- Manage the needs of the children in front of them, providing resources, teaching new ideas or skills, monitoring behaviour and engagement, checking understanding, adjusting their approach many many times.
- Make thousands of micro decisions throughout their day, many of them unconsciously, to ensure that they are doing the best for the children in front of them
- Plan learning, prepare resources and in doing so, anticipate the myriad problems that might occur during one single lesson
- Assess work, making judgements about understanding, identifying the gaps and misconceptions that individual students have, writing feedback for each of them in their books
- use multiple pieces of software for different tasks – MIS for registers, rewards and sanctions, data entry; spreadsheets for tracking learning against key criteria; presentation software; video and audio software for creating resources or delivering online learning for students offsite
- Use their communication and negotiation skills to navigate difficult conversations with parents, to resolve issues between children, to guide and advise colleagues.
- Be subject to learning walks, book scrutinies, lesson observations, accountability conversations
- Be expected to analyse data and use this to plan, intervene etc
And so it goes on. The list is endless. Teachers are amazing, adaptable people and so many of them do not understand how much they can do – what their real potential is.
In my work with clients, I help them to discover what is keeping them where they are despite that situation making them unhappy; I work with them to reveal their potential, to discover the possibilities that lie within their existing skill sets and to explore what could be if they chose a different route.
Discovery is absolutely at the heart of what I do and who I am.
To find out more about multi potentiality:
If it’s time for you to discover what’s possible, get in touch to chat about whether I could help you reveal your potential.