Wednesday, July 13, 2011


“It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time.
Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.
~Wayne Dyer

 Sun and Signs by Sandy Redding

I’ve written before about my former principal, Johnny Cabaniss. He taught me many valuable lessons and I wanted to share another one.

My second year of teaching, I had an incident with a student and I was not sure how to handle it. I do not even remember the context of the incident or what exactly he did, but that is not the point of the story.

I talked to Coach Cabaniss that afternoon and told him the situation and asked him what I should do. He told me the following story (I’m paraphrasing): 
There was a man walking down the road. He was enjoying the beautiful day and minding his own business. All of a sudden, he saw a big pile of dog crap in the middle of his path.
He stopped and realized that he could make one of two decisions.
First, he could choose to walk around it. Sure, it was in the way and it was unpleasant, but he could walk around it and go on his way.
Or, he could choose to stir things up by picking up a stick and attempting to move it out of his path. By doing this, it would be messy, smelly, and generally unpleasant. But, it was in his path.
The man chose to walk around the pile of dog crap.

I have never forgotten this story. Of course, in that instance, I chose to ignore whatever my student had done because it really wasn’t a big deal. 

I have used the lessons from this story in many ways. Here are some practical applications that I have used in my own life. 
  1. When someone makes a mistake and they realize it, I choose to give them a break. 
  2. There are times with my students (as an educator) when I choose to ignore. 
  3. We are all imperfect humans – give people a break. Learn to consciously demonstrate grace in your interactions with others.
  4. When my wife makes a statement and I feel the need to defend myself, I try not to. Relationships are more important than being "right" all the time. 
        Certainly, there are times when we need to actively stir things up. But, living intentionally means that we make that choice consciously. We don’t simply react to the moment. 

        Make a decision today to be conscious about reacting to situations in your life! 

        Question: How can you use this metaphor in your own life? Please leave comments below.


        Jonathan said...

        I was working on today and tomorrow's posts this morning about 2 am and hit a similar thought to this for tomorrow's post. I'll be adding a link to your post for tomorrow.

        Dr. Frank Buck said...

        I guess this is like the old adage "Pick your battles."

        I remember as a first year teacher some advice given to me by first principal, Harry Anderson. Everyone recognized Mr. Anderson for having achieved good discipline in a school where that could have been a challenge, and being firm and consistent in the application of rules. But I remember him saying, "You don't have to see everything." Good advice. If you don't want to make a big deal over the kid who is chewing gum. You just didn't see it. Just walk around it.

        Jason said...

        @Jonathan - I look forward to reading!

        @Dr. Frank Buck - I totally agree. One of the tenants of great classroom management is knowing what to "see" and, equally important, knowing what not to "see." Thanks for the comment!