Back to Change-Purpose

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. To be honest the concept of change has haunted me this year. I am grateful for the many positive experiences and kind words individuals share but still question if I am being effective in inspiring change.

Kevin Kerr shared a clip last week about our purpose in life from the Skoll World Forum. It’s a beautiful clip that has 50 different individuals reflect on their purpose in life. I dare you to watch the clip without being inspired and then reflecting on your own purpose.

As i listened to the responses, I identified with many voices. I wanted to ‘borrow’ the purposes I was hearing from the woman who mentioned:  lighting sparks…in complex and dark spaces. (@2:05) to the gentleman that mentioned the reflective question of What good is one doing to humanity?

I wonder if in education we just assume each others purpose. We all want what is best for kids, we want to help them succeed, so our purpose must be that. As I listened to the clip it was amazing to see the shock, the smiles, the passion that came through in their responses. Listening, I realized I need to take the time to ask colleagues what their purpose is. Better yet, I need to be clear of my own purpose and how it evolves over time. I wanted to be a teacher since I was 6. That first year of teaching in 2001 I probably would have told you my purpose is to teach. As time has passed I think I now understand that my purpose is to inspire a joy of learning. It is what excites me the most: the smile, confidence and pride that comes from learning something new whether 6 or 60.


The biggest moment of reflection for me came at 2.22. I was struck by a statement.

I’m thinking it’s time I have to measure how much I’ve changed the world and how much more I need to push.

he followed up later in the clip 3:56

All this effort was not changing the world in any way and I had to fix that.

No matter what role you have in education I think we can get busy with DOING that we forget to reflect on how it aligns with our purpose. What struck me most from his statement was how he used his purpose as his measuring stick of success. I can get carried away sometimes measuring my effectiveness by that of colleagues or leaders I admire or measuring my effectiveness by the list of things I have done.  As I ask myself how I have effected change I need to keep my purpose front and center as my guide.

The best reminder of the clip was at 4:50 I don’t have to do it alone.

We are not alone. What a reassuring reminder. As different as the purposes in the clip were they all came back to the good in humanity. Who would have thought you could take so much away from a 5 minute clip! In our many conversations around change in education from informal chats, to conferences to twitter I don’t think we have always taken the time to share our purpose, our visions. That shared vision is so essential if we want to move forward as a system.





Our purpose becomes our lighthouse through the rough waves of the change process. At times it reminds us we are on the right path, at others it reminds us we are off course and need to re-evaluate.





2 thoughts on “Back to Change-Purpose

  1. All this is so very true. I believe we get caught up in the “doing” forgetting that reflection about the doing is the most powerful learning tool we have. Unfortunately it always seems to come back to that old chestnut …time. Time to reflect, rethink, and remake our thinking, our approaches and ideas. Time to be truly creative in how we live, work and play.

  2. You have the soul of a sailor- or perhaps somebody in your family tree was a lighthouse keeper, years ago?

    Nope, nobody agrees exactly on the purpose of education. That’s what makes it so frustrating, and so hard. One person’s vision is another’s nightmare…

    Don’t you just think sometimes when talking to others, the lighthouse is right there, can’t you see it? Can’t we go to its guiding light?

    But others just can’t see what you see. Frustrating, and hard. If we could just see others’ points of view. (Google Point of View has not been invented yet!)

    Keep doing what your doing! (You know I see YOUR lighthouse…but what about all the others, I can’t see?)

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