Look in your own heart.  Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has a thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone.  You know it.  No one else has to tell you.  And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow.  You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.  Steven Pressfield

Within each of us, Steven Pressfield writes, is the Resistance, this toxic force that keeps us from doing the work we know we are meant to do. The Resistance is “a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.” Seth Godin calls this force the Lizard Brain.

It is the Resistance that keeps us from writing, drawing, composing music, or creating astonishing learning experiences.  The Resistance, this force within us that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, creative enough, keeps us from realizing our potential in all our creative endeavors.

And yet, despite the repelling negativity of the Resistance, Pressfield writes that we do not need to surrender .  The Resistance can be put it its place:

Resistance isn’t the towering, all-powerful monster before whom we quake in terror. Resistance is more like the pain-in-the-ass schoolteacher who won’t let us climb the tree in the playground.

But the urge to climb came first.

That urge is love. Love for the material, love for the work, love for our brothers and sisters to whom we will offer our best. In Greek, it’s eros. Life force. Dynamic, creative drive.

That mischievous tree-climbing scamp is our friend. She’s us, she’s our higher nature, our Self.

How then, can we radical learners set free our tree-climbing scamp, our higher nature?  One way is to create a true and clear statement of why we choose to teach–a personal vision.

More than a decade ago, I conducted a study of personal vision with a small group of  teachers. What they told me was that writing a vision was a real catalyst for change.

One teacher reported that she became much more attentive to the diverse learning needs of all her students in her class after she wrote her personal vision.

One teacher wrote that her vision reminded her of the importance of a balanced life inside and outside of school, and she and her husband decided to have children as a result of the process of writing the vision. She was pregnant by the end of the study.

A first-year teacher reported that her personal vision helped her stay committed in the midst of the many challenges she faced starting out in the classroom.  Without her vision, she told me, she might have easily given up on her choice to be a teacher.

A personal vision is your statement of what you stand for and why you teach. You can compose, of course, in whatever way works for you.  Participants in the study started by answering the following questions. If you are so inclined, feel free to try them out to see if they help you write your own personal vision.

  1. What difference am I trying to make?
  2. In what kind of a classroom would I like to learn?
  3. In what kind of classroom would I like my children or my friend’s children to learn?
  4. What kind of school would I like my children to attend?
  5. What kind of school would I like to teach in?
  6. What is the purpose of teaching?
  7. What would I like my students to say about me?
  8. What would  I like adults (other teachers, parents) to say about me?
  9. How does my vision compare with my current teaching practices?

How you write your personal vision is up to you.  What matters is that you are as clear as you can be and you have a deep understanding of what you want to accomplish as a teacher.  By writing down why we teach, by painting a clear picture of what we want to accomplish, we can find the energy to do the highly creative work of designing powerful, inspiring learning experiences. And we can put the Resistance in its place, so we can be the creative people we where meant to be.