Lance Scranton: It’s in how you think, not what you think
Just how do we see our community?
One of the many period pieces we read in American Literature is “A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.” Douglass was a slave who eventually freed himself and went on to become influential in the abolitionist cause. The narrative contains a powerful quote that we explore as a class: “I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.”
Students understand the quote to mean that Douglass finds himself in the rather unsettling reality of slavery but resolves that he no longer think will like one. The narrative goes on to explain how he deals with one of his “masters” who attempts to abuse him (physically, emotionally) and how Douglass struggles for his human dignity.
The account speaks to all of us as we go through each and every day with our own individual and unique struggles. However, the point the author is trying to make is that very often, our struggles are borne out of not just our inability to understand how to move forward but our misconception of what matters most.
Douglass alludes to a powerful mediator between our thoughts and actions explaining that it was vital, if not mandatory, for him to see himself as free or he would always be a slave, fighting against slavery.
So I ask students to tell me how they could become the best student in the school. Most answer that one likely would need to work and study really hard. “True,” I say. “But what critical component is missing in your struggle to become the best student?”
And then it happens: a student puts up a hand and says, “I guess you have to see yourself as the best student or it won’t matter what you do.”
Bingo. And the lesson of Frederick Douglass and the critical nature of how we think about ourselves is complete.
How we think about our schools, businesses and people has a much more powerful influence on our success than any program, technique or formula.
So, I ask not what you think — but how you think about our community.
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