Steve Heisler

Teacher Author Speaker


"Every single child wants to be successful. The problem is, if they can't be successful at being successful, they'll be successful at screwing up. Our job as educators is to change the latter to the former."    

- from the The Missing Link by Steve Heisler

To Resolve Better, Forgive Better

Coming into 2019 everyone is thinking about how they are going to change, including me. The problem is not the goals: they are all terrific. The problem isn't even motivation: initially that is the easy part. The problem isn't even habit, although to be sure, changed habits change lives.

The problem is forgiveness.

As a parent, as a teacher, I always tried to be the President of the Infinite Chances Club and tried, imperfectly, to forgive all of my students and restart the clock as often as necessary. With myself: not so much.

Going into any new project, personal or professional, I now understand absolutely that privately I am more likely the President of the Dumb, Fat and Ugly Club than of the Infinite Chances Club. To change this I must change my internal dialogue from acidic self-laceration to something that approaches the gentleness and forgiveness I can often find for students and others. I am learning to tell myself that the imperfect mess that I make is not a reflection of the imperfect mess that I am but rather a reflection of the imperfect mess that is process itself. To remind myself over and over again what I teach and what I even wrote in my book: failure is only failure when we quit: until then it is just process.

Process is a mess, and usually needs to be, but what it does not need to be is a miserable mess. The new mantra, the new internal dialogue I tell myself, and keep telling myself is a notice read on a teacher’s door and have been using in teacher and administrator trainings ever since. It read: In the end everything will be ok; if it is not ok, it is not yet the end.

Forgiving others is hard but often not as hard as forgiving ourselves. Since I now know that in the end everything will be ok, in 2019 I am going to resolve to be more forgiving of myself, for the mess that I am and for the mess that I make…that, and maybe lose 10 pounds. I invite you to make the same resolution. That is to be more forgiving of you. You don’t need to lose the weight. You are just fine the way you are!