WIll You Be Relentless?

I’ve been feeling more than a bit spent lately.  Call it the December Doldrums.

What bugs me the most is that I feel tapped out professionally. While everything that I’m doing is as solid as it ever was — I’m writing a ton, I’m delivering solid PD sessions, my classroom instruction still motivates me — nothing is coming easy to me right now and that makes it hard to find the motivation to push.  I’m grinding and producing and meeting all of my responsibilities, but I want my work — both within and beyond the classroom — to be more than a grind.  I want it to be energizing.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

So I took a bit of time off this morning.  Went to the bagel shop for breakfast and a bit of reading.  It’s my selfish treat — an escape from the always-on life that can be so draining.  I don’t open my email.  I don’t rush.  I don’t worry about the stack of crap sitting on my desk waiting to be done.  I read — and reading is relaxing.

Today’s title was Graceful by Seth Godin — and check out the quote that I stumbled across two pages into my meal.  It was so perfect, I had to turn it into a slide:

(click here to enlarge, download and view original image credit on Flickr)

So here I am being relentless.  

Thanks for the reminder, Seth.  I needed it.


Related Radical Reads:

How Gritty are Today’s Learners?

What Seth Doesn’t Know about Schools

Related categories:
  • JonHanbury



    do you remember john holland’s sign off on TLN — “relentlessly positive”!  i’ve aspired to champion his challenge.  how about you???


  • JohnHolland


    Jon you were the inspiration to that tagline as I remember it.

    • billferriter

      Yup.  And I WISH I could be

      Yup.  And I WISH I could be more relentlessly positive!  

      Not sure that’s in my DNA, though.  

      I’m more likely to be “occassionally positive as long as no screwed up decisions have come out of the North Carolina State legislature and as long as the computers in my classroom are actually working and as long as at least one of the 38 meetings that I have to attend get canceled” kind of guy.



      Bringing the pessimism to the party one day at a time, 


      • BillIvey

        As a “Father of the Bride” fan…

        … (Steve Martin versions), I can’t help but think of Martin Short and B.D. Wong’s little song, “Every party has a pooper; that’s why we invited you…” With all due respect and love, of course! 🙂

        I find that with each passing year, my “doldrums” expand. People tend to see me as an optimist, but I don’t always feel my perception matches their reality from early November to mid-March or so. I suspect I have S.A.D., as at least one contributing factor. So I find I have to do a lot of self care – being more careful to get sufficient sleep, taking extra vitamin D since I don’t get much sunlight, spending time doing things I love – even if that’s just hanging out in a coffee shop to do work rather than being cheap and staying home. This year, too, I’m trying to make my mantra not “Was I good enough?” but “Did I do my best?” So far, it actually does seem to be helping.

        Because I do insist on being relentless. Relentlessly focusing on my kids, discerning and meeting their needs. Relentlessly advocating for my kids. Relentlessly advocating for the notion that they are all our kids. Relentlessly advocating for social justice. Relentlessly checking in with myself to see if I’m living by the values I hold dear. I may choose different strategies depending on my audience, pushing hard in some cases, nudging gently in others. But I am relentless in attempting to move forward.

        Because I can only be relentlessly positive if I see respect and kindness around me and if I feel the world moving toward a place where respect and kindness are universally given. I suppose my own optimism comes from a deep-seated conviction that progress is possible as long as sufficient numbers of people continue to share that goal.

        So yes, I will be relentless. Oh yes I will.

  • Dan Winters

    Persistence Trumps Creativity

    Agree with the sentiments of Seth and Bill here.  Just finished Creativity Inc, by Ed Catmull, which is the story behind the management of Pixar.  Great, great read about leadership and one of Mr. Catmull’s many “ahas” is that creativity is much more about persistence and continual improvement in the face of obstacles and problems then it is about the flash of brilliance idea.  

    And, on another note…. A request kind sir.  Any chance you can share your workflow for creating slides?  Love the clarity and simplicity of your slides and would love to see how you get from idea to flickr upload.



  • marsharatzel

    What’s your inner guru calling you towards?

    First and foremost….here’s wishing a fantastic Winter Break holiday to everyone.  That’s me being relentless  :-}  

    I read what you wrote and what others have said and I think it’s all true.  Here’s something else to consider.

    If you’re not feeling it, maybe you’re trying to tell yourself something.  Could be that you’re just doing too much.  Could be that you’re trying to tell yourself that you aren’t leading the balanced life your heart knows you truly want.  Could be that your inner guru is really telling you that the same old, same old should be different….maybe you’re to take your interests and focus in a different slant.

    While I get the Godin quote and believe me I’ve lived that life, I also think that age and experience has brought me to a place where it really isn’t about being relentless in the grind sort of way.  I think you should be relentless to follow that inner voice (and I’m betting $1,000,000 it’s not telling you to put it in cruise control or to phone it in). Isn’t this what you were sort of saying BillI in your Father of the Bride comment? Don’t be trapped into believing that it’s just a matter of digging in when the going gets tough.  That inner voice is way smarter than that and has lead to you to find amazing adventures.

    It takes way more pluck to stop and figure out why you’re not energized. What are you being called to do differently?  to do new?  

    What new adventure are you suppose to find?


  • BillIvey

    Exactly, Marsha!

    Bill is one of the last people I know who would ever phone it in, and that belief/knowledge enabled me to tease him about wishing he were more relentlessly positive. I was trying to reinforce his instinct for self-care, praise him for standing up for his kids and his profession, and then, in the process, think about my own relentlessness as well. And somewhere in there, I was trying to get at the concept you put so well, Marsha, about the importance of a relentless focus on your inner voice.

    Because when the going gets tough, sometimes, it really is about digging in. Sometimes, it’s about peeling out and breaking a new trail. And sometimes, too, it’s about waiting patiently to see what you most deeply want.