Whiteman's World

Whiteman's World

Superintendent BLOG

10-1-20

By: Todd Whiteman

 

“Choose Being Kind Over Being Right”

 

“To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens.” F Scott Fitzgerald 

 

The start of the 2020-21 school year has begun, in the midst of national pandemic COVID 19, with a NEW NORMALCY for our students, staff, families, and community. There are several students and families that have chosen the remote online educational platform, several have chosen in-person educational platform. Required masks, shields, limited movement, social distancing are new barriers we face daily in the current educational world. There is great fear and concern when students or staff test positive and that has a huge ripple effect in the homes, school, and community. I am proud of how our students, families, and our staff have handled all the changes and protocols. When I ask students how things are going the number one response I get is “it’s going good but it is weird.”  The new-look of education has created a smaller subdued atmosphere. 

 

That being said the biggest challenge I see today is NOT the national pandemic itself and the barriers it presents. The greatest challenge in our country right now is the NEED to be Right. There are so many critical issues we are faced with today’s world:  social inequality and injustices, churches being burned down, police brutality, hatred and a call to defund the police, political views and debates, medical views, first responders, Covid-19 perspectives/ views, riots, protests, and should kids go to school or go online.  

 

Our country is greatly divided and currently toxic as these critical issues are at the forefront! Social media has created a toxic hateful platform for people to be right and hide behind a typed statement.  Our personal views and beliefs are critical however the need to be right when expressing them is wrong. The NEED to BE KIND is MORE Important than being Right. If we truly want change for the better we need to choose to be kind over being right. Being kind and listening to people are often more important than constantly seeking to be right and prove others wrong. No one wins when you spend your time trying to convince others they are wrong. No ONE WINS

 

A conversation about who’s right and who’s wrong is one of either two things: an echo chamber or an argument. When we think about it, very rarely do either get us to change our minds and think back to the last argument you had with someone you disagreed with — did you think differently by the end of it or did your own beliefs only get stronger?

 

 

Giving up the need to be right about everything was one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned. It was because I found things more important than that: fulfilling people and fulfilling relationships fuels the tank.  The ability to listen and connect to others who have different views, the ability to respect their views, while staying true to my belief is a wonderful gift. As Mathew 6:1 goes: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, and for you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” 

 

Again I still have my personal beliefs that I am entrenched in. I believe them because I feel they are right and I often vote or act based on my belief system. I am not EVER saying WE SHOULDN”T STAND BY OR UP FOR OUR BELIEFS COURAGEOUSLY.   What we should do is control how we treat others by being kind, listening, showing empathy as those things are much more important than being right. I can assure you no one has ever said” I told you so” on their deathbed.

 

Those who may not have experienced — or recognized — the power of kindness may scoff that such a “soft” quality has any value. Many people equate “kind” with “weak.” They consider kind individuals to be ones of whom they can take advantage, people who will not stand up to confrontation. They have not yet seen that kindness is an unmatched strength, a “super-power” that has the capacity to change the world if enough of us claim that power and exercise that strength.

 

Just as there is a vast difference between kind and weak, there’s a substantial distinction between kind and nice. They are two very different things. Kind is as different from nice as smart is from wise. Being kind — truly kind — is hard. Nice requires little effort. I can be nice while also being indifferent, critical, and even sarcastic. But I can’t be kind and be any of those things. Being kind means making an effort. It means thinking about how I can give someone what they need without worrying about getting anything in return. It means letting go of my judgments and accepting people as they are.

 

Nice doesn’t ask all that much of us. One can be nice without expending too much energy or investing too much of oneself. One can be nice without taking risks. Nice is holding the door, smiling at the cashier; nice may even be dropping a couple of dollars in a homeless person’s hand if we do so without looking him in the eye and saying a genuinely caring word. Kind is asking how we can help, offering our hand, jumping in without being asked, and engaging in conversation that goes beyond the superficial

 

If kindness were easy, though, we’d see a lot more of it. Kindness asks more of us than we may be ready to give. How we choose to respond to harsh words, embarrassment, or a perceived slight speaks volumes about who we are. Our immediate response is often to respond in a similar manner, to retaliate or belittle. Remembering that our perceptions aren’t always accurate offers us an opportunity to control our reactions.

I think the desire to be right is another survival mechanism that people use to ensure they are important. The belief that the truth is absolute and that our aim in life is to find it and live by it is false. Trying to make others live by our truth is even worse. This mindset brings lots of pain and misery to everybody and if we want happiness to come into our life, we need to let go of our desire to be right. People who are secure trust that they are OK, that their beliefs are good for them and that they only need to follow what is right for them, so they do not need to “prove their points” to others.

The concept of being right is a relative concept and always stands opposite being wrong. When you have a high need to advertise your “rightness”, you are trying to force your surroundings to fit into your definition of right and wrong. This is the source of many conflicts in our society. Enforcing your beliefs and thoughts on others is crippling, painful, and creates hate. 

When two people look at a cone from different angles, they may see different things. If they have to approach this shape from where they stand, they may approach it differently. For someone viewing from the side of the cone, it looks like a triangle, but for someone viewing from the top, it looks like a circle with a dot in the middle. These two people might have a conflict, with one of them screaming, “But this is a triangle” and the other one crying out, “How come you can’t see that this is a circle? Are you blind?” Both of them are looking at the same shape and both are right, but no matter how long they talk about it or try to sort out the conflict, they will both keep seeing the shape from their own personal view.

 

 

Many people find it hard to let go of the desire to be right all the time and they cannot stand the thought of not being right, not to mention being wrong. The result of that is always risking damaging their relationships and causing themselves and others stress and pain. The desire to be “right” is a struggle to protect a fragile ego. 

As a country, we are boiling with so much need to be right in our views. It is important to be strong in your own personal beliefs and convictions but by no means are we ever entitled to tell someone else that their beliefs or views or wrong. Being kind does not mean you concede and believe that someone else believes. It is simply being kind enough to respect how they see things and create a form of empathy. We cannot tell others this is what they need to do, what they need to believe because that imposes what we think is “right” on them. May we all choose being kind over being right. After all, having someone tell us see I told you I was right has never increased collaboration or unity.   Choose the mindset of Being Kind Over Being Right!

“If we choose kindness we are always right!”

Todd Whiteman – Superintendent Foxfire Schools

Halftime

We are currently facing our greatest crisis of our country since WWII. These uncertain times have left our community frightened, uncertain, frustrated, angry and divided. Everyone has an opinion and even their own solution to the pandemic tragedy known as the Corona Virus -19. People are taking their own stances but the reality of it all is that there are potential major consequences on so many levels including the unimaginable. People are dying, people are living pay check to pay check, fear and anxiety fill our daily thoughts. We are vulnerable and scared for our future. There are a million questions with the hard reality that we have very few if any answers.

Leadership is more critical right now more than ever before. After all, we need leadership during time of adversity because our choices and reactions have eternal ramifcations and impacts for the future generations of our families and country.  This major daunting barrier known as Covid- 19 is testing leaders from families – churches – schoolhouses to the White House. All leaders are pushed with their  backs against the wall and we will all be judged on how we handle  this  crisis.  Leaders across the board are facing moral issues and trade- offs. What started out as a health crisis exploded to a humanitrian crisis and quickly became an economic and unemployment crisis.

Sports have been a huge part of my entire life ranging from a young kid to a college athelte to eventually a coach. Sports has been my “life lab” where I learned so many core values – traits – lessons- and leadership skills that have prepared me for the Game of Life. It is during this time that I have once again reflected back to the worldy education I got from sports.  I view this crisis and “Stay At Home” order as Halftime.  I have had to take several halftimes in my personal life over the years. There has been a ton of adversity – some of it has been self- inlficted. With each adversity I have faced- I had to view that moment as halftime and focus on re- grouping for the future.

Halftime is an intermission in sports where you take a break and you gather to review what went well with the first half and what has not worked.  Halftime is where teams make adjustements that will benefit them in the second half. The opponent has taken some things away that we like to do ,and normally have success with.  There are things that they are doing that are hurting us as well.  The goal of halftime is to re-group, come up with a strategy and a plan of attack. We must make adjustments  in the quest that we will have greater success the second half in hopes of winning the game.  There were some surprises in the first half that may have included injuries, players in foul trouble, and what the opponent is doing.Hit  the pause button- rethink and reimagine what you want your new beginning to look like when you come out of halftime. Envision how you will prosper in your health, wealth, relationships and your impact on this world. You may never have this time ever again – where our country takes a timeout and hits pause. 

  Make sure you pivot!  Pivoting is a skill where you put one foot solidly down and move the other foot in a better direction. Head on a swivel may have never rang so loud as it does at this moment of time.  We all have to put our foot down and anchor in regards to our core values – missions and vision but we will have to move quickly and adapt to the changes that come with our new normalcy. Our world will forever be changed due to this epidemic and how we do day to day business. The changes will force us to pivot quicly and with force to adapt to this new world  but one thing must remain entrenched – our  faith, deep human values, integrity and the love of mankind.

I urge each of you to utilize this halftime in your own lives to reflect on the first half each of you have played . Ask yourselves – “What  changes do I need to make?”  “What am I doing well that I want to continue?”  “What is truly important to me? Who is truly important to me?” Great leaders have the ability to simplify things during crisis and communicate those things. Each one of us is a leader – in our families – jobs- community – churches and relationships.  

This “Halftime” has has offered many pro’s for each of us. It simplified our lives in what we do, where we go, who we spend time with and what our main priorities are.  Famillies are spending more time together than they ever have before. Eating dinner together as a family is now more prevalent and has become the consistent norm across our homes. The basic needs of survival have been placed at the forefront. This has provided a great time to reflect on the most critical areas of life.  Many of us  will someday be thankful that we were afforded this halftime and we were allotted time to spend immeasurable time with our children. Time that we will never ever get back with them. 

As you pause,make sure your halftime is focused  on moving from success to significance. Halftime should force us to ponder –“What will I do with the rest of my life?”  Your second half gameplan is inside your hearts and minds already . Your new journey requires the time and discipline to dig it out.As leaders in our own lives we will be asked after Corona- How will we serve people differently?  Leaders who hear this call will be the ones who catapult themselves and others to new heights.  Re- energize yoursleves – re- imagine yourself, your family, your job, your purpose. 

Halftime does not last forever- make sure you are ready to answer the bell when it rings. We should come out of halftime more focued and passionate than we went into it.  We never know how many games we will get to play in our lives. Just make sure that we you do get to play again that your playing this game of life at the highest level.

Stay Safe & God Bless

Todd Whiteman  Superintendent 

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You Don’t Have to Be Wealthy to Be Generous

The Holiday Season is quickly upon us as we count down the days to the holiday break. Christmas is a hectic time of the year that draws our focus everywhere but where it truly needs to be. The Holiday season is unfortunately associated with the traditions of giving gifts. Many families stress and stretch themselves thin to provide gifts for others. While many others become frustrated or depressed that they cannot provide for others or if they do it is very little.

 

We SHOULD always GIVE year round but not presents – BUT PRESENCE! You do not have to give gifts- you do not have to be wealthy to be generous. The real gifts that are truly meaningful are the ones where we make an investment into others- not a financial investment – not a transactional investment BUT a true investment into other people. WE ALL can give our time – our love – our companionship – support and kindness. Each of the unique ability to realize that life is gift- our health is a blessing and each new day is filled with awesome potential and that I have the capacity to bring something good into this world. That  I can make today a good day full of joy and love.

 

I challenge each of us to be generous this holiday season. To give generously – to be generous with our manners- kindness- smiles- handshakes – prayers – and compliments. These are the most precious gifts we can give to one another and they cost us absolutely nothing. Donate your time to a charity – church – organization- neighbor –friend – relative or a complete stranger.  Each of possess certain knowledge and expertise that we should be generous with and share with others. Give the gift of mentoring others- that generosity becomes generational as the next person pays it forward.  My prayers for all of you is that we strengthen our relationships this holiday season by being generous with our love – compassion – time – presence and kindness. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Superintendent BLOG – April 2021


By: Todd Whiteman Superintendent Foxfire Schools      

The Shift 

When we stop chasing the wrong things we give the right things a chance to catch us.”

For many people, there’s a wound of emptiness inside them. I had this wound. You most likely have this wound. It’s called a value wound. This wound lies to us and tells us that we are not measuring up to life’s standards and until we do we are of no value.

When we are born, we cry to express what we want or need, and our parents or those watching us adhere and give us what we need to ensure our needs are met. Everything is about our needs as a young child. Crying is a form of communication until we can talk- we cry and we get what we want. Sadly, we live in a society today where some adults cry, throw a tantrum, and expect their needs will be met. The reality we don’t even really know what the most important need is in life – Fulfillment!!!!!! 

As we begin to grow up we all have the basic need of acceptance and fitting in. People grow up thinking they need to prove their value in this world. That if they hustle, improve themselves, find a gorgeous partner, and become rich, a stamp of approval is placed upon them that says they’re of worth and value. I chased goals, success, status, identity, and approval all based on my limited and immature vision of what I thought success was. I lied to myself as I looked into the mirror of who I really was. I was able to achieve some of my goals, only to get there and ask myself- “This is what I was chasing after all these years?” and feel totally unfulfilled.  I just kept chasing things that could never bring me to fulfillment. Andre Agassi once said- “My whole life I trained to be number one in the world and once I got there I never felt more lonely or disappointed.”

But that’s where most people go wrong; that’s why there are so many unhappy people in this world, no matter their wealth, fame, or success. We attain an unhealthy delusional desire for prestige, success, autographs, fame, and power.

 The Hustle is something that begins in our 20s as we are hustling to become someone of importance. We hustle for that promotion, for that money, sweet house, etc. We compete with others we know that we see on social media. Gary Vaynerchuk, famous entrepreneur and internet craze, advocates for closing your eyes in your 20’s and working hard to make something of yourself. He promotes the idea of hustling, that if you work harder and longer than everyone else, you’ll be more successful than everyone else (that success being monetary gain and sometimes fame). We spend these years striving to achieve value but what this philosophy thrives off is people’s beliefs that working hard will mean they’ve more valuable. And, under that idea, giving up spending time with family, friends and enjoying being young is a worthy sacrifice. They let their ego drive value and they live from a place where they’re never enough; they think that proving their worth is just a promotion, new house, new car, boat, new tattoo, new partner away. If we stopped to consider where this feeling of unworthiness comes from, they’d see how it only exists because of outside influences. Maybe a parent, bully, childhood experience, shaped their self-esteem, or maybe social media had led us to the fallacy that we are not measuring up to what others portray on there. The reasons aren’t inside them; they’re outside of them.

Everyone’s chasing this dream life: a big house, fancy car, highly-respected job, and a hot spouse. You know the deal and while people can widely agree that’s “the dream,” have you ever stopped to consider if it’s your dream? That this future you’re working so hard towards is one that would make you happy. Even if you attain your dream, once it is over, then what?

THEN SOMEWHERE AS AN ADULT, THE SHIFT OCCURS 

The moment I decided to SHIFT my Focus from self–serving myself to serving God and others Happiness Found ME. I shifted my focus from attainment to using the gifts God has given me to serve others through my passions.   The SHIFT is NEVER TOO late – one can shift in their 90’s. SHIFT from a selfish focus to an unselfish focus. The SHIFT takes away greed, hate, pain, disappointment, and insecurities. THE SHIFT brings happiness and contentment.

“SHIFT HAPPENS” – AS an ultra–competitive person I had to learn to shift my scoreboard and realize that the game of life only has one scoreboard. We will see that scoreboard on judgment day. My daily motivation SHIFTED to living a life of impact by positively impacting others for the good. I shifted my focus to a quest of leaving this world better than I found it and hopefully my life has made a difference for someone out there.  My only regret is that I didn’t SHIFT to this mindset and approach when I was younger. It would have eliminated a lot of mistakes, pain, and actions that I regret today.

I started living from a place of purpose and servanthood.  My focus is on helping others become successful and that is where I found true peace and happiness. I realize that the things I chased most in life aren’t important or never needed to be chased in the first place. I realized just how foolish and ignorant I was.

 The CHASE leads us to succeed at any cost and along the way, I lost the person God intended me to be and the person my parents raised.  I woke up one day and the things that I valued and felt were critical for happiness NO LONGER MATTERED.  I no longer felt the need to prove people wrong, I no longer set goals but created standards to live by as goals have an expiration date on them, I no longer cared what others thought of me.  Why do people think obtaining new things will make them happy? That a new car, promotion, or life milestone will finally be the turning point at which eternal happiness comes? I used to live this way. I thought achievement or status would make all my worries disappear. Experience taught me that was a lie and eventually led to a SHIFT of living a life of value and impact on others. 

 I am not sure who needs to hear this but YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH! This BLOG isn’t to shame anyone currently chasing the aspects of life I mentioned above. It’s merely meant to open people’s eyes to the deeper reasons we do things. If you find that you’re chasing something that doesn’t matter to you as much as you thought, it’s a great chance to take a step back and define for yourself what happiness looks like for you. The SHIFT brought happiness, joy, and fulfillment that I never knew existed.

 MAKE THE SHIFT!

 

“I don’t have to be anything to anyone; I just have to be the very best version of myself as a human being to be happy.”

 

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