Everyone deserves a thought partner is a mantra that anchors my beliefs and guides my behaviors. I say it often. Sometimes in my head. Sometimes in the company of colleagues.
I believe in those words.
I can explain what a thought partner does. A thought partner embraces the act of participating in the ideas of others, adds values and extends ideas, poses questions to enhance the thought process, and supports others in the act of “getting started” with these new ideas.
I can explain how a thought partner acts. A thought partner is open and curious, and listens with the intent of truly understanding the importance of their partner’s ideas and path forward. A thought partner will ask questions, add ideas—dialogically, when appropriate—and empower their partner to see the path forward by concentrating on small, manageable steps and being there for them along the way.
I have many mantras that inform my decision making and guide my behaviors. The most basic definition of a mantra is that it’s a repeated word or phrase, typically a truism, that guides your thoughts and actions. Having a mantra can help define your why, prioritize your actions, and even focus your energy in a positive manner for those you serve.
Know Your Core Values
Coming up with a mantra is more of an activity in self-discovery. One way to start is to identify your values. You can use tools like Dare to Lead from Brene Brown to identify core values and lead yourself through an activity where you select 10 values that speak to you right away, then narrow it down to five values that matter most to you, and finally narrow that list down to three. Those three are most likely the values that you are probably leaning into most.
Once you’ve identified your core values, you can unpack what each one means for you personally and professionally. Use the following questions to guide your reflection:
- Where does [value] show up for me personally?
- Where does [value] show up for me professionally?
- What does [value] mean to me?
- What does [value] look like?
- What does [value] feel like?
- If I were to lean into and work on becoming more [value], what would it look like? Who would be the first to notice? What would they notice?
Reflecting on or establishing your core values can help you develop mantras that bring you back to center on those values and crystalize those values and beliefs in a way that reflects action.
Craft a Mantra
Now that you’ve done the mental workout of identifying your core values, you can begin to craft some personal language around them and put them into mantra form.
Here are some tips to help craft mantras.
|Make it CLEAR||One-liners are easy to remember, and contain sticky ideas.|
|Make it ACTIONABLE||Mantras help us move from thoughts to actions in many cases. Including an element of time or action can accelerate this process.|
|Make it OBVIOUS||Be concise and clear in your statement.|
|Make it IMPORTANT||Mantras should reflect the values and beliefs that are important to you and your perspective.|
Putting Mantras into Action
Here are a few of the mantras that are aligned to my core beliefs and help me reconnect with the reason I engage in the work.
How it helps me stay connected
|Connection||“We are here for the connection.”||Everyone is hardwired for connection. We all deserve to be seen, heard, and valued.|
|Gratitude||“Gratitude fuels awareness and growth.”||Understand that seeing more, learning more, and understanding more requires an awareness. This awareness can start with gratitude.|
|Growth||“Growth and development requires commitment, time, and a willingness to learn.”||Having a practice and a commitment to a practice will inevitably invite continuous cycles of growth and development that enhance learning and reflection.|
|Curiosity||“Stay curious, always.”||Ask questions, explore possibilities, and remain open-minded to the ideas that come out of my partnership with colleagues.|
|Understanding||“Meet people where they are.”||Acknowledge and understand the perspective of my colleagues and what truly matters to them in the moment.|
When I am in a conversation or a coaching session in which I have a clear method or strategy that I use to deliver a lesson, or work with a small group, I find myself saying, “Meet people where they are,” as a way to refocus my attention on what my colleague is ready for from their perspective and to make this about them and their goals.
Likewise, before I engage in any professional development session I am leading, I say to myself, People first, people always, as a way to remind myself that the most important element is that we are here for one another and for the people, our students, as they receive these new ideas too. It is always about relationships first.
Having these reminders and mantras can make it much easier for you to coach yourself and/or find your focus in each interaction with a colleague or student.
These mantras connect to my core values, connect to my why, provide me with reminders of the work that is truly important, and help me focus my energy in a positive direction for those I serve.
Knight, Jim. “Mantras: Guide Your Decision-making.” Instructional Coaching Group. 17 Mar. 2021, www.instructionalcoaching.com/mantras-guide-your-decision-making.