This post is not about teachers or students or administrators or school business or finance or parents.
It is about Iguanas and Snakes.
Watch the video above before continuing on.
You will thank me.
I have not been that emotionally invested and drawn into a scene since I saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the first time about thirty years ago. This video is inspiring and cringe-worthy at the same time, and I think is an excellent modern day Aesop's Fable of determination.
I have lots of questions: Did the iguana choose to go to the beach from Hell or did it fall down there? Why so many snakes? If iguanas can cognitively process things, what was going through its mind? Why, when being still seemed to work, did it try to run?
Why did it not give up?
Choice or Circumstance?
I do not know if the iguana (I'll call him Iggy) thought, "Let me see what I can take?" or if he just stumbled into the fight of his life. If he chose it, he is not unlike students and even teachers who over-commit. . We think, ah, what is one more club sponsorship or obligation, or AP class. Then, before we know it-
SNAKES! SNAKES EVERYWHERE!
We try to work through it one thing at a time, but then they gang up on us. Multiple deadlines all fall on the same day or there simply isn't enough time to do it all and have a personal life. But we committed, we are in this fight. To give up and walk away is defeat. Not the same level of defeat Iggy would have experienced, mind you, but substantial failure for sure.
SNAKES! SNAKES EVERYWHERE!
I hate snakes. So, I was wary of clicking the link when I saw just one in the teaser image. But then they came from EVERYWHERE. No matter where Iggy turned, there they were. Sometimes it was just one he was dancing away from, sometimes a multitude. But the thing is, it just takes one snake to end this video in a very different way.
When we get overwhelmed, it is easy to think that the sheer numbers is what will get us, but often, it is not the many, but the one thing we neglect that takes us down. Busy with work and school, we can miss the needs our family is crying out for to be met. And down we go. The problem with multitasking can be that all the things we are juggling are important, so we need to watch them all.
This is when we have something Iggy does not- support. Find someone- peer, leader family member, teammate- who can watch out for the snakes you do not see and keep you from going down.
Whatcha thinking? or If I Stand Still He Won't See Me---RUN!
Why did Iggy run? The snake was not going to see him if he didn't move, according the announcer guy. But the snake got close, and Iggy bolted.
Iggy was clearly going on instinct, but if he could think like we do- what was he thinking? Probably nothing more than just "SURVIVE!"
We like to think we humans are complex creatures, but when we fall into a den of snakes, we too are on instinct. Our thoughts are not complex, they are survival- we are in our brain stem. So, when you- or your student or peer- are in this mode, realize that we are not thinking rationally, we are thinking about getting to that next breath of life.
And don't take what we say or do so personally.
Never, Ever Surrender.
I'll admit. When Iggy went down in that tangle of snakes, I audibly said, "Well, that didn't end well." I knew he was done. I knew what happens when snakes do that- the victim is done. But for whatever reason, Iggy kept moving. If he knew about the above quote, our iguana hero would no doubt have had this thought playing through his mind. I know Iggy was tired, and he could have just surrendered.
But he didn't.
Our students will go down in tangles of their own proverbial snakes- and so will we. If we are embracing growth mindset, we will challenge our students and ourselves to never give up. "To look death in the eye and say 'Whatever, man.'" ( Thanks Hurley from Lost.) You better believe I am showing this video to my classes today, because I want my students to overcome failures and learn from them. To be stronger, to be tougher, to be resilient, and like Iggy at the end, get back to what matters.
Our enemies are not always literally snakes, but busy-ness, loneliness, fear, weariness. Sometimes they are other people. I want to be an innovator, but sometimes, the voices of the old way chase me down and attempt to smother me. I want to be like Iggy.
I want to survive and carry on.
OK, so maybe this blog really is about you and me.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.