What Can First-Graders Teach Us About An Open Mind? | Blog
What Do You & First-Graders Have in Common?
My sister, Kim, is a first-grade teacher. We were speaking recently, and I asked her about the new group of kids. I love hearing stories of the students and how they interact with her and each other.
The first month is always a mix of fun, chaos, getting to know one another, getting into the groove of school, and, at times, lots of emotions.
Learning to read, learning to add, and trying to focus can be stressful. Knowing what I teach and share, Kim thought I would appreciate hearing how they teach these first graders to handle those moments when things get hard.
Before starting a lesson, she says, “Are you ready for your brain to stretch?” They all yell “Yes” while stretching their bodies. Then she says, “Are you ready for your brain to grow?” They all yell, “Yes,” as they lift their arms in the air.
When they learn something new or solve a problem, she says, “Did your brain stretch and grow?”. They smile and nod their heads.
If they get frustrated or discouraged, she might say, “What's happening to your brain right now? Is it shutting down?” When they say, “Yes,” she says, “Ok, let's turn it back on – take some deep breaths, calm down and try again.”
If things get a little more heated, she might say, “I'll wait; you let me know when your brain is ready, and I can help you.”
As Kim was telling me this, I had a huge smile on my face. I couldn't help but imagine how helpful it might be when we were starting something new or stepping into the unknown if we all had a “Kim” in our life asking us: “Is your brain ready to stretch and grow?”
Whether it's a new job, a new service for our business, a new skill, or a new relationship. In those moments when it feels hard, when we get unsettled or frustrated, she would say, “Is your brain shutting off?”
We would take a deep breath, calm down, and let our minds open up.
These first-graders are learning something incredibly valuable. When we are in a reactive internal state, our minds constrict, and our mental bandwidth diminishes.
Recognizing when this is happening allows us to pull the right lever. Rather than leaning into the reaction, we pull back. We take a pause.
When our minds settle, they expand, and with that comes more perspective and higher-quality ideas. We stretch and grow.
Happy back to school!
“When our minds settle, they expand, and with that comes more perspective and higher-quality ideas. We stretch and grow.”
We naturally access new levels of creativity, fresh insights and a wider perspective from a clear and open mind.
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Barbara Patterson is the owner of a global coaching and consulting company helping solopreneurs, entrepreneurs & leaders access more clarity, creativity, have greater impact and higher levels of fulfillment in work and life. She is the founder of Beyond Limits in Business, a global platform and community designed to point people to the source of human potential. That potential resides within and is experienced via our minds. Barb is also the host of the Real Business Real Lives podcast. You can follow Barb on Linkedin and Insta