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A Summer of Moments

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Before the deluge…

In early June we were on a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee standing under a small set of intertwined trees for covering at it poured on us. With rain jacket hoods up, hats and bags wet, and feet muddy, my colleague Brad Droke yells out to T.J. Edwards and me over the pouring rain, “THIS is a MOMENT!” We laugh for a while and trudge on, but he was absolutely right. Little did we know that the next “moment” that day would include a 300-pound black bear and Meg and me misunderstanding the warning from the Tennessee locals driving by while we were running: “There are two bars up there” is what our Connecticut selves heard….

It’s been an amazing summer filled with special moments. However, there is no way I would have noticed or made an increased effort to intentionally design these moments had I not had the Heath brothers’ The Power of Moments book (and Brad’s “THIS is a MOMENT!”) fresh in my mind.

The overall theme of the book is that “moments matter”; with a little touch of intentionality and preplanning, moments can be powerful, defining life experiences. The book outlines four types of moments: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. My goal is to share a few of my summer experiences that highlight these types of moments and to (hopefully) inspire us all to create more – at work and in life.

  1. Moment of Elevation: These are peak moments where a person may be surprised, feel joy, laugh, be motivated or engaged. They evoke “memorable delight” and are “literally extraordinary.”
  2. Moment of Insight: These are moments where a person makes a transformation or realization, no matter how big or small, that may influence the understanding of self or world.
  3. Moment of Pride: Moments or milestones where we are at our best and include authentic recognition, gratitude, or courage; our effort or skill is noticed by ourselves and others.
  4. Moment of Connection: Connection moments are social and deepen our relationships/bonds with others; they include shared struggle, connection to meaning, and responsiveness.

The authors describe each of these four moments as photo or souvenir worthy. What have you taken pictures of, that you look back on and smile? What have you actually printed and framed (remember that commercial a few years back where the photos were calling you to print them from your camera/phone)? What relics have you saved recently? The authors challenge us, through many engaging stories and specific examples for each type of moment (I won’t ruin the book for you here!), to embrace these four types of moments and to design moments that matter rather than leaving them up to chance or luck.

 

Moment 1 – A moment of pride and connection and (literally) elevation

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David and I hiked the 6.8 mile Delta Lake Trail in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Besides the Mount Bierstadt 14er that I hiked last summer, this was by far the hardest hike I’ve ever done. This adventure included over five hours of hiking and 2,286 feet of increased elevation on the trail. The pride of completing this trail and connection with my husband, something that busy parents rarely get to do, was a highlight. Not to worry, I kept a vigilant eye and some preventative spray for the “bars”…

 

Moment 2 – A moment of elevation and connection

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My parents, daughters, and I visited Orlando’s Discovery Cove. Spending time with my parents in this beautiful area snorkeling in shortie wetsuits, floating on the lazy river (we’ve never seen my dad do this- ever- he hates swimming), and swimming with the dolphins were highlights.

 

Moment 3 – Moments of insight and pride

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This summer I’ve taken a keen interest in exercising more, cooking and learning more about both foods that I love and foods that I’ve never tried, and organizing (I just reread The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and attacked my closet and dresser.). I completed a tough long run in 93 degrees, humid Atlanta weather along the Chattahoochee and Martins Landing Lake by slowing down, especially when the view warranted; it was a moment of pride. The real insight, though, is how much I’ve enjoyed being outside this summer (and the break to take a picture or two to get my heart rate back down) and seeing the small details of the world around me. I’ve found myself stopping to smell flowers, look at butterflies, and watch the birds/ducks. The natural world is beautiful and awe-inspiring- if we give the time to stop and notice it.

 

So far this summer I’ve been impacted in the way I make decisions and the time I’ve taken to slow down and savor the moment- to give it a chance to BE a moment. I’ve designed and noticed moments with my parents, children, husband, and friends that I never would have before with such intentionality. How will I be as intentional as the summer comes to a close and the busyness of the school year starts- both in my work and in my home- with two middle school daughters and endless activities?

This book shouldn’t be put on a shelf. As we begin another school year, how will we create moments of elevation, insight, pride, and connection with our faculty, students, and families? What will those defining moments look like? How will the first day of school- both for our new faculty and our new families compare to previous experiences?

Chip Heath and Dan Heath challenge, “If you knew you could make a positive difference in someone’s life–that you could create a memory for them that would last for years–and it would only take a trivial amount of time on your part, would you do it?”

I hope so.

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David and I took a detour to DeSoto Falls in Mentone, AL after dropping the girls at camp.

(For more information about the book, check out www.thepowerofmoments.com)

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