I recently participated in a volunteer program at my daughter’s elementary school called WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students). The two primary goals of the program are: 1) To provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important. 2) To provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying. I was honored to be a part of this program and relished the opportunity to enhance the minds of the students.
While I was at the school, I was amazed at the visual environment the school creates for the kids. Each class creates a social contract or an agreement for behavior. Building this social contract creates empowerment for the students as they have input on what goes into the contract. The students are then encouraged to tell others about the contract and sign it in agreement. Different sayings from this contract, along with other positive affirmations can be found posted along the walls of the school. The same phrases are also used over and over again by the teachers and staff when speaking to the students.
My question is: If we work so hard on setting up a positive visual environment for our kids, why do we stop creating our own visual environment as adults?
As we get older we are constantly bombarded with images, words, and sounds telling us what to do, what to think and who to be. Over time, we find our lives being dictated by the marketing and rhetoric of others. Our vision, morals, and tenets become masked by messages from outside. So why not create our own social contract? What would that look like? One example may be having a vision board, a visual reminder of what we want to achieve. Taking this one step further may be taking the pictures from our vision board and putting them in their proper environment. For example, if we want to update our kitchen cabinets, we can tape a picture of our ideal cabinets to our current cabinets. This will help make our vision more of a reality.
Another example of creating our own environment is to know the top three principles for which we stand. Once we define those, we will never be at a loss as to how to respond. When we find ourselves needing to make a difficult decision, we can refer back to our principles. Our decision becomes easy because we choose the option that matches our principles.
Taking the time to create our own visual environment saves us much headache down the road. Creating our environment empowers us and allows us to be the unique force that changes the world.