Art Abelmann: Staying focused on our goals
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
In high school, the time between the Thanksgiving holiday and winter break can be challenging. Students are exposed to more than the usual number of distractions. Staying focused becomes more difficult.
It should come as no surprise that the same applies to faculty and administrators. What this time does provide is an opportunity to consider exploring the use of a unique set of tools to help manage one’s own attention and awareness. What better time of year to gain an understanding of how to be more focused, productive and on task than during the busy holiday season?
As principal, some of what is all too often presented to me are the many distractions that keep us from being in control of our own will, beliefs and attention. Through a series of recent courses, I have learned a set of tools worth sharing with students, teachers and the extended community.
One’s own attention is perhaps one of the most valued commodities we have. Having recently studied and experienced taking control of the will, or the power to decide and direct one’s own attention, is powerful enough to warrant sharing it. There is no better place to help others learn the same set of tools than in the high school setting. Learning about will teaches the ability to decide, direct, place, focus or shift one’s attention.
The most enjoyable lesson to reflect on is to examine if your experiences are affected by your beliefs. Are your beliefs shaped by your experiences, or are your experiences shaped by what you believe? We are each in control of our own beliefs. It is possible to create them as you want. Therefore, we can create any experience to be as we want or believe it to be.
While becoming familiar with these tools I spoke with high school students from near and far. Students from Aspen and students from New Zealand. Students from Great Britain and from China, Japan and Korea. Imagine a high school student sharing with fellow students from far corners of the globe the ability to learn how to manage their attention, to increase their will power and to restructure their beliefs.
For the student who is challenged to stay on task or to continue to meet their goals, these tools allow him/her to shift their attention and create success. For the adult who is overwhelmed with the stresses of work, home and family, applying the tool to shift their attention alleviates stress. For each of us, the simple understanding that we create our beliefs, and that we can control what we create our experiences to be, will make us more happy, productive and relaxed.
Starting this winter, the language of these tools and skills will be shared with the community of Aspen High School. When correctly learned and applied, these lessons unravel many of the limitations we place on ourselves and find in the human experience. The potential for creating an unlimited learning environment is endless.
As an education leader, it is exciting to take steps to stretch our understanding of what are the best lessons we can share with our students and each other. Teaching our students to align their beliefs with the goals they want to accomplish, teaching our students to feel more secure about their own abilities, teaching our students how to be in control of their attention, and teaching our students how to have more control so they can conduct their own lives in a successful manner …
What could be more important than that?
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Aspen City Council’s recent actions are proof that you get what you pay for, argues Elizabeth Milias in her Red Ant column this week.