Feel like trying something new?

 
Photo credit: AOP Photography

Photo credit: AOP Photography

 
 

It might be just me, but sometimes trying something new feels a lot like making the choice to forget.

Forgetting in the sense of having familiarity with an experience but choosing to leave room for new discoveries anyway.

Since life isn’t a sci-fi movie, the likelihood that all of our memories will be wiped clean with a single swipe seems pretty low. But we might be craving a fresh start anyway - especially when we’re tackling hard conversations.

But how do we get a fresh start? Especially when we’re having a conversation that’s incredibly familiar (and that everyone seems to be having in one particular way)?

I wrestled with this as I was writing The Brave Educator. (I mean, really wrestled.)

How on earth am I supposed to write a book about navigating conversations about race in the classroom that feels like an invitation instead of a lecture?

How can I be practical, conversational, and inclusive without tip-toeing around pain?

I didn’t have clear-cut answers to these questions, so I had a choice:

Either I was going to try something new, or I wasn’t.

Which brought me to the real issue I was dealing with:

Was I willing to risk failing (in public) because I wasn’t sticking to the well-worn path?

If you’re anything like me, this fear might be beneath your resistance towards trying a new path in a difficult conversation too.

Failure is something we’ve managed to vilify as a culture - but I’m finding more and more that learning how to cope with failure (and the risk of failure) is an important step in find our way towards connection in difficult conversations.

We’ve got to be willing to forget how the conversation’s supposed to go so we can discover new ways it can go.

It might work. We might fail miserably. But either way we’ll learn something new - something we couldn’t have discovered any other way - because we were willing to wander down an unfamiliar path.