"Determination is focusing your energy and efforts on a particular task and then sticking with it until it is finished. Determination is using your will power to do something even when it isn't easy. It means you care about something so much that even when it is really hard, or you are being tested, you still keep going."
-excerpts from the Virtues Cards with permission of The Virtues Project™
The following story about determination comes from high school special ed. teacher and Virtues Project Facilitator Lesley Shams, of Port Alberni, BC, Canada:
"I have a special needs student who generally has difficulty coping with situations in her life. Any changes in her routine are really hard for her. Anyway, this semester she is in a regular P.E. class and she's my only student in a regular P.E. class – we generally do our own P.E. She's doing really well because she is capable of meeting the expectations there.
On Thursday, the day after our facilitator's training, I noticed that she looked like she was going to cry. So I approached her and asked her if she needed to talk. She said yes and we went to a quiet room. I waited and let her talk to me.
She explained a little bit about what was happening and cried lots. I let her talk and it was really hard – it is hard for her to express herself. I could see that she was watching me, almost as if she was wondering why I was just sitting there listening instead of rescuing her and solving the problem, as I've done in the past. I waited longer, and she said more and cried more.
The situation was that the students in the P.E. class had gone for a run in the forested area around the school. She had gotten lost, she was all by herself and she got scared and cried. She eventually found her way out of there and joined her class. I don't even remember what I asked her then, but she took it as an opening to solve the problem – she said she would get another student to run with her so she wouldn't get lost. Then she said whoever would be willing to run with her would probably have to go slower – she recognized that the other student would basically be sacrificing their run to help her out. And she concluded by saying she would talk to her teacher and let him know what she had figured out.
I asked her what support she would need and she said none. I acknowledged her determination to figure it out herself and she was just beaming. The tears had turned into a glorious smile. She was so proud that she had done it herself. And so was I. Later, she came back to tell me that she had talked to her teacher and everything was ok now. I am so amazed and awestruck at the power of this work!"
This story also demonstrates the power of Spiritual Companioning™, the deep listening technique that helps someone find her own clarity or resolve her own problem. Spiritual Companioning is the 5th strategy of The Virtues Project. I'd also like to acknowledge Lesley for her detachment in letting this student resolve her own problem, without jumping in to solve it for her!
Questions for reflection:
- When have I used determination to stick with a task until it's finished?
- What helps me to focus my energy and efforts on a task?
- How have my family members, students, or colleagues practiced determination lately?
- What accomplishment am I most proud of, and how did determination help me?