Friday, July 30, 2021

Sometimes, It Takes Hitting Rock Bottom to Realize You Were Born to Soar!


I don't know who this is for, but I hope it benefits someone....and in full disclosure, this message started out as a simple Facebook post, but as it got unintentionally lengthier than I intended for it to be, I decided to turn it into a blog post.

I have been walking in my dream as a self-employed, independent, unaffiliated, national education speaker, consultant and author for ten years now. At the age of 50, I left my purpose as a principal ten years ago to walk into my passion as a trainer of principals. The springboard to getting here however was my 6-year tenure as the principal of Newark Tech HS in Newark, NJ...the best 6 years of my professional life. Prior to my arrival to Newark Tech in the fall of 2005, I had hit rock bottom professionally. When I say "rock bottom," I mean ROCK BOTTOM...which had an obvious adverse impact on me emotionally. In today's lexicon, we would say that my mental health took a significant hit. I was not well...at all. I was in bad shape. I was on the verge of losing everything I worked so hard for over the previous 17 years...and I was on the verge of a breakdown emotionally, because I dared to "go against the grain" professional. I dared to do certain things my way which I felt strongly were best for children...decisions I don't regret one iota today and if given the same circumstances again, I would proceed in a similar fashion. Said differently, we all have principles that we stand beside but the true test to your commitment to your principles is when they are challenged. Mine were challenged and it almost cost me my career.

My point - there's someone out there reading this blog post who's either at rock bottom or on a downward spiral toward approaching rock bottom. Rock bottom isn't always a bad place though. For me, it was the absolute best thing that could have happened to me both professionally and personally...a blessing in disguise. It forced me to dig deep into my soul to locate....to identify...to find aspects of me that I didn't know existed. I was "comfortable" for a long time...TOO COMFORTABLE...but this experience forced me to become "uncomfortable with being comfortable and comfortable with being uncomfortable." I had no solid Plan B. Yes, I was a public speaker on the side, but not to the extent of making a career of it. I was on my backside now. I was literally suspended from my principalship - I was a local news story (television, radio and print) and my termination hearing was the following week. I'M TALKING TO SOMEONE OUT THERE....I STOOD FIRM ON WHAT I BELIEVED WERE THE RIGHT DECISIONS FOR CHILDREN....I STOOD FIRM BESIDE MY PRINCIPLES...AND NEARLY LOST IT ALL.I remember it like it was yesterday...September 22, 2004...the school board voted unanimously...7 to 0 that the decisions and actions that I took in question were appropriate and that I be reinstated immediately. Again, I stood firm by my principles.

At the end of that school year, I transferred to a school district that I knew nothing about and became for the first time, a high school principal. What an experience it was. It gave me a reset. It gave me a new lease on life professionally. I found a fit where I truly belonged. I was able to be "Principal Kafele." Those six years at Newark Tech were the springboard to the work I have been doing over the past ten years, but in order to get here, I had to leave the situation that was taking a toll on my mental health. Newark Tech was my cure. My mental health and that situation were not compatible and something had to give. I made what turned out to be a life-changing decision...to start all over in a place where I had peace of mind.

I'M TALKING TO SOMEONE OUT THERE TODAY. Someone reading this essay is going through something. Someone reading this essay has been challenged. Someone reading this essay is being tested. Someone reading this essay is contemplating quitting, giving up or throwing in the towel. Someone reading this essay is contemplating walking away from your dream...your purpose...your passion. Someone reading this essay feels that they have hit rock bottom....a point of no return. My response to you is WAIT...STOP...HOLD ON! Rock bottom isn't always a bad place. Sometimes, rock bottom is the blessing you were waiting for but it came to you in a disguise. That situation you are in just might not be the right situation for you but you needed to hit rock bottom in order for you to realize it. There is so much more in you. There is so much more to you. There is so much more for you. There are so many gifts and talents that are laying dormant within you that you haven't identified or unleashed yet. There are so many people in the world waiting for you to soar in another direction....a new direction...directly toward them...people who NEED YOU! That situation you are currently in doesn't have to be your final definition of who you are. It is time for you to redefine yourself. It is time for you to pursue a new breakthrough. It is time for you to blossom into your fullness....but you might not be able to do it there.

Hey somebody out there, if I am in fact speaking to you, GET UP OFF OF YOUR BACKSIDE, start writing your new goals, devise and write your new strategy and begin to walk in it everyday in the spirt of a RENEWED YOU. Get yourself a trusted accountability partner too. Start this process right after you finish reading this essay. Don't put it off for another second. Procrastination is the enemy of all pursuits. Start today....RIGHT NOW and do know that the road will be bumpy at times, but that's okay. That's just life. Keep your eyes fixated on the prize. And realize that "flying" was always in you, but sometimes, it takes hitting rock bottom for us to fully realize that we were all born to soar in the first place.

5 comments:

  1. I was there until a very good friend made mention, you're not the same person I met 16 years ago. You used to be more outgoing, a hustler a go-getter. What happened to her? I honestly didn't know what happened. I was just going through the emotions to make it through the day. I was out of work, bills pulling up, I was losing control. No, retrack that, I lost control.
    After the what happened to you talk, I stopped filling out applications and started calling those schools hiring and speaking positive affirmations to myself.
    I have three positive interviews next week with the superintendents.
    I'm in my way UP !!!

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  2. Thanks for listening to The Higher Power because I felt as if HE were talking to me. I was employed with a school district for over 20 years ( 17 yrs as a sub and 7 years as a Special Educarion Teacher. I went through a similar situation like this last year. I Was falsely accused by some aides who were trouble- makers ( they were transferred to my class on purpose because the staff in my class were effective and we didn't have any issues, so the administrators separated us). Anyhow, the ring leader was upset with me because I told her not to bring a quiji board in my class and to stop discussing "mediums". ( my students have enough issues and don't need to be fighting no demonic spirits). I'm very protective over my students. She convinced the other aides, mind you, they took started plotting against me and I was watching as it unfolded. I had to be investigated by Child Protective Services and The Hammond Police Department, in which ALL allegations was found to be " unsubstantiated". I had full support of parents, students, colleagues, and the community, but I still had to go in front of the board. It wasn't unanimous (1 to 5) and that 1 person is African American ( all others were Europeans). They broadcasted it on You Tube as they terminated my contract...yes! Publicly ridiculing me ( but they allowed me to continue to be on the payroll until the end of the school year so that was a Blessing!). The union pretended to represent me, but they were in cahoots. I couldn't afford my own lawyer. I believe they agreed with the aides so it would be an excuse for them not to to pay me out for early retirement...because it was sure coming up last November. Every time I thought about leaving that school, new students came into my class ( was teaching 3rd-5th) and I kept getting attached..Then here I go again saying" after these students, I'm gone!". That didn't happen so my Creator spoke to me ( like I was standing right there in HIS face) and said, " Don't get comfortable!".I didn't understand what HE meant but I remember how HE told us to "Watch", so my antennas went up and I saw a variety of situations unfolding in plain sight, then when one of my autistic students came over to my desk and gave me a kiss on my cheek( mind you, he doesn't want anybody ever touching him, except for his mom so I knew something had to be up if he, of all people, came to give me a kiss on the cheek?)I felt that was a sign so I prepared myself, mentally for what I was bout to endure. I haven't been employed since the last school year because it sort of took a toll on me. I'm BLESSED to have the Faith that I had and have. If I didn't that could have been the start of depression, and that's not a part of my genetic make-up, so I had to press forward. I'm scheduling interviews now and I know HIS WILL shall be done! I did take advantage of the time I had off because everyone went on lockdown anyway and I was able to assist my children with the e learning process. The administrators wanted me out of the classroom, my Creator shut the whole country down and none of them were able to return to the classroom or building for a long while and I got paid to sit at home). They don't understand that I'm a child of The Most High and nobody on or in this earth can break me! I felt as if I hit rock bottom, but I had to keep uplifting myself and praying. I prayed for guidance and on yesterday, I was specific with The Most High and asked HIM to show me what I needed to do ( I was very specific), then I got on FB this afternoon and saw your post. Could you imagine the look on my face and the joy in my heart? I was overflowing with tears because I know this was confirmation.There is more to this, but I wanted to put this out there because it probably wasn't just me that your essay touched. All I do know is that I asked and I received! Keep being an inspiration to others and letting HIM use you!

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  3. Principal Kafele, I had never heard of you before this evening. My casual browsing of Facebook groups brought me to a young man that was inspired to consider teaching. After responding to him, I quickly visited your blog to find out who you were. I can honestly say I am grateful for visiting. I am currently working at a school that previously fired me wrongfully...under new leadership. I believe in the principles, values and love at this school, so much in fact that my children have attended since 2012(I have 5). When I returned, I returned under new leadership as principal, same superintendent. I was intentional about my decision to go back and stayed committed to my purpose of nurturing, teaching, inspiring and loving children...children who looked like and I could instill a deep sense of cultural pride and communal responsibility. I am thankful because I am now in a place to teach and mentor young teachers who want to do the same. Mr. Kafele, I don't know where you were in 2000 when I taught my first Spanish class uncertified at a charter school, but I am abundantly grateful for discovering you and your wisdom in 2021.
    Peace Love and Light to All Who Are Called & Dedicated to Educate

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  4. Oh and by the way, my principal has replace the superintendent, my mentor has been promoted to principal and I am the Curriculum and Instruction Department lol

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