1. Teacher Life

“Make Room on Your Plate”

I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Stephanie Rothstein on the “Innovator’s Mindset” podcast, and it was such an enjoyable experience. 

One of the ideas that she highlighted in our conversation was her idea of saying “yes” to ourselves! She talked about this extensively in her TedX Talk (which you can watch in full here), and it was something that has had me thinking since we first chatted. This quote especially resonated:

There are two things that I wanted to dig into deeper based on this conversation.

1. We can’t really help others unless we take care of ourselves.

I wrote the post “Saying ‘Yes’ To Yourself” in 2018, and I went to reread it after my conversation with Stephanie. In education, we are guilty of over-extending ourselves to help others, often to the detriment of ourselves. Of course, education is a servant profession, but there is only so much anyone can do, and eventually, we can end up hurting ourselves if we are not careful.  

I shared the following in the 2018 post:

Is it possible to say “no” to everyone? Absolutely not, nor should you. Too often though, educators end up saying yes to so many others, and we also sometimes pile more onto the educators that tend to say yes more often. It is almost a punishment for being reliable.  But we have to be able to filter to take care of ourselves.

In the article, “The 6 Questions I Ask Before I Say ‘Yes’ to Anything“, tips are provided on how to filter out what to say yes to, as there is only so much energy any one person can expend:

I began to think of myself every morning as a full cup of water (or cup of coffee, usually). Each effort I made that day was a drip out of that glass. When the glass was empty, I had nothing left to give for that day. With each action I took, I could mentally see the glass getting lower.

I became more selective about where I put my time and energy. Just as I might work with an accountant on allocating my funds for different projects I want to pursue, I wanted to direct my energy where it was needed. I wanted my glass each day to go toward things that meant something to me, not just because I felt like I had to say yes.

I have taken this advice seriously. I have noticed that I have said “no” a lot more lately, and although there comes a sense of guilt with it, I have also seen increases in my time, as well as my health and fitness.  I am not where I want to be, but I know that my output was coming at a cost that was leaving me with nothing when I most needed energy.

The demands for and of educators have gone up over the years, while the allocation of time in the school day has stayed the same.  If we try to do everything for everyone, eventually, we lose out on ourselves and are helpful to no one.

I read this from 2018 and realize I have taken this advice myself over the last two years, and I feel a lot better, both mentally and physically. I know that I spend a lot of my time helping others, but I have really focused on what and who is important in my life and always start from that point, instead of providing “leftover time” for which things and people matter most in my world.

Here is another quote from Stephanie in the podcast that emphasizes this point!

2. Do you believe in your own ideas and work?

Do you give yourself the same praise and kudos that you willingly give out to others?  We want people to believe in us, our work, and what we do, but that is a lot harder when in our own minds, we become our biggest detractors.

When I talked to Stephanie, I thought of this passage I wrote in “The Innovator’s Mindset“:

Resilience is a necessary trait for innovators, but it’s also a skill that all humans need to develop. Life is full of ups and downs. How you recover from failure and move forward is important to how you learn and how you live. As you push the edges of the norm with your innovative ideas, hold onto your conviction and passion. If you don’t believe in your idea, why would anyone else?

What can get misconstrued in this statement is people can give them a sense of false-hope or inflated-confidence. I interpret this idea to have the same expectations and give the same praise I am willing to give others to myself. 

When we look at it this way, it doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch.


You can listen to the whole podcast with Stephanie Rothstein on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify, or watch it on YouTube.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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