“So much with so little.”

This blog post is part of my personal challenge to take one quote from this beginning of the year compilation and dive deeper into what the quote means to me! This would be a great challenge for not only someone diving into blogging, but it could also be great for a podcast challenge as well. It would also be great for student prompts as well!

Check out the quotes from the January 2022 post, and if you decide to write or talk about one of them in-depth, please feel free to tag me on Instagram or Twitter (or both) to share your learning!

On to this week’s post!

This is a quick summary of my parent’s journey from Greece to Canada.

They both grew up during World War II and the Greek Civil War.

They eventually got on boats to travel across the Atlantic Ocean, not knowing if they would ever see any of their family again.

My parents came over with probably no more than $20 to their name.

They could not read, write, or speak, English or French.

They started working in restaurants as dishwashers, eventually owning a restaurant of their own for many years.

My mom had a grade 6 education, and my father had a grade 2 education.

Their four kids have seven college degrees, a combined 12 children of their own, and families that they love.

My parents did so much with so little.

So I often question myself, am I doing so little with so much more opportunity?

I think about the MASSIVE changes that my parents were willing to make to better their lives and the lives of their families and enrich all of the people they connected with and often think about the risks I am usually adverse to in my own life, which hold me back.

Their journey and lives have shaped a lot of my thinking in education.

It is why I often share the following about the idea of “risk”:

So as I am jumping in and about to take some significant risks in my life, I think about how do I help my kids and our students learn to be comfortable with change and risk-taking in their own lives?

I have to admit that my anxiety about my kids playing outside and on their own seems to be different from my parents as I grew up. I often wonder if they were more at ease with not knowing where I was sometimes because I didn’t have a phone, whereas now many parents, who can call and text their children any time, are more nervous even though they have more access? Does that anxiety get passed on to our kids and make them risk-averse? These are questions I often think about.

You often hear conversations about “kids these days,” followed by many complaints about a younger generation. Still, then I always think, if my kid is the problem, is that more of a reflection of who I am as a parent, they are as a kid or some variation of a combination of both?

As a young child, I remember my mom would tell me before going to any sports tournament, “How you act reflects your dad and me, so don’t embarrass us!” Straight to the point and point-taken, because I heard about it if I did mess up.

But that mantra is something that I think about with my children as a coach and teacher. The acts of each generation are more often a reflection of the community as a whole than the generation in isolation. Kids are not a direct reflection of their teachers, parents, or caregivers, but to say there is no influence over their actions would be discounting the impact of these adults on their lives, both good and bad.

And of course, we don’t want the bad.

I often find myself trying to protect my kids from my mistakes and teaching them how not to do the same thing, rather than sharing how I have found success and what I did to get there.

That includes taking risks. Trying new things. Getting comfortable with discomfort. And absorbing the lessons from my parents and the journey they ventured upon to make their lives better.

I learned from my parents that change is an opportunity to do something amazing. They never once said it to me, but they modeled it repeatedly.

I don’t think I could do what they did.

Move to another country, not knowing the language, with no money in place, and hope make the best of the opportunities placed in front of them.

Again, they did so much with so little. And although I did not know any of my grandparents, I am sure many of the things embodied in my parents was a reflection of them, both good and bad. The hope is to not only learn from the generation before, but to learn, apply, and make more of the opportunities placed in front of us and take advantage.

I want to teach my kids that doors will open in front of them, and they will have to figure out how to go through on their own, and sometimes it won’t work out the way they want. But that will not be the last door that will appear, so don’t be scared to go through again and again until you find the things that bring you purpose and joy.

I just wrote this to my daughters in a future email as I took a break from writing this post;

My parents taught me so much with all they learned, and I hope to pass on many of those lessons and more to my kids not so they can find my way but so they can find their own.

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George Couros

Innovative Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Consultant. I also like dogs.