Focus on the goose and the golden eggs will take care of themselves

Teachers are like geese

Let me explain…

In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the author Steven Covey tells the old story of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

If you’ve never heard it before, it goes something like this: a farmer has a goose that lays one golden egg each day. The farmer is understandably happy about this, and over time the goose’s golden eggs make him rich.

But, the farmer begins to get greedy and impatient. He doesn’t want to wait 24 hours for each subsequent golden egg. So he decides to kill the goose and get all the golden eggs out at once!

Alas, when he cuts open the goose, there is nothing inside. It is only then that he realises his mistake: without the goose there will be no more golden eggs.

The P – PC Balance

Steven Covey then goes on to explain a concept that I find quite useful when thinking about preventing burnout. It is the ability to balance production (P) with the capability to produce (PC — production capability).

The greedy farmer was so obsessed with increasing the production of the golden eggs, that he ruined forever the production capability of the goose.

There are many times in life when the need for balance between production and production cabalitity is obvious.

We charge our phones (PC) so we can go on using them (P). We know that our cars won’t get very far (P) without a tank of petrol (PC) and a mechanical service every 6 months (PC).

Our gardens need watering and fertilising (PC) in order to grow the flowers and vegetables we enjoy so much (P).

Teachers are the geese that lay golden eggs

The golden eggs are the magic that teachers create everyday, in and out of the classroom.

The teaching and learning, the assessing and reporting, the guiding and the helping.

Teachers make a real difference!

And the education system is addicted to that difference.

As a result, it has turned into a greedy farmer, asking for more and more production without considering the production capability of the ones who are producing, the ones who are making that difference.

However, unlike the goose that laid the golden egg, there isn’t just one. So when one teacher burns out and leaves the system, another steps up to take their place.

But the system never stops to consider the long term consequences of metaphorically killing so many geese…

Prioritise your own P – PC balance

It is absolutely imperative that as teachers we begin to prioritise our own P-PC balance.

Most of us got into this profession because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of the young people we work with. If we want to be able to continue to do that as effectively as possible over the long term, we can’t wait for the farmer to wake up and take better care of his priceless goose because by then it may be too late.

Self-care and the P-PC balance are crucial to your ongoing success as a teacher, and to your wellbeing as a person.

Identify the ‘golden eggs’ that you produce and then make a plan to protect your capability to produce them over the long term.

You’re a goose! I mean that in the nicest way, honestly. Do you want more tips to help you keep on producing golden eggs? The Self-Care for Teachers newsletter is a weekly reminder that you are a person first and a teacher second.