The Hard Knock Life

There is much symbolism around the idea of a door.  Doorways represent transitions from one place to another.  The doorway is where our guests are welcomed into a home or a school.  The doorway is where first impressions are made. Our language is sprinkled with idioms alluding to the significance of doors:

  • When one door closes, another one opens
  • Showing somebody the door
  • To get one’s foot in the door

As we celebrate graduations and students begin to walk out of our school doors and prepare to enter other doors in the fall, it is important to let them acknowledge the mix of emotions that come along with those changes. When students leave elementary school, it’s a bittersweet moment for many of them.  While they have excitement about what awaits them in middle school, many are equally nervous about being the new students on campus. That feeling of anxiousness is absolutely normal and will gradually turn to excitement as the first day of middle school draws closer.

As I spoke to my students and their families yesterday at our 5th grade Honor’s Luncheon, I recounted an experience I had that helped me learn 5 valuable lessons for life.  Unlike most of my classmates, my Saturday mornings were typically spent going from door to door teaching from the Bible and sharing and discussing religious publications.  After a hard knock on the door there were those moments of uncertainty.  Will they answer?  Who will answer?  How will they respond?

Here’s what that experience taught me:

Persistence:  Sometimes in life you will have to knock more than once before a door will open.  Whether it’s a job you interview for, a scholarship you pursue, or a team you try out for, you have to be able to bounce back if things don’t happen the first time.  Be persistent, patient, and attentive.

Preparation:  Once the door opens, be ready.  Know what you will say and deliver it like you believe it.  Review your notes.  Practice in the mirror.  First impressions are powerful, so make sure that you make the best of those first few seconds when the door of opportunity opens.

Probability:  The odds are that some doors will not open for you.  Every opportunity you pursue in life will not be successful.  Accept that and move forward.

Persona:  The moment of truth was the moment when a classmate opened the door.  I learned that your best self at the door had to be parallel to your best self at the school. Avoid the confusion of having to play different characters in different contexts.  Be you all the time.

Poise:  Be self-confident and willing to receive new information. Understand that sometimes the person the other side of the door may possess a perspective or information to take you further or deeper than you ever imagined. Be aware that at times people will say harsh things to elicit a response. Take the high road.

Go out there and walk up those steps.  Your best life is waiting on the other side of the door.  Knock hard.



Decadence is (5)

André Benito Mountain is an educator and writer whose work has been featured in Education Week, Washington Principal Magazine, Curriculum in Context, and TEACH Magazine.  He is the author of The Brilliance Beneath: The Power of Perspective in Urban Schools.  His forthcoming book, The Mountain Principles, captures lessons in learning and leading for educators and leaders.


Published by Andre Benito Mountain

Andre Benito Mountain is an elementary principal in the metro-Atlanta area. He is the founder of Def-ED Clothing and the author of The Brilliance Beneath (2016), "The Mountain Principles" (2018) and "Principals Don't Walk on Water" (2020) . His forthcoming book is "Virtually Lost" (2021).

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