In honor of the 240th anniversary of the America’s Declaration of Independence from Britain, I too shall declare myself independent:

I no longer consent to be governed by the tyranny of the status quo!

The status quo is the common path, the “way things are;” it is an undercurrent of expectation urging us to do things the way things are done.  No need to stray from the path, no need to rock the boat.  Education is fine the way it is! A place for everything and everything in its place.  It’s a powerful force whose only goal is maintain predictability.

But… don’t we want to change? We want to grow, create and originate and that’s not possible if you don’t begin to behave a little unpredictably. You can’t do everything the way you always have and expect different results.  It just doesn’t work (it is not, however, insanity).

To truly create positive change in the education system, your school or your life, you must let go of the expectations that create the status quo.

Let go of the expectations.


The world is full of expectations. They come from our cultures, our families, our friends and our communities.  These expectations are the currents that shape our place in society. Look closely at anything and you’ll see that there are expectations pushing and pulling at you at all times.  For example:

  • How does your day unfold?  For some the day starts early and ends early; dinner begins at 6:30 and everyone is asleep by 10pm. European countries typically eat dinner after 9pm.  People in Spain come home and rest between noon and 2pm.
  • How do you interact with others? If you live in a major city you probably don’t make eye contact with people you pass on the street.  If you live in a smaller town, you probably make small talk with most people who cross your path.
  • What does it mean to be in a family? In some families it means sharing your feelings while in others it means doing things together. For some “family” is a loose association while for others it means a tight knit, intertwined relationship.  For some “family time” brings to mind time with a nuclear family of parents and kids while for others it raises images of gathering with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Stop for a second and ponder- are any of these options better than the rest? Not really.  They all seem generally fine and are, for some people, completely normal.

Now, think about your own life- how often do you deviate from “your way?” Probably not that often. And yet, it is entirely up to you how you go about your day, interact with others or conduct your family life! You could push yourself to make more eye contact even though you live in a major city if you want to make more friends. You could talk with your kids about feelings if you prefer that to the activity focused family you grew up in.  You can replace those expectations with your own commitments… and still be completely normal.

Today is Independence Day, a day when we honor the truly unlikely act of a colony declaring itself sovereign from a global super-power.  If 13 scrappy colonies can free itself from the most powerful country in the world, we can create the life we want to lead!  Examine the expectations that are guiding your behavior and take a critical eye to the routines and habits that form the contours of your day in and out of the classroom.  Are they serving you?  If not, let’s work to redesign them.

Let’s replace expectations with commitments, rigidity with flexibility and mindlessness with mindful observation.  Let’s declare independence from the status quo! 

Speaking of letting things go, Lin-Manuel Miranda is leaving Hamilton: An American Musical!  The music from Hamilton has been my constant soundtrack while I’ve launched this website and Lin-Manuel Miranda has been a beacon of true artistry and perseverance that has truly been an inspiration.  To honor this EGOT earning genius as he exits stage left, social media posts this week will feature lyrics from Hamilton. 🙂

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor_ %22Winter is dead.”-2

About the author

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist and business coach who helps accidental entrepreneurs get more clients and have a bigger impact. She is the author of Great Work, the host of the Unleashing Your Great Work podcast, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda's TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED's Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.