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As I sit staring out at Read House on Harvard University’s Campus I think back on what I have learned at their Future of Learning Conference. I enjoyed the workshops and lectures. I listened to some of the best educational minds speak about what we can do to provide our kids opportunities to live healthy and happy lives. They read poetry, danced, and spoke cross-legged from expensive armchairs. They all were engaging. You could see how comfortable they were in front of so many. For most of us that sounds terrifying but to them it looked like they were in their natural state. 

I think they were comfortable because they were engrossed in what they love. They needed no scripts or prompters, just spoke and moved from their hearts. Watching them got me excited about the road ahead. And it wasn’t because I loved their poetry or dyslexia lectures but how they shared their passions. They were contagious.

When I think of the word contagious, I don’t think of the flu but of a student in my life. He is nine and sometimes doesn’t like doing his schoolwork. Like all students, he gets frustrated when learning new things. This spring I told him the power of smiling, how it makes you feel, and that it is “contagious”, “like the plague”. He didn’t believe me. “No way Mr. Williams!” he said. But now I have an ever-growing body of evidence that smiling is in fact contagious. I thank him for it. When I noticed he needed a bit of a break, I’d come over to his desk, lower myself down to his eye level, start with a bit of a grin and slowly let a smile grow across my face. He’d say “No way Mr. Williams it’s not going to happen today!” But then, all at once, like a switch was flipped, his shoulders dropped, head fell back,  he’d take a big sigh, and a giant smile appeared on his face.  Smiling is contagious! 

I ask you to reflect on what you are spreading. Hopefully it is not the plague! Enjoy your Monday and the week ahead.