A former colleague of mine once opined that “everyone loves change, until it changes what they love.” How true that is.

In musing over the past year, a couple of things came to mind: 1. How quickly it has passed, and 2. We’ve weathered (or are about to) some monumental changes affecting either us, or student transportation, or both.

As we travel through and deal with the inevitable fog and friction that change creates, it’s easy to lose sight of why we’re here; you or your people might even wonder out loud if what you do makes a difference.

Staff must have character
The late Gen. Robert H. Barrow, a highly decorated four-star general and 27th commandant of the Marine Corps, once said, “Success in battle is not a function of how many show up, but who they are,” implying the absolute necessity and value of having and developing people on our teams with personal character.

Barrow emulated that principle in his own life, and that trait inspired those who served under him, giving them the confidence they needed to follow those sometimes difficult “hold and die” orders in the heat of a battle without flinching.

Response to stress has an impact
While we’ll likely never be called upon to serve under the kind of harsh, life-threatening conditions that he did (though some days it might feel like it), the work that you and your drivers do so successfully each day may often come with stress.

In the face of ongoing cuts to school funding in general and transportation funding in particular nationwide, I get the feeling that public school transportation is not done being resized or reinvented. But as Orison Marden once said, “Success is not measured by what a person accomplishes, but by the opposition they have encountered and the courage with which they have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.”

While we can’t always control what happens to us, we can manage our responses by being a leavening agent for positive change in the lives of others.

What impression do you want to make?
Sir Humphry Davy once said that, “Life is not made up of great sacrifices and duties but of little things; smiles and kindness given habitually are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.”

I love that line, because it makes me think of what school bus drivers and bus attendants do every day. In spite of many challenges they face daily, they still put on that smile to greet “their” children on their bus to launch them into their day with something positive. What a great job they do!

A quote from Gail Pursell Elliott sums up the character of our service: “We touch the lives of others in ways we often never know. People sometimes come into our personal world for fleeting moments and can leave us forever changed. We have more power to create or to destroy than we can imagine. We can leave things or individuals better or worse than we found them.”

In other words, the decision is completely up to us as to what impression we want to leave others with. Rather than have your epitaph written on some cold piece of granite, why not “write it” on the hearts of others, where it will last a lifetime?

Phillip Haldaman is transportation supervisor for Dean Transportation Inc. in Traverse City, Mich. He is also the Region 5 representative for the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation.