Sunday, August 7, 2016

Using boundaries to succeed

As part of my summer reading, I came across the 1911 story of the expedition race to the sourth pole between Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott (in both Great by Choice by JIm Collins, & in Essentialism by Greg McKeown). Scott's team walked as far as possible on good days; resting up on bad days to conserve energy. Scott planned for best-case scenario, while hoping for ideal circumstances. Amundsen took a different approach. He stuck to a strict regimen of consistent progress by walking 20 miles every day, no matter the weather. He prepped for things to go wrong, and built slack and buffers into his plan.

One common goal. Two very different plans. Which one succeeded?

The team that took consistent action.

Scott had a goal, but unfortunately, he wasn't consistent in his dailly must-dos. The outcome was that not only did Scott's team fail, but members of his team also tragically died. Admundson and team successfully completed their journey to and back from the South Pole, the result of consistent action.

Accomplishments and success come as a result of the daily grind. What are the non-negotiables you will include as a part of your Daily 20? Those individuals that plan and act upon their daily priorities end up defining themselves. Those that don't are most likely defined by their work.

Much has been articluated and shared about the need to have passion for what you do, as it helps us to push to and beyond limits. But I think there is wisdom in having both a lower and upper limit. Baseline non-negiotables of what has to be done, while recognizing & honoring a daily stopping point to reserve passion, leaving you wanting more the next day. There appears to be great power, focus and healthy discomfort in working within these boundaries. As we are days away from the start of our 172-days school year, I'm excited what this focused approach could mean for meaningful learning.

What other implications can you think of for your leadership and learning?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

All In

Most of us who have ever heard of the great American leader Abraham Lincoln will recall what he said of his mother: “All that I am, all that I hope to be, I owe to my Angel mother.” (in Abraham Lincoln’s Philosophy of Common Sense, ed. Edward J. Kempf, 1965) But do you know what his mother’s last words to him were? They were “Be something, Abe.”
Simple but powerful terms, and such wise counsel, “Be something.” She didn’t say, “Be someone.” She said, “Be something, Abe.” There is a significant difference. In the dictionary someone is defined as “conceived or thought of, but not definitely known,” while something is identified as “a person or thing of importance.” Abraham Lincoln’s mother knew her son, his potential, and the rocky roads ahead of him; hence, she wanted him to commit himself promptly to being steadfast and immovable in living and promoting deeds of courage and faith in the lives of all mankind.
Marvin Ashton wrote: "A word of hope is poured out on every generation of people by those who advocate accomplishment, an exemplary life, living up to one’s abilities, and keeping one’s commitments. True happiness is not made in getting something. True happiness is becoming something. This can be done by being committed to lofty goals. We cannot become something without commitment."
Karate Kid came out when I was a teenager. In the movie, Mr Miyagi provided some words of wisdom concerning commitment. Commitment isn't a "guess so." It really is an all or none-

Commitment as a word cannot stand alone either. We must always ask, “Committed to what?” As all of us blend into education and learning, it behooves us to set goals for ourselves in order to reap growth. In setting our own goals we need to examine our own needs and abilities, which is part of modeling the growth mindset. The direction in which we are moving is more important than where we are at the moment. Goal setting should cause us to stretch as we make our way. Self-examination is most difficult. Surveys have shown that most people take credit for success to themselves, but blame their failures on external forces or other people. When our progress seems to be at a standstill, it is well for us to ask who is at fault. Is it I? Am I sufficiently committed? Do I have the courage, fortitude, and wisdom to apply self-examination—or will I be inclined to try and decide which of my associates will fail?
Dale Carnegie once said, “If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be.”
I’m thinking of a five-year-old boy who fell out of bed during the night and came crying to his mother’s bedside. To her question, “Why did you fall out of bed?” he replied, “I fell out because I wasn’t in far enough!” It has been my experience over the years that, generally speaking, those who falter are those who aren’t in far enough. They lacked commitment. They weren’t “all in.”

The difference between those committed and those who are not is the difference between the words want and will. For example, “I want to my students to be successful, but their home lives are so sad,” or “I will support the success of all my students.” “I want my staff to grow,” or “I will provide meaningful learning experiences for my staff.” “I want to be a good teacher, but the children are so disrespectful,” or “I will be a good teacher.”
Please add to the discussion. What words are you expressing as a want that needs to be turned into will? How will be commit and be all in?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Random lessons

I have become comfortable in being constant in failure. That is not to mean I haven't had successes; I've been blessed in that regards - better than I deserve. Redefining failure may be necessary. It is failure to arrive at a level I am completely satisfied with that I'm driving at. Recognize the beauty in this mindset: it provides a permanent fresh start, a constant revitalization, and a regular newness. While some may say that life is tough enough without seeking challenges and great growth, there are greater opportunities and successes when purposeful collisions are created. In the attempt to enjoy the ride along and between failures and success, I share a few personal lessons I've learned or picked up along the way (in no particular order)-

*Defeats and victories go hand-in-hand. They are meant to co-exist.

*Nothing disrupts my comfort zone like being with challenging situations or people. It is the discomfort, the uncertainty and the challenge - all the things that many of us spend time and energy avoiding - that keep me relevant and in the game.

*Encourage the people you find challenging, and do it sincerely. Your actions say more about you.

*Few things are as therapeutic as swearing (this purposefully follows working with challenging situations and/or people)

*There is more to life than my life. Or yours.

*We are more than our position in our classrooms, schools and work. Define your role; don't be defined by your role. 

*Express your gratitude and appreciation for others. Tell them why. It's a win for them and a win for you-

*Be kind. Kick ass. Repeat.

*Be especially kind to our children and students. Besides setting up the future generation for success, one day you are going to be admitted into a home, and you want a good home.

*When it comes to learning, relationships and content are both important. So is the order.

*It is not enough to be good; you must be good for something.

*Know your why. Know you are why.