Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs

We all have that “inner voice” . . . that internal feeling that serves as our moral compass. Taking the time to trust our heart and intuition, pressing pause and getting our minds right, is essential all in how we react to events we encounter.  

We must be discipline-driven. We must lead our lives with intentionality, on-purpose, and with skill. An essential component of getting above the line – an essential part living lives of discipline – is knowing what we believe in our inner core. Steve Jobs identifies this as “heart and intuition” – that voice, that when we take the time to press pause, knows what we truly want to become.

Be purposeful, yet courageous. Act with intentionality, but without a fear of failure. Build skills, and continue to embrace a growth mindset. We are on a journey together; trust your inner core.

Change Happens

Change Happens

“Things change. A great strategy works until it doesn’t. Sustainable success requires you to adjust & adapt.” – Tim Kight
Change is inevitable . . . just because it worked yesterday, doesn’t mean it is going to work today. This is why we can’t operate in a “command and control” environment. This is why “top down” leadership is, in most cases, not very effective. Leadership isn’t about giving directions. Leadership is about cultivating a direction. 

We need our people to own their 20 square feet. We need to be focused on common goals and aligned with expected behaviors. Change happens too quickly for the leaders to give orders; we need cultivate a culture where everyone in the organization is able to adjust and adapt.

Build your team, create a culture that encourages ownership, and let your team adjust and adapt. Your plan . . . your leadership . . . must be about building capacity, not building compliance.  

Speak Out about What Matters Most

On the day we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, it is only appropriate that he provides the inspiration for our thoughts this morning.
As public educators we are committed to the future; our work each and every day is predicated on a commitment to create a better future. The young people that sit in our classrooms are the future of our country. We are entrusted, we are morally obligated, to intentionally and purposefully mold our students into tomorrow leaders. Simply stated, we are the creators of tomorrow.
For too long we have permitted the media, politicians, and non-educators to dictate our path. For too long we have abdicated to those in power rather than expressing our expertise. For too long we have permitted a status quo, bottom-line approach to education. Too often we have remained silent . . . we have stepped down.
Public education is the future of our country; it is the silver bullet. We must stand-up and speak-out. We must share our passion for growth; we must embrace the productive discomfort needed to take education to the next level. These changes aren’t found in the halls of the Statehouse in Columbus or Congress in Washington, DC. The impetus for change is found with you . . . it is found in the classrooms of the Hilliard City Schools. You know what changes are necessary. It isn’t going to be easy; it isn’t going to be comfortable.
It is up to you. If it isn’t happening in you, it can’t happen through you. Our time is now . . . embrace the requisite discomfort . . . let’s blaze a new path together. We are done being silent about the things that matter most 


Simply Beautiful 

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. – Steve Jobs
As leaders, this message is incredibly important two reasons. First of all, it’s important for us in our own thinking. We need to press pause, get our mind right, and work hard to get our thinking clean. For us, that clean thinking is essential in the work we do. Secondly, we strive to lead others. Leadership is about service; it’s about motivating others to reach higher. It is much more effective to communicate the simple; it is easier for other to be motivated by simplicity.
Our work is simple. We want each student in our care to reach his or her highest potential. We want to personalize education – it is about the students in our buildings. Every student matters; every student deserves a personalized learning experience. 
I have your first challenge for the day . . . work hard to make the complex more simple. Today, when you press pause, take a moment as your get your mind right to simplify the problem. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

When do you push?

When do you push?

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. David Warren, President of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Dr. Warren marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. His narrative would bring you to tears; his passion is evident in every word he shares. In our conversation David asked, “Where do you find the place that you put your foot in the ground and push?”  

So I ask you, “Where do you find the place that you place your foot in the ground and push?”Do you push when I ask something of you that is makes your blood boil? Can you speak truth to power? Do you push when an adult is more concerned about comfort rather than students?

What does it take for you to put your foot in the ground?

From me to you . . . I want you to find the place where you push. I want you to be passionate, to be confident, and to be willing to push back. From education to leadership, from individual rights to curriculum, you should trust your inner core.  

When you press pause . . . when you get your mind right . . . what is your inner compass? Are you willing to place your foot in the ground and push?

We are a team; we are only as strong our collective commitment. When we are aligned, focused, and pushing together we can do anything. It all starts with you.

Pursue Your Passion

Pursue Your Passion

Do you love your job? Do you have passion for the work when you get up in the morning?

If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” how can you make changes? As Steve Jobs reminds us, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

I love my job. I am passionate about the work that we do together. I truly believe we are shaping the future; we are preparing thousands of young people to be successful in the future. As an educational leader, I am blessed with the opportunity to work with an exceptional team. I get to work with friends who inspire me, with colleagues who push me to be better, and with professionals who model true servant leadership. Honestly, there are a panoply of reasons that I am eager to get to work.

Nevertheless, there are parts of any job that challenge us. There are parts of my job that I don’t enjoy – there are tasks and responsibilities associated with being a superintendent that are simply work. You know what? It’s simply reality. I am sure the same is true for you; there are parts of your job that drive you crazy. There may be parts of your job – at given times and days – that the “grind” of your jobs clouds your passion for the work you love to do.

Today, when you encounter part of the job that brings you down – right now, as you reflect on the things that you may be dreading when you get to work – press pause. This is when it is most important to “get your mind right.” It is important to schedule time – to create opportunities – to do pursue your passion for the work. Do not permit “the work” to take the joy out of your day. It takes skill, it is intentional, and it is on purpose . . . feed your passion. Get out into a classroom . . . talk with a student . . . coach a teacher to be better. Regardless of the activity, take time each and every day to do what you love. It’s the only way to be great!

Let’s Invent Tomorrow

Ready for Tomorrow . . . It is on every building we enter; it is part of our official mission statement. We don’t espouse to have students “ready for yesterday.” We don’t strive to prepare these young people to be “ready for today.” We are preparing our students for jobs that may not even exist. We are teaching our students both academic and life skills; our students must be prepared with a solid foundation of academic skills, persistent in their approach, and relentless in their passion for growth.
Think about the changes in almost every aspect of your life over the past decade. From the doctor’s office to the post office, from the auto mechanic to bank, almost every aspect of our lives has been impacted by technology. We deposit check on our iPhones, we give our church offering online, and we monitor health information on a tablet. We order books online – and they instantaneously appear on our devices. We sync, link, and share data in nanoseconds. We can’t even imagine the world a decade from now . . . and that is the future for today’s students.
Change is challenging, but we are committed to embrace productive discomfort. Public schools are our country’s future; we are the dream makers for the next generation of American leaders. We need to step-up and step-out of our comfort zone. We need to examine how we organize and prepare students for the future. What prepared us to be adults in 2016 may not be the best to prepare students for 2026, 2036, and 2046. For us, it’s about our passion for growth. It’s about our commitment to learn new methods, explore new opportunities, and seek new paths.
Let’s celebrate our past, but realize it isn’t the path to the future. We must model a relentless pursuit of excellence.