Positive Action, Positive Vision

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.” – Dalai Lama
What is your vision?
In your inner core, in your heart-of-hearts and soul-of-souls, why do you do what you do?You must know why you do what you do. I can’t imagine coming to work each day merely to follow a playbook or script. I can’t imagine coming to work each day simply to do what I’m told – or to follow a plan.
What do you believe? Is it in alignment with our values, behaviors, and outcomes?
Written or unwritten – do you have a vision statement? If not, why? As a professional, what is your vision?
If you don’t have one as of today take the time and have one by tomorrow – at least a draft – to turn your vision into action.

Positive Thinking

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking.” – Zig Ziglar
We’ve committed to eliminate blame, complain, and defend from our lives. We confidently believe that blaming, complaining, and defending has never solved a problem, improved a relationship, or made us better.  
Along those same lines – negative thinking has never solved a problem, improved a relationship, or made us better. The state of being negative is toxic to our organization. Negativism breeds apathy, hate, and jealousy. Negativism leads to broken relationships, gossip, and loss of focus. You know it! There is no place for debate.
So today, when your find yourself being negative, purposefully, intentionally, and relentlessly pursue humor. When you want to complain – find a way to laugh. When you want to frown – find a reason to smile. When you find yourself having negative self-talk, go to your happy place and replace it with positive self-talk. Stay above the line – stay positive. It will make everything better. 

Confidently Serve

CS Lewis expressed, “Humble people don’t think less of themselves; they just think of themselves less.”
Leaders are servants.  
Leaders matter . . . Leaders are the catalysts for successes.
Leaders model the behavior that drives the culture; leaders set high expectations and then support everyone in the organization to exceed those expectations.
Leaders empower others to do more, to reach higher than they think they can do.
As a leader you must have confidence in yourself. You must have an unchangeable core. You must have character, create connections, and demonstrate competence. Leaders serve with faith in – and dedication to – a bigger purpose.
Leaders are focused, aligned, and driven. Humility isn’t lack of confidence; humility is dedicating your talents to the success of others.  
Think about those who you serve – humbly dedicate yourself to confidently serve your team.

Win Each Day

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” – Lyndon Johnson

When I rest my head on the pillow each night I do so with the hope that I’ve done my level best to serve our students, teachers, and staff. I make mistakes, but I strive to learn from them. I don’t always get it right; there are times I fall below the line. There are times I fail to press pause, times I act out of impulse or on autopilot.
When I wake each morning, I have hope. Each new day is an opportunity to live, learn and serve. While I know I will make mistakes, I will relentlessly strive to be excellent. Each day, I have an opportunity to be elite. Each day, I can use my God-given abilities to shape the future.
So today, this very morning, get your mind right. Today is yours to win or lose. You will fail . . . you will fall down . . . and you will get back up. Win today, win each moment, win each event.
And tomorrow you will have the chance to be even better!

Thinking Together

In How Google Works Eric Schmidt shares the following, “Getting people to say yes in a meeting doesn’t mean you have agreement, it means you have a bunch of bobbleheads.”
Many of us are consensus driven . . . we believe that building consensus for an idea means people are adopting it. Yes, building true consensus is great. But building consensus doesn’t simply mean getting others to adopt your idea. True leaders build consensus in their willingness to come together. In Latin, consensus is cum, meaning “together with” and sentire, meaning “to think or feel.” Building consensus isn’t about getting everyone to agree with a specific plan. It is a willingness to create a feeling together. 
We must create this feeling in our organizations. You – as the leaders – must encourage openness and cultivate an environment that encourages everyone to speak their mind. Each voice – each person within their 20 square feet – must understand not only the acceptance, but the expectation that they are part of each solution. Elite organizations aren’t top down . . . they encourage discussion.  
Having a bunch of bobbleheads in a meeting – that then leave and complain – isn’t consensus building. It can’t be about saying “yes.” It has to be about feeling “yes.” What can you do to foster creativity and collaboration within your team? There is no better time to start than today!

Faster Horses

“The most serious mistakes are not being made as the result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.” – Peter Drucker
Henry Ford is quoted as saying before he built the first car, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Asking people what they want is often the wrong question. Steve Jobs frequently talked about creating devices people would want before they even knew they wanted them.  

Public education is a tough gig . . . we want parent and community involvement, but we are often asking the wrong questions. We must ask voters for revenue, so we want them to be happy, but they are not the educational experts. Our parents aren’t futurists, economists, or employment experts. By in large, our parents want school to look like school when they were in school. The problem is, we are asking the wrong questions.
We should be asking questions about future employment, about success five years after graduation, and about sustainable growth models. We shouldn’t be asking questions about static information. We must be asking questions about growth mindsets, embracing productive discomfort, and relentless pursuit of excellence.
As educational leaders, we must step up, adjust and adapt, and purposefully work to frame the right questions. Just as it would have been a shame if Henry Ford had sought a way to build faster horses, it would be a shame if we found a way to better prepare students for success in 1999.

Finding a Way

“Determine the thing that can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln
As educational leaders we often find ourselves seeking balance. We have innumerable wants and needs, but limited resources and time.
We’d like to reduce class sizes, we’d like to provide more intervention support, and we’d like to have more resources available for struggling students. Our want lists seem to be unending, but the budget is a constant constraint. We want to do more, but time is a limited resource. We must constantly prioritize important opportunities knowing something isn’t going to get done.
We must be purposeful in our thinking. We must continue to push what we can and shall do. We can’t take no as the answer. Finding a way will often mean doing things differently – being innovative and creative. We must model resilience, grit, and determination.  
If you are passionate, if you are purpose driven, if you are disciplined you will find a way to get done what needs to be done. You will find a way to make what matter most, matter the most.

Experience Life

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” – Soren Kierkegaard 

If we think about the challenges we face each day as a laundry list of problems, life itself becomes a drag. Life is filled with obstacles, with challenges, and with opportunities. Each and every day we are faced with events. Each and every day we respond – either with discipline or by default – to the events.  

We experience life; we live in the real world. Our society, our world as educators, is incredibly complex. Each encounter we have, each relationship we build, is unique. We strive to respect individual differences and to create experiences in our lives. Each experience, each relationship, provides opportunities for growth and reflection. Each experience gives us a chance to pursue our passion for growth.

Take the time to engage others and build relationships. Without engagement and consultation we struggle, but when we engage and seek advice we find success. Take the time to experience life . . . experience the joy and understanding of life itself.

Life isn’t about getting others to agree with us . . . life is about interacting and living with others. We must have purpose and clarity in our lives – both personal and professional. In my unchangeable core I believe that we are social beings; I believe that we are called to be together to serve a greater purpose than ourselves. Together, through shared experiences, each of us has the opportunity to grow, learn and to strengthen our resolve.



Put Energy in Solutions

“Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions.” – Tony Robbins
 What’s the matter?

This is a question that we, as intuitive and caring individual, probably ask several times a day. We see individuals struggling or we sense tension in a room. We hear it in a friend’s voice or we see it in a family member’s expression. We are caring servant leaders; we are comforters.

It may seem strange, but for me this is often a personal question. Something doesn’t feel just right. I feel “off” or irritated or anxious. Many times my “what’s the matter” is often the confluence of multiple things. There are times I feel like I have reached capacity. I can manage my own internal emotions and balance all of the different “problems” to a point . . . and then it seems overwhelming. Do you ever feel this way?

We must take care of ourselves in order to effectively serve others. I am often asked, “How’s your day?” or “how are things going?” I have a default driven response “hanging in there” or maybe something like “it’s a day.” I often don’t want to bother the person asking the question with the laundry list of issues that are weighing on my mind – or the reflective energy I am taking to focus on a problem.  

I’m probably not going to “unload” on the next person who asks me “what’s the matter.” But I am going to take a moment on personal time – a moment for self-talk to identify what is truly making me feel “off” or anxious. I am then going to devote my power and energy to solutions. I am going to engage my peers – to embrace the Power of our Team – to find answers and to step up.  

Can you do the same? When you have that feeling – take a moment to think about, even write down the problems you have identified. Once you’ve identified that problem – then we can work together on support and solutions.

Seeking New Solutions

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we’ve used to create them.” – Albert Einstein.
 Adjust and Adapt . . . we must get good at change. A solution that worked yesterday may not be the best solution for a similar problem today. As we encounter events – as we solve problems – we are committed to our relentless pursuit of excellence.

 One of our greatest gifts is the ability to learn. We are constantly gathering information, reflecting on the implication of our own actions, and pursuing opportunities for growth. This is what we do. We are learners.

We must collaborate, explore new possibilities, and purposefully pause to look through problems from different angles, through different lenses. Our training, and the training of our fellow educators, prepared us for the world of today. We’ve been trained to deal with “our problems” using the same thinking that created them. We need to step up and create new solutions – collaborative solutions born from the Power of our Team and our Passion for Growth.

So today, when you feel your default-driven decision making process push you towards an auto-pilot response, take just a moment to pause and consider other options. Engage a peer, take a moment for reflective self-talk, and consider other solutions.