Think Happy Thoughts

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”  – Eckhard Tolle


We strive for perfection.  We set lofty goals and reach for the stars.  Our desire is to complete every task, to live every day, with maximum effort and skill.  To be high achieving, to pursue our passion for growth, to become elite we must have an inner drive to be excellent in every situation.


Here’s the thing . . . we can’t allow our passion for perfection to make us unhappy.  We set lofty goals, we commit ourselves to reach for those goals, and we reflect each day on our progress.  This is growth; this is how we become Elite.  It is about the journey – not the final destination.  Our mindset, our growth mindset, is what sets us apart.  Your thoughts . . . your feelings . . . are what keep you going.


Your happiness is solely dependent on you.  Don’t let others detour you on the journey.  Set the highest goals, embrace the pursuit of excellence, and enjoy each step of the way.

Trust is the Foundation

“Whether it’s a friendship or relationship, all bonds are built on trust.  Without it, you have nothing.” – Unknown


Each and every day you create experiences for others.  How you respond to an event creates events for others.  While yes, our words are important, it is our actions that build trust.  It is the experiences that we create the consistency in our actions that builds a foundation of trust.


Unless you are trusted it is impossible for us to build relationships and bonds with others.  This trust is predicated on a predictability of experience.  Are you consistent in your inner core?  Are you true to yourself?  Think about those whom you trust the most; think about those whom you have the strongest bond.  You know them; you know their inner core.  Those who we trust the most are those who we experience with confidence.


As you reflect on people you trust, think about your own actions.  How do people experience you?  Are you consistent?  Are you true to your core?


Leadership and teaching is about personal connections.  With personal connections comes the need for deep, honest trust.  Are you building bonds through the experience you create for others?  If not . . . make a commitment to start today.

Walking Away

Walking Away

“Sometime you have to walk away from people, not because you don’t care, but because they don’t.” – Unknown


I am a people pleaser . . . I strive to make connections, build relationships, and solve problems.  At times to a fault, I want people to like and respect me.  I seek solutions, build bridges, and compromise when necessary.  I think divergently, creatively, and openly.  I thrive with, and seek out, others who want to find solutions.  I am an optimist; I believe we can find solutions.


There are some people I encounter who don’t share my perspective on life.  There are pessimists in our midst . . . there are people who aren’t interested in solving problems.  There are some people who simply want to find someone to blame, someone to point a finger at, and someone to become part of their circle of doom.  There are fear mongers who tap into emotions, who evoke feelings of panic, to simply revert back to yesterday’s thinking.


There are times when, after listening, evaluating, and reflecting, the best thing to do is walk away.  There are times when, even when it is against your nature, the best use of your time and energy is to walk away.  You know the situation; you are thinking of conversations right now, when shouting at the wind would be just as effective.  You know the person – you have a picture in your head – that simply doesn’t care to listen.


Give yourself permission . . . press pause and get your mind right . . . to respectfully say, “You know what, we are going to need to agree to disagree.”  Once said, walk away.  Not because you haven’t tried, not because you don’t care, but because they don’t care.  For them – you know who it is – they don’t want to honestly seek solutions.   Sometimes you just need to walk away.

Learning to Ignore Things

Learning to Ignore Things

“Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.” – Robert Sawyer


We live in a world of constant information.  We have emails, text messages, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, and a myriad of other ways to receive communications – literally walking around with us every single moment or every single day.  We get beeped, pinged, alerted, pushed, and buzzed throughout the day and night.  Some people have gone as far as to create “quiet hours” on their iPhone or Android devices to schedule 6-8 hours a time for uninterrupted sleep.


Think of the world our parents lived in . . . mail was delivered once a day by the US Postal Service, the phone was attached to a wall or sitting on a desk, and overnight was limited to Federal Express.  When the previous generation left the proximity of a phone or mailbox, they left the influx of information.  Vacations, walks in the park, or drives to an event were times of only personal communications.


I’m not advocating for unplugging or disconnecting from our world; it’s our reality.  It is OUR world.  I am advocating for balance and the ability to develop a new skill.  The skill of prioritizing and ignoring.  In order to find inner peace . . . in order to make time for ourselves . . . in order to be at our best . . . we must find ways to press pause in our own lives.  We must decide that getting our mind right includes not taking on every problem, every situation, and every event immediately.  “Learning to ignore things” is a skill – a skill we must all build.


Take some time today to reflect on your purpose, on what you value most, and use this as your guidepost.  You can’t be everything to everyone unless you are at peace with yourself.  Serving others, leading others, requires an inner core that builds skill and continually seeks balance.

Kick out Negative, Toxic People

Kick out Negative, Toxic People

“Don’t let negative and toxic people rent space in your head.  Raise the rent and kick them out.”  – Robert Tew


Research clearly demonstrates that the person we talk to the most, on a daily basis, is ourselves.  The Mayo Clinic defines self-talk as “the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head . . . they can be positive or negative.”  Furthermore, “if your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist – a someone who practices positive thinking.”


Research is clear – positive self-talk has a statistically significant impact on performance.  Furthermore, it has both a physical and a mental affect on performance.  Optimism both literally and figuratively pays dividends in performance.  This is why it is so important to remove yourself from those who simply Blame, Complain, and Defend (BCD).  BCD has never solved a problem or strengthened a relationship – so don’t do it and don’t associate with those who may bring you down.


Negative and toxic people are like parasites – they drain your energy and plant negative thoughts in your head.  Negative people, energy vampires, live off your energy.  These people seek to multiply and bring others down to their level.  We must win the battle to stay above the line; we must purposefully place distance between the toxic people and those who have passion for growth.


Today – starting right now – prepare yourself for battle.  Prepare yourself to take on the negative, toxic people in your live.  Have the courage to have some courageous conversations.  Be prepared to say, “If you continue to be negative I’m not going to engage in this conversation” – and walk away.


Raise the rent – kick them out!

Failure is the Foundation

“Only the naive expect to succeed in every endeavor.  For the majority of worthy pursuits, whether military missions or corporate endeavors, success rests on the foundation of several failed attempts.”  – Leadership Lessons from West Point


Wow . . . schools really struggle with this learning from failure model.  Schools, the institution that is charged with the preparation of young people for future success, seem to be among the worst organizations at embracing the process of learning through experiences.


Think about this quote from a school perspective – we expect children to succeed in every endeavor.  While we know it’s not realistic, it is part of the core beliefs for many in schools.  This failure of the American education system is due to the fact public schools have permitted others to define our culture.  The “culture by default” approach to schools has created the current environment in public education.


One has to look no further than the decade old No Child Left Behind legislation.  When passed in the early part of the twenty-first century the Congress of the United States passed a national law saying every student in America – 100% of American school children – would perform at our above grade level in math and reading.  Talk about a culture setting event – so, we lived in failure for over a decade.  We were governed by waiver after waiver from the federal government; we didn’t learn from failure.  We simply allowed others to label public schools as failures.  Even today, Ohio’s education leaders tout a new report card – one based on tests that legislatures have abandoned after one year – as raising of standards.


Let’s take our culture back.  Let’s lead with a discipline-driven approach to our own culture.  Let’s band together to take back our schools.  Let’s act on purpose, let’s focus on both life and academic skills, and let’s build a foundation of experiences for our young people.  We must create an environment where not succeeding the first time isn’t a permanent failure, but a foundation for future success.  Let’s model this for our students, talk about it with our parents, and communicate this with our community.  This is our worthy pursuit; we will make it a reality.

Know Yourself

Know Yourself

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”  – Aristotle


We are all faced with constant change, we have committed to embrace productive discomfort, and we have dedicated ourselves to our passion for growth.  We value excellence and we understand that growth requires reflection, adaptation, and change.  Our schools continue to start new initiatives, focus on the future, and relentlessly seek opportunities to prepare students for future success.  We live our vision – we want students to be Ready for Tomorrow.


While we work as a team – and we value our collective vision for the future – in reality it starts with you.  Organizational change will not be successful until the individuals in the organization change first.  It isn’t about me; it isn’t about your principal or supervisor.  It is about you.  Do you believe in the work we are doing?  Do you believe that the journey we have embarked on together is heading in the right direction?


You must know yourself.  What is your personal VBO?  What are your personal values?  We all have a vision . . . we all have values.  Sure, you may not have taken the time to write them down – or even think of them in an intentional manner – but you have values.  Your values drive your behaviors and are creating outcomes.


Over the next day or two, think about what you value.  Write it down . . . talk about it with your family, a friend, or a colleague.  Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.  Once you know yourself you can then help shape our future together.  I value you . . . you are a part of a larger organization.  Together – and only together – can we collectively take our district to higher levels of performance.