What matters most

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


What is most important to you?


Think about it . . . say it to yourself.


Now . . . make a commitment to keep what is most important to you most important.


At work, what is the most important aspect of your work?   Simply stated, keep it most important.


Too often we allow the minutia of our day-to-day world distract us from our focus.  Too often we become default-driven . . . too often we lose discipline and fall into the Facebook, BCD, instant gratification world.


Living a discipline-driven life, living a life worthy of our goals and expectations, requires us to keep what matters most front and center.


What is your foundation?  What is at your inner-core?  Take the time to reflect, to define how you want to live your life . . . and then keep it front and center.


Finding the flow

In his 2008 book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, best-selling author Daniel Pink defines “Flow” as, “the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”


You know – you remember – the times you have reached a positive state of flow in your professional work.  There are the times when your heart, your mind, and your soul are all in alignment.   It is when your work comes with ease . . . when the difficult seems simple . . . when there is joy in the journey.


My personal challenge is making the time, eliminating the distractions, to do the important work.  Too often I permit interruptions, I am undisciplined in my approach, and I break my own flow.  I allow that “ping” from an email, or “alert” from a text message to break my full immersion in an activity.  I become less productive – trying to be more productive.


As I personally and professionally commit to be more discipline-driven, I must embrace my own productive discomfort.  I must be discipline with my time . . . I must intentionally focus the energy of full immersion in my work.  I must silence the noise, engage in the process, and trust in the team.


We have amazing, talented, dedicated peers on our team . . . we build trust, relationships, and capacity.  Our trust . . . our belief in the team . . . permits us to focus on our work, to commit to the process.


How can you silence the noise, immerse yourself in the work, and commit to finding your state of flow?

Protecting inner peace

Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.  – Dalia Lama


In the 1996 movie Happy Gilmore, staring Adam Sandler, one of the techniques employed by Happy’s coach Chubbs was for Happy to find his “happy place.”  You know the place . . . it is where you go in your mind’s eye to relax . . . to escape.  It is that place that makes all of your day-to-day struggles, all of those little events, drift away like fading memories.


Your happy place may be a vacation destination . . . it may be a specific event or time.


Your happy place may be spiritual . . . it may be isolated.  Your happy place may be with others or it may be quiet and alone.  For you . . . the place that you are most at peace is personal.


The more I experience life, the more I search for prolonged times of inner peace.  I encounter individuals who bring peace to my life.  You know these people in your life . . . the ones who bring you back to center . . . the people that make you a better you.  I also encounter what Jon Gordon refers to as “energy vampires.”  These people – and their behavior – pull me from my inner peace.  These people pull me below the line, they challenge my ability to stay purposeful and discipline.


One of my goals during a summer of productive reflection is to be more discipline when dealing with energy vampires.  In my inner core . . . in my heart of hearts and soul of souls . . . I am confident in my purpose.  I have strong faith in the work that we do every day.  We can’t let the negativity of our outside world . . . we can’t let negativism of social media or the vitriolic tone of national politics destroy our inner peace.  We must be strong . . . we must rise above and stay above the line.

Living our growth mindset

No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.  – Maya Angelou


We live our lives with a growth mindset.  We don’t, we can’t believe that there is a capacity for our growth.  We’d never say, “we are done learning and we can’t learning anymore.”


Each event we encounter, each experience in our lives, is an opportunity to learn . . . an opportunity to grow.  Through our experiences we get better.  Yes, we have bad days and we encounter challenging experiences.  There are times we fail and there are experiences that hurt.  We strive to fail-forward.  We choose to learn from failures.  We heal . . . we get better . . . we pursue excellence.


Our passion for growth is grounded in the faith . . . with optimism and passion . . . that together we will achieve great things.  There are days that test us; there are days that reveal our true resolve.  We live those days knowing that each test makes us stronger, each challenge we overcome prepares us to be better in the future.


For educators, summer provides a time for productive reflection.  We embrace our growth mindset and purposefully begin the process of planning for the year to come.  We rest, we relax, and we recharge.  The work we do with students requires us to be at our best; it is mentally, emotionally, and physically demanding.  Our productive reflection is essential in the growth process.  It’s difficult to reflect during periods of constant stress and chaos – say the last month of a school year.  Now is the time . . . be intentional in your thoughts . . . because life does go on, and you will be better tomorrow.

Living our purpose

Greek philosopher Epictetus says, “Wealth consistent not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

As we break for the summer months . . . as we press a prolonged pause from the day-to-day events of the school year and take time to refresh ourselves . . . it is important that we evaluate our own wants and needs. The world of public education is changing rapidly; we continued to strive to find balance. Our goal . . . a balance between the traditional and the developing. We strive to find the balance between foundational knowledge and personal choice. We take pride in our work . . . and enjoy our freedom.

As you spend time this summer reflecting on your accomplishments from the past year – as you begin the planning process for the coming year – take a moment to think about what you want and what you need.

We are blessed . . . we are incredibly wealthy . . . because we get to do what we love. It isn’t about our salary or our schedule; it isn’t about the curriculum or the assessments. We do what we do . . . we shape the future because we want to live our purpose.  We are intentional in our lives; we have discipline and strong values.  We want to help young people grow. We want to be part of a team. Our wealth is in the work that we do each and every day.

Keep moving forward

Walt Whitman writes, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

As the school year comes to an end . . . as the summer sunshine warms our days and provides daylight well into the evening hours . . . it is important that we continue to move forward. Our growth mindset is predicated on being better tomorrow than we were today. I am confident that the next school year is going to better than the past year. Looking forward, with our shadow at our backs, we will learn from past mistakes and improve year to year.

Reflect on the past year, build on successes and learn from failures, and begin to plan for next year. Keep your face toward the sunshine . . . don’t dwell on the past . . . learn from it.

Happiness depends on YOU

Aristotle says, “Happiness depends on ourselves.”

Our mindset ultimately determines our happiness. Honestly . . . it is up to you. Yes, there are events in our lives that require our action. Yes, we interact with dozens – sometimes hundreds – of people per day. Nevertheless, at the end of the day only you can determine your level of happiness.

Think about it . . . are you generally happy or unhappy? If you are a generally happy person – if you face life with a positive outlook day after day – you are mostly happy.

If you are mostly negative – if you live your life from a pessimistic point of view – you are probably unhappy. Go one step further . . . in your mind’s eye think about a positive person you know – I bet they are generally happy. Now, think about that pessimist who is part of your team, a part of your life, I bet they are generally unhappy.

So, it is simple, who do you want to be? It is completely up to you. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Your happiness depends on you. If, even at the end of a school year, are you unhappy? If you are . . . only you have the power to turn things around.