Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. – Mother Teresa

You are the leader. Don’t wait for those above you on the organizational chart or with a higher rank in the organization. Never abdicate responsibility because “it’s someone else’s job.” Each of us has a responsibility to work in alignment; to embrace our passion for growth.

Leadership isn’t about rank. Leadership is about trust. Leadership is cultivated through repeated experiences; leadership is about confidence in connections. When the organization is in alignment, when we live our values through our actions, we are all leaders. We strive to develop a culture that empowers everyone to be a leader.

The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finish line.

The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finish line. – Unknown

Public education faces a great many challenges. Our work is incredibly difficult; our work is essential to our future. We shape the next generation of American leaders. We create the future in a time of constant criticism, rapid change, and competing forces. We face a steep mountain; we have a hard climb ahead.

Each challenge provides an opportunity for great success. Each critic provides an opportunity for reflection and alignment. Every change requires us to embrace our growth mindset and live our passion for growth. We model the behavior not only for our students, but for our community. Our educational desires aren’t limited to students; we have a desire to educate parents and the community.

We have experienced success. We have enjoyed and celebrated the view from the finish line. We have made progress and redefined our edge. With each success we celebrate our accomplishment, we reflect on our journey, and we chart the path to pursue the next opportunity.

The starting point of all achievement is desire. Weak desire brings weak results.

The starting point of all achievement is desire. Weak desire brings weak results. – Napoleon Hill

The vision of the Hilliard City School District is to prepare every student to be Ready for Tomorrow. Ready for Tomorrow is personal . . . every student that walks across that stage and receives a Hilliard diploma must be prepared for success. This is our desire; we maximize the skills and knowledge for each individual student. We build these skills and cultivate a growth mindset in each and every student. We push ourselves, we encourage each student, to the edge of our abilities . . . and then we move past our edge.

As leaders, we know the members of our team with strong desire for success. We know those with passion, who cultivate alignment, and who share our passion for success. We also know those who bring a weaker desire . . . those for whom our passion is simply a job. Our calling – our opportunities – is to inspire a greater desire for those on our team. Our challenge is to find the courage to intervene when needed – and potentially make changes when necessary. One arrow out of alignment, one negative voice distracting our efforts, is too many. We can’t fear leadership – we must embrace it.

He who is not every day conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.

He who is not every day conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

One of life’s greatest fears is the fear of change. There is great comfort in the status quo. There is great confidence with success. Change . . . admitting we need to enhance our skills and gain new knowledge . . . makes many people uneasy. With change comes the fear we will fail . . . the fear of failure motivates many to simply embrace the status quo.

Our growth mindset – our passion for growth – requires us to embrace the discomfort of change. We must overcome the fear of failure and cultivate a culture where failures are natural steps on our path to success. We are on a journey to elite; we must learn to conquer our fears.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams
 

Leadership isn’t about title. Leadership isn’t about position in the organization. Leadership’s about serving others. Leadership is about building trust, cultivating connections, and inspiring the best in others.

 

Each of us have leadership opportunities throughout the day; each of us owns our space – our 20 square feet. It’s your actions – not your words – that demonstrate your leadership. Your actions inspire, your consistency builds trust, and your heart makes connections.  

 

Each event is an opportunity to respond with actions that lead. You have the choice. Do you lead or do you follow? Are you intentional, are you on the path to elite? It’s completely up to you.

I have learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.

I have learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. – Nelson Mandela

We all face fear. We face fears that are real . . . we face challenges that will shake us to our core. There are times fear – that voice in our head and heart – force us to stop, to reflect, and to be more purposeful. Fear forces us to find courage, to seek strength, and to engage others.

We summon the courage to overcome fear from many different places. Our courage may emanate from our head or from our heart when we know we must step up to overcome fear. Our courage may come from family, friends, or colleagues who support and encourage us. Our courage may build as we work to overcome fear with persistence and determination.

We should not see fear as an end, but as a beginning. We are on a journey together; we are on a journey that will include fear. We will find courage and, together, we will triumph over fear as we continue on our path together.

Great teammates don’t just impact you today. They impact you for the rest of your life.

Great teammates don’t just impact you today. They impact you for the rest of your life. – Jon Gordon

The connections we create, the relationships we build, are cornerstones of the lives we live. We learn through our relationships. We create experiences together. We reflect, we grow, and we improve together. We can’t be successful, we won’t be happy, in isolation.

Think back on teammates, colleagues, and friends from previous stops on your journey. Those teammates – those shared experiences – have shaped who you are today. Those connections and relationships impact you today and will continue to impact you in the future. The angels along your journey guided, supported, and encouraged you . . . and you have done the same for your teammates. You have been an angel for others.

Commitment yourself to serve your teammates; commit to have an impact for those with whom you connect. When you commit yourself to the service of the team you will also be more cognizant of those serving you . . . we are truly stronger together.

Leadership defines the culture but it’s brought to life by everyone in the organization.

Leadership defines the culture but it’s brought to life by everyone in the organization. It’s not a one-person thing. It’s an All-in thing. – Jon Gordon

Our culture is a “we” approach, not a “me” approach. I’ve read far too many books and attended too many conference sessions on “culture development.” In all professions, in all organizations, leaders are looking for a “quick fix” to culture issues. Too many leaders talk about a “culture of inclusion” but resort to a “top down” approach. The organization isn’t motivated by talk; the culture of any organization (of any school) is created by action.

For us, we know we are the leaders of our 20 square feet. We all hold essential leadership positions in our organization. We model teamwork; we live a “we not me” approach. The example we set in our 20 square feet is more valuable than the words we say.

Be a culture role model today . . . live our values and be an example for others. It isn’t the title you have that determines your influence, it’s the life you lead. We need to be “all in” together to create the culture we desire.

Failure is a big part of your path to success. It doesn’t define you. It refines you.

Failure is a big part of your path to success. It is not your enemy. It is your partner in growth. It doesn’t define you. It refines you. – Jon Gordon

We are on a journey together. We are on a path to own our future; a path to own each step along the way. Yes, we will fail. If we aren’t experiencing failures, we aren’t trying new things. If we permit our fear of change to detour our path we don’t own the path. When we own it . . . we are creating our future.

Failure is part of our growth mindset . . . each failure is a learning experience. We learn, we grow, we improve, and we retain ownership of our journey. We aren’t defined by the failures, by the obstacles, on our path. We are defined by how we overcome the obstacles, by how we preserver, and by how we grow together. Our relationships, the strength on our team and connections, define who we are and where we will go on our path to success.

Learn to say “no” to requests. Make each moment count, don’t simply count the moments.

Learn to say “no” to requests. Make each moment count, don’t simply count the moments. 

Each of us is a leader. We lead in our space; we lead in our 20 square feet. As leaders, we strive to serve those in our 20 square feet.  

 

One of my biggest challenges is saying “no” when I’m asked to attend events, take meetings, and speak to groups. I love my job; I love talking education. I am committed to engaging our students, team members, and community. Nevertheless, it is simply impossible to attend every event or meeting. In order for me to be effective, in order to give my time and attention to the events I attend, saying “no” is necessary from time to time.

 

It’s difficult as a servant leader to say “no” but it is required of us. We must maintain our health, the balance in our lives, if we are to serve at our best. We must be present . . . be in the moment . . . when we commit to events. Stretching ourselves too thin, rushing through our days without ever really connecting, isn’t effective service. Simply attending isn’t service; physical attendance is much different than devoting our full attention. Make each moment count . . . don’t simply count the moments.