Wisdom begins with wonder. – Socrates
The Socratic Method is grounded in the idea that asking questions and seeking deeper truth through dialogue will lead to better understanding. This approach of asking questions, challenging underlying presumptions, and hypothesis elimination is the essence of the scientific method. Socratic methods have long been employed in law schools and counseling.
As leaders, we must instill and cultivate the desire to wonder in our organizations. We must not only permit, but encourage Socratic questioning of decisions at the highest level. We must all seek wonder, engage in debates about ideas and values. We must be able to challenge the status quo and demand details the ambiguity is the norm.
As a leader, wisdom begins with wonder, but continues with the wisdom to dare others to wonder as well. True leaders encourage questions, enjoy when ideas are challenged and tested, and appreciate the cooperative dialogue of a smart, dedicated team.
The best cure for the body is a quiet mind. – Napoleon Bonaparte
When do you find time to have a quiet mind? When are you alone with your thoughts?
Some people find time in meditation, others doing yoga, and still others in prayer. For me, I am alone with my thoughts as I run or swim each morning. My alone time is relaxing and spiritual. I start my day unplugged – yet active – and with my thoughts. My mind is quiet and I can focus.
Find your time, your time when your mind is quiet and you can think. Life moves too fast, and is too stressful, to not have intentional time for a quiet mind. Your self-talk, reflection, and calm is required for you to be the best you.
Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to work your judgement will be surer. – Leonardo DaVinci
As leaders we make hundreds of decisions each and every day. Some of our decisions are “fast decisions” – we’ve made them so many times that we subconsciously give an answer. It’s like muscle memory; we just know what to say and we do so without active thought. Some decisions are “slow decisions” – we actively and intentionally process our response to the situation. Regardless if we are thinking fast or slow, judgement plays an enormous role in our decision making process.
When we are tired, beat down, or on-edge our decision making process, our judgement, becomes more based on emotion than on intentional thoughts. When we are pushed to our edge over and over, our knee-jerk response is unfiltered. We act quickly – even when acting purposefully is required.
Finding time to escape, purposeful time for relaxation and rejuvenation, is required in stressful work. The time away, the time to unplug and recalibrate, encourages better judgement when we return. No one can do hard work, without a break, and continue to act at a high capacity.
Plan a vacation months in advance and look forward to the escape . . . spontaneously take-off for the weekend . . . it doesn’t matter. What matters is every now and then go away and relax. It will make you better when you return.
A teacher affects eternity, and can never tell where the influence stops. – Henry Adams
From kindergarten through college, our teachers have shaped who we are today. There are countless teachers that have shaped who I am today. From pre-school (where I had powder Tide put in my mouth for being dishonest) to my doctoral program (when I was encouraged to reach beyond what I thought was possible) teachers have influenced me in untold ways.
Teachers build confidence and cultivate resilience in students. Teachers provide the foundation and inspire the dreams of students. With every word, encouraging smile, and supportive comment teachers can spark students to reach further, think deeper, and pursue excellence.
No evaluation system or assessment accurately measures the influence of our teachers. Teaching isn’t only a science – it is an art as well. The art of teaching – the art of influencing the future – can’t be overlooked in our classrooms. Like wonderful art . . . it’s impossible to measure but we know it when we see it.
The time to relax is when you don’t have the time for it. – Sidney Harris
We all know the feeling. That time when the weight of the world seems to be on our shoulders. When you’ve been there before, you know the warning signs. Those signs that you are just about to your breaking point.
For me, I feel it most when there isn’t time in my day, or in my week, to breath. When things begin to stack up, one thing on top of the next. When one phone call, text, email, or meeting has the potential to be that personal tipping point – that one more thing that pushes me too far.
It is in these moments, when I know that one more thing is going to be too much, that it is most important to find time to relax. It could be not attending a school event – knowing that my attendance isn’t essential. It could be asking colleagues to cover a meeting or take my calls for an hour. It could be building time into my schedule for dinner with my family.
Taking care of yourself, realizing that no single person is expected to carry the weight of the organization, is essential. In order to be at your best, you need to take care of you. You aren’t expected to be at every event, to fix every problem, or work 24 hours a day. Emails can wait, parent complaints can wait until Monday and don’t need weekend replies, and evenings can be protected for family. Sure, our work is more than 40 hours a week, but you must find time to relax.
Leaders create culture. Culture drives behavior. Behavior produces results. -Tim Kight
Your title is unimportant – we are all leaders. From the superintendent, to the building principal, to the classroom teachers . . . we are all leaders. We create the culture in our space.
When you, as the leader, aren’t intentional about the culture you create, you get poor results. When we permit our culture to be created by others, we get poor results. It doesn’t matter how good your strategic plan is or how talented the team is, if the culture is poor you will not get maximum results.
We all know the organizations where the culture is strong, where relationships are strong, and where shared values drive behavior. These are the organizations that retain high quality people – where others want to go work, live, and grow. We also know organizations with toxic, reactionary cultures. There are places where people flee and others go reluctantly. The difference is palpable and it all comes down to leadership.
You get to choose. You are a leader. As a leader, demand a culture that is true to your values. Model your values through your leadership. Stand-up and own your decisions. Only you can control your space in the organization – be bold, confident, and true to yourself.
The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.
Let’s make this as simple – and as powerful – as possible . . . teachers create the future. The awesome responsibility of educating the next generation of American leaders falls directly on the laps of those professionals who build the foundation for the future.
We are facing a shift. A shift from providing knowledge to the students in our classrooms to developing learning skills. We are asking more and more of the teachers in our classrooms. It isn’t good enough for teachers to teach skills . . . it is now about skills, application, and persistence. We are asking teachers to differentiate for a more diverse population AND to also cultivate life skills in completely different ways.
We must support and develop these skills in our teachers. We are asking more and more without giving additional time for the additional work load. The best teachers already do this, but it is incredibly difficult and takes a toll. We must see these challenges through the eyes of our teachers.
It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. – Lou Holtz
As public educators we have a heavy load. From policy makers that seek a one-size-fits-all solution to cure poverty, to students who enter school with unimaginable challenges, we take on every challenge. We don’t have a choice – the students in our care are our responsibility. We accept the challenge – we face each day knowing that we make a difference in the future. Our work as public educators is the last hope for some students. We carry the load because others don’t.
How we carry the load is important. In order for us to be at our best, to give the most who need the most, we must work together. We must support each other, work together, and balance the load we carry. We must step-up in the face of the unrealistic, demanding parents. We must lead when leadership is required.
We can’t permit others to break us down. We must stand-up, accept the awesome responsibility of shaping the future, and be that light for those who need inspiration. We are the experts; we own it. We don’t only educate students; we educate parents and communities. We must step-up, carry the load as leaders, and lead.
The team with the best players usually does win – this is why you need to invest the majority of your time and energy developing your people. – Jack Welch
We have a great team. We hire well and we develop talent.
Leaders invest time and energy in developing the people on the team. This takes both formal and informal processes. Developing talent, first and foremost, means modeling the behavior desired in the organization. It’s long been said, “Talk is cheap.” The best way to develop leadership is to model leadership.
People experience leaders. When a leaders exudes a, “do as I say not as I do” approach to leadership that reverberates throughout the organization. Investing time and energy in people means modeling the desired behavior and developing relationships. Trust is earned; it is earned through repeated experiences.
We have the best players because we invest time and energy in our culture. Culture and behavior drive results . . . and we invest in what is most important . . . the team.
If you think your best days are behind you, they are. If you think your best days are ahead of you, they are. – Jon Gordon
We must stop holding on to the past. Parents, teachers, and administrators . . . listen up . . . the schools you attended are going away. Our best days as educational institutions can’t be yesterday . . . they must be tomorrow. Of course, our memories and experience from public school were glorious. From the Homecoming Dance to a final exam schedule, our memories will always be part of what made us . . . well, us. We need more for our students today – the future demands something different.
I believe the best days in Hilliard are ahead of us. What gives me this confidence? I believe we will be a district that creates a better future because of our values and vision. I believe that Hilliard is already changing instruction. Our district is years into an Innovative Learning Center, years into creating our own online classes, and years into incorporating iPads into the instructional setting. We have wonderful teachers and a collective vision.
Our best days are ahead of us. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it is going to take immense work and dedication. We are going to need to pull some people, including parents, kicking and screaming into the future. You know what? We are going to do it anyway. Why? We will prepare students better than anyone else to be truly Ready for Tomorrow.