“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” – Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own
The journey to being elite isn’t easy. Raising your level of performance from good to great is much more difficult than improving from average to good. Sure, as educators we can be happy with our current level of student instruction. We are good, people are moving to our community, and our students are graduating prepare for college. It would be east to keep doing what we are doing . . . it is what our constituents want us to do.
It is hard to push ourselves to the next level. It is challenging to face the real demands of preparing students for success in a future that is unclear. We face unending obstacles and new social challenges. Our students population is getting more diverse and politicians create more and more obstacles to truly doing good work. What makes us great . . . what sets us apart . . . is how we embrace the challenges. We stay true to our values and strive to truly pursue excellence.
Adversity is another way to measure the greatness of individuals. I never had a crisis that didn’t make me stronger. – Lou Holts
We measure success in a myriad of different ways. There are successes that are easy to quantify and celebrate. There are victories that are clear and accomplishments that are public. What makes us stronger are the obstacles we overcome and the crisis we manage.
It is easy to lead when things are going well. It takes a true leader to navigate mission critical events. When you lead a team through one of these times, when you learn and succeed, that is when your true greatness shines. Stay true to your values, stay clear in the expectations, and create the best outcome available to you.
Clarity demands simplicity and focus.
One of the greatest challenges in life is being clear with expectations. When we are clear . . . when our purpose and expectations are aligned . . . it is easy to achieve results. When we are conflicted, or when we send mixed messages, the results are poor.
The key to clarity is often simplicity. Don’t overcomplicate the simple . . . don’t get ahead of yourself in the process. Keep each task . . . each goal . . . as simple and focused as possible. Leadership requires each of us to be clear in our goals and steadfast in our values. Keep life as simple and focused as possible.
Take time to evaluate your daily routines; be intentional in your behavior.
Why do you do what you do? From every meeting to every email . . . from that text message to a colleague to the picture you post on Facebook . . . are you acting with purpose. Do you stop at a coffee shop on the way to work out of habit or with intentional reasoning behind the visit? I’m not judging; I stop to get coffee every morning. I am simply asking you to think about each action.
Routines are great – they can keep us productive and important. Routines can also perpetuate ineffective, inefficient behavior. Take time to day to think about your routines. Which behaviors are healthy and important? Which routines, if changed, can lead to growth and improvement? A growth mindset demands intentional actions on our journey.
Your time is valuable; don’t get caught in the weeds.
Our instant communications, constant information world offers a myriad of distractions and obstacles that keep what is most important in the forefront of our minds. From alerts to texts, from Facebook to YouTube . . . it is easy to get caught wasting time on unimportant things. We get caught in the latest gossip or drama without even thinking about it . . . it is the unintended consequence for our technological world. It is our autopilot response to the everyday.
Get off autopilot . . . don’t simply troll twitter or enter that FaceBook thread. Be intentional with your time. Build real relationships with friends and family . . . truly expand your knowledge about important subjects. Be in the moment with your children, your spouse . . . give them your full attention. It is worth it.
We get sucked into the Internet and streaming information, and it’s time to just unplug and look within. – Jonathan Cain
It’s summer . . . time to enjoy sunshine, long days, and warm nights. There are times when we all need to just unplug and reflect on where we are today. We create the expectation of constant availability, like the world will fall apart if we can’t receive an immediate text or post.
The truth is there are times we should be disconnected. Our jobs will still be there if we are unable for a day. The world will continue to rotate on its axis if we don’t tweet or respond to emails. We will benefit from hours alone with friends, family, and our thoughts. When we look within . . . when we give 100% of our attention to the now . . . we are able to seek renewal and reflection.
Go for a long walk on the beach without your phone . . . turn off your email alerts and notification. We can all live without the instant news update or traffic alerts . . . take the time to unplug and look within.
Life is better in flip flops.
There is something about the feel, the sound, of flip flops. It is a unique summer option for footwear . . . it is about hot sunny days and relaxing evenings. When I put on my flip flops, it is time to relax, kick back, and rejuvenate.
During these summer months, find time to rest and relax. Find time to put on those comfy shorts, those old flip flops, and that well-worn shirt. Dive into that stack of books you haven’t made time to read . . . those non-education books you said, “I don’t have time to read.” Make time for a walk . . . protect time with family . . . and live life in your flip flops. You will be better off in September because of the relaxing today.
Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. – Warrant Buffett
We live in a world of instant gratification. When we act, we expect to see immediate results. We tweet, post, and send information . . . we want others to react as quickly as possible. When we send a text message, and don’t see that the recipient isn’t immediately typing a response we wonder why they aren’t getting back to us.
The greatest accomplishments take time. The foundation of our lives isn’t instant; educating a child isn’t a fast, linear growth process. Natural processes, like a tall tree, take time to develop, grow, and mature. We must fight the urge to demand instant success . . . for instant gratification is fleeting. Long lasting, deep rooted success takes time to cultivate. Do the work . . . put in the time . . . and allow the roots grow deep.