Our core values include “Power of the Team.” We teach our students to “think we, not me.” We will be more successful working together. We intentionally invest the time to care, listen, and communicate.
Our current Covid crisis has reinforced that we are stronger together. When we work together, when we make each other better, success follows. Our commitment to each other takes us to the next level. When we act selfishly, we are bound to fail. We are all responsible for creating a positive learning and working environment that inspires excellence. As educators we make an implicit promise to put children first. As an essential service for our students, we think “we” before “me.”
We must respect the diversity in our community – it is a strength. Differing opinions and perspectives create new opportunities. While we may not always agree, we are consistently respectful and empathetic. From our Board of Education to building teaching teams, working together is at the heart of our Power of the Team.
One of our core values is “Stand up & Own it.” We know that personal responsibility is an essential life skill. We teach our youngest students to Stand up & Own it; we expect our teachers, staff, and administrators to model it.
Acting with integrity is a critical behavior. We follow through on our commitments. If we say we will do something, we do it. We are open and honest with each other, even when it is difficult. We do the right thing – even when no one is watching.
Covid-19 has increased our daily stress levels; it challenges our discipline. When emotions are high, when people are frustrated, it is even more crucial that we “Stand up and Own it.” There are times we all act on impulse or say something out of frustration. I’ve “hit send” on that email I’ve later come to regret or vented when I’d have been better served “pressing pause.”
When we own our behavior and give others grace, we create a healthy culture. We make a difference for others when we act with purpose.
“BCD never solved a problem, achieved a goal, or improved a relationship. So stop wasting your time and energy on something that will never help you.” – Tim Kight
Covid-19 has challenged all of us. Each day, we are faced with departures from our norms and absorb real disappointments. From missing family during the holidays, to the cancellation of “The Game,” Covid-19 has impacted our lives.
The reality of our situation is that placing blame, wasting time to complain, or defending our undisciplined behavior won’t make the situation any better. When we BDC, we make the situation worse. Our negativity, our default-driven behavior, cultivates a counterproductive culture.
We all know people who always complain – who consistently blame someone else for their current situation. Social media often gives a forum for victimization and BCD. Blaming others for our current problems doesn’t create solutions; it creates more stress, anxiety, and negativity. The cycle of blame will never lead to improvement or growth.
No one is to blame for Covid-19. Our current situation is unfortunate and challenging, but it isn’t permanent. We all want our students back in the classroom; everyone is yearning to return to the traditional school experience. When we act with discipline, skill, and purpose, our response achieves the best possible outcomes.
Each of us is a leader; we have the opportunity to control the decisions we make and how we manage ourselves. Inside our 20 square feet, our area of influence, we choose how to think, interact, and behave.
The way I behave personally is what determines the culture around me. If I act with discipline, make intentional decisions, and respond to events with skill, I am modeling successful behavior for others. If I am consistent in my 20 square feet, I will earn the trust of those around me.
When others are acting out of emotion or fear during times of crisis, leaders must be disciplined. I “press pause” to first identify my emotions and secondly to hear and identify others’ feelings. A discipline-driven response is a choice; living a discipline-driven life is a skill.
I understand that this Covid-19 Pandemic increases emotions, fears, and frustrations. When people are hypercritical of my actions, when some people sink to hateful statements and attacks, discipline-driven responses are challenging yet required of me. I strive to manage my “R” with skill and be consistent in my behavior. I can’t control how other people act, but I can control how I respond.
“Leadership isn’t a difference maker; it is the difference maker.” – Tim Kight
Leaders inspire people and energize teams to do things they wouldn’t do on their own. It is the leader who creates the culture and models the behavior required to get the desired results. Leaders are willing to make tough decisions and welcome accountability for their actions.
Covid-19 has challenged our culture; it has tested many leaders. This crisis requires more than management; it demands empathy, humility, and reflection. Covid has exposed some leaders and revealed some culture gaps. In crisis mode, we resort to our training and our core values. If the desire to lead isn’t happening in you, it can’t happen through you. Leaders want to lead.
Tim reminds me, “your culture is what leads when no one is watching.” What are people saying to their friends? How do we act when working from home? I aim to be consistent, true to my inner core and make disciplined-driven decisions. It’s easy to get caught-up in either fear-mongering or covid-denial. It’s natural for emotions to drive default-driven actions.
In the end, it’s not about me; it’s about our students. It’s my responsibility to exude calm and disciplined direction. Our district will perform at the level of my leadership. Leaders respond to the everyday challenge of leadership.
“Habits are built through repeated action over time, and they can only be changed through repeated action over time.” – Tim Kight
In times of stress, during this coronavirus pandemic, my daily behavior is critical. My training with Tim Kight, the habits I intentionally strive to practice, prepare me to lead with skill. I don’t always get it right, but when I practice with purpose; I build skill. This 21-day journey, writing these blogs, is building skill. It helps me gain and maintain focus.
What I do every day reinforces my habits. When I act with purpose, I am practicing disciplined behaviors. Building skill requires developing good habits; it demands intentional practice. These R-Factor skills create a system to practice and reinforce the actions that lead to success.
“Your R is an E for others” captures a simple truth – the way you manage your actions creates experiences for others.
I consistently Press Pause to remember people feel my attitude, see my actions, and hear my words. As Hilliard’s Superintendent, my Response creates Events for thousands of families. The responsibility to Make A Difference weighs heavily on my heart and mind – especially during this Coronavirus Pandemic.
As a leader, I must first take total ownership of my attitude, actions, and words. I will make mistakes, and I don’t always get it right, but I must act with discipline and own it. I am accountable for my actions. Everything that I do has the ability to add value and make others better.
Not everyone will agree with my decisions; this is especially true given the hyperpolitical and highly emotional environment today. It’s become commonplace for leaders’ motives and actions to become the target of hateful and vitriolic words, posts, and comments. Making a Difference and leading isn’t easy and demands accountability. I admire smart people who hold differing opinions and thoughts. I deeply value those who push us to be better through open-minded, respectful dialogue. These are people who also make a positive difference. Each of us is a leader; each of us has the opportunity to make a positive difference.
Under normal circumstances, change is a necessary part of life. For those who know me, I embrace the productive discomfort of change. I believe education must continually change and evolve to meet the needs of the students we serve. Public schools aren’t preparing students for the workforce of yesterday; we must change to prepare our students to be ready for tomorrow’s jobs.
The ability to Adapt and Adjust is vital for a successful leader. When Events happen, those who can adapt and adjust in their Response will be successful. “We’ve always done it that way” leads to stagnation at best and blatant failure at worst.
During Covid, I’ve been pressed to set timelines and lead with absolutes. There is comfort in consistency and definitive plans, but we must adapt to the data and adjust to guidance from our public health partners during this coronavirus challenge. Our situation and circumstances change quickly; we must Respond with intentional actions. It isn’t “flip-flopping” when my commitment has been steadfast to adapt and adjust as needed.
Hilliard will continue to adapt and adjust to achieve the desired Outcome. I continue to seek the most learned advice from public health professionals and make recommendations with skill and purpose.
“Don’t use difficult Events as an excuse for a default Response. Use it to Step Up to the discipline required at the moment.” – Tim Kight
Covid-19 has been the most challenging, ongoing Event in my career. Each day brings new challenges. In some ways, Covid-19 has been one large Event; in other ways, it’s been a daily series of continual Events, each requiring discipline Responses.
Leaders must Step Up when faced with difficult decisions. We are under pressure due to conflicting health recommendations, tension heightened by the politicization of mitigation efforts, and changing scientific guidance. Covid-19 is new from a research standpoint; as scientists learn, guidance changes. Each day we receive email and social media posts advocating for polar opposite positions. Under pressure, we don’t rise to the occasion; we “step up” to learned behavior. We act with purpose and skill.
As a leader, my inner-core is focused on serving our students and community. It’s not about Stepping Up to some decisions; it’s about focused and disciplined daily actions. It isn’t uncomfortable and may be unpopular. We have trained with Tim and Focus 3 to prepare with R-Factor Skills to Step up and Respond with skill.
Our mindset affects every aspect of our lives. Our “inner response” determines our “external response.” When we “get our minds right,” our actions are intentional. When we are disciplined in our self-talk, our behavior is discipline.
I’ve struggled at times keeping my mind right during the coronavirus crisis. I get frustrated by the situation; I try to control things that are out of my control. When I see critical, or just hateful, social media comments, I lose focus on what’s most important.
To achieve the best available Outcome, we must act with purpose to choose the required Response. We must have a disciplined focus on the facts, on listening to understand those with expertise, and on what we can control. I can’t control how some folks choose to comport themselves on Facebook. I can manage my Response and my behavior.
During the most challenging days, the ability to Get My Mind Right is critical to strong leadership. I am at my best, so are you, when my self-talk is disciplined and focused. Stay focused on your behavior, on your inner-core, and others will follow your lead.