An extraordinary life is created by stringing together extraordinary days.

An extraordinary life is created by stringing together extraordinary days.

There is no shortcut to success.  There is no path to elite that doesn’t include failures, obstacles, and struggles.  Our life’s journey is marked with successes, failures, and constant learning.  The students in our schools must find both success and experience failures as learning experiences.  School is a safe place . . . a place specifically designed to learn through experience.

For every student in our buildings to live extraordinary lives, we are required to balance goals and process.  It isn’t about the single action; it’s not the success of today.  What creates extraordinary is the commitment to be discipline and focused each day.  When we are the best version of us today, it is extraordinary.  When we act with purpose day after day, we can achieve great success.  Make today extraordinary.

Our attention tells the brain what to repeat.  Thus, to encourage excellence we must “spotlight the right.”

Our attention tells the brain what to repeat.  Thus, to encourage excellence we must “spotlight the right.”

What we think, our self-talk, determines how we behave.  Negative people, those who are always focused on other’s faults and blame everyone else for their troubles, unknowingly sentence themselves to negative lives.  Negativity is a cycle.  More importantly, negative people spread their negativity to others.

Positive people, those who “spotlight the right” and share gratitude for others, are tipping the scale for success in their favor.  Brain research confirms, the chemical composition of our brains change when we are positive.  We are healthier, happier, and more successful when we discipline our thoughts to focus on the positive aspects of our lives.

The science is clear.  There is no reason to be undisciplined and permit ourselves to dwell in negative, critical behaviors.  Be intentional.  Remove yourself from negative environments and be discipline in your self-talk.

Happiness is not something ready-made.  It comes from your own actions.

Happiness is not something ready-made.  It comes from your own actions.  – Dalai Lama

There is no easy way to find happiness.  We’ve all heard, the best things in life are often the most difficult.  Happiness is up to you.  It isn’t found in a self-help, or motivational book unless you are willing to do the work.  The path to success demands that we both have vision for the journey and do the work along the way.

We must teach our children that true success demands hard work, skillful action, and discipline decisions.  Our success is dependent on us, on our ability to work in teams, and on a commitment to excellence.  No one succeeds alone . . . but each individual must stand up and own their actions.

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness – Ralph Waldo Emerson

No one is happy all the time.

I’ve heard Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan – two bestselling authors and researchers on the topic of happiness, who are also married to each other – share that they aren’t always happy.  We all face sorrow, grief, and anger in our lives.  We live in a broken world and pain is part of life.

What makes some people happier than others is how we respond the grief, sorrow, and stress.  Do we have support systems, friends, and colleagues who lift us up? Do we have a mindset to respond to appropriate action?  Do we have the tools, the discipline, to shift anger into action?  To shift from self to service?   When we stay angry we lose opportunities to seek happiness.

The person we have the greatest power to change is ourselves.

The person we have the greatest power to change is ourselves. – Shawn Achor

I can make a long list of the people, and ways, that need to change.  I can pontificate on the structural obstacles that stand in the way of real progress. I can grouse about obstinate groups resisting advancement.  It’s easy for me to join the blame and complaining bandwagon as I defend my own lack of actions.  It’s a common cycle.

Let’s be honest.  I can’t change vitriolic Facebook posts or the angry emails that arrive in my inbox.  What I can do is embrace the change I want others to see.  I can engage hate with care.  I can temper emotions with facts.  I can be discipline in my behavior where others act out of untempered impulsivity.  I have the greatest opportunity to change me . . . the opportunity to model the change we’d like to see in others.   If we are “to be the change we want to see in the world”, we must be willing to change ourselves.

Without action, knowledge is often meaningless. 

Without action, knowledge is often meaningless. – Shawn Achor

How many times do we know what needs to be done, but don’t have the courage or don’t put forth the effort to do it?  We read books, examine case studies, and create plans. We hold task force meetings, engage with experts, and create implementation charts.  Too often great planning documents are rolled-out, but action is never taken.

As my friend Brian Kight often says, “do the work.” Taking action is difficult, especially in school systems.  Resistance to change is embedded into the fabric of many school cultures.  From administrative turnover to community fear of change, from lack of professional training to political pressure, schools know that change is demanded to improve perforation.  This knowledge is meaningless if we don’t “do the work.” It is time to take action, embrace the discomfort of change, and do what’s required of us.

If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.

If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.  – Shawn Achor

There is a reason that we seek-out elite programs and organizations.  There is a reason we engage on a state and national level with school districts that have achieved at the highest levels.  We don’t want to emulate those who merely do it well; we want to learn from the best of the best.

It is essential that we all look outside the walls of our own organization; that we look beyond districts that are in our own geographic area.  No single district is elite in all areas; we must carefully select those we want to study. We build relationships, share data, and gather information.  We take what we learn and bring it back to our own district.  We must collaborate with the best to be the best.