The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms. – Socrates
The alignment of mission, alignment of culture, begins with a shared understanding of where we are going. We all use terms and discuss relevant topics with colleagues and constituents. Everyone must understand the terms we are using in conversations.
The wise leader takes the time to ensure everyone is working with the same definitions, with the same understanding of each goal. Make sure your team is on the same page; make sure your community has clarity on desired results.
Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity. – Dr. Rick Rigsby
We all know that person (if you don’t, it may be you) who can justify decisions with his/her own bravado or narcissism. These folks tend to defend mistakes rather than learn from them; they have a habit of doubling-down on a wrong decision rather than changing course to avoid further failures.
While perfection may be a goal, no one or organization every gets it right all the time. Disney had Euro Disney, there was New Coke, and Apple had the iPod Nano. Every journey includes bumps in the road, obstacles along the way, and even an occasional u-turn. Mistakes are often essential in learning – don’t let your ego anesthetize lessons learned through mistakes.
People can feel perfection. – Walt Disney
Perfection is often an impossible goal. In some areas of our lives, striving for perfection is a fool’s ambition. In other areas of life, of work, perfection should be the bar for which we aim. What is most challenging is to know when to hold ourselves to elite standards.
Attention to detail is essential. A commitment to excellence in what matters most in our lives is critical. When we pay attention to the details, to the things we can control, and when we commit to doing them with skill and purpose, perfection is often attainable.
There are limited things we can control – and limitless things out of our control – so we must be purposeful in doing the things that we can control well. People can feel it.
You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind. – Joyce Meyer
We all know people who are always negative; we know people who blame, complain, and defend (BCD) about everything in their lives. These seemingly always unhappy people are unhappy for a reason – they live in negative space. For some reason or another, some people desire a particular outcome but aren’t able, or willing, to ever achieve that success.
You can’t be happy in life when you are consistently negative in your thoughts. When your self-talk, when your mind’s eye is always focused on what you don’t have, or on what’s not fair, happiness is impossible.
Spend your time, spend your energy on intentionally being positive. Live a grateful life in the moment, and you will find that a positive life is an outcome.
When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world. – George Washington Carver
We are all blessed with specific skills and talents. In many ways, we are more similar than different. Even though average has become a negative attribute, we are all average in many ways.
What sets us apart is what we do with the skills and talents we have in life. It isn’t the person with freakish skills and genius-level intelligence that commands ongoing attention. Sure, we are momentarily in awe, but that interest wanes quickly. What gains our attention is the individual who does the ordinary things with exceptional energy or persistence.
Stop for a moment and think about a person in your life that commands your attention. Chances are they don’t have unusual talents, but they have the unusual application of the abilities they have.
I have taken the summer months to take a break from writing weekly blogs. To be honest, these blogs are probably more inspirational to me than they are to the reader. Writing two blogs each week is an intentional exercise in gratitude, motivation, and optimism. I’ve heard many times, “we are what we repeatedly do,” and “we are what we practice.” For me, being optimistic and positive is purposeful; it is a decision each and every day.
The time off during this summer has solidified many of my beliefs. I am resolute in my values, in my inner-core, and committed to this work in public education. Each year provides learning experiences; each year is an opportunity for growth. Please permit me to share three reflections from my time away from the office this summer:
- Our culture work is paramount to any success we will have as a district. The foundation of trust, the relationships we build as an education community, is the most critical predictor of student success.
- Leaders empower leadership in others. My primary job is to create the culture, to build trust so that our team achieves at the highest level. Leaders support their team, hold them accountable, and maintain elite standards for performance.
- We must do a better job of measuring and documenting the work we do. Our culture must include check-points on our journey as guideposts and guardrails.
I am eager to return to a regular pattern of two weekly posts per week. My hope is, in some small way, that these posts provide periodic opportunities for reflection in your professional work.
Every leader leaves a legacy, which is the aggregate of the story he or she told over time. – Disney Institute
What do you want to be remembered for? How do you want your co-workers and friends to remember you?
The education community in Ohio recently lost a giant. Don Scriven served many schools in our area as legal counsel for decades. Mr. Scriven has left a lasting legacy through his character, authentic love for public education, and respect for others. His quick wit and one-liners are legendary. Don’s legacy will forever be his integrity, intellect, and authenticity. As a rookie superintendent, over 15 years ago, Don said to me in a matter-of-fact conversation, “The more you try to play lawyer, the more money you need to pay me to clean-up your mistakes. Why don’t you just leave lawyering to the professionals?” I have never forgotten those words.
Leaving a legacy isn’t about the things we create; leaving a legacy is about how people remember our character and our behavior.
Each and every day, lead with character and purpose. Create your legacy based on who you are, not the things you leave behind.