My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. – Abraham Lincoln
Our public schools are preparing young people for a world that doesn’t yet exist. The accelerated pace of change in the world continues to place significant demands on our education system. The specific skills required for future employment, are in large part, unknown. From autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence, many of the jobs of tomorrow don’t match the education of today.
We are required to prepare our students to be learners, to have a growth mindset, and to have grit. The most successful adults in the future will learn to “fail fast” – and to learn from their failures. It isn’t about the specific skills; it’s about learning through building on skills.
As educators we are compelled to provide both a strong academic foundation AND the life skills to continue to learn and grow. Failure isn’t an end, but the beginning of the growth process.
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. -Albert Einstein
Each of us strives to achieve results; we are result driven people. In order to earn the results we desire we must do the work. There are no shortcuts or easy paths to continued, consistent success. Getting things done, reaching our goals, demands effort, intentional focus, and purposeful behavior.
In education, we live our lives with great purpose and passion. We have a mission to educate the next generation of American leaders; we get to shape the future each and every day. Our work isn’t easy and there is no finish line. It’s a continuous journey that requires us to embrace our growth mindset, that requires us to embrace productive discomfort.
We aren’t successful because of the research or data. We aren’t successful because of the books we read or technology we use. We are successful because we keep working; we embrace the real work. We are committed to each individual student; we are passionate about personalizing learning and educating the whole child.
When self-centeredness goes up, self-awareness goes down. – Tim Kight
Living Above the Line requires us to be disciplined. We strive to be disciplined in our response to each event we encounter throughout the day. We are intentional in our words and purposeful in our behavior. When we are self-aware, when we press pause before acting, we view each situation through a broader lens. When we act impulsively, without thinking, we only consider our immediate feelings; we only consider ourselves.
Each of us can only control our own behavior and actions; we can only control our own 20 square feet. Don’t permit your impulsive, undisciplined words and actions to draw you into a self-centered life. Don’t be lazy with your self-talk and mindset. Be disciplined, be strong! Have the inner strength to act with purpose, to strive to make a difference for others, and to focus on your core values and beliefs.
It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. – George Washington
In the Hilliard City Schools the first value on our VBO is “Stand Up and Own It.” We value personal responsibility. We know that we are all going to make mistakes; we know no one is perfect. With this in mind, we don’t make excuses for mistakes . . . we learn from them.
In today’s “lie or die” mentality, in a world where it seems acceptable to rewrite the narrative to meet our needs, it has never been more important for us to model for young people honesty and ownership.
George Washington, our principle Founding Father, provides sage advice. Don’t lie, Stand Up and Own It . . . accept mistakes and learn from them. We get to model our values for our students; we are compelled to hold ourselves to a higher standard and demonstrate honesty and morality.
The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. – Steven Spielberg
We are all mentors. We set examples through our behavior; it speaks louder than our words. It is easy to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It is far better to simply do what is expected and have others see your example. Building trust is about living our values, not simply telling others our values.
Mentoring someone requires us to build relationships and cultivate trust. Our goal isn’t to encourage others to perform like us. Our goal is to inspire others to outperform us as they extend their own potential. This is the problem of standardized goals and expectations. For some students, the standard is limiting. Once they meet the mark, it is no longer relevant. For other students, the standard may be out of reach, or simply out of focus.
We are compelled to ask questions of one-size-fits-all standards. With diverse communities of learners and complex instructional challenges, we ought to question the status quo and demand better. Preparing students for success tomorrow is impossible using the norms and techniques of yesterday. We are all mentors; we can challenge each individual student to embrace the opportunity to create themselves.
It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company. – George Washington
We seek companions; we strive to belong. Abraham Maslow, best known for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, includes the sense of love and belonging at the heart of what is required for an individual’s psychological health. In today’s electronic, social media world, there are many places we seek to belong. Unfortunately, a superficial or shallow sense of belonging, built on weak relationships without deep understanding, are often worse than no relationships at all.
George Washington, arguably America’s true Founding Father, warned us it is better to be alone than to be in bad company. It is required of us to evaluate the company we keep; it is required of us to know the company we keep.
We are linked to those with whom we associate – be it in social circles, on social media, and at work. Our company is no longer limited to face-to-face associations. Our company is electronic and digital. Be intentional in your actions and mindful of your footprint – others will judge you by the company you keep.
It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family. – Philip Green
Our quality of life isn’t about what we have; our quality of life is about living in balance. We are happy when our work has purpose and we have people around us we love – and who love us. Life can’t simply be about play . . . it lacks purpose. Life can’t be solely about work . . . it lacks love.
Vacations are joyful because they are a break; time to relax, rest, and enjoy what is essential if we are to be our best at work. A life of constant vacation – a life without purpose – won’t bring happiness either. A healthy, balanced life embraces both . . . work and play . . . to create the experiences that create joy, inspiration, and happiness.