As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

On Thanksgiving Day we take time to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. We spend time with family and friends; we enjoy annual traditions and celebrate the start of the holiday season.

It’s easy on Thanksgiving Day, during the holiday weekend, to keep what’s most important on our minds and in our hearts. What’s difficult is to keep what’s most important in the forefront when we return to the daily grind of life and school.

On this day of giving thanks, don’t only utter words of thanks, but make the commitment to live your life in a spirit of thanksgiving. We must keep what’s most important on our minds and in our hearts every day of the year.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. – George Bernard Shaw

Too often, we paint a confusing picture for young people. Too often, we make it sound like passion and innovation alone will lead to future success and happiness. Too often, we promote creativity and permit voice and choice as the foundation for education. Why is this a faulty proposition? It’s only half the equation . . . it is missing a key component.

Life isn’t only about discovering your passion . . . it is about the work it takes to live your passion at an elite level. Once you discover your passion – and for many the journey is as important as the destination – you must work to cultivate the required skills into future success.

Finding yourself is only the starting line . . . creating yourself is the journey to success. Students today need to develop the foundational skills, instill a work ethic grounded in pride in one’s self and hard work, and perpetuate a desire for lifelong learning and growth.

Culture is the reason why the best organizations have sustained success. When you create a culture of greatness you enjoy great results.

Culture is the reason why the best organizations have sustained success. When you create a culture of greatness you enjoy great results. – Jon Gordon

Organizations should have strategic plans. Organizations must create processes for daily operation. Organizations must set goals and do the work to achieve results.

Development of culture . . . the intentional focus on behavior . . . doesn’t detract from the need to do the work. Great results take both a great culture and great skill. Culture work isn’t enough. It’s the culture that drives the behavior. It’s the culture that supports the grind of doing the work every day. It’s the culture that embraces the productive discomfort of change . . . of a growth mindset.

Don’t get lulled into thinking that simply focusing on culture is enough. Life requires balance and work – building the culture and doing the work at the same time.

A healthy culture embraces challenge, active debate, and robust conversation.

A healthy culture embraces challenge, active debate, and robust conversation.

 In the Hilliard School District we embrace the Power of the Team – we know we are stronger together.  One of the aspects of every strong team, of every successful organization, is a culture that encourages collaboration and teamwork.

Does your team encourage challenging authority and ideas?  Does your team demand you to take different positions, to look at situations through a different lens?

You are not making your team better by being a “yes, man” or by accepting the status quo.  You are not making your team stronger by abdicating to those with a lofty title or organizational responsibility.  Today, commit to make your team better by actively listening and then purposefully challenging ideas and positions.  Challenge everything . . . it will make the entire team strong in all areas and functions.

Often the journey to reaching a goal is more important than attaining the goal itself. 

Often the journey to reaching a goal is more important than attaining the goal itself. 

 

We set goals; we set the bar high, so that we can achieve something.  We create expectations so that we can attain success.  Without a vision, without a bar, we can’t maintain focus and thus achieve results.

 

While we strive to meet the goal, the journey itself is often more important than the destination.  The process of learning . . . of overcoming failures and pushing ourselves to do more . . . creates the culture for even more success.  When we set goals, when we set the bar high and push ourselves, it is the journey that earns dividends for the future.  We invest in the process, commit to the team, demand excellence, and thus embrace our growth mindset.

 

Don’t see a goal as a finish line but rather a marker on a greater path . . . a path towards growth, development, and improvement.

Be a yardstick of quality.  Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.  – Steve Jobs

Be a yardstick of quality.  Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.  – Steve Jobs

 

Do you make excellence an expectation?  Do you hold yourself to a standard of excellence?  Do you hold others to the same standard?

 

In public education we work with children – other people’s children.  In public education we are entrusted with shaping, with molding, the next generation of American leaders.  Our education system is the key – the single most important factor – in creating the future.  How do we not expect excellence?

 

It is required that each of us become a yardstick of quality.  We can’t accepted mediocre or marginal performances in our schools.  Would you permit mediocre for your child?  Can you put your head on the pillow at night without expecting excellence in our classrooms?  In our schools?

 

It starts with you . . . it starts with me . . . it begins in our 20 square feet.  We must all work to create the culture where excellence is expected.

I’m not the maestro of the orchestra; I’m the leader of the jazz band.  I need different people to come to the front and take the lead at different times.

I’m not the maestro of the orchestra; I’m the leader of the jazz band.  I need different people to come to the front and take the lead at different times.

 

I’ve often heard leaders referred to as maestros or conductors.  Leaders don’t, and can’t, play all the instruments but they can make wonderful music by helping everyone play their part.  This analogy has made sense to me . . . until I heard a better one.

 

True leaders know when to empower others to step-up, stand center stage, and take the lead.  True leaders know the time to step aside and let others shine – to let others be in the spotlight.

 

As a true servant leader, as a school superintendent, I am truly blessed to work with an amazing team.  We strive to create a culture, to develop the ensemble, so that each member of the team is empowered to be out front.  The stronger our team, the more confident each member is, the higher our level of performance.

 

Don’t just conduct your team . . . empower the team to step-up and take the lead themselves.