If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone. – John Maxwell
For most of us, there is a sense of comfort in sameness and consistency. We are at ease when our lives are in order; there is serenity in knowing what’s ahead.
We must embrace productive discomfort if we are going to improve – if we are going to have a growth mindset. Living with a passion for growth requires us to seek new opportunities and to push outside of our comfort zone.
Often what’s most uncomfortable is what’s most important – we must evaluate what should change and what should remain the same. There are traditions, tried and true models, and highly functioning processes that should stay constant. Growth demands consistent focus and response to the events in our lives.
When we have a solid core; when we know who we are and what we believe, making decisions becomes easy. When we live our values, we take the right path verse the easy way. We do what is required of us. It is who we are.
Author Brene Brown says many people look to what’s “fast, fun, and easy.” When we know our values we practice them, we don’t just profess them.
Many people in our lives say the right things but do the easy things. It’s easy to “look good” professing what’s right, but it’s more difficult to do the right thing – even when it’s difficult. Know your values, practice them every day, and do the work.
Remember when it was hard to ride a bike. Those days as a youngster when you kept falling in the grass as you rode down the sidewalk. The comfort of the training wheels were gone; you knew you could fall.
We go to school to learn. Each day should be a challenge; each task is an opportunity to learn. As we learn, the difficult becomes easy . . . then we move to the next challenge. This is life; this is progress. We live our growth mindset, the promise that we will be better tomorrow, by mastering the difficult and learning.
We have no control over most of the events that will come our way today. We live and work in a complex, interdependent world. This independency links unequivocally to the actions of others.
If we permit the events of the day to determine our mood or our happiness, we are randomly abdicating authority over ourselves to others. Only you decide how you respond to life’s events. You have the authority, the power, to choose your actions. Why would anyone choose to be unhappy? Choose self-determination and happiness over abdication and sadness.
Leadership isn’t an individual task. Throughout history, the most successful leaders weren’t “one-person shows.” Great leaders are force multipliers. The best leaders build talented, diverse teams around them to get the work done.
Leaders are humble listeners, with an inner-core grounded in personal and organizational values. Great leaders build trust – a trust that transcends organizational authority; The best leaders listen to differing opinions and welcome diverse ideas.
Strive to lead through your actions, through the trust you have earned, and through the relationships you have built
Learning from failure is part of life. Life is a journey formed by our experiences. On our life’s journey, we face obstacles, and we get knocked down. Along the way, through each lesson, we learn. The learning, the culmination of our experiences, is the foundation for future success.
When we are struggling, when things get tough, stop for a moment to reflect on the lessons. Too often, the path to success is clouded by our focus on where we are – not how we got here. Rock bottom is solid ground on which to build a better tomorrow.
We live in a fast-paced, instant-gratification society. We want everything to be easy, to be accessible, and to be now. There are times we get so caught up in the immediate, that we procrastinate with the possible. We grab the Big Mac rather than enjoying a full meal with friends and family.
Opportunities won’t wait for you to notice them; they won’t be there forever. Those with the gumption to seize the moment, with the required work ethic, will snap them up. Don’t wait for the opportunities presented to you – be mindful and act with purpose to make the most of each day.
We all have worked with people who live for “the title.” These folks believe that the title of “boss” will earn respect and admiration. And yes, in some situations there is the authority of a position. Authority isn’t leadership. Power isn’t leadership.
Leadership is the ability to listen, to bring diverse people together, and to achieve a common, shared vision. Influential leaders don’t wield authority as a weapon; strong leaders act with humility and purpose. When leaders build trust first, have clarity of vision, and work to serve others, the results are natural. Leadership isn’t in the title – it’s in the work.
It’s easy to lead when things are going smoothly. When the wind is at your back, sailing is smooth. Authentic leadership is required when things aren’t going well. Real leadership is needed with the wind in your face.
Leadership requires courage. Leaders must have the courage to move intentionally when time permits, and to act with expediency when time is a factor. Leaders must listen, synthesize information, and build consensus. Most of all, courageous leaders uphold the values of the organization – even when it is tough. There are no shortcuts to bold leadership – it demands that we do the work.
I recently finished reading The 5 AM Club – Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life, by Robin Sharma. For me, this was an exercise in affirmation. I have been a loyal member of the 5 AM Club since the mid-1990s. While a teacher, early morning gave me time to workout before practice or going to graduate school. As an administrator, especially now as a superintendent, the early morning hours are the only time in my day that is predictable (except on snowy Ohio mornings).
Getting up before the crack of dawn is physical, cerebral, and spiritual for me. I set the tone for my body, mind, and heart with my action. My self-talk during my morning run, swim, or exercise routine prepares me for the predictable events of the day. I rehearse conversations in my mind; I consider scenarios and review presentations. I pray for strength and wisdom; I start the day with an optimistic peace of mind.
Are you in the 5 AM Club? Do you intentionally set aside time – uninterrupted time – for your body, mind, and heart? If not, what’s stopping you from joining The Club? All are welcome!