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It All Starts … and Ends With YOU

by Melody Stacy

 

A positive leader, in the purest form, is someone who influences the people and environment around them for the better.

We all want to be such a leader and, on our best days, are actively seeking ways to continually improve and amplify our impact.  

We are all capable of being powerful change agents within our organizations. Eliminating blame, victim thinking, complaining, and procrastination are all important in our personal and work lives.

Interested in actionable steps to help break the ever-so-easy, downward spiral that we can get caught in and instead lead a more impactful and rewarding life?

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Holding ourselves accountable to asking the opportunity-driven, rather than incorrect, questions will ensure results and move us forward on our path to greatness. In the book, QBQ!...

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The Highlight Reel: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

compassionate impact tips Oct 06, 2021

 by Aubrey Patterson

 

In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article that found the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, of which 80% are negative, and 95% were repetitive thoughts from the previous day.

Our minds too often focus on the negative, and even worse, create a playlist that loops all day long.

Another study that same year (Leahy, Study of Cornell University), identified 85% of our worries never materialize and that 97% of our worries are baseless.

Now, not all negative thoughts are created equally. Being aware of danger can help us survive, but most negative thoughts are wasted mental calories, serving only to create pessimism and useless drama.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habit.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. (Lao Tzu)

 

So how can we surface and nurture positive...

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Meeting Déjà Vu: We Talked About This Last Year, Right?

by Aubrey Patterson

 

The Faculty Meeting: Meritocracy vs Efficiency

Here’s a scenario that many will recognize ... 

It's 4:23 PM. Seven minutes before the faculty meeting is scheduled to end.

The agenda item is very familiar to the veterans in the faculty meeting who had lived it many times before: End of Year BBQ.

Everyone is confident it will take only a few minutes to sign up for tasks and get out with a few minutes to spare.

Mike

But Mike is new. He innocently and cautiously puts the efficiency of this well-worn item in peril, wondering aloud about the Start of the Year BBQ that would follow in a couple months.

Just a question and I know I am new here, but given we do the same kind of event to start and end the year--which I’m totally good with, it’s so cool--um, could we prepare the set-up of the non-food materials once for both events? We could even purchase the food in the spring for both June and August. It might save us a lot of work in...

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Meetingitis

communication meetings Sep 29, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Have you ever sat in a meeting and wondered, "couldn't this have just been an email?"

Of course.

We all have.

And we've all led or contributed items in a meeting with information that could have been better delivered without a captive audience who are all facing their own time-crunches.

Of course, there are times a leader needs to deliver information or a tough message with clarity, but common sense tells us that if we're going to bring people together, in most cases, it should be for shared expertise and contribution.

Uncommon sense maybe?

Other than delivering information ahead of time in an email, there are other tools we can use to win a battle with meetingitis.

Some teachers flip their lessons. Where it makes sense, they use tools like Screencastify or Loom so their students can watch the lesson and spend time in the classroom asking questions.

And this works really well for faculty meetings or when a small team is going to work on...

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If people have to follow you, how do you know you’re a good leader?

by Aubrey Patterson

 

A few months ago, our team dove into deep thinking mode on a tough question:

If people have to follow you, how do you know you’re a good leader?

Like so many times before, we found our answer in the classroom.

Most impactful observations in a classroom aren't focused on the teacher, but the learners. The depth of learning obviously reflects upon the quality of the instruction.

And herein lies the answer to our question.

Leaders teach. They empower their people and surface individual genius until these followers grow as leaders.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. (John Quincy Adams)

When we build the leadership capacity and confidence of our people, we inevitably are given back the time to do our most impactful and joyous work.

A self-evaluation needn't begin with a long look in the mirror:

  • Are people leading more than they did before I arrived on the scene?

  • Is our staff...

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Say the Why, Lead the Way

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Imagine giving your family a 1000 piece puzzle this Thanksgiving.

You show a beautiful picture that adorns the box, then empty the pieces onto a large table, and say how much fun this will be. 

Everyone is excited to get started.

Perfect!

So, feeling a sense of accomplishment, you leave and take the box with you. 

Say the why, lead the way

It’s certainly valuable to identify our why

We encourage this for individuals and teams. 

But with a caveat ...

Our why is a point of demarkation and a reference guide, but not a finish line. 

Too many leaders stop with why and walk away with the vision, losing their team once the work begins.  

He who thinks he leads but has no followers is only taking a walk. (John Maxwell)

Leadership is more than mountaintop moments and trendy declarations. It requires us to be...

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Crabs in a Bucket

compassionate courageous Sep 14, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson

 

There’s an interesting phenomenon that plays out when a number of live crabs find themselves in a bucket. If alone, most crabs could easily pull themselves up and out of their current situation, but once in a group, their natural inclination is thwarted by other crabs who pull them down.  

This certainly can seem cruel and it might well be. A slightly more optimistic perspective is that the crabs act in this manner out of ignorance, and they are pulling on anything in a desperate situation. 

Crabs in a bucket syndrome is analogous to toxic culture. It takes little thought to tie the analogy to the jealousies, thoughtless actions, and harsh words that can infect mindsets and pull down individuals and organizations. 

Eventually, everyone loses in a culture that insists upon operating from the lowest common denominator.

But we aren’t crabs. 

 It’s better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness....

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Staying True to Your Dreams

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Are you chasing someone else's dream?

Perhaps you're fighting your battles while wearing that person's armour?

Stay true to your dreams

Our first dreams are almost always somebody else’s. This is a natural by-product of having loving parents and teachers, of course.

But unfortunately, aspiring to someone else's dreams can become a lifelong habit.

And all too often, along with the dreams, we take on the limitations others have imposed upon themselves.

These same well-intentioned people in our lives might offer up pathways to dreams that simply don't resonate with us and helpfully ask, "what's holding you back?"

Perhaps it's good that something is holding us back.

We just know deep down this isn't my dream.

The key to unleashing our genius lies in the goals that we pursue. The more our goals align with our dreams, the greater joyful accountability we'll experience in our personal and professional lives.

Oh, and it's professional growth plan season...

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Meeting with Myself

by Aubrey Patterson

 

You're going on vacation this Friday, and suddenly crushing your things-to-do lists, sending quick and clear emails, and crumpling post-its like a pro!

Why?

Meeting with Myself

Most of us get in a zone in the days leading up to a self-imposed finish line.

Certainly, we may be buoyed by increased optimism and energy, but it's not the actual vacation that drives productivity. Rather, we're driven to close as many open loops as possible to better enjoy the time on vacation and satisfy other desires like returning to a fresh start.

This pre-vacation productivity zone may feel a little frantic, but thoughts of a chapter break in our work life and an impending feeling of accomplishment provide an extra gear.

I can feel good about the trip, once I'm in the car.

I'll take a breath when I get through security.

Imagine operating with these finally in the car feelings every week, without the hurried pace.

Time block a 15-minute Friday ...

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The Best Research is Me-search

by Aubrey Patterson

 

I know in my heart there's got to be a better way!

Do you too often land on this thought while lying awake in bed at 2 am, after a long day or dealing with some tough issues?

This is the kind of non-researched cardiac assessment we all do.

Much like real medical assessments, middle-of-the-night cardiac assessments for educational leaders can be painful yet lead to brighter days.  

The best research is me-search

Unfortunately, much impactful creativity begins with a breaking point, digging into a problem that’s eating at us, and finding a solution. 

We don’t really do our best work when we know the answers, but instead when we need the answers. 

These same axioms apply to the problems we encounter in our organizations. 

Most great answers, pathways, and systems begin with a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance and an even healthier supply of humility.

Leaders are not discovered in the limelight; (they) gain...

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