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Staying Curious

by Melody Stacy


Curiosity killed the cat.

A useful illustration of why we shouldn’t be nosing around in situations that don’t involve us? Maybe. But as leaders, we may want to take a different perspective.

Curiosity sparks the trust, growth, and joy.

Certainly not as catchy. But this version is leadership gold.

Curiosity is a powerful mindset.

We were all born with an inquisitive approach to our world that, unfortunately, tends to dwindle as we age. As we move along in our careers, things like our ego can completely squelch any remaining glimmer.

Be curious, not judgmental. - Walt Whitman

If we can nurture this pilot light, we can spark many powerful elements for ourselves and our teams.

Stay curious a little bit longer.

One way to nurture curiosity is to focus on asking questions. As we do, we are forced to slow down, unlocking a simple yet powerful leadership strategy.

When we listen more and talk less, we can avoid missteps while building empathy....

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I Don't Know What I Don't Know

communication courageous Sep 06, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Have you ever worked for someone who is comfortable admitting not having all the answers and who asks questions like, 'Did I explain this clearly enough?' or 'Did I use any phrases or jargon that might mean something different to two different people?"

We Don't Know What We Don't Know

We often don’t know as much as we think we do. 

Need convincing?

Look around at something you use every day. Perhaps you see a door knob or your car radio. Now, try to explain the basics of how that item works. When we attempt this seemingly simple task, it's likely we'll find gaps in what we actually know. In psychology, this overconfident space is referred to as the illusion of explanatory depth, or the belief that we know more than we actually know. 

We see this illusion frequently in everyday buzz words like time blocking...

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The Power of a Story

by Melody Stacy


Once upon a time, there was a leader who told powerful stories that influenced her team and led to clarity and cohesiveness around the pillars of her organization.

The end.

Stories connect us at the most basic level of humanity.

We’ve all felt it.

Listening to someone tell a story and suddenly we’re feeling what they’re feeling, on the edge of our seats, and hanging on each word.

And in the next days, weeks, and even years, we recollect and even retell that story we heard.

The story we felt.

If I ask you to think about something, you can decide not to. But if I make you feel something? Now I have your attention. - Lisa Cron

Stories stick.

How do we harness the leadership power of this most historic and basic form of communication?

According to David Hutchens, storytelling expert and author, leaders must tell four core types of stories.

Origin - what it means to be us

 Vision - the future we desire


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Is Your Email a Progress Trap?

communication impact tips Apr 05, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Has technology really made day-to-day communication easier? 

Most would never choose a return to the days of the fax machine or expensive phone calls in favor of the wonderful ability to instantly FaceTime a daughter across the country or text congratulations to a friend in another country.

But what about the vast amount of undesirable and expectation-laden messages you receive every day?

We create a progress trap when our ingenuity is used to solve one large problem that inadvertently causes new problems that affect our quality of life.

The taming of fire, creation of cities, and industrial revolution all led to lurches forward, while each improvement also brought with it progress traps.


Imagine a week without receiving an email. It's certainly an attractive thought, right? 

However, anyone who can recall sending multiple faxes or waiting weeks for a signed form to...

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Carry Your Weather

communication meetings Jan 17, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Have you ever noticed how some people seem to brighten and warm-up every room they enter?

Like a weather front moving in, everyone feels a change as soon as that person enters the conversation.

Carry Your Weather

We all carry our own weather.

When you carry your weather with you, you can choose to be consistent, regardless how people treat you.  (Dr. Stephen R. Covey)

Certainly, carrying good weather comes easier to some than others, but whether we are greeting a visitor at the front desk, leading a meeting, or listening to someone else lead, we have the ability to be a room brightener. 

Regardless of today's forecast, we always have a choice.

And maintaining a positive mindset is always easier than regaining a positive mindset, but sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to model what we'd love to see in others. 

Assume a cheerfulness you do not feel, and shortly you feel the cheerfulness you assumed. (Chinese...

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We Don't Have to be Nutella

communication courageous Jan 10, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Do you find yourself saying yes to helping people when deep down you know you should say no?

Taking care of others isn't just something remarkable leaders like doing; it's in their DNA.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. (Mahatma Gandhi)

We're wired to say yes as individuals and it's natural that we want a culture where everyone is eager to support one another.

We Don't Have to Be Nutella

It can be really difficult to say no.

We can still lose ourselves in the service of others by saying no to those few who go beyond our values or what we've determined as key priorities.

A gracious decline isn't a rejection of the person. It's a recognition that you don't have the energy for this right now. (Adam Grant)

Whether real-life or social media, chasing likes can only be exhausting.

And shouldn't leaders make decisions based upon principles and not preferences?

We don’t have to be ...

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Make it Easy for Them to Hire You

communication impact tips Dec 20, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson


Are you updating a cover letter and resume for an upcoming dream position?

Most applications are now requested and submitted online. Seems easy enough.

Here's a tip to avoid one of the biggest mistakes you might make when applying for this dream position.

Make it easy for them to hire you.

Have you ever printed a number of similar-looking items and had to put them in the proper order? Perhaps it was a year of utility bills for taxes or a pile of medical receipts that needed to be itemized for reimbursement? Think about the time and care it took you to get them in their proper order.

Now consider how little time an admin assistant or secretary has when printing attachments received in an application package.

How will your hard work be ordered and represented in the short-listing meeting?

What package will be sitting in front of the members of the interview committee if you get to that final step in the hiring process?

A Simple Solution

Email is a common...

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Leading with Gratitude

by Aubrey Patterson


Early in life, most of us are taught to count our blessings, but this lesson all too often fails to become a habit. When calamity knocks on our door, many of us are not accustomed to acknowledging the good that still surrounds us.

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count. (Neal A. Maxwell)

Luckily, gratitude is a muscle we can exercise.

Leading with Gratitude

Gratitude and optimism work hand in glove; we can learn to be thankful for the past and present while hoping for something better in the future.

But gratitude and optimism are not equally effective as strategies.

Leading with gratitude increases the likelihood that we inspire thoughtful conversations and compelling action. While optimism is critical to goal-setting and wonderful for visioning, gratitude has a better chance of surfacing our exciting next steps.

Gratitude is one of the few things in life that simply cannot be overdone.

People feel and express...

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What is Your Team Saying to Those Closest to Them?

by Melody Stacy


What do conversations at holiday family gatherings have to do with our school cultures? And how do they inform us as leaders?

Imagine any number of these exchanges. What do you hear?

Adoration of the youngest, questions about the health of the oldest, updates on recent relationships, and hobbies are sure to be on the greatest hits.

And inevitably comes the question, "So how is your work going?"

Full stop.

Because the answer that follows matters. And it matters a great deal to those of us leading.

What your team is saying to those closest to them is the true test of your culture.

You might be thinking, "But I'm not at those events. How do I know what they're saying?"

If we listen closely, we'll hear.

Are our team members saying things like this?

Gosh, my work is difficult, but my team is energetic and supportive. And I love working alongside them!

 My principal sure does expect a lot, but you know what? I feel valued and I know she believes in me?


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Clarity and a Kind Voice

by Aubrey Patterson


Of course, the scenario you're about to read is all too familiar, but are you fortunate enough to know someone who leads like Carla?

Like a Duck

The day is just beginning and the telephones are lighting up.

Line 1: A teacher is calling in sick.

Line 2: An angry parent.

A whimper and crying eyes staring up: A little one is seeking an ice pack.

A tap on the shoulder: The new teacher asking where to find a student’s file.

This would be an awfully eventful two minutes for most.

Carla politely puts the teacher on hold and pages the assistant principal; she then offers a kind greeting and exquisite manners to a slightly confused and well-meaning mom; gives a hug and an ice pack to poor little Michael (while offering a silent thank you to her principal for the phone headset); and gives wide-eyes and a smile while mouthing, “just a sec” to the teacher waiting for that file.

With every action and word, Carla communicates compassion,...

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