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Dandelions and Orchids

compassionate May 10, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Most accept that we are a product of both nature and nurture.

In 2005, Dr. Tom Boyce and Dr. Bruce Ellis introduced the flower metaphor of orchids and dandelions in an influential academic paper.

They concluded that children who are less sensitive and more resilient are like dandelions, which tend to thrive in any circumstances. Very sensitive children, conversely, are more like orchids that need a nurturing environment in order to flourish.

So what about you?

Of course, we'd all love to be more like the dandelion.

Why doesn’t constant trampling defeat the dandelion? The key to its strength is its long and sturdy root, which extends deep into the earth. The same principle applies to people. The true victors in life are those who, enduring repeated challenges and setbacks, have sent the roots of their being to such a depth that nothing can shake them. - Daisaku Ikeda

Most of us are somewhere...

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I Can Count on You!

by Aubrey Patterson

 

People expressing they can count on us is one of the best compliments we can ever receive.

Being dependable, reliable, and consistent are qualities that speak to our level of dedication.

When we are dedicated to anything or anyone, we become a credible person. 

Commitment, Consistency, and Credibility

It's certainly frustrating to deal with people who say they are making a commitment but refuse to offer a time frame. When there is no clarity regarding what will be done and when, there really is no commitment or reliability. 

Much more damaging is when team members consistently don't meet agreed upon deadlines and trust becomes an issue. 

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. - Dr. Stephen Covey

One Commitment at a Time

Credibility takes time. There aren't any shortcuts to developing it.

How we do one thing Is most often how we do everything. 

...

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Let's Brighten 2022!

by Melody Stacy and Aubrey Patterson 

 

It’s that time of year.

A time for deep introspection.

A time for a celebration of the hopeful optimism of all that’s possible in the new year.

Interwoven into the fabric of all great leaders is an unrelenting commitment to be even better. What naturally follows is reflection and unwrapping how we’ve performed as leaders.

As we consider where we are in our leadership journey, it’s tempting to start setting goals for the new year since we’re conditioned to measure “all the things.”

But this year, we may want to focus on setting our identity rather than setting new goals.

Ask what kind of leader you hope to be. There is powerful inertia in this reframe.

Do you want to become a great leader? We can begin by being a leader who…

is compassionate, showing curiosity and seeking to understand;
 is constructive, being intentional with our time;
is courageous, modelling and building...

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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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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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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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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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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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Making Practices Practical: Building and Sustaining a Positive Culture

compassionate May 24, 2021

by Dr. Danielle Bosanec

 

For many school leaders, the busy nature of their day-to-day schedules can make it difficult to focus on school culture. But over the long term, it is critical to build a culture in which the needs of students and their success comes first, differences are celebrated, and students and staff are challenged to continuously improve. 

Here is what we learned from some of Wisconsin’s top educational leaders. 

School culture is built (and destroyed) in the blink of an eye

Whether or not you think you are building a culture, you are. It happens every moment of every day. 

Staff members look to their leaders to witness the culture of the school. Such things as sincerity, transparency, empathy, mission, and a focus on students can be apparent in even the briefest of interactions. Never lose track of this. 

Students should come first

Perhaps the simplest way to create a positive school culture is to focus on the school’s mission...

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