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It’s complicated … or is it?

by Melody Stacy

 

Are you ready for a pop quiz?

No?

Good. It wouldn’t be a pop quiz if you were.

Ready or not, here we go ...

  1. As school leaders, should we love our staff or have high expectations for them?
  2. Should we be the confident leaders in our school or should we have empowered teachers?
  3. As a team, should we celebrate our accomplishments or succumb to a sense of urgency to improve?
  4. Should we approach our work tightly aligned to our vision and goals or give loose autonomy for people be themselves?

Did you have a hard time choosing?

Good. That's the point.

As leaders, we are faced with countless decisions bringing infinite implications every day. Many of those decisions seem very complex and often seem to force a choice between contradictory options.

The most important aspects of our work don't fit into nice, neat checkboxes.

What if embracing the paradox could bring about freedom and clarity while helping us pursue greatness?

When we are comfortable mired in...

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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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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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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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Be a Manager AND a Leader.

constructive impact tips Aug 21, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Whether you're a teacher, office assistant, or administrator, much of your most important work will never be noticed.

And that's the way it's supposed to be.

Be a manager and  a leader

You must have noticed that it's trendy to say, "be a leader, not a manager."

Before we dive into the critique, please know that we've said it too.

It's well-intended, but awfully short-sighted and misleading.

It's also unnecessary cheerleading.

The vast majority of our work is coaching education leaders and we've encountered ZERO people who don't want a great culture or to embrace growth mindset principles.

Most just can't find the time or support to make it happen.

I'd like to find ways to spend more time with my budget and email, and less time leading dynamic meetings and nurturing leadership. (said no one ever )

We believe in Dr. Stephen Covey's axiom: manage things so you can lead people.

Management is foundational stuff. No one seems...

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Carefronting

by Melody Stacy

 

When your school culture is all about positivity and that magical mixture of love and high expectations, there needs to be a certain amount of healthy conflict to combat artificial harmony and ensure the forces of mediocrity aren’t winning. 

 Carefronting

In the last several years, our school has developed compelling and connected core values, vision, mission, and goals, but we've also found ourselves, at times, a bit love-heavy and unknowingly, and with good intentions, playing too nice.

As our teacher voice team was reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, we completed the team assessment activity and found the results confirmed what we suspected. We were really, really strong on the first three layers of the team pyramid (trust, conflict, and commitment) and our weakest area was in accountability. Our need to avoid interpersonal discomfort was preventing team members from holding each other accountable for...

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Smooth Stones Take Time

by Aubrey Patterson

 

It sure would be wonderful if we could avoid the bumps, bruises, and pain that comes with growing, right? 

Or would it?

Unprecedented Times

Certainly, what we’ve experienced in recent times is unprecedented. There isn't any class or internship to prepare a leader for all this pandemic has presented.

Warm demander leaders enhance the culture in difficult times by being compassionate, constructive, and courageous.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. (Frederick Douglass)

In good times, we don't move until we're uncomfortable, much like we might wait until we're actually shivering before we put on a sweater. Often, some of our best results come from discomfort or even pain. 

Every problem introduces a person to himself. (John McDonnell)

Smooth Stones

Imagine a rapidly flowing river replete with jagged rocks on the edge and smooth stones under the surface. 

The stones are worn down by bumping up against one another and the water...

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