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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!


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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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. 


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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So Much STUFF!

constructive impact tips Aug 21, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson


How many times in the past 24 hours have you thought about something you need to do while trying to be present with someone close to you?

Do you carry the weight of unfinished projects or impending difficult conversations to bed at night? 

So much stuff!

Wasting time and mental calories on the same stuff only add stress. 

Such habits have become normalized and a cruel form of white noise in our busy lives.

The last thing a fish would ever notice would be water. (Ralph Linton) 

If something's on our minds, most often it's because we want it to be different. Until the change occurs or we feel progress, it will hang there as an open loop in our minds. 

An ambient angst pervades our society—there’s a sense that somehow there’s probably something we should be doing that we’re not, which creates a tension for which there is no resolution and from which there is no rest. (David Allen) 

Our first instinct is often a...

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False Summits

by Aubrey Patterson


Some of our biggest successes can be pretty messy, right?

Be sure that as you scramble up the ladder of success, it is leaning against the right building. (Stephen R. Covey)

False Summits 

When hiking in the mountains, we're likely to encounter a false summit - a hill that looks like the summit from our current position. Then, as we get closer we get to this false summit, we realize that the hill we're currently trekking is hiding another hill we'll need to climb.

We’ve all had our hearts sink a little facing false summits.

We build a vision, work hard to actualize it, and, just when we think we're almost there, the view changes. 

We need to be comfortable with adapting to a new perspective and abandoning our perfect plans.

Of course, we want everything to run smoothly and be in the right place. However, success is typically replete with exposing and creatively solving unanticipated problems.

When life...

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Leadership and Rubik's Cubes

by Aubrey Patterson


When we strive for perfection, we have a vision that not only includes an exciting destination, but also a smooth journey.

If you’ve ever tried to solve a Rubik’s Cube, you most certainly have experienced this.

Our first move is a fairly predictable move that gives us temporary satisfaction when we arrange a single row of the puzzle to be one color. With a little more thought and effort, we advance to having the colors match on one side of the cube. 

We might enjoy a momentary celebration and become eager to complete two sides!

But alas, we encounter a terrible dilemma: In order to complete the next side of the cube, we must mess up the perfection we just enjoyed.

Our next move requires messing up our previous progress in order to exceed our current achievements.

Whether we're trying to solve a puzzle, build new...

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A Lesson From Goldilocks

constructive impact tips Aug 21, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson


Why do some, like James Dyson who failed in 5,126 attempts before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum, persist for years at their craft? 

The Goldilocks Principle

Scientists have studied such persistence for years and the findings are consistent. 

While there is still much to learn, one of the most consistent findings is that the way to maintain motivation and achieve peak levels of desire is to work on tasks of just manageable difficulty. (James Clear)

This isn't a foreign concept in education. Just manageable difficulty has been used by teachers in levelled reading, individualized instruction, and other very common teaching strategies for years.

In leadership circles, this axiom is often referred to as the Goldilocks Principle. 

We experience peak motivation when we work on tasks that are not too hard, not too easy, but just right.

So, what if we differentiated our leadership according...

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