Sunday, November 26, 2017

3 Tips to Making your Mark Matter

Thanksgiving break was a huge learning opportunity for me as our family embarked on a road trip west.  On the way home, we discovered Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo, TX.  An eclectic row of soil-submerged Cadillacs line the middle of a seemingly random corn field.  Its purpose is simple.  Stop and make your mark.  And this unusal mission is accomplished daily as tourists from all over the world park on the side of the road to leave their mark on these strangely half-buried cars.

As I examined the cars more closely, I noticed layers upon layers of spray paint indicating that I was not the first to make my mark, and I definitely wouldn’t be the last. In fact I doubt that my mark made it through the day after I left. The reason was simple. Everyone wanted to mark their mark and there wasn’t enough room to preserve someone’s else’s mark while adding their own.  Marks eventually are marked over. 

Are We Making a Meaningful Mark?
So how is a row of random West Texas Cadillacs similar to school?  Even if you make a great mark on your school, chances are it will be forgotten by most people because someone else will come behind you and make another mark on the school. The reality is that the tangible marks we make on schools eventually fade into oblivion.  So the question that I have to ask myself is this.  How can we leaders make a long-lasting and meaningful mark on our schools that will endure long after our leadership is gone?

Below are 3 marks that I believe all leaders must make.

1. People Marks 
The longest lasting and the most meaningful marks we can leave are on the individual people we serve.  Whether good or bad, you are making marks right now.  Leaders make marks on people, but great leaders make motivational marks on them.

??? - What are you doing to touch people in a way that adds value to their work and inspires them to make their mark on the world?

2. Movement Marks
The Cadillac Ranch in and of itself is a mark on the world. It inspires and invites everyone to come and be a part of something bigger than themselves.  This place is more than a strange sideshow.  It is a subliminal symbol that illustrates how we all can move people beyond the scope of our normal reach.

??? - How can you create a movement like this that makes a permanent mark on your school?

3. Visionary Marks
In education Rick DuFour made a dent of a mark on the education world by creating a vision of what schools could become if they envisioned a new and brighter world for education where educators worked interdependently to ensure that all students succeed. But the beauty of his vision is that he didn’t do it alone. He had to build a team that would not just join him but own their role in making this vision a reality. DuFour's mark is visionary because it continues to grow after his passing.

??? - How can build a team of passionate leaders that can create a brighter vision for your school and work closer toward it everyday. 

On your Mark... Get Set...  Mark!!!
Cadillac Ranch is a powerful vision of what our schools can become. People will come. People will go. People will make their mark, and people will come behind you and cover your marks with marks of their own. One thing is for certain. Cadillac Ranch, like the school, came before you and will continue long after you leave, so the question that we must ask ourselves is this. What kind of mark will you leave on our school that will continue to inspire long after you're gone?

Legacy is based on what remains long after we’re gone.  Ready... Set... Mark

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