Monday, July 30, 2018

The Right Start to School

New shoes, school supplies, folders with brads, folders with no brads.  Yep, the start of school is almost here. The stores are packed. The malls are buzzing with excitement as kids pick out their fresh new duds to  begin the year. The start of a new school year brings out the very best in every one of us, and why shouldn't it.  The beginning of a new year is every kid's new opportunity to realize why he was placed on this earth.

What Makes a Strong Start?

How you start the race will put you either in the lead or behind the pack, but we must remember that strong starts are not in the clothes we buy or the supplies we are able to find (folders with brads). Sure these things make us feel excited and prepared for the possibilities of a new year, but they won't help us finish strong.   Strong starts begin with strong preparation.

To start the year strong, we must locate the behaviors, attitudes and effort needed to tackle the work and it is successfully tackled with the grit and perseverance.  All the "clothes" in the world will not help kids overcome the difficulties they will find in their first period Algebra class. Those students who possess tenacity or learn it quickly will overcome their deficits. 

All the school supplies in the world will not help a teacher respond to a class that doesn't connect to him or his content. Organization and commitment to that structure (as well as the kids who will benefit from that structure) will also be critical supplies teachers will need to lead their students to excellence. Furthermore, the ability to build, maintain, and sustain strong student relationships will be the best tool to keep kids in this year-long marathon we call learning. 

As you get ready to start the year, what intangible supplies will you need to begin your race to excellence. After it’s all the intangibles that excellence educators possess that push all kids to excellence, not the tangible supplies on the list. Good luck and have a great beginning of the year. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

7 School Culture Lessons from Japan

Culture says everything about your school because it reflects the values, goals, and aspirations of the community at large. While some cultures possess values that are selfless, others take on a “me first” mindset. Other cultures value winning at all costs while a few value the reputation of their collective character above the results that the culture strives for. 

Take for instance, the Japanese fans at the World Cup whose culture created a viral impact on the world. No matter the result, the Japanese fans supported their team to the very end and then the did the unspeakable.  They cleaned up the stadium after the game. Yes, they cleaned the stadium.  Have you ever done that after a game or better yet at the visitor’s home?   The video below illustrates why they do this abnormal activity. 

So what lessons can we take from the Japanese?
Here are a few take-aways that I believe can benefit all schools and the people inside those schools.

  1. Your character is the most important thing that grows your culture.  Protect it.
  2. Your culture will have wins and losses, and how the people in that culture act in both situations says everything about you and your culture.
  3. Be joyful in everything. 
  4. Appreciate everyone in your culture for that is how your culture is developed.
  5. Celebration is the fuel that keeps your culture growing.
  6. Respect everyone especially those you disagree with.
  7. Leave your school, stadium and every place you go better than you found it.

I was truly inspired to be a better person by what the Japanese displayed, but more than that I was challenged to build a culture that emulates the Japanese spirit.  They could have been cocky when they won or bitter when they lost, but their culture was never either of those selfish postures.  That's because their culture not a ‘winner’ culture.  It is a ‘winning’ culture, and they spread their winning spirit by showing reverence, displaying respect and most importantly demonstrating unbelievable selflessness.  

I think in this time of rudeness, divisiveness, and at times downright hatefulness, our country could use a few plays from their playbook.  Our schools can be the catalyst that actually changes this nastiness that does little more than tear people down.  I say we give it a try.  You never know.  It might definitely make our schools better for all kids, and it could even make our country better for its citizens.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

5 Leadership Lessons from the Golf Course

Golf has never been a favorite sport of mine, and I mean never. Perhaps it is the tedious and technical nature of the game that never appealed to me. Maybe it was the lack of excitement in contact sports, such as soccer, basketball, and football that caused me to be a passive golf enthusiast.

As I enjoyed my monthly golf outing with my daughter, I started to see a lot of similarities between golf and leadership. Here are a few things I learned this past week.

  1. Your current shot is impacted on your ability to forget about your last shot (this applies to both good and bad last shots.).
  2. Sandtraps, and water hazards in front of you will kill your shot if let them.
  3. Keep your head down throughout your shot.
  4. Some clubs are better for your game than others. 
  5. Your focus is your friend.
I don't know about you, but my leadership can be impacted by situations that I have no control over. I have clubs that never let me down while others seem to always hurt my game. When I focus on the sand trap or water in my way, I lose confidence in my swing before I even approach the ball. Isn’t that the same with leadership. Our head is sometimes our greatness asset and worst adversary. 

 Here's the deal, my leadership suffers WHEN I allow factors beyond my control to instill fear or doubt.  Conversely my leadership excels when I look beyond the barriers and set my sights toward the green. As leaders, we owe it to our organization to keep our eyes on the prize and not the obstacles. When we can do that, our swing will be strong, accurate, and ultimately effective, and followers will find confidence in our leadership. 

This week analyze where your swing is slacking. Identify leadership “clubs” (actions) that are hurting your game, and put in some time to get better at them. Finally, identify barriers, fears, and doubts that are inhibiting your game, and make a commitment to meet them head on with confidence.  Trust me. Your game will improve when you face your fears and view your weaknesses are opportunities for growth.