I missed the bus is a phrase referring to being too slow to take advantage of an opportunity. In education, it was an excuse for being late to school, like the video attached to the word bus from 1992. Have you ever used that phrase?
Jumping on the bandwagon is another phrase used to join a movement or cause because it is trendy. “Everyone is doing it.” The phrase itself began back in 1848 when a circus clown named Dan Rice would use his wagon to take politicians around to conduct speeches to local people. The music coming from the wagon always attracted a crowd. Have you ever used this phrase?
These phrases may not be utilized as much today as they did in the past, but the concepts are still practiced. Leaders miss opportunities and jump on shiny new things when everyone else gets the popular item. Why do they do this? They are stretched thin and need to find quick results in a fast pace world. Many pressures are placed on our leaders to perform, meet the standards, and be better than all competitors.
As the leader of your organization, you have a great deal of responsibility. There is no more significant responsibility than taking care of those you serve. All of your team members need to know your vision, but most importantly, they need to know they can trust you. A solid foundation builds a team that knows who they are, what they are doing, and where. Our vision is our dream. What we want to achieve in the work we do is the culture created.
The culture of your environment is critical. The vision you have can be incredible, but a toxic environment can destroy it before you begin to build. Culture is how we work each day to move us forward to our vision. In our culture, this is where the actual work is done to make the vision clear for all to see.
What can you do as a leader? Let’s ask hard questions, design plans, and develop habits, processes, and purpose together. Which is more important to have a vision or a positive culture?
Vision and Culture-Both are needed
A vision is a cornerstone of the organization. It is a statement of what an organization would like to achieve in the future but is more than a goal. A vision inspires and connects employees to purpose. As leaders, we need to work together to develop a vision statement with clarity in decision making, help guide others, and make it part of our daily work. Today’s vision statements need to reflect the changes as we lead out of crisis and into the building.
Our culture is designed by what inspires us daily. It is our interactions together in working to achieve the vision, mission, and purpose. The core beliefs, values, and behaviors of the individuals within the organization reflect the culture. For a continuous improvement cycle to be in place, culture and vision are connected to gain purpose.
Everyone in our organization has to be all in on the vision we have and be actively participating in a positive culture to achieve the momentum needed to grow. Just like putting a puzzle together, when one piece is missing, it can not be completed. When you have one individual bringing negativity to the group and fighting against the group’s beliefs, pieces begin to pull apart.
Start your Phrase……
Jon Gordon has the Energy Bus. What can be yours? Do you need one to begin to develop what you need to lead out of a crisis and into building back the foundation for the vision and culture required to succeed? Be the Solution Daily in a world that needs you! No need for catchy phrases, just a solid foundation with core beliefs, a vision , and a design of how to get there. It is fun to think of names, phrases, and crazy ways to remember things. However, the importance of the work is what the focus needs to be on. It cannot be like it was, and we must decide what works now.
With the transitions to Covid from Covid and now additional issues facing us, we need to outline the needs in all areas to focus on our realities.
Fitting the puzzle pieces together
- Identify all areas in your organization or company
- What are the needs in each of these?
- Prioritize the needs in each area.
- Do we see common threads of need?
- What are the top common threads?
- Can we develop a plan to address the common threads of need?
- How can the needs of the organization impact the service we provide?
- Looking at the needs, how does it change, enhance or reflect our vision?
Now that we are looking at our needs, it is time to complete a deeper dive into a needs assessment. This is the best place to start when beginning to look at building a foundation for continued growth.
Can we work together to ask hard questions? Can we listen to all voices? I would like to have honest conversations about what we are facing. This isn’t easy because we will not all agree. Doing what is right is not what is easy; jumping on the bandwagon or missng the bus. It is in having the integrity of doing what is best for all of those involved and those we serve. Ken Blanchard, one of my favorite leaders, found that integrity is what everyone seeks out in leadership. Jon Gordon, another famous leader, has a fantastic book just released called The Sale along with his co-author Alex Demczak which is a tremendous tribute to learning about integrity. Please get your copy today. If you think you deserve to have a free copy from me, tell me what you gain from reading these blogs and how you share it with others. Please send me an email after you like the post at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for sharing time and space with me daily.
The pandemic brought attention to education. Education should always have our attention and focus. It is the key to the success of our society as our next generation learns, creates, and discovers.
Critical Race Theory was/is a big topic for discussion on what was being taught. What other programs, curriculums are being taught in schools that are designed or disguised by the name. Many question Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). What is behind this name? What are children being taught and learning?
One of the very first things I learned as an administrator was the importance of respecting parents and families. Parents trust and share their children with us. Under no circumstances should we ever try to tell them how to parent. Our role is to provide a support system, resources, and quality education.
Parents look at programs and curriculums that sound like or look like they are invading parenting. It is a partnership together in helping children grow. It is my belief as well that the community be part of this partnership in providing the supports to fill in gaps and to enrich where possible.
When you are preparing to add a new program or curriculum to your school, what steps do you take?
Do you Consider?
- Thoughts and Opinions of parents, families, and guardians?
- Teachers and Support Staff?
- What data?
- How is it named?
- Community support?
- How does it connect to mission, vision, and goals?
My husband is a straightforward kind of guy! He says, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.” So in my understanding, do not try to dress up your programs with fancy names, but state what they are. Provide all of the information needed to understand what is being taught with no room for questions.
What would you like?
If you could design the curriculum for the schools what would you include? Please share your thoughts! What would you like to see schools teach?
"The miracle is not that we do the work, but that we are happy to do it.”-Mother Teresa
Leaders provide lots of information, data, strategies, and models for success. As a leader, you have attended workshops, webinars, read books, and researched all of the knowledge of “what works” to achieve success. Still, after all of this, you scratch your head when you see the data come in with results you think should reflect better outcomes.
Why? All of these efforts and the same results. How can we explain this? “Everyone wins when a leader gets better.”-Craig Groeschel. Training, strategies, looking at data, and utilizing models proven to be successful should help us see growth and positive outcomes.
“You cannot solve a problem at the same level it was created.”-Albert Einstein. It is finding solutions to problems or issues we face that are complex at times. It isn’t that all of the things I listed are not necessary, but what is missing that is critical to ensure positive results?
It is a culture with a clearly defined mission, vision, and values. Leaders can explain the purpose of the organization in one sentence. Meetings, conversations, and communications refer to the mission, vision, and values frequently. Decisions are based on these as well. However, is it talking points and papers in a binder?
Ask these questions to reveal the answers to help guide in the understanding of the culture you have, what you should have and cannot have to thrive.
- Does your team enjoy being together?
- How do staff interact together?
- Do you have a process for the continuous development of staff?
- How do staff feel about their job?
- Do leaders model and encourage self-awareness and intentional personal development?
- Are you able to have open discussions about the work environment?
- Do you handle conflict?
- How do you monitor or know about the culture?
- Do you trust one another?
“When we have to protect ourselves from each other, the whole organization suffers. But when trust and cooperation thrive internally, we pull together, and the organization grows stronger as a result.”Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek pg. 16
If you have ever tried to work in a toxic culture, you know first hand it is exhausting, and nothing can be accomplished. When individuals feel safe, comfortable with their team, and valued by everyone, they are inspired. We want to have these kinds of cultures as individuals love what they do, where they do it, and most importantly, “why” they do it.
Do you ask this question to others? “Hi Jane, How are you today?” It is a simple question as part of our greeting and not an in-depth question many may need to answer. As schools returned to face to face, businesses are trying to maintain without workers due to no applicants, and companies are trying to ship materials to places in need as materials become available.
How can we greet our coworkers and employees in ways to help them and to check on how they are? At this time, it is so important to check on others and to let them understand they matter to us. Many things are causing stress to others and maybe even for ourselves. Letting others know is the best way to find solutions. I have a former student missing and a former student who just killed himself. My heart breaks for their families. These young men I think of as “my kids,” and I picture them in the time we were together. The charisma of both these kids is amazing, fun to be around, friends with many, and nice looking. If someone asked me, How are you? “I am fine, just fine.” Am I?
Most people do not tell others the truth. They mask things that are bothering them. People pass you all the time. Do you notice them? How much do you know about the people you work with daily? How about those you use to work with but not anymore? Neighbors? Family? Do you check on any of them? The truth is rarely told on how we are. https://youtu.be/lbqS806GU4I
Change the questions. Change the responses. Let the truth be told, and solutions will be found. #Bethesolutiondaily Find the resources to help others in need. Reach out to others when you are in need. You matter, we matter, together we matter, and we will be fine! Faith, hope, and love for one another.
Many of the posts and articles I have written speak about gratitude. One of the most important aspects of a leader’s responsibility is providing, modeling, and supporting this character trait.
Authenticity is the approach to everything you do. The worse thing you can do is to fake your approach to an appreciation for others. Then next is to overdo the gratitude approach by making it feel “expected” or “not special” and just like saying “great job.”
The following article from Edutopia is a great one to read as you look to add gratitude to your culture. In my history of gratitude, I have done:
- Shout outs by email about individuals to all staff
- Personal notes, cards, and gifts
- Pictures in positive cards home!
- Poems created for individuals
- Mailed home personal postcards over Christmas break to all staff and students (675 postcards handwritten)
- Themed celebrations
Share your gratitude ideas with us as we lift all in times of critical need.
Nobody needs to tell you about having obligations; we learn this as a child. We have responsibilities to ourselves, family, community, country, and let’s not leave God out. But when it comes to meeting these obligations, what takes priority?
“In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.”-Colossians 3:23
Whatever your plans are with life, prioritize! Life brings many opportunities, disappointments, celebrations, and achievements. It is in taking the directions, turns, and roads before us that lead us to the spot we are right now. However, as we all know, we keep moving. It is all of the choices and reactions we make to help us as we move.
Jon Gordon and P.J. Fleck have released a new book, Row the Boat. It is an incredible story for you to read! You will learn how this coach turned a tragedy into a choice of not being defined by life journeys, events, and circumstances beyond his control—turning to a strategy. He choose to place into practice in life the “row the boat” to guide with enthusiasm and optimism. P.J. takes you through the process to discover how to put the “row the boat” components into practice. So pull up the anchor and set sail on the best book you will read this year.
Our obligation to ourselves is to invest in learning as much as we can to help ourselves and others. “Do all you can to give more than you take because serving and giving is key to life.”-RTB.
Think about the obligations you have today. What is your priority? The direction you are headed is decided by the compass you carry. “Live with a compass of faith.”-RTB. When you fulfill your obligations based on your priorities, you will count blessings not troubles.
Many times my staff and students would hear me repeat things over. I believe repeating consistently helps to cement it into our thinking. So I would say:
- Watch your thoughts; they become your words
- Watch your words; they become your actions
- Watch your actions; they become your habits
- Watch your habits; they become your character
- Watch your character; it becomes your destiny
“Trained behavior creates boring habits, boring habits create elite instincts.”-RTB It is training of the mind and our mindsets that help us focus. Set your priorities to meet your obligations. Your destination is ahead!
Thank you for being the solution daily. Model for others as you are the standard of what we need to be. Let your light shine to brighten the darkness in the world.
One of my first posts was about gears. I made this reference as it was part of the original writing in my book. I did not know everything I needed to know about publishing a book. So even though my gears were turning, I did not have all of the ones I needed to move forward successfully. A rewrite was done, and it will be coming out soon I hope.
The goal I have is to help other leaders in their journeys of success. I will share all of my information, ideas, practices, actions, and everything I have with those who want to continue to be the solution daily for those they serve. Today I want to revisit the thought of gears as you begin to develop an action plan to address your planned improvements.
I utilized my conversations with my husband to talk about the motors he worked on for companies and local farmers, as they compare to the work in education. The importance of these motors for the work being done is critical to the whole process. If one gear is not working, damage can happen, and work is stopped. A farmers’ work depends on the weather conditions; it is critical to get back to work when the weather is good. In education, we weather all of the storms that come our way.
In our educational system, we have gears as well that are critical to the work we do. I divided the gears into the following:
- Professional Learning/Collaboration
- Systems/Program Evaluation
Gears are connected to a shaft. This cylinder shaped piece of rotating machine element, is used to transmit power from one part to another, or from a machine which produces power to a machine which absorbs power. Compare this to your organization.
Gears are the identified areas of focus. Our focused areas are those in need of attention to produce the successful energy we need. Often my husband has spent time completing a rewind of motors because they have burnt up and need an overhaul. Sometimes they are beyond repair and are scrapped out. New motors are purchased if it is cheaper to do this than to fix the motor.
In education, it seems at times we have situations or things that are beyond repair. However, we cannot scrap them out and purchase new things. We have to make adjustments to try to make it work. I can think of textbooks, programs and curriculum. We spend a great deal of money, time, and energy in the selection of these materials. Our budgets do not allow us to throw things out. However, when new shiny things are the buzz, we through out and turn our attention to the new. Examples could be: Whole Language, Touch Math, Cursive Writing, Phonics, Sight Words and more.
We intend that we will produce enough energy our students will absorb the learning. However, it is not the energy from the materials and tools but those teaching our students producing the energy. It is when our students are engaged and have ownership in their learning the energy sparks.
The shaft is our mission as a foundation. It is what we are doing defined by our vision. Our vision is inspirational and connects emotionally with what we do. A well-oiled, lubricated, or greased machine keeps it turning. This is our values and beliefs. Working together and turning in the right direction is fueled by families, communities, and stakeholders. We have focused leaders, collaborating staff, engaged families, supportive community, and stakeholders, producing achieving students as outcomes are the results.
As you begin your work, identify your focus areas. Which gears do you have in your plan? What do you think at first glance needs your attention first? Be careful not to burn out all of your bags and destroy your shaft. Some things are not repairable, and we do not have enough time to repair them all. We cannot afford to throw anything out.
Counting on you to be the solution for those you serve today as they will serve tomorrow!
Can you hear it?
The “white noise” of the world “darkens” the “brightness” of our thoughts, deafening our ears preventing us from hearing the wisdom of our father.
Can you see it?
Our vision is “clouded” by the distortion of the images presented as we question softly with muffled replies of lies. We are transforming; we are patterns in a world being changed unrecognized by our eyes. The sounds become louder, the sights become larger, and our world became smaller as we seek less from it.
Do you know it?
Do not conform to a world, but renew your mind. Morals, values, beliefs, and united together as one are what needs to be done. We live where a click of a button identifies us as a follower in the social media world, limiting the idea of leadership. Where are the leaders?
Yesterday we lived, it is gone, but lessons remain. We cannot live backward, only forward with lessons to apply. The mirror reflects an image of the one who can choose for today to stand to prepare for tomorrow. Live for today, conquer fears no matter the fractures created, focus on the future, the unfailing love for faith, family, and the country as we prevail. The choice, of course, is always yours to make; the solution daily is the one we hope you make.