Category: decision making

Measuring Meaningfulness

I constantly measure the meaningfulness of the messages I send, the information I share, and how I impact those who choose to read my posts. I intend to always help with driving solution-focused thinking and increasing the positives we share in day-to-day interactions.

One thing missing is an opportunity for others to share what they would like me to focus on to help them in what they are doing. I want to pause and organize this blog to work for those who need it to work for them. My idea is to dedicate each day to a particular topic. Examples could be: Monday: Motivation, Inspiration, Meetings Tuesday: Teaching, Thoughts, Talking Points, Communication Wednesday: Wisdom, Wit, Things to Ponder Thursday: Takeaways, Things to Share, Activities for team building Friday: Facts, Factors, Leadership Saturday: Solutions, Strategies, Plans. Sunday: Spiritual, Social-Emotional, Mental Health

Maybe you don’t want to read something daily. What if you wanted something in one post? If this is your desire, what day would you choose to receive it, and what do you need the content to include?

Be the solution daily is for you. I want to thank all of my followers and those who have invested their time. Starting today, I will take a two-week break while I gather information on the direction of this blog.

Keep being the solution daily for all as we serve others in making the world better one day at a time.

Ambition

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher

Cultivating Healthy Ambition

Ambition is an essential element to an organization and individual. Ambition begins with understanding the desires, aspirations, and goals you have for yourself and your team. What exactly are your desired outcomes for yourself and those of your team?

Knowing and understanding how far to reach is key to harnessing healthy ambition. Setting goals that require just the right level of difficulty push and struggle helps ensure to reach beyond your current abilities. Suppose the challenge is too great; a risk of giving up or becoming discouraged when target goals fall short happens. If the challenge isn’t significant enough, a risk of disconnecting, not being engaged, and never reaching the levels of total performance is accomplished.

I worked with a young ambitious leader who was very talented. His desire to accomplish was greater than the skill levels of himself and his team. They pushed full steam ahead, but lacked the ability to sustain all of the components of their plans. Piles of data was collected, but being able to utilize it wisely with a targeted purpose was missing. They could accomplish some small wins, but the frustration levels grew with trying to maintain the action plans. Creating the action plans was difficult to establish because the data seemed to become outdated by the time they reviewed it together. It became overwhelming with the stacks of data collected.

There is more to accomplish than performance with ambition. We need to think about growth, achievement, sustainable and solution-focused ambitions. Each of these requires more in-depth conversations we can continue in future blog posts. We need a balance for ambition to find the formula for success. In the meantime, ponder these questions with your purpose of performance:

Questions for Focus

  • What are our current performance goals?
  • What goals can you reach with your efforts?
  • What goals can you help guide your team in accomplishing?
  • How can the efforts of “all” work together to accomplish the goals?
  • Do the goals need to be prioritized?
  • Have you assigned timelines, responsibilities, tasks, or other ways to accomplish them?
  • What do I wish was different today?
  • What frustrates me the most?
  • Have I asked the team any of these questions?
  • Do I listen to the team, data and information?

When we work only on performance ambition, our teams may look to us in different ways. If our goals seem unattainable, they will look at us as being “unrealistic.” Maybe you have set too many or too high of goals. The team believes you are setting them up for failure.

What if you do not take any risks and have too few of goals? The team thinks you do not believe in them, you are not a risk-taker and you have low expectations.

We do not want to lose our sense of purpose. Our team must believe in the goals, values, and beliefs we establish. It is essential to keep a check on the level of ambition we have and to maintain high sustainable energy to develop the accomplishments we want to achieve.

Obligations, we all have them

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.

Tuesday Talks and Topics

Topic today: Trauma

As you work with others, it is always helpful to have an organized approach for positive results. While being a leader in a school, I knew every minute was valuable. Having a focused plan, a weekly or daily announcement to staff needed to be structured to support our goals and having conversations they needed/wanted to hear. How do you do that?

Be alert and aware of what is needed to be placed in written form and what is required to be verbalized. Staff does not need to come to a meeting to have you read from a paper; they can do this themselves. You have things you need to say, and they need to hear you say, especially as we return face to face.

No matter what level you are, working with others or being part of a group, it is essential to understand how to support, deal with and monitor the signs of trauma. Trauma, we can clearly state, is something every child and adult has experienced at some level due to Covid-19.

Trauma

  • We are living lives impacted by trauma that others could not have predicted.
  • Some are living in situations where family members are part of the circumstances of the trauma.
  • Some have lost a loved one (grandparent, parent, sibling, child).
  • We are living in uncertain and constantly changing circumstances.
  • Some are living in areas of daily violence and fear.
  • There are many more things we can list to add for traumatic events contributing to trauma in the lives of those around us.

What can we do in regards to trauma? Prevention is always the first step in the solution process but never the only step. If prevention is not something we can do, there are several things to do to help trauma victims.

Action Steps

  • Prevention steps always step one in solving problems before they happen and preventing them from reoccurring.
  • Deal with immediate needs, fears and concerns.
  • Restore the sense of normalcy with structure, routines and predictable schedules.
  • Montior behaviors and emotional responses. (Trauma can linger in individuals for a long time and reoccur with outbursts, depression and other unusual behaviors.)
  • Talk with individuals about what they are feeling.
  • Refer to professionals if there is no improvement. (Do not overreact, it does take a little time to deal with Traumatic events)

I am not a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist, but a survivor of a traumatic event and traumatic brain injury. The injuries are life-long but not something you cannot deal with each day. The step about daily routines and structure, this one was critical for me. I needed this to help me in my healing. When things were changed, it threw me off completely. So think about those changes for your students with special needs; they really can not help the behavior. It is a response that is natural to them. Routines are safe for them/us. When we do not have the routine, schedule or sense, or normal, it brings the trauma back to us.

Talking Trauma is not a one-time talk. We need to talk more! There are many things we need to put into practice, take time to have discussions and understand we have all experienced Trauma. Practicing self-care is so important. Letting others know mental health needs are okay, we need to talk to professionals and be treated. Mental health issues does not mean a thing. Let’s stop labeling things please.

Thanks for talking Tuesday! Please add your comments so we can gain more insight to this topic. #Bethesolutiondaily

Turning Gears into Action

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:

  • Leadership
  • Instruction
  • Curriculum
  • Assessments
  • Professional Learning/Collaboration
  • Culture/Climate
  • Communication
  • Community/Partnerships
  • 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!

Snap judgments or decisions

Making snap judgments and quick reactions seem to happen more often than I realized. Our society works at a fast pace, and it continues to speed up. I know I am getting older, but it is still speeding up no matter what age.

It should come as no surprise to me that we are working faster with the advancements we have made with technology. However, our human bodies and minds are not going to change. Our processing speeds and reaction times will remain the same on the trajectory of our life spans.

When we make a snap judgment, we are evaluating something or someone. We look at an individual and determine many things quickly. Our snap judgments tell us if they are trustworthy or not, safe or dangerous, friendly or mean, and can you think of more?

Growing up, we accumulated many experiences which provided us with a basis to influence us in how we view the world. Can we change our minds? Our environments and experiences affect us a great deal, I believe. What do we consider our environment? Our home life, education, community, media, church, and society in general. So as we move through our life journey, our environments change as our relationships change.

Have you made a snap judgment or decision? Can you remember being told this advice: “You want to make a good first impression at your interview.” What did or does that mean to you?

During the past decades of work in the educational world, I can tell you what I advised students what this meant by talking, modeling, and listening.

Every day I wore a suit to work, dress pants, a blouse, blazer, and heels. Sometimes I had flats depending on the suit pants length. (Yes, I could run in those heels if I needed to do so.) I dressed for success and modeled for others what I expected. I respected them and the work I did.

Next, I did every job. There was not something I would not do or ask my staff to do something I was not willing to do. I was visible to everyone picking up trash, serving lunch, riding the bus, covering a classroom, coaching a game, and the list goes on. We are all part of a team working together to serve.

Communication was vital as I spoke to everyone and by name. Saying thank you, excuse me, you are welcome and modeling the character we want to see and hear. Repeating my famous phrase of “You can be part of the problem or part of the solution; the choice is yours to make.” Maintaining a positive communication environment helps to keep the environment positive.

The best lesson came when I was able to go to school with most of my teeth missing, black eyes, and around 50 stitches. “Does the way I look now change who I am?” Students could see my willingness to stand before them, looking like a different person, a pretty scary look. A great lesson is to not judge a person by the way they look but to take the time to get to know who they are first. Standing in front of middle school students takes courage in the first place; try doing it with a name like Yoho and with most of your teeth missing. It’s okay if you just laughed out loud. It happens.

It is my hope as you start back to school, back to work face to face or if you have started a new position, take some time to learn about the place you are and the people you are with before you make a snap judgment. Think about these things as you start to compare or judge:

  • Accountability more than Ability
  • Character more than Color
  • Brains more than Beauty
  • Quality more than Quantity
  • Effectiveness more than Effortlessly
  • Humble more than High Achiever

The list can be expanded to include more things to consider. The critical thing to remember is to pause and not to use snap judgments. You could miss out on important people and things by not waiting.

My concern after working so hard with students on the importance of not placing judgments, including all individuals, and being kind to all, we are taking steps backward at a faster pace. The conversations being held about possible curriculums seem to place students in positions to judge others, just as our society is doing this daily. As I have stated, our environments influence our thoughts, actions, and behaviors. Take a pause and reflect on what is currently happening by exploring all aspects of the places I indicated influence us: homelife, education, church, community, media, and society in general. A solution-focused mindset allows for positive ideas to guide changes, where a problem-focused agenda fills the minds with negativity and not allowing solutions to move forward.

Leaders are essential in leading this fast pace environment. Thank you for being the solution daily.

My way, Your way, Our way….

I grew up really as an only child. My brother and sister are 16 and 17 years older than me, respectively. I have always said I was a gift from God to make sure someone could help this family.

My siblings, especially my sister, did lots of things with me. I think I was like a doll. The best adventure I can recall was going to see Elvis Presley in concert. I loved his music, but I was more fascinated by the way grown women were acting. So exciting to watch! He did it his way!

Watching my grandchildren play, I learned a great lesson. They span in age from three years, six years, and 13 years old. The two younger boys play together and are not always easy to handle. Their sister is quick to help settle disputes and monitor the playtime.

While vacationing at the beach, everyone found their place. Each one has a special interest in what they wanted to do. There were enough adults that each child had one to help them in whatever they wanted to do.

When they decided to play together after having their time, the conversations were so interesting.

“Hey, look, I found a purple-colored shell. Would you want it?”

“Yes, thanks!”

“Do you want me to help you find more shells?”

Fantastic how they were working together to collect shells. Now it lasted a short time as you know, attention spans do not last long and brothers, well are boys.

We took the shells back to the house to sort, identify and talk about them. We like to do art projects and make things; this is what they do with me. They each had a container to place their shells in, and all was good.

How does your team work together on projects? As a leader, do you begin with your way of approaching the task or situation? Are there opportunities to identify and sort out target points? Can individuals discuss freely and offer ideas?

In dealing with finding solutions, it is essential to have all voices heard and illustrate possible solutions. People need to see, hear, talk, and sometimes “touch”(move items) to understand the process.

If the solution is “my way,” the problem will stay. It stays because, most likely, I am the only one who believes in the solution. The same is true if the solution is “your way,” which most likely comes from the loudest one. It should be “our way,” providing ownership from all.

Think about the structures of your problem-solving teams. How do you handle issues that come up? Do you have a process to follow? Who is involved in making decisions and finding solutions?

Thank you for being the solution daily! It takes each of us working together focused on solutions.

Decision Making takes skills

Driving can be so peaceful in the country—so many beautiful things to look at. What is that in the road? A rabbit! It better move. It is in the way. A decision, a choice must be made before it is too late.

The rabbit has made it more than halfway across the road to the other side. Just keep going. My car is almost there. Then a quick turn and my foot on the brake, the rabbit went back from where he left. Who saw that coming? What kind of decision was that?

Making decisions takes a great deal of skill. Leaders are faced with high pressure, deadlines, complex situations, unexpected circumstances, and the unbelievable at times. To make decisions, a strategy supported by skills is a need and quality for every leader.

Tips for making decisions

  • Take a breath of fresh air, and don’t let the stress get to you! Emotions should not be part of decision-making.
  • Time! If you do not have to respond immediately, wait!
  • Focus on solutions. Weigh the pros and cons.
  • Review goals and values. Compare solutions to these.
  • Consider all possibilities.
  • Talk, discuss, and question.
  • Rethink your options.
  • Make your decision.

The more you practice quality strategies in making decisions, the better you become at decision making. It doesn’t always work out that you have the time to go through all of the tips, but if you are solid in your beliefs, goals, and values, the more straightforward it becomes.

Strategies for Decison Making

  • What is your decision?
  • What information have you gathered to support it?
  • What are alternatives that could be utilized?
  • What evidence do you have to support your decision?
  • How does the decision you propose compare to alternatives?
  • Now apply your decision with action steps
  • Finally, analyze the decision

Decisions are best made when you can take the time with your team to present several different ideas to look at all views. There are times when as the leader, you have to make snap decisions. In the case of the rabbit, making a snap decision was based on the actions of others. The rabbit was in control of the situation. The decision was made, steps were taken, and the rabbit made it to the other side of the road.

How do you make decisions? Do you provide opportunities for others to be involved? Do you find it easy or difficult when making decisions?

Looking forward to more discussions on decision-making as we move forward in our leadership. Thank you for being part of the solution daily.