Category: #Education, #Leadership, #Resurces,

Regain Balance when facing setbacks

Setbacks happen. Have you experienced a setback? How have you regained your balance to get back on track? Setbacks can be crushing, cause serious doubts, or can be easier to handle after you experience several setbacks.

Facing setbacks is something we can help teach others to understand. When day-to-day setbacks occur for others, we can point out the opportunity to use them as learning opportunities. As a teacher, when a student fails a test, it can be a massive blow to them. The first steps to take are in discovering the cause of the failure. An authentic learning experience to help support students, evaluate teaching to serve students better and provide students with tools to apply for life-long learning.

Significant events that drive setbacks are more challenging to handle and overcome. Circumstances of serious illness, death and significant financial losses take on more approaches to support each individual.

A setback causes us to become unbalanced as we struggle with our emotions. It is natural to have feelings about situations we face. Gaining control over our emotions is essential to retaining our balance as we face forward. Setbacks are learning opportunities. This is how we must look at each one. Every setback we face helps build our resiliency to rebound and gain balance.

Think about a time you faced a setback. What steps did you take to help regain your balance? Here is one of the setbacks I faced and the steps I took.

Steps of Setback

As a middle school principal, I knew the importance of building trusting relationships. When I was involved in a near-fatal car accident, I knew getting back in front of staff and students was essential. My setback was a learning opportunity for all of us.

  • Acknowledge the struggle of the accident
  • Identify the challenges of the recovery
  • Provide the knowledge of what has not changed
  • Assurance of the return
  • Understand the levels of support
  • The daily basis of the foundation of faith
  • Encouragement of this learning opportunity for all

Balance is gained by forming a solid foundation to stand on as we build resiliency. Helping others identify their support system, core values, and beliefs will provide the balance they need in overcoming setbacks.

Talking face to face with staff and students together so they could see me in person was important. They needed to see me, hear my voice, and listen to my message of learning. The impact of my accident did not need only to be the crash site, but the lessons learned to impact all lives it could touch.

The roads we travel

I am thankful for this life journey. Every step we take, the choices we make, and those we include in our journey influence who we are. It is our experiences, relationships, and our beliefs that impact our destination.

As you travel the highways, you will find rest stops to allow you to take a break. Rest stops are part of our life journey as well! Take a short rest to gather information about where you are, who you are, and where you want to go. We have maps, GPS, and many tools to help us navigate the roadways, but not directly on the life path. If you are a faith-based individual, you use this resource to guide you. A famous song, Jesus take the wheel by Carrie Underwood, reminds us of this powerful influence. I pray daily for guidance and direction.

Psalm 37:23-24: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Proverbs 16:9: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

Life is a highway by Rascal Flatts reminds us of the times we will need to stand and times we will bend. A play on words with an accurate picture of life. We need to stand firm in our beliefs and values. At times we will come to roadblocks, detours, and dead ends. This is when we need to bend. Realize that one path is not the only way to reach your destination. Many roads lead to success.

In the days we live today, it is easy to find fear, feel hopeless, and desperate for solutions. Many things are out of our control, but our thoughts and prayers can bring comfort.

Think thoughts to transform

  • Work on training your brain! Make a list of positives to replace negativity
  • Count your blessings daily
  • Wake up with the daily habit of gratitude
  • Speak affirmations
  • Say who you are, develop habits to reflect who you want to be and work daily as the person you want to be.
  • Thoughts daily will make a change over time. Make sure your thoughts reflect who and what you are in order to transform.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”

Proverbs 3:5, 6

Clean up the clutter

If you have thoughts on a continuous repeat, let them go! Ideas need to be developed into actions, or let them go! Our minds are crowded with tons of information! Negative thoughts do not require any action but a way to choose to remove them. Don’t let your minds get cluttered. Get into the habit of focusing on who you want to be and how you can continue to grow.

Just like our homes, bedrooms, closets, and even the cars we drive need to be cleaned routinely. If we do not get into good habits of taking care of cleaning, then we will spend more time and energy to do it later. Once you clean up, if you continue to do the same things, you face having this repeated. Atomic Habits by James Clear provides the best way to look at your habits.

“All things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves, and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”-Atomic Habits pg 22-23

What are the thoughts you have? Do you have action steps created? Make a point to think about the decisions and choices you make. Over time the option of keeping these bad habits will be your health! Your risk physically, mentally, and emotionally impacts.

Start today with keeping the thoughts you need and letting go of those you do not! Think about the Two Rules philosophy! Will this thought help make myself and others feel good and feel safe. Does it help in being part of the problem or solution? One tiny decision can lead you to better days or days filled with reactions. Setting goals will achieve small wins, but if bad habits remain in place, the cycle will repeat. Working on the how of your system is generating habits will make the difference in who you become over time. We cannot think today I will lose weight, set goals, but in a few days, go back to the bad habits that caused the problem in the first place. It is our system we need to focus on changing.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your system.”

James Clear-Atomic Habits

What are you celebrating?

We always have so much to celebrate! February is famous for Valentine’s Day 💝 A great day to receive or give flowers and candy! Historically, we celebrate Black History Month and Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday! What else do you celebrate?

Here is a list of some things people celebrate!

On February 8th, I found that some may celebrate National Kite Flying Day. I look out and think it is winter and snow; what do these people know? I can so see celebrating pizza day on February 9th! Another peculiar thing to celebrate on February 10th would be umbrella day. Don’t we use those mainly in the spring for rain?

One of my favorite days is February 11th! It is National Make a Friend Day. As a new Principal at an elementary school, I saw where children did not have the opportunity to get to know each other. As I was new to the school, I decided why not make lunchtime a chance to learn about being new to a school or meeting someone new. We did “Mix-It-Up at Lunch” days. I had days like this at my former middle school to discuss different character topics. I will place a resource page and a video on “Mix-It-Up” at lunch.

February 12th is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, and I am from Illinois, so it will not surprise you to know my daughter won an essay contest about Abraham Lincoln to celebrate his birthday. As a teacher, I taught about all of the history of Illinois, our great country, and global facts as well. My grade level was 5th grade, so we learned a great deal about the many different events that shaped our nation and impacted the world we all live in. Most importantly, we learned about all people who helped make a better path for us. If you allow children to remember how to research and find individuals they believe played a role in making a difference, it is incredible. Let them dig into the history of their families, cultures, and communities. People who impact our lives are not out of reach.

I am celebrating one more step completed in my breast cancer fight. I see the team this week, and we will learn about the treatment steps. I also get to help my granddaughter get ready for an 8th-grade dance. I think that is a celebration! Oh, I can’t believe how fast the time has gone! I am also celebrating my continued commitment to press forward with all of the goals I want to achieve. I have two new principals I am mentoring and a few more things on my plate, but plans will be accomplished this year.

Farmers help us grow leaders!

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I did not become a teacher until I was 30 years old. Isn’t it too late to start a different career at that age? When is it time to stop growing? Can you think of anything that stops growing? The only time growth stops….when life stops.

We can choose not to grow. It is all in the choices we make that determine who we are and what we do. This is an essential lesson for all to learn. Growth does not just happen. You have to establish a plan, strategies, and goals.

Let’s begin by thinking like a farmer! Do you think they plant their seeds and hope they grow? No! Lots of work, analysis, and care are involved in the growth. The same is applied to the growth developed of all.

Growth Plan

Seeds you plant!

  • Determine the focus of what you want to grow.
  • Study great leaders and their qualities, skills, and strategies.
  • Evaluate what you need to grow.
  • Pick a few to begin and plant!

Prepare the ground

  • Develop your goals to accomplish.
  • Work out a schedule to set aside time.
  • Dig into your core values.
  • Plow into your beliefs and practices.
  • Cultivate a vision statement of your own.
  • Prepare and go!

Enrich and feed the soil (soul)

  • A great addition is a coach or mentor to help provide additional support.
  • Assess your personality, beliefs, values, and practices. What do you need to feed or weed?
  • Practice reflection, seeking inspiration and motivation to provide to others.
  • Read, watch, find resources, and keep learning!
  • Get plenty of rest, nutrition, exercise and grow!

Harvest time

  • Gather information on the success of the skills gained.
  • Ask questions about the improvements made.
  • What else is needed?
  • Measure the depths of the impact.
  • Reflect, renew and rejoice in the growth!

When leaders are focused on growth and development, everyone is engaged in making the steps together to create change overall. As we get better, everyone will as well.

Tic-Toc-Time is a Wasting!

Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe

Time! This is your most valuable resource. You are provided with 24 hours a day. How do you spend it?

My husband just said to me, “There seems to be a great deal of time that is wasted.” What do you think? Do you see time being wasted? He was referencing political leaders.

Perception is something leaders must be aware of as they work. How people view or perceive us factors into their beliefs of the quality of the work we do.

In discussions with many different leaders, many thoughts were shared on perceptions, dealing with time, and managing daily operations. It isn’t easy to manage days when many factors interrupt or disrupt the plans you have made for the day.

Preparing for unexpected

  • Cross-training staff is a strategy to help prepare for unexpected emergencies, illnesses, sudden loss, or many other possibilities.
  • Prioritize tasks to complete. We often try to meet all of the quick and easy things on our list to feel accomplished. In reality, the “big stuff” keeps getting bigger.
  • Organize, organize and delegate. There is nothing wrong with dividing and conquering. Make sure what is delegated is appropriate.
  • Prepare in advance items that can be used again by changing a few essential things. Example: I was caught off guard by a death of a student. When a death occurs, emotions can get in the way. I have letters already prepared for incidents like this and am thankful for each day they are never used.
  • Over schedule a few minutes on each task. When scheduling tasks on your calendar, adjust them by providing a few extra minutes. This gives you a sense of accomplishment by finishing early. Allows time for those interruptions that will happen throughout the workday.

I can’t see you

One of the critical factors educational leaders are told, “be visible.” I find this to be true with many leadership roles. People want to see leaders. When leaders are not actively present and connected with those they lead, a disconnect happens.

When was the last time you saw your leader? Leaders, when was the last time you were out with the people you serve? Visibility takes time to complete, but the value is so significant.

Save Time

You can save your time by organizing, prioritizing, and structuring. Here are a few tips to help in not letting time tic-toc away.

  • Establish a routine- Example: I started with emails, moved to physical mail, and then phone messages. (Touch everything once)
  • Have a daily schedule-Tasks to complete, Meetings-Color code to determine how much time you spend on specific areas. Monitor your time.
  • Schedule me time-to reflect on time spent, steps taking, reevaluate items, and refocus to organize plans—time to work on specific tasks. Turn off notifications, email, phone, and no interruptions. Face to Face conferences.
  • Say No- It is OK to say no to things that do not apply to your goals, which will help your mission of vision. You are focused on what you need to accomplish in your time frame.
  • Delegate! Help others with their leadership when appropriate.

Prioritize your time to accomplish what is the most important to your team and organization. Set guidelines routines and remove anything that is not working to achieve the established goals. Establish a daily calendar of your time. Commit to being visible daily and active with those you serve.

Solution Weekly, January 23-29

Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe

Time! This is your most valuable resource. You are provided with 24 hours a day. How do you spend it? My husband just said to me, “There seems to be a great deal of time that is wasted.” What do you think? Do you see time being wasted? How do you know? What are you going to change or do? This will be our priority to tackle this week. Time!

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I did not become a teacher until I was 30 years old. Isn’t it too late to start a different career at that age? When is it time to stop growing? Can you think of anything that stops growing? The only time growth stops when life stops. We can choose not to grow. It is all in the choices we make that determine who we are and what we do. This is an essential lesson for all to learn.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou

Creativity brings value to life. You can see, hear, feel and explore all elements. Through your imagination, you can expand on what everyone experiences to enhance with new thoughts. As a thinker and “tinker,” your intelligence leads you to fun, innovative ideas and attracts others to join in the fun! The essential part of creativity is seeing more solutions than problems, which is my style!

“Education has but one main purpose–to prepare students for the real world. To do that we need to get “real” in education.

Steve Revington

Since the pandemic has hit the past, yes, now three years have spotlighted education. I am an educator that is glad for the focus but would like to see more collaborative work than finger-pointing. Have there been many mistakes? I think there has been plenty, and I do not need to do a root cause analysis to determine where the source is before I can provide some solutions to help our children, staff, families, and communities. Put down the fingers, close the talking points, open your eyes and ears. Now let’s begin…

Time to talk 💬 Can I thank each of you who decided to follow and join this journey with me. I hope more join us, and I have a personal message to share with you at the end of this week. Many blessings to each of you!

Dream, Believe, Achieve, Dare-Do

There are many great men and women in our history we can celebrate, learn from, respect and model our actions. This week we began with a man famous for his speech, “I have a dream.” Dr. Martin Luther King not only had a dream he believed in, but he also believed in what could be achieved if we dared to do what he perfectly stated!

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“I have a dream today . . .
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside. Let freedom ring . . .
When we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men, and white men, Jews, and Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.”
Reprinted by arrangement with The Heirs to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr., c/o Writers House as the proprietor New York, NY. Copyright: © 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. © renewed 1991, Coretta Scott King.

Also in our history are individuals or groups that made horrible mistakes, took steps, believed in things, and did things they achieved we do not find acceptable. We learned from those as well. It is essential to talk about all of them and build from the learning we discover, not divide, hide or devalue anyone as we move forward. I am thankful for all historians who have and continue to document for us these pieces, which are so valuable. If you have not explored museums, read some of these fantastic books, or speak to individuals who have experienced first-hand some of the historical events, don’t wait. I have been blessed to talk with military veterans Holocaust survivors and visit several museums.

Dream, Believe, Dare and Do is the business practice utilized by Disney. I incorporated this mindset in my approach to serving students in education. Walt Disney was a master at creating environments full of happiness, love, fun, and excitement. He was a servant leader, I believe.

Students in our care need to have dreams! Our staff does as well! The schoolhouse should be a place full of opportunities. Our beliefs in ourselves and each other push us to achieve! When we dare to take risks, think outside the box, and do the work, we find success.

I plan for all to believe; Two Rules can achieve great success for all who dare to do the work to implement the philosophy in their lives. Keep connecting, reading, and thinking! #Bethesolutiondaily

Plan, Plan, Shelf

For many decades I have been involved with implementing a strategic plan, creating a plan, asking if we have a plan, writing a plan, and then watching plans sit on a shelf. My author friend and leader, Dr. Bill Donahue, knows how to conduct and implement a strategic plan. He shares in his recent post in Lead Change Carnival; Beyond Strategic Planning, exactly what questions we should ask when planning.

I am reminded of Alice in Wonderland when I think about making plans. Before you make a plan, don’t you need to have an idea of the direction you are going?

It seemed in education when it came time to develop an improvement plan or a district strategic plan, it was more about getting the task completed than digging in more profoundly to solve issues.

Hey, take down that improvement plan from the shelf, blow off the dust and let’s see if we can change the dates and turn it in.

Let’s hope this is not how it works in the school districts or buildings, but maybe in a few. Many levers are not being utilized as we work to make improvements, and now, with this pandemic, we have added additional levers.

Dr. Bill Donahue makes some incredible points to ponder. How are you planning? Step inside his post to discover thoughts.