Category: #Goals

Strength-How do you measure it?

My granddaughter is a tiny girl. She is 14 years old, and her goal is to reach 5 feet tall. The doctor told her she would not make it and would fall short (no pun intended) by a few inches. She knew she was in for a genetic battle when all of her aunts were under 5 feet.

Her determination is impressive, so she makes up for it in other ways. After spending some time in the weight room preparing for volleyball tryouts, she was excited to share with us her accomplishments. “Everyone was impressed with me today. I can leg press….wait for it…390 lbs.” What? Are you kidding me? Wow! “That is not all; I did 20 pull-ups, but I was embarrassed by the crowd watching me.” Alright, little girl!

Strength can be deceiving! We never know our strength level until we are pushed to use it. Strength comes in many different forms and types. The pillars of strength are physical, mental, emotional , and spiritual.

  • Physical strength: Describes an individual’s ability to apply force or resistance-To to lift, move, carry, or pull objects—the state of being physically healthy and strong-physically fit.
  • Emotional strength: The ability to embrace, respond and process in an open and vulnerable way in the face of intense emotional experience. To transition from one response to another with awareness of emotions, feelings, a sense of comfort, and confidence.
  • Mental strength: An individuals ability to deal effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges and perform to the best of their ability, irrespective of the circumstances in which they find themselves. A willingness to continue to learn. Figuring things out, curiosity and to learn even when defeated.
  • Spiritual strength: Spirituality involves our capacity to dig deep and find the greater meaning in life, to align ourselves with a purpose that extends beyond ourselves, to find relationship and unity with something greater such as nature, God, or the transcendent. An individuals commitment to personal values, virtues and core beliefs to guide decisions.

We have many things to consider when thinking about how to measure strength, how to celebrate the strength, and how to admire others for the strengths they have. If you can get for point A to point B with very little work, is it the same as someone who traveled the same distance with many obstacles, challenges, and hardships?

Take an Inventory

When you have a little time, begin to take an inventory of the strengths you have as a leader. No need to hit the weight room for training like my granddaughter, but taking a look at what areas you have as strengths is an important inventory to take.

Are there areas in your completed inventory you would like to tune-up? Do you find any gaps? Are there areas you would like to improve? It is also important to ask others what they believe your areas of strengths are as you evaluate strengths. Others may recognize strengths in you that you did not realize you had, or they may point out that the strengths you think you have are a weakness.

How to build your strength:

  1. Focus on purpose
  2. Don’t be afraid to make changes
  3. Don’t overthink what you are doing
  4. Stretch yourself and don’t be afraid of discomfort
  5. Set simple short-term goals daily
  6. Develop habits to nourish your mind, body and soul
  7. Exercise your willpower and self-discipline at least once a day
  8. Take care of yourself, positive self talk
  9. Think positively
  10. Meditation and yoga are tools you can add
  11. Look for deeper meanings in what you see, hear, and read
  12. Get out, walk, enjoy nature, travel
  13. Read, ask questions, time to think
  14. Get plenty of rest
  15. Listen deeply
  16. Watch carefully
  17. Engage with others
  18. Experience new things often

Raise the bar

Do we need to raise the bar or lower it? How does this affect our standards? If you are working in a particular field or area and people are not reaching the current established levels set, what is the solution? Change the level, change the preparation, change the assessment or maintain the level? What is the solution?

What is the purpose of standards? Standards are critical to the safety, quality, and reliability of our products. Standards provide the regulations, processes, and services we receive. When we think about standards, we think about health and medical care. We know the people providing care for us have standards they have passed and use to keep us safe. We also believe the same thing about our educational services. There is no area where standards are not vital.

Recently, we have heard the news of shortages in the teaching field. Standards are being changed or lowered to accommodate this need to allow additional individuals to join the educational force. Other areas are having difficulties in finding people to fill their open positions as well. How will this work to accommodate the standards established for the regulations, processes, and services we receive for safety. Do we lower standards, change standards, or what solutions do you have?

The shortages of pilots are causing the airline industry to make decisions on how to change the standards, raise the retirement age, increase pay, and cancel flights to try to keep pilots on duty.

Lowering standards can be found in the education world as community colleges found lowering standards still had a higher failure rate. Preparing students to be college and career ready does not seem to be meeting these low standards, so the solution to lowering standards is a deeper issue. We need to look at the preparation of students coming from high school to college and then from middle school to high school. Where in the chain is the link the weakest? What do we need to strengthen? Meeting these low standards needs to happen first.

Do you know of other areas standards have been changed? What does this mean? What is your opinion? Please share your thoughts as we look for solutions to solve the many levels of the issues uncovered with standards.

Put us in, we want to coach or be coached!

Coaching helps every level

The need for coaching support today is more extensive than it has ever been before. Help at each level in the organizational chain needs to be strengthened after being pushed to the limits over the past few years.

Every individual, if asked in a survey, will tell you they have been impacted over the last three years by the events happening in our world. We have experienced illness, death, lockdowns, trauma, soaring gas prices, and supply shortages, and the list can be expanded to many other issues. The critical point is trauma and the stress it has provided.

Building a support system within our organization or bringing in outside coaching will help individuals get back to their center to regain a balance. Stability is the thread we need to sew our environment back to the strength, resilience, and flexible fabric it needs to be as we work to achieve.

Who are Coaches?

Effective coaches treat individuals as professionals. Building a professional relationship knowing and recognizing individuals are capable of making decisions for themselves. People will engage in conversations when they understand coaches are not imposing practices, thoughts, or ideas on them. Coaches are partnering with them to determine the best course of action. When we try to do something different, it is a dehumanizing act, and it minimizes the effect of the potential for professional growth. Coaches need to examine who they are and how their actions affect others. Most importantly, always look at the coaching process as we help make it the best for each individual.

Important questions for coaches to ask themselves:

  • What are my beliefs?
  • What can I do to build trust?
  • How do I communicate?
  • Do I listen?
  • What action steps do I take?
  • How do I lead myself?
  • How do I lead others?

Impact of Coaches

Coaching is unique! Selecting the right coaches for the right team or individual is an essential part of the process. Matching the needs of those being coached with the individual who can provide for them is critical, but matching the personality is also an essential piece!

One of my favorite TedTalks is Rita Pierson! Her best line is, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Adults are the same way! The first step in every relationship is building trust and finding common ground. Establishing a partnership in working together to achieve growth over time is the primary goal. Establishing a clear understanding of what coaching is will help build the foundation for a positive working relationship.

Coaches will bring a toolbox of strategies and resources to support the individual or group they are working to help grow. The method will be selected, implemented, monitored, and then analyzed. They will work on this together to evaluate the next steps. The coach’s impact will result in the efforts of all those involved. Clear communication and record keeping will help them make adjustments as they proceed. This should never be an evaluation piece but an improvement, growth, and innovative approach for individuals to take ownership of their development.

Do I need one?

If you are asking if you need a coach, the answer is yes. I have had a coach, I am a coach, and I have supervised coaches. Coaches are like your own personal trainer, cheerleader, and go-to person. They can help bring you ideas and tell you if you need to think about something from a different lens or if you did a great job communicating that idea. Coaches are so important. My area of expertise is in education, but I am available to help any leader. Please leave me a comment or send me an Email. I am willing to help you at no cost via Zoom, email, and phone. Leadership is significant, and I want you to be successful. My solution is to provide as much support as possible to those who are leading and serving others.

How do you live?

I am all about asking questions. I enjoy asking questions to spark conversations, engage with others, and learn. My grandson Abram has always asked me thought-provoking questions from a child’s point of view. “How do they make leather shoes? Where does the leather come from?” Not a typical question from a then four-year-old.

My question is, “How do you live?” Answering this question can gain a variety of viewpoints. Does it mean physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually? How do you look at the question?

I have heard people say, “I want to be remembered by….” “I want my legacy to be…” or “I want to leave this place better than I found it.” Do you think of statements like this? Maybe your thoughts are about what you are looking forward to in life and the afterlife.

When do you think people begin to start thinking about how they live life? Is it when they are preparing to retire? Is it when they receive news of a terminal illness? Do we begin thinking about how we live life on the day we are born?

No more questions

I have provided many questions to allow you to ponder over many thoughts. I will provide you with my thinking on when we begin to think about how we live life.

Life is a precious gift we receive. On the day we are born, I believe life is mapped out for us with a purpose. Our brains provide us with the ability to learn at our pace and to discover our freedom to make choices. In many other countries, the privileges we have in the United States are not the same, and we can recognize this with the power of choice.

We go through our lives making decisions multiple times throughout the day. It is through those choices our life develops shape. The core values and beliefs are designed as a foundation based on the surroundings, which influence our choices.

Using myself as an example, I feel very blessed to have been raised by parents who were uneducated, hard-working, service-oriented individuals who encouraged many things in my life. I went to church regularly, was involved in outside activities, education was a priority, and I learned how to work early.

I do believe people do not think about their lives until they are faced with the reality of retirement, nearing death, or a traumatic event. As I have watched people for some time now, I have observed people going about life as usual, and something happens to cause a significant change—a sudden loss of a spouse, job change, accident or illness, and life changes.

Measuring Up

In our lives, we are always looking at others. We compare ourselves to others regularly. Judging others, well, this is done all of the time. It drives me crazy! I have battled against this judgment and being compared for decades now! We need to stop comparing and judging now.

Today begin looking at life differently. As you wake to greet the morning sun, pause to be thankful for a day full of opportunities. We do not want to only look at the days in our life as a measurement of length. In each day, we will find in those opportunities the width of our reach in providing support to others, sending strength to those in need, or planting seeds of growth covering many countries. Along with each day, the depths of our blessings are measured in the volumes of water served to those who are thirsty as wells are dug. Our innovative ideas reach into the depths of space and travel through connections to every sparsely populated place on earth as we keep communications open in times of need. Life is measured not in days, length, width, or depth but in living fully in each moment: no judgments, comparing, or hate. Every life is a gift with a purpose. Choose to live yours!

The colander

I did not receive many material things when my mother and father passed away. The memories of the pictures I have and those I can still keep in my mind and heart are enough for me.

My daughter could get a few things for herself and me as I was out of town when my siblings decided to close things up. One item I know many will think I should throw away, but I am not, is the white colander. I will keep using it, and it can be thrown away when my journey leads me home.

The white colander

My mother’s colander-you see cracks on both sides and a cracked slit down the center. However, it still works for what I need it to do. Sure I have other ones, but I get this one out when I am cooking family meals, especially spaghetti or cleaning fruit.

A colander is a kitchen utensil that is primarily used to rinse vegetables or strain foods such as pasta. The bottom is perforated, which allows for water or liquid to drain through while holding on to the solids inside. Drain has been a focus for me for a few weeks as I have thought a great deal about the stress of life for so many in the world.

I recently wrote a blog post about “Drainout” which I believe is the replacement of “burnout.” Our lives are being drained of valuable resources we need. We are pulled in many directions at every moment of the day and the hamster wheel of life moves faster with never enough time to catch up so it seems.

Colander Rinse

When I buy fresh fruits like grapes, I love to put them in the colander and run the water to wash them off. They seem to sparkle and shine with freshness. Maybe we need to think about this as we look at our lives and those close to us.

We are fighting against “Drainout,” and if you look at my previous blog, you will find some things to do to help. However, are we also fighting to hold onto things we should let go of and allow through the colander?

Often we tend to hold onto things of comfort during times of extreme stress. “I have always done it this way.” “Even if it takes longer, I want to keep it this way.” “We cannot make any changes now.”

Listen to yourself and each other, and then pause to look at how things are going. Is it time to let go? Make some changes and take back control.

I am thankful for all of the different colanders I have, but the one from my mother is special to me. I know how hard it is to let go. You can hold on to them if they are not holding you back or preventing you from living the best way possible.

  • Rinse
  • Review
  • Reflect
  • Renew

Face new days with it your way!

Know yourself- Do you?

I have written about growth several times. It does not matter what age you are, where you are in the process toward “retirement, or if you are retired. As an individual who is getting up each day to be part of the glory of the day, you are growing!

No, I am not talking about the scales for your weight or the tape measure for your height! Although, my granddaughter has set the goal to be 5 feet tall. I hope she makes it! The growth I am referring to is in your mind and spirit.

We are constantly doing things in our lives to enrich ourselves daily. We use the intention to focus on the things that enhance areas we desire to improve. Longevity of life is sought after, but it is the quality of the life we live that matters the most. What are we doing in the time we are blessed to enjoy?

What are the strengths you have? What are the areas you would like to grow in? Is there something new you would like to learn?

Know Yourself

“In Ancient Greece, the philosopher Socrates famously declared that the unexamined life was not worth living. Asked to sum up what all philosophical commandments could be reduced to, he replied: Know Yourself.”

Understanding ourselves is a first step in avoiding mistakes in several areas of our lives and is also essential in our abilities to establish goals. If we cannot identify our strengths and weaknesses, it isn’t easy to move forward. When we are true to ourselves, our relationships and work improve—getting to know ourselves better increases our growth over time.

The answer is hidden in the question!

Do we take the time to get to know ourselves? Are we so busy in our lives pleasing others, taking care of things, and doing tasks we forget to take note of ourselves?

Begin or end each day with a question for yourself. Keep a journal with the answer to the questions. This is how you begin to understand who you are and to get to the why of what you do. Being self-aware is critical to the success of life.

  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What is your favorite color
  • Do you like cold, hot or warm days?
  • What is the biggest mistake you have made?
  • Who or what comforts you?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • If you had only one wish, what would it be?
  • What are you worried about?
  • Name something you like about your job?
  • What is your happiest memory?
  • What values do you have?
  • What do you believe in?
  • Where do you feel the safest?
  • If you were not afraid, what would you do?
  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What matters most to me?
  • What short-term goals do I have? Long term?
  • What is my favorite food?
  • If I am feeling stressed, I_________?
  • When am I angry I_________?
  • Who are my support people?
  • I am ashamed of_______?
  • Am I a night owl or a morning person?
  • Am I passionate about___________?
  • I like being around people, or I’m not too fond of it.
  • My thoughts tell me I am not good enough or can do it.

Keep adding to your questions to dig deeper into who you are as you get wiser in understanding how to continue to grow.

Hidden Blessings- Lesson 5 Blindspots

Lesson 5: Blindspots exist. You must get connected.

Many of us say: Get connected, utilize networking, talk with peers and join groups to gain insights. However, you cannot do all of it! If you try to be active on every social platform, you will not be present for essential parts of life. Being connected does not mean multiple devices.

I am not a perfect leader and have gained a great deal of knowledge over the past decades. I am still learning! I still have significant influences in my life I can seek out to guide me when needed. I do continue to reach out to meet new people and continue to expand my network.

Getting to know others personally is the best way. Getting likes and comments on posts on social media is engaging, but having honest conversations takes it to the next level. Deeper conversations help to find real solutions and understanding.

Maybe it makes sense to join a mastermind that Danny offers at Better Leaders Better Schools. He would love a chance to serve you and live out his mission “to connect, grow, and mentor every school leader who wants to level up.” Maybe you want to grab his book and begin an online group to share thoughts, have a Mastermind group in your area, or you may have other ideas. His take on professional development is as easy as ABC.

ABC’S of Powerful Professional Development

  • Authenticity
  • Belonging
  • Challenge

Learn more about the ABC’s from Daniel Bauer author of Mastermind, Unlocking the Talent in Every School Leader. https://www.betterleadersbetterschools.com

When you integrate authenticity, belonging, and challenge into a professional development program, anything is possible, including eliminating blind spots. Blind spots in leadership according to Robert Bruce Shaw, author of Leadership Blindspots, are unrecognized weaknesses or threats that can hinder a leader’s success. As leaders we may not know our weaknesses. Weaknesses aren’t likely to derail us from our goals. However, those we are unaware of are the dangerous ones.

Blindspots

  1. Going it alone (being afraid to ask for help)
  2. Being insensitive of your behavior on others (being unaware of how you show up)
  3. Having an “I know” attitude (valuing being right above everything else)
  4. Avoiding difficult conversations (conflict avoidance)
  5. Blaming others or circumstances (playing the victim; refusing responsibility)
  6. Treating commitments casually (not honoring the other person’s time, energy, resources)
  7. Conspiring against others (driven by a personal agenda)
  8. Not taking a stand (lack of commitment to a position)
  9. Tolerating “good enough” (low standards for performance)

Are any of the above Blindspots hitting you?

As leaders, we need to choose to identify blind spots, actively work on them and learn to overcome them. This helps everyone and impacts the experiences of everyone.

Evaluating behavior is challenging. When you are considering your own, it is more complicated. You need to be able to have different lenses looking at it. Keep these ideas in mind:

  • Seeking help from another lens. Get another individual (Coach, Mentor, School Administrator Manager, Secretary) who can help you get a feedback assessment completed by those who work with you for a better perspective.
  • Be prepared for feedback. Accept feedback constructively. Set aside emotions and egos. Look for common themes.
  • Appreciate the help. It isn’t easy to receive feedback that identifies Blindspots, but it is also challenging to provide it. Individuals who give constructive feedback are trying to help. While you will always have some who are just trying to hurt you, most want you to be the best you can be.
  • Routines create comfort. We are blind to the things around us when we become set in comfort routines. Having things done our way, how we engage others, how we react to issues, run our meetings, or support our employees become habbits. When they are not good ones, we need to make significant changes.
  • Take action by priority. Give importance to these leadership behaviors! Become better at them and continue to review, reflect and renew! When you get better, so does everyone else!

I do not think we can ever eliminate all of our blind spots; we are human. It is part of human nature to have these happen. However, we can routinely focus our efforts to self-reflect and monitor ourselves to become exceptional leaders. If we do nothing, the Blindspots will grow in their strength, and our employees will lose faith in our abilities.

The leader in you is ready to always grow! I am always here to support! We need you! Prioritize your plan for the Hidden Blessings as you work to be better today than yesterday and to continue to grow.

Hidden Blessings-Lesson 2 “True North”

Lesson 2: No matter what, follow your “true north.”

Daniel Bauer shares his philosophy. It is your core values that drive who you are and maintain your focus on what you want to achieve.

“I have a personal philosophy: Be an intentional impetus. I have five personal core values:

  • Turning Pro
  • Purple Cow
  • Ripple Effect
  • Forest from the Trees
  • Sponge that Scales

I have worked hard to identify these values and my philosophy. They act as a personal Obi-Wan Kenobi. In times of success, they remind me to celebrate being true to my values.”-Daniel Bauer

Do you have a personal philosophy? What about your core values? If you do not have them or are unsure, it is time to solidify them. It isn’t easy to stay the course if you do not have a solid foundation. How do you know your direction or your “true north” with uncertainty?

My Two Rule Philosophy is a foundation I utilize to help students understand the power they have with choice. Once you know you have the ability, you need to realize with power comes great responsibility and accountability. This leads to developing the five core competencies that help grow their ownership into disciplined individuals with balance. The competencies support social-emotional learning as well as building academic growth. Students’ self-discipline develops naturally as they regulate their actions with the choices they make. They align all of this with their established goals, reflected in their day-to-day activities.

Five Core Competencies

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-management
  3. Social-awareness
  4. Relationship Skills
  5. Making Decisions (Responsible, Positive, Solution-Focused)

As for my core values and philosophy, I can confidently express them with ease and clarity.

I am a service leader striving to help others daily. I intend to find ways to provide solutions, guide in developing skills, and inspire, motivate and supply resources. My core beliefs are my faith, hope, integrity, and trust. I believe in all, I never give up on others, and I give more than I hope to receive. The team is how I work best, and I always want more opinions. Providing value to others, celebrating everything, and always looking for positives are what I love best! It is when we have gratitude; what we have is just enough.

Check out Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard. He is one of my all time favorite leaders. His work will inspire you, make you think and help guide you.

Develop your leadership point of view? What is a leadership point of view?-a leader’s personal elevator pitch—is the essential message a leader wants to communicate to the world. A leadership point of view reflects your journey, values, goals, and expectations of others. Write one out to see what you have.

Earth Day April 22, 2022

Enjoy the beauty of nature today. Take a walk in the park, visit a nursery full of trees and plants, pause to hear the song of a bird, and capture the sunset with your eyes instead of the lens of a camera.

Earth Day is a particular time to appreciate the gifts we have been given and take the opportunity to do what we can to help keep our area of the world clean for others to enjoy. Plant a tree, flower or bush today. Feed the birds, pick up trash or recycle today. Do what you can to make the world brighter today! Blessings!