Tag: #culture

Cultivating Culture with Gratitude

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.

https://www.edutopia.org/article/cultivating-culture-authentic-gratitude

Because I am Happy

Pharrell Williams’s song Happy is great! Tap your foot, clap your hands, smile, and sing along. However, are people happy? Did we forget what it is that makes us happy?

How do you define happiness? The dictionary simply defines it as “the state of being happy.” Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good, and you can’t help but smile. It’s the opposite of sadness.

Do you relate to any of these definitions of happiness?

  • Making six figures before I am forty years old.
  • Knowing I made a difference in the lives of others.
  • Living a good healthy life.
  • Enjoying family.
  • Having a home, food to eat, clothes to wear, and family to share it with.
  • Hearing my children laugh.
  • Watching the birds, smelling the flowers, and the warmth of the sun.

How do you define happiness? We live in a world where people perceive happiness in terms of wealth, status, or title. People tend to look at material things for happiness. What is the longevity of happiness? Can happiness be defined in one sentence, or do you need many components to your happiness?

“Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living, focusing on both individual and societal well-being. It studies positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions…it aims to improve quality of life. It is a field of study that has been growing steadily throughout the years as individuals and researchers look for common ground on better well-being. Positive psychology began as a new domain of psychology in 1998 when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association.” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Can we teach happiness? “People are only as happy as they make themselves be.”-Abraham Lincoln. I believe we can help provide the teaching and experience of the components to lead to sustainable happiness. We can do this by teaching gratitude.

Gratitude is defined in many ways, but let’s focus on gratitude—the act of giving back to acknowledge what we have received. When we can connect gratitude with action, it becomes authentic and benefits us at a deeper level. There is one book our team did with our middle school students called: We Beat the Streets by Sampson Davis (Author), George Jenkins (Author), Rameck Hunt (Author), Sharon Draper (Author). These three boys grow up to become doctors and give back to their neighborhood. We used it to talk about bullying, social issues, hope, and many other aspects.

Today, we face many barriers, challenges, social issues, and darkness of negativity slipping in the cracks of our lighted homes. Can we teach happiness? We seem to be teaching negativity, contempt, dislike, bitterness, and animosity.

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can we teach happiness? Smile, let’s give it a try!

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.

Pop’in back, Getting to know you!

Relationship building is a priority for every organization during this time. Our world has experienced a great deal of stress, and we continue to have changes made to our daily lives. Bringing fun into the work environment and getting to know those we share time with are helpful in many ways.

Building relationships build trust, loyalty, and dedication. The stronger our relationships become, the more the work becomes not a what we do but a why we do! Bring fun, trust, validation, and dedication to each other. We need all of this!

I have a couple of games I have used to help with getting to know others. Both are fun ways to bring people back together after a long break like summer, spring, Christmas, or even short holidays and during a conference. These are also fun to do in social settings, in classrooms, or where you need to break the ice to start conversations.

I have provided some brief explanations and listed the materials you need to play the games. The questions to ask yourself are:

  • How many people will be in this group?
  • Which game fits this group setting?
  • How much time do I have with this group?
  • Is this something we can continue over several days?

Once you have answered these questions, you can determine how to set up the game and needed materials. Individuals will write and label their answers on three small pieces of paper. Then insert them into the balloon and blow the balloon up slightly. They place the balloon in the designated spot and when all are completed the game begins. (When I have done the Pop’in back game with balloons, I use a giant garbage bag to put balloons in, or you can utilize a designated area.) Then I can get one out to pop.

*If you are at a conference, make sure to announce only to do a balloon if they will be staying for all of the sessions. You don’t want to pop a balloon and never find out who dated Blake Shelton or is a secret millionaire.

Guidance for games

Questions to use for statements

  • What state are we in?
  • What company or school district do you work for?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • Do you have grandchildren?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • Do you have siblings?
  • What is your favorite season?
  • Have you been to Disney World?
  • Which would you rather have ice cream or cake?
  • Have traveled by plane?
  • Have traveled by train?
  • Have more than five friends?
  • Many questions can be asked but be aware of what you ask and how you ask? What is the purpose? This is to be uplifting, chances to connect and laugh. Stay away from topics that could cause trauma indirectly.

Please share if you have additional ideas or suggestions. Let us know if you try it out and how it went. I have done this activity with a large group (entire school district opening meeting, my hometown rural school). So much fun with everyone engaged, even those who never want to participate.

Revisit, Reevaluate, and Reimagine

August is here and is always a reminder to me of a new school year. A time when leaders and teachers begin to revisit schedules, procedures, materials, and expectations.

Looking over all of these things, we reevaluate what was accomplished in the previous year. Where are we currently with our goals? Where do we want to be? How will we get to where we want to be? What are the things we want to accomplish? What do I want to accomplish? What are the talents of our team? What are the gifts I bring? What role can I play?

The word of the year seems to be reimagined. Reimagine is to imagine something again to form anew or to rethink it. It is not a brand new something but an original creation with a new interpretation. When I think of imagining, I think about creativity. What are the creative solutions we have for the unexpected issues of the day?

Covid-19 brought us a wave of unexpected issues. Creativity was used to respond quickly. There was no stone left unturned as it hit every aspect of life. It was up to all leaders to reimagine how to serve all in a new way.

Societal changes occurred, and many other issues sparked additional waves throughout our world, bringing loss, grief, tension, controversy, fear, and isolation. It is our abilities, availability, knowledge, support, and dedication that can make a difference in the lives we touch, reaching beyond whatever we can reimagine.

Decide the answers to the questions before we begin a new year. (What) gifts do you bring to the team and the role you will play. (Who) will you help support in the group? (How) will you continue to grow and help others grow? The (Why) is the essential question and answer. It is (Why) we do all we do each day to serve others. At the end (When) the results of our efforts are provided, it is still the (Why) that supplies the best reply.

Thank you for being the solution daily and being the (why) to so many. It is the importance of what we do every day to add up to all the differences in the lives of others.

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

ABC’s to Leadership

LEADERSHIP

Writing each day is a blessing for me. I enjoy each day in finding ways to spark a fire of excitement, light a lesson of inspiration, shine enthusiasm on kindness, plant a seed of hope, and turn a problem into a solution one post at a time.

Leadership is daily, 365 days a year, and even 24 hours a day. We have thoughts, ideas, visions, dreams, and hopes throughout the day. No one sets out to be “the leader,” and many will tell you this if you ask. It just happens as they work, and a passion builds inside that can be explained by my ABCs.

  • Authentic learning, leading, and listening.
  • Building relationships daily.
  • Communicating and connecting first before correcting.
  • Daily inspiration for all, lifting spirits each day.
  • Encouraging others and engaging as we work.
  • Fueling others with energy for success. (maybe chocolate and lots of snacks! I find these to work best!)
  • Gardening throughout the day, planting seeds for growth, and maybe pulling a few weeds.
  • Heart full of kindness, celebrating birthdays and good deeds. (Always keep cards of all kinds and small gifts in case you need them.)
  • Inviting feedback and questions.
  • Joining in collaboration, diversity, and teams.
  • Keeping an open mind.
  • Leading by example. (Model for others what you expect to see.)
  • Motivating others. (It is the small things you do that count.)
  • Never giving up, especially on you! (Special dedication to one of my students who thanked me for not giving up on him. He was shot and killed at the age of 19.)
  • Open door policies!
  • Praise for jobs well done!
  • Quick to put others first, especially kids.
  • Recognizing problems, focusing on solutions.
  • Shared leadership, roles, and responsibilities. (Teach everyone how to do your job, you never know when you will not be there!) -Thanks Robin
  • Time to listen, learn and explain.
  • Understanding (Everything!)
  • Validation! Others, feelings, viewpoints- You do not have to agree but validate them.
  • Welcoming environment, friendly, safe, opinions can be shared.
  • Xceed expectations when limits are placed on you and expectations are low.
  • Your purpose-the why you do what you do!
  • Zest to be the best!

Transforming before us

Noise

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.

Vision

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.

Core

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.

Roll out the red carpet!

It is time for some new headlines! What is the message you want to send? Roll out the red carpet and make your own stars! Put up pictures of your staff, students, or whatever you want to highlight.

Just ask me, and I can help you put some joy, laughter, motivation, feeling safe, and so much more. We are all here to help each other!

Helping others focus on solutions

Be the solution daily isn’t something I decided one day sounded good; it is a daily practice I have used professionally and personally for decades. It is my hope to help and guide others into this practice for success.

Where we place, our focus is crucial for our success. It seems we are quick to point out a problem, mistake and place blame. Have you had a finger pointed at you?

When our focus is on the problem, anger shadows the thinking. Your mind can only give it’s full attention to one thing at a time. Negative thoughts overtake you when your focus is the problem.

Solution-focused turns back control to help you positively resolve troubles. By looking for solutions in every situation, problems will disappear and happiness returns.

Now this sounds a little like one of what my granddaughter calls, “cheesy stuff.” However, when following the guidelines it really is how it works.

Helping others focus on solutions begins with mindsets. Focusing on solutions creates a very different climate and culture. The thinking, actions, and behaviors will change.

Let’s begin with these steps:

  • Problems we face are usually self-inflicted. Would you please take a deep breath and tell yourself it is my responsibility? Then you may have issues directly impacting you, and maybe you did not have anything to do with the decision-making process. *This is when you need to begin to do some examples of problem vs. solution games. (I can help provide examples)
  • What is the desired outcome? Your vision to resolve the problem? When we begin to focus in solutions, it leaves little time for negative thinking. The only thing that matters is resolving the problem.
  • Once you know the outcome-begin the planning of getting from here to there.

Solution Mindset

We begin to think of solutions first once we are aware we cannot control the actions of others, the complex data, or the current issue before us. However, the only things we control are our actions and reactions by clarification of what we face with a focus on the importance of the solution, the negative thinking about the problem stop.

Are you interested in a Two Rule School? It changes the climate, culture and focuses on student leadership. There is so much more to this concept that leads to positive results.