Tag: #leadershipfirst

Hidden Blessings-Lesson 1 Feedback

I want to give credit to Daniel Bauer for the five lessons I will share. In these lessons, I will share my input as well. We will cover them in several steps. These are the Lessons he shared in his email:

Lesson 1: All feedback isn’t quality feedback.

  • Lesson 1: All feedback isn’t quality feedback.
  • Lesson 2: No matter what, follow your “true north.”
  • Lesson 3: The obstacle is the way.
  • Lesson 4: You reap what you sow.
  • Lesson 5: Blindspots exist. It would be best if you got connected.

“Brené Brown talks about the square squad. It’s a simple idea: write all the names representing people whose opinions you value on one-inch by one-inch piece of paper. You can’t fit many names on this size of paper. That’s the point. As a leader, many people will offer their opinions and judge your choices. So what. Most of their opinions don’t matter, even when that person is your supervisor! That said, your supervisor’s opinion can (and will often) impact your job. But that doesn’t make their feedback accurate or helpful. You don’t need to take it to heart.”-Daniel Bauer, author of MasterMind, Unlocking Talent Within Every School

Danny begins by referring to Brené Brown. She has dedicated several pieces to conversations of feedback. Hard conversations are never easy. I have said many times, doing the dance! We can choose the kind of dance style we want to set the tone of our conversations depending on the type of conversation, but in the end we have to give a big finish. What do we do after the feedback is provided?

“Weigh the feedback, and if it seems to “come out of nowhere” and is an outlier from the feedback you are receiving from other sources, please do not listen for your health! Trust the feedback you get from your square squad. Those people will challenge you and also want to see you succeed. The rest you can throw out, especially if it doesn’t align with the feedback you are receiving from trusted sources.”-Daniel Bauer

My life journey is full of many great experiences, beautiful celebrations, tragic losses, and challenges. It is like most lives, I believe. Our stories may contain different characters, twists, and storylines, but in the end, they equal lessons learned and blessings. At times, it may not look like it seems.

Danny received feedback from his supervisor consistently that was negative. What if you barely received feedback, it varied or when you were scheduled to receive it….the supervisor was a no show? What messages does this kind of feedback demonstrate?

The bottom line is your supervisor is in control of your evaluation and renewing a contract. Even if you dislike the feedback you are receiving, what do you do? In Danny’s case he resigned. In my case, it went a little different, but I did finally resign.

I have been known to bite off more than I can chew and take on more and more and….. I would say Okay instead of No way. For good reasons, it was for those I served: children, families, staff, and the community. Where resources were lacking, I wanted to find ways to fill them. I like to “fix everything” and always want to help others more than myself.

In 2010, I suffered the most horrific accident imaginable. It left me with a traumatic brain injury and a list of deficiencies. The accident included my daughter, granddaughter, and best friend. We all survived, and it was a miracle! My injuries were too much for me to accept, so I did not. I fought it for almost five years, approximately how long it takes for your brain to heal. I am thankful for my medical team, my bosses at the time, my supportive staff, my family, and most importantly, God for his healing.

Over the years, my diagnosis never changed. It has always remained the same. I met regularly with my medical team, and my medications stayed the same. The leadership in our district began to shift. When this occurred, I did fine at first, but the added duties continued to pile on, and the stress level increased. I was no longer kept in the loop, communications were not happening, and my medical team saw a significant change.

My body did not like this, and migraines hit hard. Blood Pressure increased to levels my doctor one day said, “You are at stroke level,” as they started an IV to treat the migraine and lower my blood pressure. Chest pains were the following symptom. Failure of the EKG testing resulted in calling in the cardiology team. Now I needed to make my boss aware.

I phoned my boss; the boss said come over to my office to talk. I arrived in less than five minutes, and the boss was a no-show. I asked the secretary where she was. Oh, she had to leave to pick up her son. Did she tell you she called me over to talk to her? No, I walked over to the Human Resource Director’s Office and explained what had happened. I told her I would text her to let her know I had come over as she asked. Then after I sent the text, she called.

“I will come back to talk to you if you need me to.” Oh, that is fine. I just wanted to let you know I had failed an EKG and now we were going to do some further testing, and they were taking me off all of my medications for now. Then nothing was ever mentioned again.

The story does not end there for Danny or me. What do you do in situations when you get feedback, no feedback, or feedback you do not understand?

Share about your experiences with feedback. You are receiving and Giving. Why is feedback important?

Solution Weekly April 17-23, 2022

The final countdown

It is the final full week of treatments for me! The more treatments I receive, the more it affects me. I am so thankful for the weekend breaks to recover and rest. All of those in the battle with cancer are at different points and levels of treatment and need continued support. I will share more this week!

Understanding the concept of success

As I continue to explore ways to support leaders in their journey to success, we will look at all of the ways to understand the journey’s path. We will look at creating the life you choose, the responsibility, wisdom, action steps, and the dedicated efforts needed to continue to move forward. The concepts required will need more than just a brief explanation but a commitment to digging deeper into the practices.

Reach-Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause by Becky Robinson

Reach launches this week on April 19, 2022. This book is excellent if you have a message you want to get out to others. How far is your Reach? You do not need to write a book to put your ideas out. I have challenged before to step up and influence others to make a difference in the world we ALL live in. Voices can be challenging to hear in a world filled with noise, but learning to stand out amid the noises helps to Reach the biggest possible audience while bringing value and making a meaningful difference. If you have not picked up your copy and are interested in purchasing, use the links below. Let me know if you would like a signed copy; I am sure Becky would be happy to help! We can get it to you!

Blessed and Inspired

This week let’s focus on the things, people, and places that remind us of the blessings we have and the inspiration they bring—the hope in each day that helps us rise to face anything. We have so much in our world fighting for our attention in negative forms, we do not see, hear or experience all of the wonderful we have. Do not let others or anything steal the joy from your heart and the faith you have to know….Sunday is coming!

Feedback or Advice? What wisdom do you need?

Have you noticed plenty of words float around telling you this is the most effective way to support staff, students, and others?

  • Please provide feedback to your students in a timely fashion so they can make corrections.
  • Please provide staff with advice on what instructional practices to utilize for better outcomes.
  • Give feedback, so they understand the mistakes they made.
  • Students need advice on what classes they need to stay on track for graduation.
  • Teachers need direct feedback on the areas needing improvement.
  • Advise your daughter on the groceries she should purchase to have a balanced nutrition plan for the family.

What do we need if we want to get better?

Let’s take a deeper dive into the differences in the two words we are looking at Feedback and Advice.

Workplace feedback is defined as a process of giving constructive suggestions. Feedback is generally provided by supervisors, reporting managers as well as peers aimed at improving performance. It can also be for reinforcing good behavior and improving employees’ morale and dedication to doing their jobs. Classroom feedback for students is defined as a pocess of giving constructive suggestions by teachers and sometimes peers to improve in areas of performance in learning. They also are reinforced with feedback on their behavior and focus on the tasks before them. Feedback to others can be positive or negative. When looking at feedback, one word comes to mind, evaluation. Feedback seems to be a judgment on the performance of an individual. It depends on how it is approached.

Advice is guidance. It is defined as an opinion about what could or should be done about a situation or problem. It is more critical and directed to action steps. The focus in advice is to specially direct actions and changes to bring improvement. This is the same in the workplace, classroom, and home.

When I reflect on the separation of the words and their meanings, I feel like I have used them both simultaneously. Have you? I believe when working with educational staff, I have utilized feedback and advice for professional learning. I used feedback to help with the understanding of our progress and to reinforce our practices. Example: We had a new program we were implementing that required further training and procedures called “Target Teach.” I needed to provide feedback on understanding the process of where we were, how we were progressing, and to reinforce the need for the integrity of the practices to keep us on track. As we continued to grow and improve, these practices became part of our classroom strategies. Students and Staff were both engaging in feedback and advice. Peers provided advice to each other in their learning and growth. Teachers visited other classrooms to advise on action steps to take and feedback on the lessons.


It is the wisdom we gain from the experience of understanding the importance of the usage of these words in our daily interactions. Wisdom is the ability to use your knowledge and expertise to make good decisions and judgments. We can help others gain wisdom daily by providing them with these experiences, understanding the purposes of these conversations, having these conversations, and most importantly, listening.

I certainly hope to gain a little wisdom as I grow older! Each experience provides more knowledge and a deeper understanding. At times I believe individuals are not in the season of their journey to open themselves up to feedback, advice, or gaining wisdom. There are times when some think, “I’ve got this, I know, I do not need help,” until…..they don’t have it, don’t know, and need help!

Don’t get sidetracked!

“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

Proverbs 4:25-27 NLT

Our world today is fuller than yesterday of distractions that can seem overwhelming. Is that even possible after all we have been through in the last two years? The answer is yes! It seems to continue to pile up each day to the brim! How can we stay focused?

I am the first to admit that I am finding it challenging to stay focused on what I know is the purpose God has given me in my life to complete. The world’s noise filters into our lives from different points, and we cannot avoid it altogether. I try! It is not just this noise you have to contend with, but the noise you generate yourself. How do you turn the volume of your noise down or off?

Many people we admire as leaders seek out support, coaches, mentors, and mental or spiritual advisors. It is accepted more today than it has been in the past. I am not sure why we as a society decided to look down on others who were constantly working to look up to regain their footing.

I am focusing on strategies to help me maintain a focus on completing what I know I need to prioritize during the season I am in at this time. The noise in my head tells me: You are behind! You better create more content, get on social media platforms, you need more followers, no one is engaging and you are not working fast enough to keep up.

Strategies with purpose and focus

  • Avoid looking forward or backward; look up
  • When your heart is in it, you have no limits
  • Replace the noise with a phrase: Let Go, Let God
  • Address the biggest priority first, then the rest you will do your best to complete
  • Action time is daily and needs to be a habit, but working to replenish my fuel is different than refueling.
  • Get out of the way
  • Keep going
  • Be intentional with everything you do
  • Plan, Have a Routine, Establish good habits
  • Establish healthy rest times and nutrition
  • Discover what helps provide you with a disconnect and release. Example: Yoga, meditation, Learning something new, Excercise
  • Stop isolating- I do this. I do not know about you, but I am guilty about staying in my little corner now. Reach out and connect with others!

In times of conflict, fear, and distrust, our first response is to retreat. Even the greatest and wisest have their limits in what they can endure. There will not be an individual to “fix” the issues we face for us. It is up to us to be part of the solution. We are the authors of the most extraordinary story we can create; it is our life story. It begins today with the action steps we take to start our journey of focusing on the straight path to success.

My eyes maintain a clear focus on the efforts I need to achieve. We are exercising, eating healthier, working on our rest, and developing additional ways to strengthen our straight path forward. I still have many things to work on, but today is better than yesterday, which means tomorrow looks brighter!

Solution Weekly April 10-16, 2022

Let your conversation be always full of grace. Colossians 4:6

The journey in our life brings us to many different places during different seasons of time. I began with a scripture from the bible, which was part of a devotional reading I do daily. Conversation not only came up in my daily devotions, but an author friend messaged me with an invitation to join a Zoom gathering of CPL’s 100th Essential Conversations. CPL-Center for Purposeful Leadership, and my friend is Patricia Neal. Patricia and her husband Craig are the authors of a book titled, The Art of Convening. It is a great book, and we will discuss it more this week. I included the link from the publishers to order a copy if you are interested in learning more about preventing comments like, “This meeting is a waste of time.”


In the beginning quote, it is not simply words but the quality of those words—“full of grace”—that would allow them to be a genuine encouragement to others. In our opportunities to create environments which all voices are heard, many transformative actions and thoughts are shared, grace allows us the ability to listen. Listening is the highest level of communication.


Do you ever think about strings? It is a strange question to ask. But really, what is the purpose of a string? I pulled the string on my shirt, and the next thing I knew, the entire hem at the bottom came out. It was one string!

One string made a big difference because it connected all of the other strings to keep the hem together. So, maybe we need a string to tie us together to help us work better. Family ties? Can we connect?

There is more to strings!

Get your Passport

When I taught, I did a reading unit called “Reading takes you anywhere.” I had the students make passports, and we talked about how passports worked. The passports were made to look similar to real passports, and we recorded the places we went in our reading. We would have food from the country we traveled to and enjoyed learning about many different aspects. One of the enrichment activities we did was to create travel guides, marketing ads, and budgets for a destination. The kids did a great job!

Reading is my favorite thing to do, and I love all books. I do love some more than others, but I genuinely love the art of putting words together to capture an emotion, reaction, and desire in the readers. Some authors can place the words on the pages to take flight, and soon you arrive at the destination before turning the page. What is the last book you read? Have you read a book to someone else? Volunteer to read at a school, nursing home, hospital, church, or library.

Help wanted-Mass Exodus everywhere

There are signs, ads, and pleads to come from everywhere! So many jobs available and workers needed. Then reports add to the list of help wanted with continued struggles with teacher shortages and now a principal shortage. What is happening?

Teaching is a profession in crisis. A March 2021 survey by Education Week found that 54% of teachers said they are somewhat likely or very likely to leave the profession in the next two years – a bump up from 34% in 2019. According to NASSP’s fall survey, 91 percent of principals were very or extremely concerned about student wellness, more than any other challenge (in comparison, mask mandates had about 51 percent very or extremely concerned). More than a third said there’s not adequate student services staff, like nurses and counselors.

A report released by the NASSP indicates: The top three factors most likely to cause principals to leave in the next three years are heavy workload (37%), state accountability measures (31%), and the amount of time and effort needed for compliance requirements (30%). You can read the entire report in the link provided. Also, a blog by the Wallace Foundation provides additional information on the warnings of the need to support education now.


I directly worked with the Wallace Foundation many years ago as a Principal. The support, skills taught, and direct feedback provided strong foundations to continue to build on, helping the school community I served to improve and grow. Along with them and the Illinois Principals Association’s guidance, our continued success is reflected in students’ achievement at our school. We need to continue to make decisions based on the data we receive to stop these anticipated shortages. Please also read this research on the impact of school leaders on student achievement and teacher retention.


There are Solutions

We have solutions to the help wanted needs in our country. If you take a moment to think, I know you can come up with ideas. We stare so long at the problem we jump to a quick fix that creates another problem, and a long-term solution is available. Voice your ideas, opinions, concerns, and most of all, solutions to those we voted to serve us in Washington, D.C. We are independent thinkers and not group thinkers. We have our thoughts but are always open to listening to all ideas. Be the solution daily in a world that needs you.