Tag: #management

It only takes a spark!

“The power just went out; I can’t see a thing.”

“Hang on, I know I have candles somewhere. Oh no, only one match! I hope we can get the candle going with one match. Then we can start the others.”

Moving to the country on our own as a young family took a little getting used to. Planning out what was needed in emergencies like power outages, snowstorms, ice, and so much more!

Listening to the evening news, we hear about fires out west. It only takes one spark to get a fire going, and it spreads fast. This message was loud and clear.

“Please take out the red hymnal books and turn to page 495 and the song Pass it on.” My favorite song! “It only takes a spark to get a fire going. That’s how it is with God’s love.”

Putting the spark in Leadership

I have utilized these messages about a spark to light my path igniting the fire in others for many years. It is what leaders do. At first, I did not recognize it as a leadership trait, but it is! The best kind of leadership trait. It is support, passion, authenticity, relationships, and knowledge-SPARK, all in one!

As leaders, we do not recognize things as part of a “formalized” plan of skills. We do what we feel natural in doing. However, with this being said, leaders are constantly learning and absorbing ways to improve. They pass this on to those they serve, lighting a fire to ignite success.

In my solution-focused approach to leadership, it is natural always to look for solutions. When you focus on solutions, positive mindsets are the results. Supporting those you serve as they work to provide solutions is a positive part of the day. Positive support naturally creates a positive work climate where everyone feels safe, supported, and confident.

Showing our passion for what we do is a contagious attribute. The love we have is something we do not want to hide. Providing and sharing this passion with our team helps to keep the spirit going. Opportunities to try new things, ideas and to enjoy what we do.

During our time of support and showing others the passion we have for what we do, it is in how we do and not always what we say. Being authentic in what you say and do brings authenticity to how we lead. Authentic leaders and teams bring truth, honesty, and the spirit of collaboration. These components secure loyalty and lift the team to reach higher levels. This weaves into the natural building of relationships as the level of trust has been established through the work of support, passion, and authenticity. These components are all needed to work together to begin to flicker the spark.

The last piece most feel is essential. Leaders think they need to have the most knowledge to lead. It is not the leader who holds the knowledge; it is within the team. Each member brings their knowledge, strengths, and talents to support the passion for achieving success. The leader knows how to help get the team to the end goal as the team works together.

Take away

  • Support- Provide your team with the support they need to accomplish the goals. Keep the positive mindset with always a positive solution-focused approach.
  • Passion- Share the love for what we do! Celebrate the tiny, small, and big wins daily. It is contagious! Spread it!
  • Authenticity- It is what we say and do that helps to inspire trust in our teams. As this is established, loyalty follows as well as a foundation for our team.
  • Relationships- Building positive relationships focused on solutions keeps mindsets positive and establishes collaboration to accomplish set goals.
  • Knowledge- Recognizing the knowledge and skills of the team further enhances the foundation for collaborative success. Leaders only need the understanding of how to help the team utilize their talents together to accomplish success.

It only takes a SPARK to get a fire going, and soon all those around will: warm up to its glowing, grow within its light, shine brighter and be thankful for the spark! Thank you for being part of the solution daily!

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.

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.

Acceptance

“Life is not always what one wants it to be. A turn right instead of the left can make a difference on the path you choose. It is when you decide to make the best of it, as it is, even when the choices are not what you want to hear. Instead, you take each day as a gift to unwrap and to make it happy as you share with others.”

The pictures tell a story in your mind right away. You have a vision without any words of red lights, blue lights, sirens sounding, voices yelling orders, people gathering, and silence in the ears of a man who comes to the site looking for his family he just left ten minutes ago.

Have you had to accept a decision, a change or an individual as a leader? The scene from our car crash can be the same kind of sounds and feelings inside you when faced with trying to accept change. Emotions drive our reactions.

It is emotional when you have to face acceptance of decisions you have no control over. It is our choice to have the mindset of learning acceptance. Change happens often! Things can happen that will transform who you are and have an impact on your life. The problem is that we need to cultivate the ability to accept whatever comes and embrace it truly. If we can begin now, it will help us as we continue to grow. Change can often impact our lives in ways to help us as we affect the lives of others.

My accident closed one door I did not want to close but opened others I enjoy as I explore. What change are you resistant to? If it is a change that questions your values, patriotism, beliefs, or morals, then this is not a change you need to accept. Acceptance is a big word to discuss as many changes are happening each day.

I have accepted my changes from the accident. Although, I will admit I have good days and days when I am angry that I am not the person I was. We are not perfect. I can think of many incidents in my life when I was asked to accept something I did not want to at all. Change comes with many lessons we can learn. What change do you face?

Emerging Stronger!

When we face challenges, we can find the leadership, skills, discipline, and resilience needed to overcome them. As we glance back at the past, we can see the many issues tugging at our hearts. Then we can feel the pains in our bodies from the battles we have endured. Finally, a light shines through as smiles begin to show through from the masks once hidden from view.

It has been a tough time. It continues to be a struggle, especially for our children. Each day brings us one day closer to solutions.

There is one thing I am optimistic about today. We can emerge stronger if we are wise in our planning. Many people count on your leadership! What we need to remember is not everyone is ready to move full steam ahead. In our plans, we have to make room for the social and emotional part.

During this time, many lost loved ones, dealt with illness themselves, or faced fears at levels we may not understand. What we do understand is the process through which individuals effectively apply knowledge, skills, attitudes, emotions, and empathy is through social-emotional learning. Along with this is maintaining positive relationships and decisions. We can begin with setting positive goals to achieve.

Keep in mind staff can experience secondary traumatic stress (STS). Depending on the type of organization or business you have, staff members can receive daily stress. Staff in school settings are definitely at risk of experiencing STS as children share in many different ways when they have stories to tell.

Solution Steps

  • Provide staff with opportunities to discuss
  • Have outlets for stress relief
  • Have fun
  • Talk about ways to manage emotions and stress
  • Provide opportunities for training on social-emotional, trauma, mental health, and overall self-care
  • Model how to support each other
  • Set up checkups with staff. Check in on them as much as you can

Thank you for being part of the solution daily.

Fundamental Friday

In our lives we have fundamental things, activities and principles that are important to us. We can believe strongly in some as an essential part of who we are or part of our purpose of being.

People seeking meaning beyond themselves seem to be happier, healthier, and live longer. I have no data to confirm that statement, only my observations. I like to think of myself in the category of seeking meaning beyond myself and in service to others. I am happy; I have had some health issues, but I am in remission, which has been a big positive. I have also had some near misses to death resulting in living longer. According to my formula, it works!

The fundamental definition is – serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function. Looking at the four pillars of the fundamental parts to our life is : Happiness, Self-Care, Relationships and Health

Take out a calculator and do this quick math calculation. This is “life math.” -Guide to Unlocking the Power of Purpose by Richard Leider

  • Multiply your age x365__________.
  • Then, subtract that number from 30,000, an average life expectancy.
  • Divide that number by 365_______
  • Now you are clear that you have _____more years to live. What will you do?

I know you have heard me say before, but I will repeat it: “Every day is a gift full of opportunities to unwrap.” I repeat phrases and words a great deal. I believe it is important in order to help reinforce the ideas to those you are serving, coaching and modeling for each day. My staff called them “Yohoisims.”

  • “Make it a great day or not the choice is yours to make”
  • “It is what it is, so it will be”
  • “We don’t know what we don’t know, do we”
  • “You have one foot on the outside and mine on your backside if you do not make some positive changes.”
  • “Do you know why you are tired? You bark all day.”
  • Many others to share but enough of the Yoho for today.

Look at your four fundamental areas and decide what improvements you can make. The following years of your life should fundamentally be full of “FUN” “DAily”/ “MENTAL” “Learning”/ “Yourself”-focusing on happiness, self-care, relationships, and health.