Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Uncurious

The best leaders I know exude curiosity.  They read, they ask questions, they dabble in unfamiliar content, they engage new acquaintances with interest, they embark on novel experiences.  In short, they stretch themselves, along all dimensions, relentlessly.  It seems they're always in LEARN mode.

By contrast, there are those who tend to live on the uncurious end of the continuum.  They emanate are far different aura.  Why?

  • Perhaps they're just tired.
  • Perhaps they truly don't care. 
  • Perhaps they think they've arrived.
  • Perhaps they're distracted by personal challenges/problems.
  • Perhaps they view others as less.
  • Perhaps they're unhappy.
It's not hard to see which type of leader inspires us, moves us, makes us wanna be better.

Our behaviors (and thus, the way we are perceived) are the result of choices we make and habits we adopt, not genetics.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

FakeData

You may have heard this axiom:  "That which is not monitored, is optional."  True enough.

More important, however, is that we choose wisely that which we monitor and/or measure.  Another old saw is just as true:  "Manipulate a batch of numbers long enough and they'll tell you anything you want to hear."

Performance can almost always be expressed as a formula:
                            
                           
Performance =                                     Our chosen objectives                               
                               The cost in time/money/effort in achieving those objectives

Higher performance can be achieved by increases in the top number (the numerator) of that quotient.  BUT, performance can also appear to be higher if we somehow LOWER the number in the bottom (the denominator) of that formula.  Ratios are like that...


Our success depends on some simple core principles:
  1. Making well-considered decisions about how we define success for ourselves in the LONG-TERM (refusing to become slaves to the short-term objectives).
  2. Developing quality tools and establishing meaningful metrics to assess how well we are achieving those goals.
  3. Refusing to manipulate the numbers just so they'll tell us what we want to hear.
We can either choose to live/work/serve with fidelity, or we can take the delusional approach, faking and manipulating the numbers.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Re-Beginnings

One of the nice things about working at the school house (aka, being an educator) is that we get a fresh start each school year.

New schedules (yet they're mostly the same as the past ones).
New schools perhaps (yet they're mostly the same as the past ones).
New students (yet they're mostly the same as the past ones).
New teachers (yet they're mostly the same as the past ones).
New administrators (yet they're mostly the same as the past ones).

So, what's so special, so energizing, about starting a new school year?  It's the intuitive understanding that we get the chance to commence anew, to do it better, to deploy our skills more effectively, to practice our craft with more prowess.

Truth:  We can start fresh each school year; but, we can also begin anew each semester or each term or each week or each day or each class period or each minute.

We all (not just educators) have the opportunity to intentionally make the next minute/hour/week/year better than the last one.  

It's simply a choice to be/do/think/act/speak better, on purpose, each day.  Choices for "better" pay some really nice dividends.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

WalkieTalkies

Most of us played with walkie talkies as children.  These were the forerunner devices to the ubiquitous at-a-distance communications tools to which we have all become accustomed.

An operational characteristic of walkie talkies is that only one person can talk/transmit at a time.  If one person is in talk mode (with the transmit button depressed) no others on the channel may contribute.

For learners and leaders, this has serious implications.  If we are the ones in talk mode, we deprive ourselves of the enlightening and necessary learning/data/information/insight that others possess, and for which we have great need in order to make sound decisions.

In mathematical terms, the level of our learning is inversely proportional to the amount of time we spend talking.

Warning to lead learners:  Step away from the talk button...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

EatWhat?

We've all heard the old saw:  You are what you eat.

Increasingly, research is proving this old axiom to be profoundly accurate.

What we consume in the way of food impacts our physical wellbeing immensely, down to the cellular level.  What we feed our spirit impacts our peace.  What we feed our minds shapes our worldview, our understanding, our wisdom, our mental health.

Conversely:  Garbage in, garbage out.

Organizations are nothing more than collections of human beings.  Thus, organizations are also living, breathing organisms that have their own version of body, mind, and spirit.  The health and wellbeing of the organization, too, is dependent on what we feed it.

Two questions:
What are we feeding our bodies, our minds, our spirits, as individuals?
What are we feeding the organizations to which we belong (their bodies, their minds, their spirits)?

In both, we choose - minute by minute, day by day, bite by bite, interaction by interaction.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

TheInformed

Informed opinions are the most worthy ones.  
Informed decisions are the most powerful ones.
Informed questions tease out the deepest responses.
Informed reflection produces the richest analyses.
Informed investments yield the healthiest returns.
Informed actions generate the best results.

The wisest folks I know seek to center themselves in that "informed" category by honing and practicing two critical attributes:

  1. They are superb listeners.
  2. They are intensely astute observers.
Truth:  It's extremely difficult to engage well in either of those practices if one's mouth is running.

Just sayin'.  Or not.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ToughLovers

No, not talking about romantic love here.

Rather, I'm talking about that group of leaders (whether parents, teachers, managers, or generals) who pull us toward bigger, better, brighter futures.  

As result we find our bigger, better, brighter selves.

What's so special about these Tough Love Leaders?

  • They craft and articulate a worthy pursuit WITH us (not AT us).
  • They stay focused on the BIG stuff, refusing to get mired in the menial and superficial.
  • They give their very best and require the same from us.
  • They shrink not from challenge.
  • They model and expect relentless (and shared) learning.
  • They are wangateurs of our holistic wellbeing. 
Hard is not our enemy.  Weak is.