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Welcome to nc’s blog. Read, comment, interact, engage. Let’s learn together - recursively.

Friday, September 27, 2019


Of course we all have flaws. Of course we all have shortcomings. Of course we all want to be better versions of ourselves.

What we are, what we aspire to, and what we can become is influenced by what we perceive that others see in, and expect from, us.

Let's flip the perspective:  If the eye with which I behold others can have a positive impact on their achieving their most honorable potentialities, their best selves, then why wouldn't I choose to focus on their bestness rather than their worstness?

In a culture that seems a bit too focused on tearing each other down, how about we choose to be renegade?  We get to choose what we focus on, no?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


I recently read Becoming a High Reliability School: The Next Step in School Reform by Robert Marzano (2013). 

I have been a fan of RM for most of two decades now.  I know of no one who has a better grasp of, and is a more proficient communicator of, the elements that make for highly effective schools.

Some of my biggest takeaways:
  • Our highest dreams and most ambitious aspirations are meaningless without a systematic plan and intentional deployment of that plan.
  • A nice building-block structure for creating a high reliability school consists of a five-tiered framework: Level 1: Safe and orderly environment. Level 2: An instructional framework. Level 3: A guaranteed and viable curriculum. Level 4: Standards-referenced reporting. Level 5: A competency-based system.
  • “Leading Indicators” (actions taken to achieve specific ends) and “Lagging Indicators” (data collection around those specific ends) provide an organized system for planning, then reviewing progress.

My favorite quote:
“Highly effective schools produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of students’ backgrounds.”

Any school leader who is serious about affecting school improvement would do well to read this short book.  It is an excellent primer on what to focus on, how to structure a plan for that focus, and how to actually execute the plan.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


The best leaders I know are exceedingly aware of the finiteness of their own time, energy, and attention.  They know full well the import of keeping focused on a few VERY IMPORTANT objectives.  These leaders avoid, with great discipline, being distracted from those uber goals.

The best of the best of those leaders are also exceedingly aware of the finiteness of the time, energy, and attention of their team. Thus, those leaders are quite deliberate in protecting their team from flavor-of-the-month initiatives and mission creep.  They are just as protective of their team as they are of themselves.

It's not as much about self- or team protection as it is about staying attentive to that which is truly important, and dedicating accordingly the precious and finite tangible/intangible resources with laser-like focus. 

Monday, September 16, 2019


I have been the beneficiary of some powerful mentoring over the years.  It has come from some of the following protagonists: parents, grandparents, teachers, faith leaders, coaches, friends, and professional colleagues.

That vast mentoring (which still continues, I might add) is imbued with some commonalities worth noting:

> Success oriented - the mentors had my ultimate success/effectiveness as objecctive.
> Trust - our interactions were and are solidly grounded in trust.
> Transparency - those mentors consistently shared their thinking freely, honestly, openly.
> Kindness - critical assessments/evaluations were always tempered with kindness.
> Optimism - a better tomorrow, performance, and me is always the objective.
> Flexibility - working within my unique strengths and abilities was an assumption; my mentors weren't trying to turn me into someone else.

I am eternally thankful for the mighty mentoring I have received over the years.

Paying it forward is a moral obligation.

*If you'd like to read more of nc's blatherings, go to www.nelsonwcoulter.com.

Monday, September 9, 2019


Vocations are jobs, the stuff we do (or have to do) to make money.  Avocations are usually auxiliary pursuits, like hobbies or "side hustles."

So, what's the difference in the two?  Perhaps it's the amount of passion we invest in the avocation that makes it less like work to us.

Consider the possibilities when our avocation is actually the same thing as (or highly aligned to) our vocation, when our gifts are not sequestered to one OR the other. 

That that gets our passion gets the best part of us. And, the best part of what we have to offer.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


I had a phone conversation with a colleague this week and the topic of complacency came up.  Reminded me of a post I made back in 2013.  Here 'tis:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Enemies and Diseases

What causes organizations to begin to flounder?

Enemies like complacency, distraction, mission creep, bureaucratization, and protectionism.  Diseases like overconfidence, too-big-for-your-britches-ness, loss of customer focus, de-energizing processes, prioritizing profit over quality (whether in products or services). 

These things act in two ways to bring us down. 

As enemies do, they behave as committed antagonists bent on our demise, sometimes very overtly, sometimes clandestinely.  By acting as diseases, they slowly drain our energy, our defenses, our immunities, while we’re not even aware of it until it’s too late (thus, mitigating our performance). 

Our remedies for both?
                    Renewal, Renewal, Renewal

(All of those remedies, by the way, are completely within our control.  And, all have much to do with self-awareness and self-directed growth).

Monday, September 2, 2019


I recently read Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing UP by Jerry Colonna (2019). 

Some of my biggest takeaways:
Ø  Effective storytelling is a hallmark of quality leadership.
Ø  Knowing ourselves, well and fully, is imperative to becoming the leaders we aspire to be.
Ø  Facing our own demons, AND facing them down, is critical to fostering a healthy organizational environment.
Ø  Leadership is about endless do-overs, for ourselves and for those we lead; forgiveness is a primary ingredient in that recipe.
Ø  Listening is perhaps the most powerful tool a leader can use.
Ø  Three powerful driving questions for leaders to use daily:  What am I not saying that needs to be said? What am I saying (in words or deeds) that’s not being heard? What’s being said that I’m not hearing?

My favorite quotes:
“Radical self-inquiry is how we learn to become more of ourselves, more like ourselves, more authentic. More human. And better humans are better leaders.” 

“Listening … opens that which pain has closed. In listening we are healing. We are never healed but forever healing.  We are never loved but forever loving.” 

This book is an excellent treatise on the import of holding the mirror of self-reflection up to ourselves as a precursor to leading others.

An excellent read.  Thanks for the rec DP/CD.