Commaderie vs Competition

I had the opportunity this past week to attend the Rigor, Relevance, and Relationship conference in Cypress Fair . It was easily one of the BEST conferences I have attended.

The keynote was by someone I had never heard of before, a Mr. Keni Thomas. Mr. Thomas is a former United States Army Ranger. He was a member of Task Force Ranger as a part of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, and served in the Battle of Mogadishu, (the Black Hawk down movie!) Thomas works as a motivational speaker drawing from his experience as a US Ranger. He speaks on leadership and commitment. I was really impressed but it was his PASSION for what he was speaking of that spoke to me enough to immediately buy his book.

One of his remarks that day on how a team is only as strong as its weakest link really drew me in. He talks in his book about how when we see someone struggling on our team, we tend to distance ourselves from them. “I’m better than they are, I don’t want to pull me down. Gotta show everyone else how good I am.”  He then goes on to talk about that how no matter what part of a team you are, you always have someone to your left and to your right. That you play  a part in what standards are reached for within that team…and that nobody signs up to be mediocre.

This was a hugely inspirational moment. Our school year ended on a low note. I was down mentally to the point where I was down physically. Not good! I needed to be sparked and this speaker hit on several key points. I am normally SO positive and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t bouncing right back this time.

My realization as to why ht me when I reread this quote from Twitter, “The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.”  by Marva Collins.

I had backed off on blogging, both here and on my campus blog, on tweeting, and on sharing in general because of an interpreted mentality that by doing so, I may be ostracizing myself from my “peers”. That maybe I was showing off…

To be clear, I’m quite content in my current position. I’m in no rush to move up.

I’m not interested in showing ff or coming across as amazing or as all knowing. That’s not why I blog, tweet, or share via email.

What I am interested in is being a collective team member, one who won’t settle for mediocrity…who knows that you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

I believe that the smartest person in the room IS the room. Not me. Not you. But all of us together. Why wouldn’t we all want to be the best? Push, pull, or drag..we should do our part to keep our teams together.

I love this line from Keni’s book, “Because as good as I am, I cannot do it all. And guess what? Neither can you.”

I am SO thankful that my PLN allows me to share, collaborate and to be sparked by their passion DAILY.  It’s a good thing. If you’re looking for a spark this summer, grab Keni’s book. It won’t disappoint!






  1. Michelle said:

    I attended the same conference last week and heard Keni Thomas’ address and was as impressed as you. I have his book on order. He was pretty awesome and had a great story to learn from.

    June 12, 2012
    • Yea! Thanks, Michelle! Glad to hear I wasn’t tot off base about how great I thought he was!

      June 18, 2012
  2. jacqui hills said:

    Thanks for the information about this speaker and his book. I am interested about how school leaders define leadership in schools nd to see from this article that it continues to be from a military perspective.
    we talk in terms of teams, missions, stongest as the weakest link – all very military in thier origin.
    thanks for the post and ideas for further podering.

    June 12, 2012
    • Thanks, Jacqui! I had never thought about education paralleling the military but thought the book in terms of leadership was amazing!

      June 18, 2012
  3. Amber,

    Mr. Thomas sounds like he has something worth hearing. I’m reminded of a saying that goes something like this. When we collaborate with others in community, we multiply our joys and divide our sorrows. Clearly face to face communication is our greatest need, however like minded friends of the virtual kind are not without benefit.

    Recharge your spirit, mind and body this summer so you can continue to contribute to your team of leaders and learners.



    June 12, 2012
    • Thanks Dan! Looking forward to some time off, 🙂 now if i could just wrap my mind around actually not THINKING about work, I’ll be all right!


      June 18, 2012
  4. kharris said:

    Collaboration is key. I think you selected an excellent quote to highlight. You cannot do it all alone. I tend to shy away from others who appear to be holding the group back or negative individuals, but I realized that we all play apart and have a lesson to be learned and shared. While working with others, do not let them dim your light or drain you. Recharging and relaxing is essential.

    June 15, 2012
    • Thanks, KHarris! I agree, no energy vampires!

      🙂 happy summerN!

      June 18, 2012

Comments are closed.