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No one does their best work out of compliance or out of obligation. 

No one does their best work expecting a reward. 

We do our best work when we see it as a privilege, a contribution, and an enjoyable experienc…

Read More Doing Your Best Work

Countless books have been written on the topic of leadership. There are styles, and theories, and frameworks.

But at it’s essence, leadership is about energy. 

What kind of energy do you bring each day? Are you showing up with enthusiasm a…

Read More Leadership is Energy: Bring It!

In my previous post, I wrote how failure is not the enemy of improvement. Failure is actually a healthy part of learning and growth. The enemy of excellence is apathy or mediocrity. It’s being content, either intentionally or unintentionally, with ho…

Read More 7 Things People Think or Say that Reinforce Mediocrity

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It’s been great to see all the posts today for #WorldKindnessDay. It got me thinking about what it means to be kind. I think there are a few myths out there about this concept, and I wanted to address them.



Myth #1: Kindness is weak.



Kindness is NOT weak. In fact, it takes courage to show kindness. It takes strength. It takes setting aside what’s easy for what’s valuable. Being kind requires strength of character.



Myth #2: Kindness is the same as being nice.



Kindness is NOT just being nice. Being nice is one aspect of kindness, but that’s not the end of it. Kindness is about making decisions that result in healthy relationships. It’s about giving your time, your attention, your caring heart, your extra efforts, your helping hand, your selfless actions to lift up others. 





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Myth #3: Kindness is a feeling.



Kindness is NOT a feeling, it’s a choice. It’s a behavior. You’re not going to like everyone you meet. You’re probably not always going to feel like being kind to them. But you can choose to treat everyone you meet with all the care and concern of people you do like. 



The more you practice being kind, the easier it is to demonstrate this behavior consistently. It becomes a habit. It becomes who you are, and you don’t even hesitate to act in kind ways.




You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

How has someone shown kindness to you? How are you growing in your own ability to be kind to others? What other myths exist around kindness? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Three Myths About Kindness



Implementing a program or procedure can result in a certain level of success. But “implementing work” will never achieve the value of “transforming work.”



Implementing is taking someone else’s work and replicating it with fidelity. When we talk about best practices in education, that’s implementing.



Implementing is the scripted lesson, it’s following the established pattern, it’s the well-worn path, the formula, the hack, the tried and true. It’s doing it the way it’s been done before.



We can train people to be implementers.



But implementing doesn’t account for the unique gifts and abilities you have to offer. Sure, we should start with learning best practices. In fact, it’s necessary to learn best practices. The work and wisdom of the past informs what’s possible next. Tomorrow’s progress is built on the progress of the past.



Tomorrow’s progress is also build on your contributions. We should contribute to progress. As we develop our expertise, we should seek to make a larger contribution. We should be molding and shaping best practices.



That’s transforming work.



Transforming work requires curiosity, creativity, imagination, and empathy. It makes a contribution to the world that is unique and beneficial. It’s going beyond best practices to bring something new and better.



There are a million ways you can go from implementing to transforming. Rely on your strengths. Discover your passions. Grow your influence. You’ll be more fulfilled when you do. 



Do the work you love. It’s hard to love implementing when you could be transforming. 



Are you stuck in an implementing rut? Or are you using your full creativity and imagination in your work? Are you reaching hearts and minds with transforming work? Leave a message below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More From Implementing to Transforming



How do you define student achievement? Is student achievement defined by how students perform on some type of standardized assessment? When politicians, policymakers, and lots of educators too, talk about raising student achievement, it usually means raising test scores.



The problem is that test scores are a very narrow way to define student success and student achievement. That definition favors a certain type of student, magnifying a certain type of skill set, while diminishing a whole range of other factors that can lead to success academically and in life.


So why is it the current definition of student achievement is always tied to how students perform on one test that happens in one moment once a year? I want to see more emphasis on student agency. I want to find ways for students to connect to what they are learning, to apply what they are learning, to do things with their learning that are making a difference. To me, when students exercise agency and demonstrate growth, that is achievement.


When we are driven by preparing kids for a test, we may neglect preparing them for life. I’m not saying we can’t prepare kids for the test and for life, but too often I think that’s exactly what’s happening. The test is driving everything in some schools. 


But does the learning stick? Will students remember the things they must know for the test? I really like how Will Richardson put words around this idea. He says we need to aim for learning that results in permanence. We should seek learning that has lasting value. When students have agency and ownership in learning, it’s much more likely to have long term impact. When it connects to their passions and their goals, they’re much more invested emotionally and intellectually.


Another question I would raise is this, does the learning shift perspective? Simply learning content and using it to answer test questions doesn’t necessarily change who you are or how you see the world. And I think education should always result in more empathy and understanding. It doesn’t just change what you know but helps you better understand who you are and how you can make a bigger difference.



If we want more permanence and perspective in education, we have to be willing to invest in agency. We must empower students and teachers to do things that are bigger than just mastering content standards. We have encourage creativity and connection and allow for learning that taps into strengths and passions.



So let’s aim to get a better balance between achievement and agency. Achievement won’t solve the world’s problems unless our students learn they are powerful problem solvers. They must know first and foremost the significant agency they have to make a difference.



What are you thoughts? How are you specifically equipping students with greater agency and empowerment in your classroom and school? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Balancing Achievement and Agency



Last Christmas, we decided to add a new Boston Terrier puppy to our family. His name is Rudy. There have been many times over the past months that Rudy has tested our patience. And he’s tested the patience of our older Boston Terrier, Max, too.



He’s chewed up the house. He’s been slow to house train. He’s been quick to disobey. He’s a little too affectionate. He’s in your face affectionate. It’s cute and annoying at the same time.



But a few months ago we noticed something was wrong with Rudy. He was having problems with one of his back legs. It would happen occasionally, and he would limp around on three legs for a while, and then he was back to his old self.



But the problem became even more frequent. A trip to the vet revealed Rudy’s leg problem was Patellar Luxation, a knee cap that was dislocating. The leg would not get better on its own and needed to be addressed surgically.



So Rudy was scheduled for his operation.



After Rudy had his surgery, the vet said we needed to keep him from using the repaired knee. “No using that leg,” he said. 



Just how are you supposed to keep a dog from using a leg? Hey Rudy, no using that leg, okay? 



But turns out that wasn’t a problem. Rudy didn’t want to use the leg. I guess it was pretty sore, and he quit using it entirely after the surgery. 



Even weeks later, after several visits to the vet, Rudy was still not using the repaired leg. The vet suggested several ideas for getting him to start using the leg again, including swim therapy in our bath tub. Seriously.



But Rudy still refused to use his fourth leg. He was a three-legged dog, it seemed, forever.



However, it was clear from our trips to the veterinarian, Rudy’s leg had healed properly. He was simply choosing not to use the leg. He had created a limitation in his canine brain that he was a three-legged dog. He had created a new identity that kept him from reaching his full capacity.



Would Rudy ever walk on four legs again?



And then, in a matter of a couple of weeks, Rudy started testing the fourth leg a little more. He pushed out of his comfort zone and into his growth zone. The video clips below were shot on the same day in the span of about an hour. You’ll see his three legged routine and then what’s possible when he pushes past the limits. Rudy was very capable it seems.






When Rudy got past his limits, he was running around like any puppy should. He was back to annoying all of us again, in his regular way. He was starting to utilize his fourth leg to its full capacity.



But here’s the thing, how many of us are choosing, perhaps unintentionally, to be three-legged dogs? Could it be that most of us are only using a fraction of our true capacity? What might be possible if we would only test our limits and continue to learn and grow?



I think most people are only operating at a small percentage of full capacity. And I think most schools are only operating at a small percentage of full capacity. We’re probably capable of so much more. Our schools are probably capable of so much more.



Sure, we’re trying to make progress, but we’re walking on three legs. We’re trying to make things better, but we need to make ourselves better. Change you first.



What we really need is to cut loose and run on all four legs. And we need to create conditions where other people are able to reach their capacity, too. 



So how can you reach your capacity? You have to get started on a path of growth. Break through your limits with the following…



1. The BELIEF that you need to get better.



If you think you’re doing just fine on three legs, you’ll never find your true capacity. You’ll just keep limping along. You need a vision of what’s possible. Moreover, you also need the belief that things CAN get better. Don’t allow your past performance to limit your future possibilities.



2. The DESIRE to want to get better.



Growth is the more difficult choice. It’s easier just to be satisfied, either intentionally or unintentionally, with how things are. We have to crush apathy and reject mediocrity. We have to desire excellence. You have to commit. You have to really want it.



3. The WILLINGNESS to take action to get better.



You have to test your limits. You have to see what that fourth leg is capable of doing. Sometimes it feels really risky to step out in faith. It might hurt. But you must take action. Destiny is about decisions. It might be hard, but it’s worth it. 



4. The WISDOM to learn how to get better.



There is a certain wisdom and humility needed to recognize that we’re not currently all we could be. We’re probably capable of more, if we’re honest about it. We must therefore seek out opportunities to learn from others. We must apply the things we learn. We have to pursue growth intentionally. 



5. The DISCIPLINE to follow through and be GREAT.



Living a no limits life requires discipline. A new direction requires discipline. Full capacity requires discipline. You have to eliminate the choices that aren’t leading you toward your capacity. You have to be relentless to achieve the results.



What are some ways you want to test your limits? What are some ways you need to test your limits? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More Are You Reaching Your Full Capacity?



Reflection is important for growth. But we have to be intentional about it. Our reflection is meaningless unless we do something with it. It has to change us. Or, it has to help us change directions. Effective people are reflective people.



Many years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s incredible book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Just this last week, I decided to start reading it again. Carnegie tells the story of a bank president who for many years made it a practice to reflect at the end of each week on every appointment he had in the previous week. He would ask himself the following questions:



“What mistakes did I make that time?”



“What did I do that was right–and in what way could I have improved my performance?”



“What lessons can I learn from that experience?”



The banker attributed his great success in large part to his system:

I often found that this weekly review made me very unhappy. I was frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years passed, these blunders became less frequent. Sometimes I was inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, that continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.

It helped me improve my ability to make decisions–and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly. 

I also try to make it a point to consistently reflect on how things are going in my work. However, I don’t have a process as systematic as what’s described by the banker. Maybe that’s something I should consider.



This week as I’m reflecting, I thought of a few more questions to consider…



1. How is the reluctant learner experiencing our school (or your classroom if you’re a teacher)?



We may think about how our students are doing overall, but I think we need to be especially attentive to how the reluctant learner is doing. If we create an experience that engages some of our most challenging students, that same experience will also probably benefit our other students too. We’re aiming to create a place where even kids who “hate school” love to learn.



2. Am I measuring with a yardstick of my own years?



When I get frustrated with some of the behaviors I see in students, I need to be reminded that they are often acting exactly like 15-year-olds are inclined to act. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to influence them to rise up, but I can’t get frustrated when they don’t think, or act, like me. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But I think we all tend to get frustrated if people don’t act just like we think they should.



3. Do I have a healthy level of dissatisfaction with my own performance?



At the end of the day, it’s important to be content with doing my best but to also be dissatisfied with how things are. I don’t want to become complacent. And I don’t want to beat myself up when I make a mistake. So be content, but never be satisfied. 



4. Are there ways I’m falling into binary thinking?



Binary thinking creates false dichotomies. It’s either/or. Effective leadership almost always requires a more nuanced position. We can have fun AND have high expectations. We can use technology AND develop social skills and teamwork. We can encourage student agency/inquiry AND improve achievement. It’s not all or nothing.



5. What specific strategies am I using to motivate students (and teachers)?



I’m thinking about the ways I influence student and teacher motivation. Am I doing it by connecting and building relationships? Am I doing it by clearing barriers and showing support? Am I motivating students by creating a positive environment? Just what are the specific strategies I’m using to motivate? Food for thought.



So how are you developing a reflection routine? Would you benefit from having intentional reflection each week? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Questions for Deeper Reflection



Reflection is important for growth. But we have to be intentional about it. Our reflection is meaningless unless we do something with it. It has to change us. Or, it has to help us change directions. Effective people are reflective people.



Many years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s incredible book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Just this last week, I decided to start reading it again. Carnegie tells the story of a bank president who for many years made it a practice to reflect at the end of each week on every appointment he had in the previous week. He would ask himself the following questions:



“What mistakes did I make that time?”



“What did I do that was right–and in what way could I have improved my performance?”



“What lessons can I learn from that experience?”



The banker attributed his great success in large part to his system:

I often found that this weekly review made me very unhappy. I was frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years passed, these blunders became less frequent. Sometimes I was inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, that continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.

It helped me improve my ability to make decisions–and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly. 

I also try to make it a point to consistently reflect on how things are going in my work. However, I don’t have a process as systematic as what’s described by the banker. Maybe that’s something I should consider.



This week as I’m reflecting, I thought of a few more questions to consider…



1. How is the reluctant learner experiencing our school (or your classroom if you’re a teacher)?



We may think about how our students are doing overall, but I think we need to be especially attentive to how the reluctant learner is doing. If we create an experience that engages some of our most challenging students, that same experience will also probably benefit our other students too. We’re aiming to create a place where even kids who “hate school” love to learn.



2. Am I measuring with a yardstick of my own years?



When I get frustrated with some of the behaviors I see in students, I need to be reminded that they are often acting exactly like 15-year-olds are inclined to act. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to influence them to rise up, but I can’t get frustrated when they don’t think, or act, like me. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But I think we all tend to get frustrated if people don’t act just like we think they should.



3. Do I have a healthy level of dissatisfaction with my own performance?



At the end of the day, it’s important to be content with doing my best but to also be dissatisfied with how things are. I don’t want to become complacent. And I don’t want to beat myself up when I make a mistake. So be content, but never be satisfied. 



4. Are there ways I’m falling into binary thinking?



Binary thinking creates false dichotomies. It’s either/or. Effective leadership almost always requires a more nuanced position. We can have fun AND have high expectations. We can use technology AND develop social skills and teamwork. We can encourage student agency/inquiry AND improve achievement. It’s not all or nothing.



5. What specific strategies am I using to motivate students (and teachers)?



I’m thinking about the ways I influence student and teacher motivation. Am I doing it by connecting and building relationships? Am I doing it by clearing barriers and showing support? Am I motivating students by creating a positive environment? Just what are the specific strategies I’m using to motivate? Food for thought.



So how are you developing a reflection routine? Would you benefit from having intentional reflection each week? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Questions for Deeper Reflection



Reflection is important for growth. But we have to be intentional about it. Our reflection is meaningless unless we do something with it. It has to change us. Or, it has to help us change directions. Effective people are reflective people.



Many years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s incredible book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Just this last week, I decided to start reading it again. Carnegie tells the story of a bank president who for many years made it a practice to reflect at the end of each week on every appointment he had in the previous week. He would ask himself the following questions:



“What mistakes did I make that time?”



“What did I do that was right–and in what way could I have improved my performance?”



“What lessons can I learn from that experience?”



The banker attributed his great success in large part to his system:

I often found that this weekly review made me very unhappy. I was frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years passed, these blunders became less frequent. Sometimes I was inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, that continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.

It helped me improve my ability to make decisions–and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly. 

I also try to make it a point to consistently reflect on how things are going in my work. However, I don’t have a process as systematic as what’s described by the banker. Maybe that’s something I should consider.



This week as I’m reflecting, I thought of a few more questions to consider…



1. How is the reluctant learner experiencing our school (or your classroom if you’re a teacher)?



We may think about how our students are doing overall, but I think we need to be especially attentive to how the reluctant learner is doing. If we create an experience that engages some of our most challenging students, that same experience will also probably benefit our other students too. We’re aiming to create a place where even kids who “hate school” love to learn.



2. Am I measuring with a yardstick of my own years?



When I get frustrated with some of the behaviors I see in students, I need to be reminded that they are often acting exactly like 15-year-olds are inclined to act. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to influence them to rise up, but I can’t get frustrated when they don’t think, or act, like me. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But I think we all tend to get frustrated if people don’t act just like we think they should.



3. Do I have a healthy level of dissatisfaction with my own performance?



At the end of the day, it’s important to be content with doing my best but to also be dissatisfied with how things are. I don’t want to become complacent. And I don’t want to beat myself up when I make a mistake. So be content, but never be satisfied. 



4. Are there ways I’m falling into binary thinking?



Binary thinking creates false dichotomies. It’s either/or. Effective leadership almost always requires a more nuanced position. We can have fun AND have high expectations. We can use technology AND develop social skills and teamwork. We can encourage student agency/inquiry AND improve achievement. It’s not all or nothing.



5. What specific strategies am I using to motivate students (and teachers)?



I’m thinking about the ways I influence student and teacher motivation. Am I doing it by connecting and building relationships? Am I doing it by clearing barriers and showing support? Am I motivating students by creating a positive environment? Just what are the specific strategies I’m using to motivate? Food for thought.



So how are you developing a reflection routine? Would you benefit from having intentional reflection each week? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Questions for Deeper Reflection



Reflection is important for growth. But we have to be intentional about it. Our reflection is meaningless unless we do something with it. It has to change us. Or, it has to help us change directions. Effective people are reflective people.



Many years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s incredible book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Just this last week, I decided to start reading it again. Carnegie tells the story of a bank president who for many years made it a practice to reflect at the end of each week on every appointment he had in the previous week. He would ask himself the following questions:



“What mistakes did I make that time?”



“What did I do that was right–and in what way could I have improved my performance?”



“What lessons can I learn from that experience?”



The banker attributed his great success in large part to his system:

I often found that this weekly review made me very unhappy. I was frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years passed, these blunders became less frequent. Sometimes I was inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, that continued year after year, did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.

It helped me improve my ability to make decisions–and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly. 

I also try to make it a point to consistently reflect on how things are going in my work. However, I don’t have a process as systematic as what’s described by the banker. Maybe that’s something I should consider.



This week as I’m reflecting, I thought of a few more questions to consider…



1. How is the reluctant learner experiencing our school (or your classroom if you’re a teacher)?



We may think about how our students are doing overall, but I think we need to be especially attentive to how the reluctant learner is doing. If we create an experience that engages some of our most challenging students, that same experience will also probably benefit our other students too. We’re aiming to create a place where even kids who “hate school” love to learn.



2. Am I measuring with a yardstick of my own years?



When I get frustrated with some of the behaviors I see in students, I need to be reminded that they are often acting exactly like 15-year-olds are inclined to act. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to influence them to rise up, but I can’t get frustrated when they don’t think, or act, like me. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But I think we all tend to get frustrated if people don’t act just like we think they should.



3. Do I have a healthy level of dissatisfaction with my own performance?



At the end of the day, it’s important to be content with doing my best but to also be dissatisfied with how things are. I don’t want to become complacent. And I don’t want to beat myself up when I make a mistake. So be content, but never be satisfied. 



4. Are there ways I’m falling into binary thinking?



Binary thinking creates false dichotomies. It’s either/or. Effective leadership almost always requires a more nuanced position. We can have fun AND have high expectations. We can use technology AND develop social skills and teamwork. We can encourage student agency/inquiry AND improve achievement. It’s not all or nothing.



5. What specific strategies am I using to motivate students (and teachers)?



I’m thinking about the ways I influence student and teacher motivation. Am I doing it by connecting and building relationships? Am I doing it by clearing barriers and showing support? Am I motivating students by creating a positive environment? Just what are the specific strategies I’m using to motivate? Food for thought.



So how are you developing a reflection routine? Would you benefit from having intentional reflection each week? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Questions for Deeper Reflection



When I was fresh out of college, it was time to start my career as an educator. I was very passionate about the game of basketball, and that was part of the reason I wanted to teach and coach. I had passion for the game. I still love it today and look forward to the start of college basketball season.



But while I had passion, I didn’t necessarily have a strong or clear purpose. I was just finding my way.



Although passion is great, we can be passionate about things that lack significance. We can be passionate about a game. We can be passionate about cars, or coffee, or even Netflix. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with passion and enthusiasm for these things. But it’s not something with inherently larger meaning or significance.



Purpose, on the other hand, is about having a mission. It’s about living a life of meaning and significance in a very intentional way. I’m defining purpose here as something that transcends what we do and becomes more about who we are.



It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.



Your true purpose isn’t limited to one role in particular. I can carry out my purpose through my role as a principal, or as a dad, or as a writer through blogging or writing books. I can carry out my purpose in whole variety of ways. I can also carry it out in casual conversations with just about anyone I meet. 



While I am passionate about being a principal, who I am is much bigger than my profession. My overarching purpose is much bigger than my title. Don’t get me wrong, being a principal is one of the most rewarding ways I get to share my purpose. I love it. 



But my why is still much bigger.



My why is to help others grow their own capacity and find their personal path of purpose. A purpose that has power adds value to people. It focuses on making things better for others.



My passions may change over time, but for the most part, I believe my purpose will only grow stronger.



There are so many reasons to live out your purpose…

1. No one can take away your purpose. Some things we are passionate about might be taken from us. Don’t build your foundation on something you might lose.

2. Your purpose is usually developed, not discovered. We grow into our purpose. It doesn’t just arrive like the mail is delivered. It’s grown like the largest tree in your back yard. 

3. You won’t be fulfilled if you aren’t fulfilling your purpose. You’ll be restless and uneasy and searching for meaning. So many people are searching for happiness and what they really desire is purpose.

4. Apathy is no match for true purpose. The key to motivation is to know your why.

5. When you connect with people who share your purpose, it’s electrifying. You feel understood and energized. It’s like doubling the voltage.

6. When you have a strong sense of purpose, obstacles are no match for your persistence and perseverance.

7. Your purpose will give you a sense of peace. You’ll know you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re living out your purpose.



What are your thoughts on living with a sense of purpose? How can we help our students find meaning and significance? How can we help them find a path of purpose? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Passion Flows from Purpose



When I was fresh out of college, it was time to start my career as an educator. I was very passionate about the game of basketball, and that was part of the reason I wanted to teach and coach. I had passion for the game. I still love it today and look forward to the start of college basketball season.



But while I had passion, I didn’t necessarily have a strong or clear purpose. I was just finding my way.



Although passion is great, we can be passionate about things that lack significance. We can be passionate about a game. We can be passionate about cars, or coffee, or even Netflix. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with passion and enthusiasm for these things. But it’s not something with inherently larger meaning or significance.



Purpose, on the other hand, is about having a mission. It’s about living a life of meaning and significance in a very intentional way. I’m defining purpose here as something that transcends what we do and becomes more about who we are.



It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.



Your true purpose isn’t limited to one role in particular. I can carry out my purpose through my role as a principal, or as a dad, or as a writer through blogging or writing books. I can carry out my purpose in whole variety of ways. I can also carry it out in casual conversations with just about anyone I meet. 



While I am passionate about being a principal, who I am is much bigger than my profession. My overarching purpose is much bigger than my title. Don’t get me wrong, being a principal is one of the most rewarding ways I get to share my purpose. I love it. 



But my why is still much bigger.



My why is to help others grow their own capacity and find their personal path of purpose. A purpose that has power adds value to people. It focuses on making things better for others.



My passions may change over time, but for the most part, I believe my purpose will only grow stronger.



There are so many reasons to live out your purpose…

1. No one can take away your purpose. Some things we are passionate about might be taken from us. Don’t build your foundation on something you might lose.

2. Your purpose is usually developed, not discovered. We grow into our purpose. It doesn’t just arrive like the mail is delivered. It’s grown like the largest tree in your back yard. 

3. You won’t be fulfilled if you aren’t fulfilling your purpose. You’ll be restless and uneasy and searching for meaning. So many people are searching for happiness and what they really desire is purpose.

4. Apathy is no match for true purpose. The key to motivation is to know your why.

5. When you connect with people who share your purpose, it’s electrifying. You feel understood and energized. It’s like doubling the voltage.

6. When you have a strong sense of purpose, obstacles are no match for your persistence and perseverance.

7. Your purpose will give you a sense of peace. You’ll know you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re living out your purpose.



What are your thoughts on living with a sense of purpose? How can we help our students find meaning and significance? How can we help them find a path of purpose? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Passion Flows from Purpose



When I was fresh out of college, it was time to start my career as an educator. I was very passionate about the game of basketball, and that was part of the reason I wanted to teach and coach. I had passion for the game. I still love it today and look forward to the start of college basketball season.



But while I had passion, I didn’t necessarily have a strong or clear purpose. I was just finding my way.



Although passion is great, we can be passionate about things that lack significance. We can be passionate about a game. We can be passionate about cars, or coffee, or even Netflix. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with passion and enthusiasm for these things. But it’s not something with inherently larger meaning or significance.



Purpose, on the other hand, is about having a mission. It’s about living a life of meaning and significance in a very intentional way. I’m defining purpose here as something that transcends what we do and becomes more about who we are.



It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.



Your true purpose isn’t limited to one role in particular. I can carry out my purpose through my role as a principal, or as a dad, or as a writer through blogging or writing books. I can carry out my purpose in whole variety of ways. I can also carry it out in casual conversations with just about anyone I meet. 



While I am passionate about being a principal, who I am is much bigger than my profession. My overarching purpose is much bigger than my title. Don’t get me wrong, being a principal is one of the most rewarding ways I get to share my purpose. I love it. 



But my why is still much bigger.



My why is to help others grow their own capacity and find their personal path of purpose. A purpose that has power adds value to people. It focuses on making things better for others.



My passions may change over time, but for the most part, I believe my purpose will only grow stronger.



There are so many reasons to live out your purpose…

1. No one can take away your purpose. Some things we are passionate about might be taken from us. Don’t build your foundation on something you might lose.

2. Your purpose is usually developed, not discovered. We grow into our purpose. It doesn’t just arrive like the mail is delivered. It’s grown like the largest tree in your back yard. 

3. You won’t be fulfilled if you aren’t fulfilling your purpose. You’ll be restless and uneasy and searching for meaning. So many people are searching for happiness and what they really desire is purpose.

4. Apathy is no match for true purpose. The key to motivation is to know your why.

5. When you connect with people who share your purpose, it’s electrifying. You feel understood and energized. It’s like doubling the voltage.

6. When you have a strong sense of purpose, obstacles are no match for your persistence and perseverance.

7. Your purpose will give you a sense of peace. You’ll know you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re living out your purpose.



What are your thoughts on living with a sense of purpose? How can we help our students find meaning and significance? How can we help them find a path of purpose? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Passion Flows from Purpose



When I was fresh out of college, it was time to start my career as an educator. I was very passionate about the game of basketball, and that was part of the reason I wanted to teach and coach. I had passion for the game. I still love it today and look forward to the start of college basketball season.



But while I had passion, I didn’t necessarily have a strong or clear purpose. I was just finding my way.



Although passion is great, we can be passionate about things that lack significance. We can be passionate about a game. We can be passionate about cars, or coffee, or even Netflix. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with passion and enthusiasm for these things. But it’s not something with inherently larger meaning or significance.



Purpose, on the other hand, is about having a mission. It’s about living a life of meaning and significance in a very intentional way. I’m defining purpose here as something that transcends what we do and becomes more about who we are.



It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.



Your true purpose isn’t limited to one role in particular. I can carry out my purpose through my role as a principal, or as a dad, or as a writer through blogging or writing books. I can carry out my purpose in whole variety of ways. I can also carry it out in casual conversations with just about anyone I meet. 



While I am passionate about being a principal, who I am is much bigger than my profession. My overarching purpose is much bigger than my title. Don’t get me wrong, being a principal is one of the most rewarding ways I get to share my purpose. I love it. 



But my why is still much bigger.



My why is to help others grow their own capacity and find their personal path of purpose. A purpose that has power adds value to people. It focuses on making things better for others.



My passions may change over time, but for the most part, I believe my purpose will only grow stronger.



There are so many reasons to live out your purpose…

1. No one can take away your purpose. Some things we are passionate about might be taken from us. Don’t build your foundation on something you might lose.

2. Your purpose is usually developed, not discovered. We grow into our purpose. It doesn’t just arrive like the mail is delivered. It’s grown like the largest tree in your back yard. 

3. You won’t be fulfilled if you aren’t fulfilling your purpose. You’ll be restless and uneasy and searching for meaning. So many people are searching for happiness and what they really desire is purpose.

4. Apathy is no match for true purpose. The key to motivation is to know your why.

5. When you connect with people who share your purpose, it’s electrifying. You feel understood and energized. It’s like doubling the voltage.

6. When you have a strong sense of purpose, obstacles are no match for your persistence and perseverance.

7. Your purpose will give you a sense of peace. You’ll know you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re living out your purpose.



What are your thoughts on living with a sense of purpose? How can we help our students find meaning and significance? How can we help them find a path of purpose? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Passion Flows from Purpose



In a world that is more complex and uncertain than ever before, what is most valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology.


You might argue it’s technology. After all, everything that can be digitized is being digitized. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen changes that are unprecedented. The Internet has changed how we live, work, play, and interact. Social media has exploded. Nearly every person on the planet, it seems, has an Internet connected mobile phone. We can literally stay connected every minute of every day. Self-driving cars are a reality. We have the Internet of things, big data, robotics, artificial intelligence. Digital is how the world is changing.


Fewer people are creating a larger portion of global wealth today. It takes fewer and fewer people to produce more and more. The innovation economy is already here, but it’s accelerating. Digital is going to continue to drive change. 


And change will happen even faster.


And yet, the things that are becoming more valuable for the future are the things that cannot be digitized or automated. Traits that are human-only will become more and more valuable. Traits like creativity and empathy.


Creativity is thinking in novel ways. It’s solving problems. It’s developing new ideas, finding better opportunities, and combining old things to create new possibilities. 


Empathy is the ability to understand, connect, and see the world through other people’s eyes. It’s moving closer to people. It’s having social skills to communicate, accept differences, and find common ground.


In order to adapt in this rapidly changing world, we must embrace technology. It’s important. 


But more importantly, our students will need to develop creativity and empathy. It’s not about what you know. It’s about what you can do with what you know. Can you work with people? Can you add value to people? Can you create something new and interesting?


These disruptive trends show no signs of slowing. But are schools keeping up? I don’t think so. Things are moving so fast, it’s hard to keep up, even for the schools that embrace change. 


Creativity and empathy are not considered the core work in most schools. They are extras, add-ons, and enrichment programs. But I think we have it flipped. Start with creativity and empathy and use those to propel learning of content and academic skills. 


It’s very different than the type of learning I had when I was in school. We plowed through content and curriculum and produced right answers year after year. We jumped through all the hoops as instructed but probably didn’t learn how to take much initiative. 


And that worked okay in a world where a high school diploma could get you a job, maybe even a career. And a college degree almost assured you a privileged place in society. Those days are gone.


We cannot afford to prepare students for the world we grew up in. We must prepare them for the world they’ll live in.


How do you see the role of creativity, empathy, and technology in the future? What will our students need to thrive? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What’s Most Valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology



In a world that is more complex and uncertain than ever before, what is most valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology.


You might argue it’s technology. After all, everything that can be digitized is being digitized. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen changes that are unprecedented. The Internet has changed how we live, work, play, and interact. Social media has exploded. Nearly every person on the planet, it seems, has an Internet connected mobile phone. We can literally stay connected every minute of every day. Self-driving cars are a reality. We have the Internet of things, big data, robotics, artificial intelligence. Digital is how the world is changing.


Fewer people are creating a larger portion of global wealth today. It takes fewer and fewer people to produce more and more. The innovation economy is already here, but it’s accelerating. Digital is going to continue to drive change. 


And change will happen even faster.


And yet, the things that are becoming more valuable for the future are the things that cannot be digitized or automated. Traits that are human-only will become more and more valuable. Traits like creativity and empathy.


Creativity is thinking in novel ways. It’s solving problems. It’s developing new ideas, finding better opportunities, and combining old things to create new possibilities. 


Empathy is the ability to understand, connect, and see the world through other people’s eyes. It’s moving closer to people. It’s having social skills to communicate, accept differences, and find common ground.


In order to adapt in this rapidly changing world, we must embrace technology. It’s important. 


But more importantly, our students will need to develop creativity and empathy. It’s not about what you know. It’s about what you can do with what you know. Can you work with people? Can you add value to people? Can you create something new and interesting?


These disruptive trends show no signs of slowing. But are schools keeping up? I don’t think so. Things are moving so fast, it’s hard to keep up, even for the schools that embrace change. 


Creativity and empathy are not considered the core work in most schools. They are extras, add-ons, and enrichment programs. But I think we have it flipped. Start with creativity and empathy and use those to propel learning of content and academic skills. 


It’s very different than the type of learning I had when I was in school. We plowed through content and curriculum and produced right answers year after year. We jumped through all the hoops as instructed but probably didn’t learn how to take much initiative. 


And that worked okay in a world where a high school diploma could get you a job, maybe even a career. And a college degree almost assured you a privileged place in society. Those days are gone.


We cannot afford to prepare students for the world we grew up in. We must prepare them for the world they’ll live in.


How do you see the role of creativity, empathy, and technology in the future? What will our students need to thrive? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What’s Most Valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology



In a world that is more complex and uncertain than ever before, what is most valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology.


You might argue it’s technology. After all, everything that can be digitized is being digitized. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen changes that are unprecedented. The Internet has changed how we live, work, play, and interact. Social media has exploded. Nearly every person on the planet, it seems, has an Internet connected mobile phone. We can literally stay connected every minute of every day. Self-driving cars are a reality. We have the Internet of things, big data, robotics, artificial intelligence. Digital is how the world is changing.


Fewer people are creating a larger portion of global wealth today. It takes fewer and fewer people to produce more and more. The innovation economy is already here, but it’s accelerating. Digital is going to continue to drive change. 


And change will happen even faster.


And yet, the things that are becoming more valuable for the future are the things that cannot be digitized or automated. Traits that are human-only will become more and more valuable. Traits like creativity and empathy.


Creativity is thinking in novel ways. It’s solving problems. It’s developing new ideas, finding better opportunities, and combining old things to create new possibilities. 


Empathy is the ability to understand, connect, and see the world through other people’s eyes. It’s moving closer to people. It’s having social skills to communicate, accept differences, and find common ground.


In order to adapt in this rapidly changing world, we must embrace technology. It’s important. 


But more importantly, our students will need to develop creativity and empathy. It’s not about what you know. It’s about what you can do with what you know. Can you work with people? Can you add value to people? Can you create something new and interesting?


These disruptive trends show no signs of slowing. But are schools keeping up? I don’t think so. Things are moving so fast, it’s hard to keep up, even for the schools that embrace change. 


Creativity and empathy are not considered the core work in most schools. They are extras, add-ons, and enrichment programs. But I think we have it flipped. Start with creativity and empathy and use those to propel learning of content and academic skills. 


It’s very different than the type of learning I had when I was in school. We plowed through content and curriculum and produced right answers year after year. We jumped through all the hoops as instructed but probably didn’t learn how to take much initiative. 


And that worked okay in a world where a high school diploma could get you a job, maybe even a career. And a college degree almost assured you a privileged place in society. Those days are gone.


We cannot afford to prepare students for the world we grew up in. We must prepare them for the world they’ll live in.


How do you see the role of creativity, empathy, and technology in the future? What will our students need to thrive? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What’s Most Valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology



In a world that is more complex and uncertain than ever before, what is most valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology.


You might argue it’s technology. After all, everything that can be digitized is being digitized. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen changes that are unprecedented. The Internet has changed how we live, work, play, and interact. Social media has exploded. Nearly every person on the planet, it seems, has an Internet connected mobile phone. We can literally stay connected every minute of every day. Self-driving cars are a reality. We have the Internet of things, big data, robotics, artificial intelligence. Digital is how the world is changing.


Fewer people are creating a larger portion of global wealth today. It takes fewer and fewer people to produce more and more. The innovation economy is already here, but it’s accelerating. Digital is going to continue to drive change. 


And change will happen even faster.


And yet, the things that are becoming more valuable for the future are the things that cannot be digitized or automated. Traits that are human-only will become more and more valuable. Traits like creativity and empathy.


Creativity is thinking in novel ways. It’s solving problems. It’s developing new ideas, finding better opportunities, and combining old things to create new possibilities. 


Empathy is the ability to understand, connect, and see the world through other people’s eyes. It’s moving closer to people. It’s having social skills to communicate, accept differences, and find common ground.


In order to adapt in this rapidly changing world, we must embrace technology. It’s important. 


But more importantly, our students will need to develop creativity and empathy. It’s not about what you know. It’s about what you can do with what you know. Can you work with people? Can you add value to people? Can you create something new and interesting?


These disruptive trends show no signs of slowing. But are schools keeping up? I don’t think so. Things are moving so fast, it’s hard to keep up, even for the schools that embrace change. 


Creativity and empathy are not considered the core work in most schools. They are extras, add-ons, and enrichment programs. But I think we have it flipped. Start with creativity and empathy and use those to propel learning of content and academic skills. 


It’s very different than the type of learning I had when I was in school. We plowed through content and curriculum and produced right answers year after year. We jumped through all the hoops as instructed but probably didn’t learn how to take much initiative. 


And that worked okay in a world where a high school diploma could get you a job, maybe even a career. And a college degree almost assured you a privileged place in society. Those days are gone.


We cannot afford to prepare students for the world we grew up in. We must prepare them for the world they’ll live in.


How do you see the role of creativity, empathy, and technology in the future? What will our students need to thrive? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What’s Most Valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students