Tag: gratitude

Check out the full podcast discussing these ideas on Spotify, Soundcloud, or iTunes. The following excerpt is from “Innovate Inside the Box“: There is never harm in positively and authentically acknowledging the contributions the adults in our schools make. Don’t wait for someone to leave your building to appreciate them! Say good things about them … [Read more…]

Read More Elevating the Work Across the Hallway #Podcast

You might have seen the below picture below by Anna Vital on “Why People Give Up”:   Any single one of those reasons are things that can set us back.  They have set me back often.  I actually can take every idea listed above and think of a particular time that it caused me to give up, either … [Read more…]

Read More Why People Keep Going

You might have seen the below picture below by Anna Vital on “Why People Give Up”:   Any single one of those reasons are things that can set us back.  They have set me back often.  I actually can take every idea listed above and think of a particular time that it caused me to give up, either … [Read more…]

Read More Why People Keep Going

When I was in college, I had a blue 1981 Toyota Celica that overheated on the long trip to Oklahoma, and the engine burned up. It was my first car. I had bought it with the money I earned over summers as a shell diver in the Kentucky Lake area.  But now it was toast, […]

Read More PMP173: Lessons in Leadership from Your Scars

The article, “The Most Important Way To Measure Your Day” by Tim Denning, focuses on two simple questions as a focus of a way to measure a successful day: 1. Did I learn one new thing today? 2. Did I help or inspire one person? These are two questions I hope I can answer daily … [Read more…]

Read More The Importance of Gratitude



How important are bus drivers? Our kids’ safety is in their hands. They are the first point of contact in the morning and help set the tone for the day. Bus drivers make a difference. And so do cooks. And custodians. And everyone else who gives so much to the life of a school.



I was speaking last week at the Cypress-Fairbanks Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships Leadership conference in Houston. It was a great event, and I enjoyed making some wonderful connections with educators there.


One of the people I met shared some valuable wisdom with me. The conference provided a shuttle to and from the hotel, and my driver’s name was Tammy.


She drives a school bus for the district, but she’s not just a regular school bus driver. She substitutes for all the bus routes in the Cy-Fair district (one of the largest in Texas) wherever she’s needed.


I can’t imagine how difficult that must be to drive a different group of kids every day, on a different school bus, in city traffic, with your back turned to them. That takes a special skill set!


Tammy is amazing! I was inspired by her commitment and her kindness. I asked her how she handles working with so many different kids while navigating unfamiliar routes.


I’m paraphrasing what Tammy said…and then adding a few of my thoughts too. She shared great advice and encouragement!


1. “They can tell I enjoy them and love them. And that makes all the difference.”


When kids know you care about them and accept them, you’ll bring out the best in them. The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Every kid wants to feel like they are easy to love.


2. “When I ask them to do something, I address them as sir or m’am. And when they follow through, I say thank you.”


Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you have the highest respect for them.


3. “When those middle school students realize they can’t get under my skin, I have them right where I want them.”


The kids are going to test you and see how you respond. If it’s with anger or frustration, the situation is likely to escalate. If you are firm, polite, and also calm and caring, you’ll get a much better result. Let them know you’re in their corner even when you’re correcting them.


4. “I keep doing this because they need me.”


Tammy explained she had thought about retiring, but I could tell she also felt great satisfaction and purpose in what she’s doing. She sees purpose and contribution in what she does. She’s making things better with each interaction she has.


5. “I can tell you put your heart and soul into what you do.”


She said that to me. I was so honored and humbled. She gave me a big hug when she dropped me off at the airport. And I’m not even that much of a hugger. She encouraged me and affirmed me and added value to me.


Who makes the difference in your school?


Every person who works in a school makes a difference. Every person contributes to the culture of the school. 


What if everyone in your school gave as generously as Tammy to love and support the kids and the adults in the school? What if we all showed a little more care and appreciation for every person in every interaction? That’s how you build a strong school culture.


Who is someone who inspires you? How are you giving generously to others? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Read More What You Do Matters



I’m really interested in know where passion comes from. And that’s because I can’t think of a single passionate educator who doesn’t make a greater impact for kids. And on the other hand, I can’t think of a single educator who seems burned out who can still be their very best for kids.



Who wants a teacher for their child who doesn’t have passion for what they’re doing? Anyone?



There are so many benefits to being passionate. Passion overcomes and eliminates apathy. It makes us stronger and more willing to take on challenges. Passion is caring deeply about work that matters and doing something about it.



When we are feeling passionate, we have more energy and enthusiasm. We are energized and not victimized. We believe we can overcome obstacles. We are able to translate that passion into commitment and do hard things, really hard things to get the most out of our abilities. 



When you listen to someone who is burned out, they often point to circumstances as the reason for their malaise. There is lack of support, lack of resources, problems with students, parents, administrators, other teachers, lawmakers, the department of education, society, you name it. And all of those things might be true.



But others faced with exactly the same circumstances seem to tell themselves a different story. They view the challenges as something to learn from and overcome. They seem to think differently. They focus on solutions instead of problems. They don’t deny the problems or the barriers, but they are determined to focus on things they can control and not on the things they can’t.



So why are they able to stay positive and passionate in spite of the challenges while others burn out?



People who avoid burnout and develop more passion do the following:



1. They believe they are growing.



People need to feel like they are making progress. We are wired to make progress. So if we feel we are stuck and not getting stronger or more capable, it can make us feel hopeless. People who are growing always have hope that things can get better. 



2. They feel like they are making a difference.



People need to feel like what they do matters. They want to feel like they are creating and contributing. Some people are making a difference but all they see are the problems and the ways they aren’t having success. And that’s when they burnout. We need to celebrate the little successes we have and know we are making things better.



3. They have a strong sense of purpose.




People need to feel like their work is connected to an important cause. We need to feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. Passion flows from a strong sense of purpose. Burn out happens when we focus on problems instead of purpose.4. They have a strong sense of autonomy.



Passionate people need to feel like they have some control over their destiny. We burn out when we feel we can’t make the decisions or take the action needed to create change. But regardless of how much autonomy you actually have, you need to feel empowered by the autonomy you do have. There are certain things you always have autonomy over, like your attitude for instance.

 5. The share and connect with other passionate educators.





The people you share with and connect with most will have a big influence on your outlook. If you are around passionate educators and connect with them, you will likely feel your passion growing stronger also. On the other hand, if you are consistently around people who are negative and who lack energy, you will start to feel that way too.



6. They know when to set aside the work to rest, renew, and recharge.



Passionate educators don’t have to be martyrs. It’s great to have a high level of commitment, but you also have to know when it’s time to be content with what you’ve done and take some time to set aside the work. Constantly worrying about your kids or your classroom won’t help you in the long run. Create some white space just for you to find peace and rest.



For the most part, our choices determine our level of passion more than our circumstances. You can’t control the environment of your school or the kids who are placed in your class, but you can control so much. Most importantly, you can control your mindset.



What else would you add to these thoughts? What are your thoughts? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate?



I’m really interested to know where passion comes from. And that’s because I can’t think of a single passionate educator who doesn’t make a greater impact for kids. And on the other hand, I can’t think of a single educator who seems burned out who is still able to be their very best for kids.



Who wants a teacher for their child who doesn’t have passion for what they’re doing? Anyone?



There are so many benefits to being passionate. Passion overcomes and eliminates apathy. It makes us stronger and more willing to take on challenges. Passion is caring deeply about work that matters and doing something about it.



When we are feeling passionate, we have more energy and enthusiasm. We are energized and not victimized. We believe we can overcome obstacles. We are able to translate that passion into commitment and do hard things, really hard things to get the most out of our abilities. 



When you listen to someone who is burned out, they often point to circumstances as the reason for their malaise. There is lack of support, lack of resources, problems with students, parents, administrators, other teachers, lawmakers, the department of education, society, you name it. And all of those things might be true.



But others faced with exactly the same circumstances seem to tell themselves a different story. They view the challenges as something to learn from and overcome. They seem to think differently. They focus on solutions instead of problems. They don’t deny the problems or the barriers, but they are determined to focus on things they can control and not on the things they can’t.



So why are they able to stay positive and passionate in spite of the challenges while others burn out?



People who avoid burnout and develop more passion do the following:



1. They believe they are growing.



People need to feel like they are making progress. We are wired to make progress. So if we feel we are stuck and not getting stronger or more capable, it can make us feel hopeless. People who are growing always have hope that things can get better. 



2. They feel like they are making a difference.



People need to feel like what they do matters. They want to feel like they are creating and contributing. Some people are making a difference but all they see are the problems and the ways they aren’t having success. And that’s when they burnout. We need to celebrate the little successes we have and know we are making things better.



3. They have a strong sense of purpose.




People need to feel like their work is connected to an important cause. We need to feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. Passion flows from a strong sense of purpose. Burn out happens when we focus on problems instead of purpose.



4. They have a strong sense of autonomy.



Passionate people need to feel like they have some control over their destiny. We burn out when we feel we can’t make the decisions or take the action needed to create change. But regardless of how much autonomy you actually have, you need to feel empowered by the autonomy you do have. There are certain things you always have autonomy over, like your attitude for instance.



5. They share and connect with other passionate educators.





The people you share with and connect with most will have a big influence on your outlook. If you are around passionate educators and connect with them, you will likely feel your passion growing stronger also. On the other hand, if you are consistently around people who are negative and who lack energy, you will start to feel that way too.



6. They know when to set aside the work to rest, renew, and recharge.



Passionate educators don’t have to be martyrs. It’s great to have a high level of commitment, but you also have to know when it’s time to be content with what you’ve done and take some time to set aside the work. Constantly worrying about your kids or your classroom won’t help you in the long run. Create some white space just for you to find peace and rest.



For the most part, our choices determine our level of passion more than our circumstances. You can’t control the environment of your school or the kids who are placed in your class, but you can control so much. Most importantly, you can control your mindset.



What else would you add to these thoughts? What are your thoughts? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate?



I’m really interested to know where passion comes from. And that’s because I can’t think of a single passionate educator who doesn’t make a greater impact for kids. And on the other hand, I can’t think of a single educator who seems burned out who is still able to be their very best for kids.



Who wants a teacher for their child who doesn’t have passion for what they’re doing? Anyone?



There are so many benefits to being passionate. Passion overcomes and eliminates apathy. It makes us stronger and more willing to take on challenges. Passion is caring deeply about work that matters and doing something about it.



When we are feeling passionate, we have more energy and enthusiasm. We are energized and not victimized. We believe we can overcome obstacles. We are able to translate that passion into commitment and do hard things, really hard things to get the most out of our abilities. 



When you listen to someone who is burned out, they often point to circumstances as the reason for their malaise. There is lack of support, lack of resources, problems with students, parents, administrators, other teachers, lawmakers, the department of education, society, you name it. And all of those things might be true.



But others faced with exactly the same circumstances seem to tell themselves a different story. They view the challenges as something to learn from and overcome. They seem to think differently. They focus on solutions instead of problems. They don’t deny the problems or the barriers, but they are determined to focus on things they can control and not on the things they can’t.



So why are they able to stay positive and passionate in spite of the challenges while others burn out?



People who avoid burnout and develop more passion do the following:



1. They believe they are growing.



People need to feel like they are making progress. We are wired to make progress. So if we feel we are stuck and not getting stronger or more capable, it can make us feel hopeless. People who are growing always have hope that things can get better. 



2. They feel like they are making a difference.



People need to feel like what they do matters. They want to feel like they are creating and contributing. Some people are making a difference but all they see are the problems and the ways they aren’t having success. And that’s when they burnout. We need to celebrate the little successes we have and know we are making things better.



3. They have a strong sense of purpose.




People need to feel like their work is connected to an important cause. We need to feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. Passion flows from a strong sense of purpose. Burn out happens when we focus on problems instead of purpose.



4. They have a strong sense of autonomy.



Passionate people need to feel like they have some control over their destiny. We burn out when we feel we can’t make the decisions or take the action needed to create change. But regardless of how much autonomy you actually have, you need to feel empowered by the autonomy you do have. There are certain things you always have autonomy over, like your attitude for instance.



5. They share and connect with other passionate educators.





The people you share with and connect with most will have a big influence on your outlook. If you are around passionate educators and connect with them, you will likely feel your passion growing stronger also. On the other hand, if you are consistently around people who are negative and who lack energy, you will start to feel that way too.



6. They know when to set aside the work to rest, renew, and recharge.



Passionate educators don’t have to be martyrs. It’s great to have a high level of commitment, but you also have to know when it’s time to be content with what you’ve done and take some time to set aside the work. Constantly worrying about your kids or your classroom won’t help you in the long run. Create some white space just for you to find peace and rest.



For the most part, our choices determine our level of passion more than our circumstances. You can’t control the environment of your school or the kids who are placed in your class, but you can control so much. Most importantly, you can control your mindset.



What else would you add to these thoughts? What are your thoughts? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate?

I love finding new blogs to add to my RSS feed or subscribe by email, and “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” has a ton of interesting little pieces on life, leadership, and learning, in a fun way. One of the first posts I read on the blog was “How To Make Your Life Better By … [Read more…]

Read More 2 Ways to Brighten Your Day



Tis the season of gratitude and thanksgiving, and the video below had me thinking about what it means to be grateful.



Have you ever heard the saying, “You started at third base but you thought you hit a home run?” The idea is that sure you are successful, you hit a home run, but it was due to the advantages you had as much as it was due to the way you hit the ball. After all, you started at third base.



The video below illustrates the idea of social and economic advantage and how these advantages can impact chances for future success. It’s undeniable that certain starting points in life can create greater opportunities for success.



I think this video could be a great launching point for discussions with students. There is plenty to think about and even to critique. It’s powerful, but there are plenty of opportunities for critical thinking.






So who should be grateful in this video? Some might say the kids with the most advantages. They have more to start with than the others after all. It’s statistically true that people with those advantages tend to be more successful on average than those who do not.



But here’s the thing about gratitude, it should not be dependent only on having more or even having enough. Gratitude is a state of mind that is available to all of us all of the time. 



After all, if you aren’t grateful for what you have now, what makes you think you would be grateful if you had more? Unless you make a choice to be grateful in all things, how will it ever be enough?



It’s very difficult to adopt this mindset in our consumer driven culture. Even in the video, the end goal is a $100 bill. We are constantly reminded of what we don’t have. But life is not about racing past someone else to win. It’s not about having the most money or toys.



Life has far more to offer than economic success. Some of the poorest people in the world live the most meaningful, happiest lives. They are finding joy in life in spite of having very little material wealth. Every day presents its blessings or burdens. We choose our focus.



Everyone has challenges in life and everyone has opportunities. Sure, some have more challenges and some have less, but everyone has the opportunity to choose two things: thoughts and actions. 



Will you choose to focus on your blessings or your burdens? Will you choose actions that lead to blessings or ones that lead to burdens?



Stephen Covey wrote, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”



Ultimately, I believe this is true. We can rise above circumstances, eventually. It may not happen as fast as we’d like. There are many stories of people who have risen above, people who are overcomers. There are people who have overcome terrible hardships and horrific circumstances, even abuse and neglect. If it is true for some, why can’t it be true for all?



For all the problems we have in this country, there are still incredible opportunities, even if the deck is stacked against some more than others. Are there inequities? Absolutely. Should we be satisfied with a system that works against some? Absolutely not. But there are also tremendous opportunities for those who choose to rise above.



We need to help all students learn to be grateful even in the midst of challenges. Why? The research is clear (Harvard Health)

Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Gratitude is an empowering state of mind. It helps us realize that we have blessings in our life. It also helps us offer blessings into the lives of others. 



There may be difficulties and disparities in our world. There always have been injustices and as long a human being are running this planet, that will probably continue to be true.



I would summarize my response to the video I shared with two questions:



1. Who will you lift up?

2. What will you rise above?



Who will you lift up? You have gifts to give. You can be hope and help to someone else. You can lift up someone who might need a helping hand.



What will you rise above? There will be challenges. There will be obstacles. But you have everything you need to be great. Just keep moving in the direction of your dreams.



What’s on your mind? I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter



Read More A Lesson On Gratitude



Tis the season of gratitude and thanksgiving, and the video below had me thinking about what it means to be grateful.



Have you ever heard the saying, “You started at third base but you thought you hit a home run?” The idea is that sure you are successful, you hit a home run, but it was due to the advantages you had as much as it was due to the way you hit the ball. After all, you started at third base.



The video below illustrates the idea of social and economic advantage and how these advantages can impact chances for future success. It’s undeniable that certain starting points in life can create greater opportunities for success.



I think this video could be a great launching point for discussions with students. There is plenty to think about and even to critique. It’s powerful, but there are plenty of opportunities for critical thinking.






So who should be grateful in this video? Some might say the kids with the most advantages. They have more to start with than the others after all. It’s statistically true that people with those advantages tend to be more successful on average than those who do not.



But here’s the thing about gratitude, it should not be dependent only on having more or even having enough. Gratitude is a state of mind that is available to all of us all of the time. 



After all, if you aren’t grateful for what you have now, what makes you think you would be grateful if you had more? Unless you make a choice to be grateful in all things, how will it ever be enough?



It’s very difficult to adopt this mindset in our consumer driven culture. Even in the video, the end goal is a $100 bill. We are constantly reminded of what we don’t have. But life is not about racing past someone else to win. It’s not about having the most money or toys.



Life has far more to offer than economic success. Some of the poorest people in the world live the most meaningful, happiest lives. They are finding joy in life in spite of having very little material wealth. Every day presents its blessings or burdens. We choose our focus.



Everyone has challenges in life and everyone has opportunities. Sure, some have more challenges and some have less, but everyone has the opportunity to choose two things: thoughts and actions. 



Will you choose to focus on your blessings or your burdens? Will you choose actions that lead to blessings or ones that lead to burdens?



Stephen Covey wrote, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”



Ultimately, I believe this is true. We can rise above circumstances, eventually. It may not happen as fast as we’d like. There are many stories of people who have risen above, people who are overcomers. There are people who have overcome terrible hardships and horrific circumstances, even abuse and neglect. If it is true for some, why can’t it be true for all?



For all the problems we have in this country, there are still incredible opportunities, even if the deck is stacked against some more than others. Are there inequities? Absolutely. Should we be satisfied with a system that works against some? Absolutely not. But there are also tremendous opportunities for those who choose to rise above.



We need to help all students learn to be grateful even in the midst of challenges. Why? The research is clear (Harvard Health)

Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Gratitude is an empowering state of mind. It helps us realize that we have blessings in our life. It also helps us offer blessings into the lives of others. 



There may be difficulties and disparities in our world. There always have been injustices and as long a human being are running this planet, that will probably continue to be true.



I would summarize my response to the video I shared with two questions:



1. Who will you lift up?

2. What will you rise above?



Who will you lift up? You have gifts to give. You can be hope and help to someone else. You can lift up someone who might need a helping hand.



What will you rise above? There will be challenges. There will be obstacles. But you have everything you need to be great. Just keep moving in the direction of your dreams.



What’s on your mind? I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter



Read More A Lesson On Gratitude

I was listening to an interview between Daniel Bauer and Jethro Jones the other day on Daniel’s Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast. Daniel asked Jethro, an Alaska principal, “What is one of your regrets from your time at your school?” I really liked Jethro’s response because he focused on how relationships were such an important […]

Read More PMP:063 Reflecting on Regrets & Rewards

A few nights ago, I was sitting on the couch with my wife, Missy, when our four children slowly made their way into the living room. Our lives are so busy with three teenage girls and an eleven-year-old boy that we rarely find time to all be together these days. Emily, our oldest, came and […]

Read More PMP:060 How Mindfulness Influences Leadership

parachutist
Last week I found a handwritten card in my box at school. It was from a student who will be a senior this coming school year.

In the note, she was telling me thank you for the ways we had helped “pack her parachute” during her years at SHS. Inside the envelope, she had placed a cut-out piece of parachute cloth and a folded up copy of this excerpt by Charlie Plumb: Read More The Power of Gratitude (Who Is Packing Your Parachute?)