Saturday, May 31, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 151

By the time you reach the , it's time to leave.     

The status quo is comfortable, but it isn't a place we want to be for long.  Too often, we work hard to make an initiative happen, and then once it does, we get comfortable and can't leave it.  One of the challenges with any type of change is that we celebrate making the change and then don't want to do so again.

And that's a big problem.  In education (and anywhere, for that matter), while comfortable "feels good," it isn't always in the best interests of those around us (or ourselves).  So, we have to be wary of when we hit the status quo, and once we do, we have to do whatever we can to change it.

The issue with status quo is that when we hit it, it represents a point where innovation and creativity begin to lack, and a point in time where challenge is leaking from our organization.

And all of these are bad.  The truth is, organizations can only exist when they are able to stay relevant.  If we can't be innovative or creative, and if our stakeholders aren't challenged, then what is the point?

To be as good as we can be, we have to kick the status quo from our organizations and our lives.  Embracing a frame of dynamic equilibrium, or constant change to reach some sort of "good spot," is definitely the way to go.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 150

You can't promote by blocking access to digital tools.

Yesterday I sat in on some student reflections of a program that my agency has developed and facilitates called OC 21 (here's the web link:  It's truly a great program that operates utilizing a blended learning format, and provides high school students in our region with the opportunity to take elective courses that their districts could not (or would not) offer on their own.  While like a virtual high school in some ways, what sets this program apart is that the teachers of these courses are teachers within our region's districts, and they teach roughly four classes in their own high schools, and a fifth through OC 21.

This type of virtual and face-to-face collaboration speaks to how education operates in our region, and I'm immensely thankful to be a part of an agency that promotes this kind of thinking and work.

Of course, not everything is rainbows and unicorns.  As I was sitting in on a reflection session, enormously pleased with the depth and critical nature of the information students were sharing, I was floored by this comment:

"I really loved the opportunity to take an OC 21 course, but I was so frustrated with the fact that if I was trying to do work during a study hall or in lunch in my school, I couldn't access sites like YouTube because my district blocks them in our school buildings."

Now really, I shouldn't have been that surprised.  Learners have been struggling with access issues since the Internet blew up.  However, just like with the "rules" against cell phone use in schools, I can't seem to come to grips with how this benefits anybody.

I understand the rationale behind filtering sites.  We don't necessarily want learners to be exposed to certain things, and we certainly don't want them to find themselves in any sort of trouble.  That being said, there is a difference to what secondary students should be "allowed" to see, and what primary students should be shielded from.

And, when you boil it down, it is all about trust.  Most high school students are familiar enough with the web to not end up at a pornographic or extremely violent site purely by accident.  If we expect students to use digital tools for school purposes, then we first have to trust them to do so.

Many bemoan students' digital literacy skills.  Yet, if we continue on our current path, and block access to digital tools, how can we ever hope that schools will be a site where the skills of being a digitally literate citizen can be taught?

That answer is simple enough: We can't.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 149

Never allow your voice to be extinguished. Everyone speaks words that matter.

With the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou, I got to thinking about the importance of voice, and how necessary it is for everyone to feel like they have one.

I was listening this morning to a report on NPR where Dr. Angelou shared her reasons behind her six years of silence, and how, for a young woman, the truth can just as devastating as a lie.

No one should ever be punished for speaking the truth, nor should anyone feel as if they are to be blamed simply because they speak out against an injustice.  Our school systems have come a long way in this area, but there is still much room to grow.

We need to encourage learner voice, and whether student or adult, everyone needs to feel as if their voices are heard and listened to.

By encouraging others to speak and to speak freely, we can make sure that the information we get is at all times honest, and just as importantly, is meant to make things better for everyone.

At the same time, we need to speak freely as well, and be transparent with the information we share.  Everyone likes to feel like they are important enough to merit the big picture.

And guess what?

Everyone is important enough to hear it all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 148

Forcing change never builds capacity as well as when people want to change.

Change is one of those things that is never easy.  Even when we are in favor of a change, leaving the status quo is always tough.  Imagine how much tougher change becomes when we are forced to make a change, rather than when we welcome the change with open arms.

Leaders who force change miss out on the importance of truly building capacity.  You can't make people believe in an initiative by forcing it down their throats.  Nor can you encourage people to support an idea just because you keep repeating it over and over.

Building capacity is one of those leadership skills that is all relational.  If we know how to work with other people, we can more effectively build capacity than if we aren't quite a "people-person."

Forced change ends up in one of two places.  Either the initiative is enacted, and people hate it, constantly working against it and forcing us, as leaders, to constantly be travelling uphill.

Or, the initiative, even if it is a great one, never gets off the ground, doomed to failure simply because it was presented poorly.

In both cases, the leader loses.

And, so do all the other stakeholders, particularly if the initiative would, in fact, make things better for all.

Building capacity requires finesse, and that means leaders need to step carefully around the issue as they collect data.  Knowing your supporters and detractors is important as is getting a big picture idea of how the initiative will not only change things in the present, but in the future as well.

Once we've collected this data, we can begin bringing those on board who are always our early adopters.  A leader can't foster an initiative alone.  Having a group of educators who see the merit of the work being done will make encouraging others to participate all the easier.

Finally, leaders need to celebrate small successes and also reflect on benchmarks and failures.  Change is a life process, and as such, we have to approach it as a community.

Making change is never easy, but forcing change is impossible.  Better to build capacity and work towards change as a family, then to fight a battle that can never truly be won.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 147

You can't  (or ) what you don't  for.     

It's no shocker that education is under attack these days.  Some bemoan what they consider an ineffective schooling structure.  Others feel that our education system is like a leaky faucet, spending money left and right without seeing appropriate gains in student learning.  Still others believe that our nation is miles behind that of other nations, based on international testing scores.

There's nothing wrong with being critical of education, or one's profession, for that matter.  In fact, that critical lens is a necessity as we continue to contemplate how to make things better.

However, if we cry foul on an education system that we have done nothing to improve, then our comments fall on deaf ears (or they should anyway).

If we aren't willing to fight for something, then we can't win or lose in any battle for or against it.  So, if we don't do anything to attempt to better our education realm, then we can't truly have a stake in what happens, and as such, our comments are worthless.

One of the biggest challenges to our "everyone has an opinion" culture is that too much commentary makes it harder to separate fact from fiction.

This is separate from everyone having the right to speak freely.  The difference here is that when we do speak freely, we should at least know what we're talking about.

Those who speak out against education, and the troubles we face as educators, would be best served having a stake in the reform taking place.  Regardless of whether you agree with steps and actions taken, at least if people are doing something, they're making it clear that they are taking a stand.  If nothing else, it's tough to say these folks are not committed to a cause and are not fighting for what they believe in.

The big picture?

If we're going to put a stake in the ground around education reform, let's at least fight for what we believe in.  Talk is more than cheap, and it means even less when there is no action to back it up.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 146

Good deeds are recognized; not people. Lead by what you do, not by what it gets you.

Today is a day that recognizes servitude without an expectation of recognition.  Wars have been fought throughout history, and rarely is the individual soldier recognized for his or her deeds.  People enter the armed forces not for recognition, but for the service they can provide, knowing that the deeds they complete are recognition enough.

So too goes for leadership in any frame.  As servant leaders, we help our communities without any need for recognition, knowing that the success of our stakeholders is recognition enough.  Servant leaders strive to provide their constituents with the best possible experience, irrespective of what it means for their own career or professional outcome.

More leaders need to act as servant leaders.  A position of leadership should always be seen as one of servitude.  If we don't put on our servant lens, we're apt to lead more with our own ideals in the forefront than those of the community members we were chosen to represent.

When our leadership tenure is over, wouldn't it be better to look back on our time and marvel at what we did as a community, rather than the awards that we, individually, earned?

I think so.

Because in the end, it isn't so much about what you have accomplished, but rather what we have done together.

Thanks to all those who continue to serve their communities and their countries without any drive for personal recognition.  You are, in fact, deeply recognized.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 145

Take the time to lest you be out-innovated in no time.

Everyone loves to believe they're innovative.  But, of course, we are much less innovative than we think we are.

Even those that are, in fact, truly innovative need to be innovative all the time if they really want to stay on the cutting edge.

Education, as a profession, tends to be less innovative than other fields.  Maybe it is because of the more rigid structure of how days and years operate.  Maybe it is because of the tighter funding stream that flows into it.

Or maybe, it is simply because our leaders in education were not trained to be truly innovative leaders.

Whatever the reason, the thing about innovation is that if we ignore it, or if we don't keep innovating, then we lose any edge we once had.

Innovation doesn't require someone to invent something new, however.  It simply means we work within our realm to make things easier or more efficient.

Simply better.

With that easy a guideline, we can be innovative in just about anything if we take the time to try.  Being innovative requires us to do a few things, however.  First, we have to be willing to collaborate, as truly innovative ideas require multiple heads.  Second, we need to take time to reflect.  If we don't think about the situations we've been in throughout the past, we won't be able to design new ideas for the future.

If we take the time to think and surround ourselves with other critical thinkers, we can be constantly innovative, something that the world of education needs even more today than in the past.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Quote-A-Day Day 144

We should never retreat from situations that require . We can only get better with practice.

Some days, we just don't want to take something additional on.

Maybe we've had a rough week.  Or maybe we feel we don't have enough experience in a given area.

Or maybe we just don't believe in ourselves.

The only way we become better is through practice, and whether we consider ourselves to be good, great, or amazing leaders, we can always get better; even the best leaders still have room for growth.

So, when those leadership opportunities arise, we need to take them, if for no other reason than to expand our boundaries and strengthen our repertoire.

Over the last few weeks we've been working on a grant through New York's State Education Department.  I enjoy writing quite a bit, but I'll be the first to admit that I have very little grant-writing experience.  So, we're working with a professional to help us take our plans and put them into words that fit the grant requirements.

Since our grant writer is on vacation for the next few days, my supervisor and I have become, in some sense of the words, grant writers in training.  Neither one of us feels that we excel in this area, but work needs to be done, and because of that, we're embracing the process as best we can.

Yesterday, we were able to do some really deep work, that was intense, exhaustive, and, in my opinion, came out quite good.  I'm still a bit intellectually drained from the process.

This practice in a leadership frame that I don't experience regularly is extremely important to me.  It allows me the opportunity to begin turning a weakness (or simply an undeveloped area) into a strength, and provides additional challenge (regular challenge is a necessity for growth, which is why we need to put ourselves in environments that provide the opportunity for rigorous learning).

As people, we crave the feeling of comfort, which often comes with being in a place that feels familiar with people we know.  Stepping out of our comfort zone puts us into less "known" space, and that can be scary.  As leaders, though, we can't take the time (or energy) to worry about this.  Rather, we need to welcome new leadership opportunities as they arise; it's the only way to learn and grow.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 143

The world won't change unless you change it.

If you aren't happy, be it as a learner, a leader, or both, you need to change things.  If you assume that things will change for you, you'll be left holding that hope for a very long time.

While the world can change, it doesn't change according to anyone's ideas of what should happen.  The only way to work with change is to initiate it yourself.  That means that when you're ready for a change, you need to be the one to make that change happen.

Change itself is scary, and experience tells us it certainly isn't easy.  That being said, if we aren't willing to change, or feel that we can't, we'll never be able to reach the goals we set for ourselves.

The easiest way to avoid being unhappy is to make changes in your life that you can control.  While there are some aspects of the work we do that are not within our locus of control, much of what life throws our way can be influenced by decisions that we make.

So, it stands to reason that with enough planning and forethought, we can begin to incorporate the types of changes that will make us feel happiest and the most productive in the lives we lead and the work that we do.

The catch, of course, is that we need to know that we have to be the change makers; the world won't do it for us.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 142

Sometimes the best way to diffuse a situation is to bite down on your tongue and perk up with your ears.

Sometimes our emotions get the better of us, and we tend to take on roles that we would rather not occupy.

This can happen from time-to-time when we're put in difficult situations.  An angry parent, an ineffective educator, a student who has moved beyond the challenging mark, all of these are ingredients for a particularly difficult encounter.

Often our instincts tell us that he (or she) who yells loudest is best heard.  However, we know from experience that this isn't the case.  In fact, often the louder we yell, the more our true thoughts and ideas are drowned out.

Usually, the toughest thing to do in situations where we feel we are being attacked is to sit back and not do a thing.  Yet, this can be the most effective response if for no other reason than it prevents us from doing something we might at some point regret.

We need to swallow our pride, keep our mouths closed, and simply listen.  Often, in any tirade, there is a nugget of truth, and sitting back, and taking the heat allows us to better clean the dirt off that nugget to let it shine.  Once we've found what is really at the heart of the matter, we're better prepared to deal with it effectively.

Of course, we can't allow ourselves to be personally attacked without end.  When we feel the conversation going in that direction, we need to ask to meet again when cooler heads will prevail.  There is a certain amount of heat that we should take.  Beyond that, it's time to postpone for the future.

Along with the benefit of not putting one's foot in one's mouth, opening our ears and biting our tongues allows us to truly hear people, and therefore, have them feel heard.  It is that connection, that desire to be understood, that can sometimes diffuse a situation enough where people can begin to see things as being on the same page.

I've found that as difficult as it is to take a hit without swinging back, it is a necessity in the leadership realm.  Those who get defensive are the ones who have the weakest defense, and since a goal should always be to help those we serve, we gain nothing from engaging in a battle.  Instead, by listening, and requesting a recess if things get too hot, we position ourselves to be better able to work with others (even those who despise us) in the future.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 141

No one ever became more by making all the decisions.

Being collaborative isn't just a "thing."  It's a way of thinking and doing.  When we're collaborative, we're actively seeking the thoughts and opinions of others, with hopes of using those ideas to come to a stronger and more developed action plan.

Unfortunately, collaboration can be a buzzword, and often, people assume they are more collaborative than they truly are.  Collaboration can't exist in a vacuum, and it certainly can't exist when the only decision maker in that vacuum is you.

Collaboration, by it's prefix, requires more than one person, thought, or idea.  It means working with others in a "two heads are better than one scenario."

Yet, many of us still operate in schemes where there is a decision-maker, and predominantly only one.  This is a faulty operating scheme, however, as there is only so much we can know about any one thing, and, in the case of a stool, for example, things stand up to weight much more when they're balanced, and balancing requires multiple legs (or brains).

Expanding the decision-making realm doesn't have to be difficult.  Putting your leadership team into scenarios where they actually make leadership decisions can be as easy as just letting go. . . even if only a small bit.  In addition, remember that your leadership impact is only as good as your legacy.  By building leadership capacity in those who aren't yet "leaders," you can create the next generation of leaders who are committed and have the capacity to take on some of the initiatives that are not your strengths.

Collaboration is great when it is, in fact, truly collaborative.  But, if it is just a buzzword, or a screen for decision-making that is one-dimensional, it tends to take on persona that doesn't work in education.

If it doesn't feel real, it won't be respected.

And if it isn't respected, you can be sure that it won't be done.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 140

has to be . Understand that a little is a good thing.

My district superintendent had passed on an article by Timothy Egan called "Creativity vs. Quants" to me recently.  As I was giving my eighth-month old her bottle before bed, I took a few minutes to read it (it's funny how children make us ever more efficient, isn't it :) ), and was impressed with Egan's ability to boil down a very big idea into a simple point (here's the link, please do read it:

According to Egan, and an idea I wholeheartedly agree with, in an effort to be ever more calculated and data-proficient, we may have lost the ability to be as creative as possible.  Our desire to be able to put everything into numbers or to be able to provide as accurate a measurement as possible may have taken the messiness out of some aspects of life, and, at least in my humble opinion, that isn't a great thing.

I've heard a number of extremely intelligent leaders and learners state that if something can't be measured, it isn't important.  While I agree with the premise of this statement, I wonder a bit about what that means for an idea that Oscar Wilde put so eloquently, "A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave."

Now realistically, we can remove the "writer" and insert just about any profession where creativity is important (and I would put forward that this means every profession).  If everything that is important must be measured, and if measurement, by nature of its organization restricts creativity, then what does that mean for our increasingly "data-friendly" culture?

Can our love for data be married to our species' need for creativity?  I think so.  Egan uses Amazon's data-driven structure to showcase that even though it rules the organized realm of retail ordering, processing, and shipping, so far, it hasn't been able to jump the hurdles towards a truly "creative" outputscheme.  But that doesn't mean it can't.

Delving into data and cultivating creativity aren't opposites.  However, they do require subtle shifts in thinking.  Like much in education (and life in general), both messiness, and organization need to be embraced.  Entropy is only a good thing when it doesn't prevent you from finding your car keys when you're already late for work.  But, if you're just messy enough to locate your keys a little bit quicker, then you've found the sweet spot between being data-driven, and driven by randomness.

As New York State has come to find out, doubling down on data without addressing the concerns about creativity and intellectual freedom doesn't provide for the rewards policy makers might hope for.  Better to help the education community see the benefit of both intellectual freedom and data analysis than to take a stand that it has to be one or the other.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 139

Doing more with less must never equate to throwing up your arms and conceding defeat.

As a species, we tend to be very innovative.

However, also as a species, we tend to become very complacent.

Both of these are necessary for true success.  The problem is, we can't have one without the other, and we can't be as successful as we could be if we don't have alternating cycles of each.


Simply because during innovative cycle we're able to create, make, and shape the world as we need it to be. But, only during times of complacency can we truly evaluate how effective our innovations have become.

This is extremely important at this point in time as more and more, districts are trying to figure out how to make education better with fewer resources available.  This means that we have to become even more efficient at innovating, and can't simply throw our hands up when we encounter a situation that stresses us out.  In fact, we need to welcome the opportunity to think outside the box and move away from complacency if for no other reason than to show that a lack of resources doesn't make us ineffective.

There is a point of diminishing returns, of course, but that point really only exists where we think it does (see what I'm saying here?).

The point?  When faced with adversity, we should choose to innovate, rather than encapsulate.  Only by thinking differently can we hope to bring education to the twenty-first century.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 138

Never underestimate the power of true .

So, I'm sitting on my front porch while my toddler naps in the car.  Today we took a drive down to Northern New Jersey to meet up with a few of my college buddies and their kids.  We were celebrating one of their birthdays, and in true style, my friend went all out with a petting zoo, pony rides, the whole nine.

My daughter had a blast, and loved Cocoa, the pony.  Fun was had by all.

As much fun as she had at the party, she was totally amazed with the work taking place on the Tappan Zee Bridge.  As we crossed the span, her face was literally pressed against the window glass, engrossed with the size of the cranes and barges in the water.  She was asking questions a mile a minute, and I did my best to answer them.  While I had no problem pointing out the barge and the cranes, for instance, there were some quesetions she asked that I had absolutely no idea about.

What's so amazing about all this?

The fact that what we might consider commonplace or "simple" can be an amazing experience for others.  That sense of wonder, that feeling of absolute amazement, is a necessity in education.

And often, we never know when that feeling will arise, instead only knowing what it is when it appears.  So, we have to embrace that sense of wonder at all costs; and search it out when it seems like it is somewhere else.

Those few minutes seeing my daughter transfixed by the bridge-building equipment were proof to me that she learned something.  Whether or not she becomes interested in bridges and building them isn't the point.  Rather, the fact that she enjoyed learning about something new so much that she couldn't take her eyes of it shows just how powerful "wondering" can be.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 137

A #meeting without an #agenda is like a car without a steering wheel.  Neither is going anywhere.  #QuoteADay #Day137 #edchat #edu

I've been involved in a lot of meetings as of late, and one of the things I've realized, though I imagine I've already known this subconsciously, is that a meeting without an agenda is really like a car without a steering wheel.  In both cases, the direction is uncertain, and it is unlikely that you'll be getting to where you hope to go.

I've organized meetings where I've created agendas, and also those where I haven't (either form lack of time or simply because I didn't think one was necessary).  Regardless of the reason, in all cases, without an agenda, I've found it much more difficult to set the course of the meeting, particularly along a pathway that I would like it to go.  

And yet, simply having an agenda isn't enough.  We also have to make sure that we are using the agenda for its intended purpose, which is to help us navigate the course of the meeting.  An agenda that isn't followed is just as bad as a meeting without an agenda.

In a world where so much is happening at the same time, and where, as leaders and learners, our attention is constantly diverted from one place to another, it makes sense for us to have a little organization, if for no other reason than to make it easier for us to accomplish some of the tasks on our "To Do" list.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 136

Nobody respects a braggart. Always let your actions speak for you. #QuoteADay #Day136 #edchat #edu #DoMore #SpeakLess

Bragging will get you nowhere.  Especially in education.  Nobody respects a braggart, if for no other reason than words mean much less than actions.

It’s important, whether serving in a leader or learner capacity to always remember that the best words of recognition are regularly the ones not spoken.  How we act, and what we do, tend to be the true measures of who we are.

When the moment arises where you might feel as if you should speak up about your accomplishments, consider two things:

One, do people already know of these accomplishments?  If so, then why repeat them?

Two, do people really need to know about these accomplishments?  If what you’re about to share isn’t important to others, then it might be seen as irrelevant bragging, which is even worse than bragging that is connected.

How do we prevent ourselves from falling into a bragging frame?  One way is to “pre-reflect.”  Ask yourself what the outcome will be when you share what you are planning to share.  

Another way is to have an “alerter” in your inner circle who can be honest with you at all times.  Sometimes we miss cues that we should have picked up on.  Your “alerter” can let you know at an appropriate time that you erred, and you came across as bragging, when you probably didn’t mean to.

The long and short of it is if we’re learning and leading as we should, then the actions we take will be all the speaking we might need to do on the topic.  After all, better to have stakeholders know the value of your work then have you attempt to convince them of it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 135

The truest meaning of is one new thing each day.

When we boil it down to its "simplest" parts, success is really just about having gained knowledge and skills we didn't have before.  That's it.

So, if we want to truly gauge our success for a given point in time, we simply have to ask the question, "Did I learn anything new today?"

If the answer is yes, then we were successful.  If no, then we were not.

Note that this ideology encompasses all the micro successes and failures we encounter throughout a day, week, month, year, etc.  If we can honestly say that we have learned something new, then the rest doesn't really matter, does it?

So, how do we make sure that each day holds something new for us?  Here are two tips:

First, make sure that you always place yourself in situations where you don't already "know everything."  I know, I know, we can never really know everything about everything, but, we do sometimes find ourselves becoming the "experts" in a field.  When that happens, and we find ourselves playing a role in every decision about a certain topic, then it is time to delegate, and start exploring something new.

Second, we need to dig below the surface of the areas we explore.  As a leader it is possible to suffer from breadth/depth syndrome, where we know very little about quite a bit.  The danger here is that if we only skirt the surface, then no new learning ever really takes place.  This means we have to delve as deeply as our lives will allow into as many different areas as we can.

Success isn't meant to be easy, and realistically, learning something new everyday isn't a guarantee.  But, if we make it a mantra, then it does become an easier benchmark to reach.  After all, why wouldn't we want to learn to the infinite power?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 134

must find their most productive times and exploit them.

When we hear the word "leader" paired with the word "exploit" we begin to worry.  Should leaders ever exploit anyone (or anything)?  The quick answer would certainly seem to be no.

However, leaders should always consider exploiting time, as there is never enough of it, and despite our best attempts, we can't seem to get around needing it to accomplish the things we need to accomplish. :)

But it isn't enough to make the most of time in a general sense.  We need to know enough about ourselves to find the times when we are most productive, and exploit those times like crazy.

For me, I tend to be most productive in the early morning hours.  This means doing whatever I can to get to the office around 7:30, and using the next hour and a half while the time is mostly mine to truly engage in deep thinking tasks.

It is also an opportunity where I can take five or ten minutes to just think.  Since there never seems to be much in the way of thinking time during the "normal" day, I enjoy having a few moments just to ponder, as I find it makes me more creative and critical as the day continues.

I'm at my least productive in the late afternoon, and I try to move many of the "lighter" tasks to that time period.

The challenge for us, organizationally, is we still design meetings around putting out fires and around what "worked" in the past.  Why do we still have faculty meetings in the afternoon?  Is that because the majority of staff members are most productive in the late afternoon?  Or is it simply for convenience?

We need to be asking our staff members when they are most productive, and then designing our most critical and challenging work around their responses.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 133

The only person capable of preventing you from being your best is you.

We are both our own worst enemies and our greatest supporters.  By being one and the same, we are the only ones capable of building up our ability to be successful and at the same time, tearing down our chances of making positive impacts on others.

Yes, it is true that others influence us and impact our ability to do the things we believe need to be done.  But, when it all comes down to it, the only person who can prevent (or on the flip side, who can allow) each of us to truly be as successful as possible is ourselves.

For that reason, we need to make sure that we not only always push ourselves to be our very best, but that we don't allow ourselves to get caught up in despair when things don't work out as planned.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and others to always be exemplary.  Since we are the only ones who can truly prevent this from happening, we must make sure that we always keep the end in mind and keep reaching for the stars.

Our communities depend on it.

The good news, of course, is that since we are in control of our own destinies, nobody else can truly prevent us from being who we most want to be.  With that in mind, it is necessary for us to always believe in ourselves, knowing that if we trust in our capabilities, we will be successful.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 132

Nothing prepares a for the day ahead like a good night's .

I've watched my older daughter experience the perfect storm in rest this past weekend.  First, spring here in the suburbs of NYC has finally arrived.  Everything is now rushing to bloom, making it an allergy-infused nightmare (for those of us who suffer).  I was cautiously optimistic that my older daughter wouldn't be effected, but unfortunately, I was wrong.  She's been sneezing and rubbing her eyes for the past two days, and having the stubborn quotient of my wife and I combined, she refuses to take anything that might lessen the symptoms.  Second, the last few days have been pretty warm, and we've been out of the house until late in the evening, making things nice and toasty when we get home.  Combine allergies with a warm house, and sleep will be tough for some.

Thinking of my groggy daughter and her morning mood today made me think a bit about the need for all leaders to be rested if they are going to be ready to go.

A good night's sleep is important, as we always want to lead with both eyes open (both literally and figuratively).  Research already shows that we're less effective in the afternoon due to the emotional and social drain put on our bodies and minds.  If we add to this a lack of sleep, we can't expect to be particularly capable in those situations.

This doesn't mean that we can't be successful if we've had a bad night.  But, it does mean that we have to understand that we are beginning the day incapacitated, and that we need to be aware of potential shortcomings we may encounter since we aren't "at the top of our game."

What works for me to get a good night sleep?  I've found a few things to be particularly helpful.  I try to "screen the screen" at least fifteen minutes before I hope to go to sleep (substituting a device for a book, for example...truth be told, I'm not particularly good at this).  I also turn my clock away from me once I've set the alarm.  As silly as this sounds, I figure that the time doesn't matter as long as my alarm hasn't gone off (this item has totally changed my sleeping habits. . . I encourage anyone who isn't a great sleeper to try it).

Different things work for different people, but the fact remains that without sleep we can't be as good as we normally could be.  And, if we're working at a disadvantage, everyone we work with is at a disadvantage as well.