Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 366 :)

If you want to get better at something, you can never allow yourself to run away from it. #QuoteADay #Day366 #edchat #edu #satchat #NYedchat

Over the course of the last year I’ve thought a lot about what it means to “get better” at something.  Not just continue spinning the wheels, mind you, but to really get better.

This year was an experiment in that.  Would pushing myself to write a blog post every day make me a more experienced writer?

A deeper thinker?

A more effective leader/learner?

A better person?

While I would like to think the answer to all of these is “yes,” I also understand that answers rarely come when we want them to, and they rarely come in the form that we most expect.  Maybe I’m a better writer, and maybe this will help me to reach a dream of eventually writing a book on leadership in education. 

But maybe, it won’t.

Instead, maybe I’ll write a book, but it will be a work of historical fiction, or a children’s book (certainly illustrated by someone else; my artistic skills have not improved this year J).  That’s the funny thing about the future.  We never know what it will bring.

Regardless of how, when, or if answers to those questions ever come, one thing I do know definitely is that I’ve reflected regularly and learned lots, especially about myself.

When I began this process, there was doubt that I would have it in me to come up with 365 different “quotes” and blog posts to capture what they mean.  But, if there is one overarching idea this whole experience has taught me, it is that if we want to become better at something, we can never allow ourselves to run from it.  Even on the worst days this year, when I was sick and couldn’t get out of bed, I still found ways of getting to my goal of completing a #QuoteADay post, each and every day.

The learning/leadership value in this process is simple to see: Every initiative is reachable; we just need to be willing to put the time and effort into constantly striving for it.

What’s next for me?  What goals will I set for myself in 2015?  I plan to write more, that’s for sure, but beyond that, I’m happy to say “Who Knows?”

Because you know what?  I’m confident that after reaching my writing goal this year, there isn’t much that I can’t accomplish.  365 days of staying a course in which I was only accountable to myself is enough to make me say, “Yeah, I can do that” (“that” being just about anything).

Thanks to all who played a part, read these posts, and provided support and constructive criticism.  You all helped me reach this benchmark, and I’m happy to return the favor in any way I can.  J

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 365

Are you a goal sprinter, a goal pacer, or a goal laggard?

Goal Sprinters tend to be those of us who push hardest right as they are about to reach a goal.  Regardless of how long it has taken them to get there, Goal Sprinters push and push and push as the goal horizon gets closer.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this.  One advantage is that the power of the goal increases as more effort is invested (usually).  This tends to build greater capacity for the goal, so much so that when reached, the community has already acclimated to the necessary changes.  A disadvantage is that we tend to focus solely on the product and start to lose sight of the process.  Since there is always much to reflect on when it comes to our procedural moves, this can be a major loss for us as leaders.

Goal Pacers are those leaders who set goals, keep to the timetable, and move at a pace that is steady.  Whether fast or slow, Goal Pacers rarely deviate from the path, constantly moving forward, regardless of how many steps back are taken during the process.  The great news here is that Goal Pacers have the internal willpower (and have built the associated capacity) to make sure that the goal is reached, and can use the balanced workflow that has already been put in place to help others see that getting to the finish line will require no more additional work, but also no less than what is taking place.  A downside to pacing is that it can feel very “status-quo-ish” and can sometimes feel like the rotation of the Earth; even though we’re moving forward, we can’t really tell we are.  For goal doubters, this is a wound that can be picked at constantly (sorry for the fairly graphic comparison).

Goal Laggards tend to slow down as they reach a given goal or benchmark.  Regardless of the speed gone to initially start the goal setting process, laggards tend to take their time as the finish line appears.  This can be good as they may want to make sure things are “just right,” but in so doing, Goal Laggards run the risk of tiring everyone out, and overstaying the welcome of the entire process.
So which goal personality are you?                                                                                                               
Currently, I’m a pacer.  It fits my planning nature, and provides me (and those I work with) the opportunity to see a timeline and the assurance to know we’ll meet it.  There are times, however, when I need to do a better job of pushing harder to either meet goals sooner or build up additional momentum prior to full-blown implementation.  Sometimes a steady pace isn’t enough to showcase the importance of the work that is being done.

One of the best parts about knowing our own goal personalities is that we can make adjustments to put emphasis on the advantages and to soften the disadvantages. 

How do you address your goal personality?  Feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 364

A leader’s best friend must be a mirror; “This is who I am” is the only way to stay grounded. #QuoteADay #Day364 #edchat #NYedchat #satchat

I’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits and disadvantages of social media lately, and how I’ve changed, and how others I know have changed, because of it.

One of the areas I’ve seen the most change in is reach and networking.  I know many more people than I did just three years ago, and I “know of” even more people.  I’ve also found myself in additional leadership roles due entirely to the networking and connections I’ve made through social media (as opposed to the true merits of my work, as great as they may be J).

These are all tremendously positive outcomes, and this connected aspect of social media (Twitter in particular) has made me a better leader, a more effective learner, and realistically, a better person over all.
But, for every positive impact, there is an equally powerful negative one.  In terms of social media use, the biggest challenge for me has been remembering that despite all the connections I might make, I am still Fred Ende, and no more amazing or interesting than I was before I was connected. 

This is both a sobering and necessary mantra to repeat. 

I won’t allow any number of connections to make me shift to being someone I’m not, and I find it important to remind myself that I am still who I am on a regular basis; a mirror is good for that J

It isn’t necessarily easy to reduce the pull of letting ourselves believe we’re now “different” than we were previously.  Who wouldn’t want to attend as many conferences as possible, present to large audiences on a regular basis, and, realistically, who deep down doesn’t want to promote themselves to the masses?

The challenge, of course, is that we all have responsibilities that are close to home, and those that are farther away.  Our responsibilities to those we most directly serve must always, always, take precedence, even when those farther away callings seem so enticing.  For if we aren’t truly leading in the capacity we’ve been asked to lead in, then who are we truly serving besides ourselves?

To make sure we never forget that, we always need to intimately remember who we are.  And that can begin with a simple look in the mirror.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 363

Friendship + leadership are very similar. Both require time and give-and-take to be effective.     

Today I have the chance to get together with a very good friend, someone who I have known for over thirty-years (almost my whole life).

Despite what life has brought us (marriage, kids, deaths, relocations, jobs, etc.) we've stayed in close contact, and whenever we're in the same state (which isn't often), we do our best to spend a bit of time "catching up."

Even when we only have  a few hours together, it often feels like neither one of us has left; often the truest markings of friendship are that distance and time don't make a difference.

Friendship is a lot like leadership.  In order for deep friendships to grow, we have to spend lots of time cultivating them.  My buddy and I reach out to each other regularly, forgoing contact through Facebook or other social media for phone calls, texts, and in-person visits.  This all requires time, much more than a "Happy Birthday" wish on Facebook would.  And yet, these types of communication are also much more meaningful than anything I could post on someone's timeline. Leadership is much the same way.  We need to be well-connected, both virtually and face-to-face, and work hard towards maintaining these connections.  We can't afford to lose ourselves in the email list; phone calls and visits need to be a staple of how we lead as well.

In addition, friendships are always about negotiation.  It can't always be your way, nor can it always be about the needs of your friend.  Friends support each other at all times, therefore, whenever one friend feels on the end of a rope, the other friend serves as the anchor.  This means that a friendship is about balance, just like leadership.  When we lead, we must make sure that we're supporting others as much as they support us.  If we remain as the supportive one at all times, we may never be propped up when we need it most.  If we're always the one who needs the support, then we're likely not doing much leading at all.

We must treat our leadership roles like we would a great friend. The investment of time, balanced support, and the give-and-take of negotiation must always be at the heart of what we do.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 362

It's better to be told the power of what you've accomplished than to be the one doing the telling.

This morning, during an excellent conversation on thoughts for the new year during #satchathack, I had an interesting revelation.

Over the course of this last year, I've been writing these daily posts, tied to a quote I've put together.  Throughout my life and career, I've often found myself using the quotes of others, and in thinking about this last December 31st, I wanted to be the creator of a bunch of quotes that others could use, if they were so inclined (not saying the quotes are any good, by the way :) ).

I also wanted to strengthen my writing, and one of the best ways to do this is to simply write more.  I had started a blog a number of years back, and felt this was a good way to resurrect it.

So, I began this #QuoteADay blog, and as of today, I'm just a few days from completing my goal of a year of quotes/blog posts.

This has been a challenging feat for me, and one that I believe has drastically helped my writing.  That being said, I haven't thought of it as being extremely powerful or out of the ordinary.

That is, until a number of folks (both friends and acquaintances) have mentioned what a big deal it is.
I've had the chance to chat with a number of folks who have tried monthly and weekly blogs only to find they couldn't make the time, or couldn't think of topics that worked.

In no way does that say what I've done is special, but it does make me think that 365 blog posts in a year was a great challenge for me to take on (i.e. it was a tough goal, but one that could be met) and will be a nice achievement (assuming I finish up the next few days).

This also made me reflect on another important point for leaders:

It is better to be told of the power of what you've accomplished then to go around bragging about it to others.  I'm happy to share the blogging work I've done, but will only do so when the conversation moves towards long-term blogging.  I rarely bring it up outside of those circumstances, and usually just tweet it out once a day, in the event where anyone might be interested.

Sure I could do more self-promotion, but for what?  The purpose of the blog was, and is, to share, not smother, and as such, if only a few people find out about it, but find out somewhat organically, then I've done a better job as a leader than if I would have forced it down the throats of others.

As leaders, we're doing the best job when our work is discovered organically, or so I think.  What do you think (assuming someone is actually reading this :) )?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 361

Success in life as a  is directly tied to life that is led with success.       

I've been thinking a lot over the course of this last year about what makes for a successful leader.  I'm still not entirely sure I know the answer to this (I fully expect to never really know).  But, I have come to one conclusion, and as I scan back on the posts I've written over the last (almost) year, I think it is an underlying theme.

To be successful as a leader, we have to live the lives we lead successfully.

"Success" means different things to different people, I agree, but the most successful leaders aren't necessarily the ones who work seventy-five hours a week, or are on conference calls with business partners all day Sunday.  That may be a measure of success, but it doesn't necessarily typify a successful "life."

For us to truly be successful, we need to be successful in all that we do in the lives we lead.

And this often means internalizing a very important word:


The most successful leaders I have ever met have discovered ways to give their professional lives all the time, effort, and energy that is needed, and still have more than enough for their personal lives.

This balance between two sometimes competing "Ps" in our lives is incredibly important.  Yet, the most successful leaders have found ways to move beyond the "competing" and instead see the professional and personal as two sides to the same very important coin.

Being successful is about more than how hard we work "on the job."  It's about making sure that we live for our friends and family, and importantly, ourselves too.

It also means understanding that finding and keeping this balance is a work in progress.  At times, we're going to lean in one direction or the other.  And yet, if we've led with balance in the past, those around us will understand when we topple, knowing it is just a matter of time for us to find our balance again.

I'm still searching for the perfect balance, but happily, over the last few years, I've become closer to finding it.

And guess what?  Everyone in my life is happier (and more successful) for it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 360

The best are never afraid to live in the moment.

As leaders, we often spend a good amount of time planning for the future or reflecting on the past.  Both of these are necessary ingredients to being a strong leader; by planning we lay the ground work for what is to come, and by reflecting on what has occurred, we make sure the groundwork we're laying isn't going over the exact same spots.

I've been thinking a lot about the importance of planning and reflecting over the last year.  While its true that we need to do this, and do it regularly, I think it obscures the importance of another way of leading.

The importance of leading (and living) in the moment.

This morning I took my two daughters to the park.  Not surprisingly, with it being Christmas, nobody was there.  But it was a perfect day to visit the park, with temperatures in the metro NYC area being around fifty degrees Fahrenheit (crazy, right?).

After I had been watching my two girls play for a while, I realized that during that time I wasn't thinking of anything else.  I was truly "in the moment."

There's something special about allowing ourselves to be overtaken by an activity or event so deeply that we think of nothing else.  It is almost like we're allowing our whole being to focus in, and the life of the "average" leader rarely allows us to truly do this.

The best leaders, however, understand that this type of leading and living is a necessity, and do it regularly, realizing that there will always be time to plan and reflect, but we may not always have time to live in the now.

This is an area I need to work on.  I tend to plan and reflect often, but don't always allow myself to become absorbed in what is happening around me as much as I should.

The best leaders are those that are ever present.  For if we're not there, where are we?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 359

Homes are designed to be conducive to living. Shouldn’t schools be designed to be conducive to learning? #QuoteADay #Day359 #edchat #satchat

Over the course of this year, our agency will be undergoing some design changes, culminating in a new roof, new flooring, and some changes to our conference room configuration happening this summer.

While this means multiple transitions for those of us who work here, it also means an opportunity to take a very innovative agency, and modify its design to match the forward-thinking mindset of its staff.
I’m excited for the opportunity to see this building in a new light.  Our physical structure certainly doesn’t match the power of the people within, and that’s a problem.

My family and I moved into a new home about a year ago.  We needed more space, and were ready to make the move from connected townhouse to stand-alone structure.  With the move came some growing pains (emotional, physical, and financial), but a year later, we’re happy with the new home we’ve designed.  It meets our needs and is conducive to living for my wife, me, and our two girls.  Form meets function; a house should be lived in, so it should be conducive to the process of living and all that goes with it. 

And yet, in my travels around to districts in the New York City suburbs, many schools are not conducive to the purpose they should serve: learning for all.  Despite the understanding that learning should happen within the walls of a school, our buildings are structured in ways that may have supported learning a half century ago, but no longer truly promote active learning and innovation.

While the response to this idea might be something along the lines of, “But, Fred, the changes you’re likely thinking of come at a price,” I ask you to consider the price that is already being paid by attempting to lead and learn in spaces that are no longer about leading and learning, but are instead about the status quo, and our immune response to changing.

Why do we tend to believe that innovative use of space must rest on an infusion of funds?  Why can’t we redesign the spaces we have with the resources already in our collective possession?  Or better yet, why not redesign a few spaces in a school at a time?  Innovation isn’t a linear process.  Updating our learning spaces doesn’t have to be either.

Regardless of how we get there, it is clear that change must occur.  School culture is more than just the people within.  The school speaks too.  What do we want it to say?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 358

The best leaders realize they shouldn’t have to do everything they ask others to do. #QuoteADay #Day358 #edchat #edu #satchat #NYedchat 

I’ve been reading a book by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey called Immunity to Change.  In it, the authors describe how they’ve worked with a variety of leaders and learners to overcome their own natural immunity to the change process.  It isn’t so much that change is hard, but rather that our own bodies and minds are hardwired against it.

In reading one of the segments chronicling how a leader learned to deal with necessary change, I was struck by a comment made and how true it was (and how I often would tell others the opposite).
I used to say to those I worked with, “I would never ask you to take this on if I couldn’t do it myself,” or “I wouldn’t encourage you to explore something that I myself am uncomfortable with.”

This seemed to be an appropriate comment, right?  After all, it was meant to show that I wouldn’t ask others to do things that I didn’t vet first.

But, I believe I was wrong.

The way I now see it, the comment actually discourages delegation and the handing over of the leadership reigns.  Instead, it makes it sound as if every decision and step to take can only be along pathways that I would go down, and if creative thinking is contained by only what is comfortable to me, then I’ve failed those I’m being asked to serve.

A better way to put it would be, “I want you to explore those areas that best utilize your unique skill set.  I’m here to help you identify how you can do that.”

I know that I can’t do everything, much as I might want to.  And, for those things I can do, I fully understand that others can likely do them better. 

My goal?

To help focus others on what they can do best, build up their capacity to do what is currently a weakness, and use my skills as a leader to encourage others to push themselves further and therefore help us further innovate.

The moment we’re able to stop worrying about being the end all is the minute where as a collective group we can do all.

I’m not there, but I’m working on it.  Where are you?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 357

The best #leaders understand that sometimes, they just have to let things go.  #QuoteADay #Day357 #edchat #edu #NYedchat #satchat #ASCDL2L

One of the most important lessons for a leader to learn is that there are no absolutes in leadership.  Anything can be on or off the table at any given point. 

While it is true that we need to hold true to our core values, we also need to make sure that we can be flexible enough to let things go that aren’t at the top of our priority list.

Life is a negotiation, in part, and as such, we always have to be willing to move on a continuum of what is acceptable, and what is not.

A wise leader taught me that a true negotiation is only successful when all parties leave with a small bit of frustration.  It is true that you can’t always get what you want.

Therefore, as a model to those we serve, and as a way to foster our own collaborative skills, we need to make sure that we are always reminding ourselves that some things need to be let go.  When there is room to move around a subject or a point, sometimes we just have to let that movement happen.  Negotiating is never about who is wrong or right, but always about whoever is willing to accommodate someone else.

The key?  To make sure that we have one or two structural cores to who we are as leaders.  These should emanate from us in whatever we do.

And these are areas around which we should not bend, nor break.

However, for everything else, we have to be comfortable changing course, seeing things through a different light, and letting our own grip on matters go.

After all, it’s better to share a hold with others, than to grip so tightly that no one else can get their hands involved.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 356

We need to take time off so we can do our best with our time when we're on.      

Tomorrow my wife and I are taking a day for ourselves.  My wife is now off for two weeks (she goes back to school on January 5th), and I'm taking a day off on Monday.  My wife and I are taking a one-night getaway; my parents have been gracious enough to watch our two girls for a night.

We're not doing anything amazing or spectacular, but we are going to enjoy roughly twenty-four hours to just focus on each other, and just as importantly, ourselves.

There is a need to take time off from the excellent work that we do.  Our minds, our bodies, and our relationships all need a recharge from time-to-time.  We're only as good as when we're at our worst, so we need to set the bar really high for our worst, if we're to be exceptional leaders and learners.

A large part of setting the bar high comes from having the energy and willpower to handle anything (or just about anything).  And to do that, we need to make sure we take enough time to recharge our batteries, and along with that, we need to take a little "I" time.  

There is nothing "wrong" or "unprofessional" about needing a break every now and then.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that taking time is a very professional move.  It shows an understanding of the human condition, and the importance of "disconnecting" from one's role at regular intervals.

When we take time off, we're actually providing ourselves with an opportunity to do our best when we're back on.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 355

 is more than saying what is wrong. It means changing to find what is right.      

I've learned throughout my career that being flexible is a key to success.  I've also learned that in being flexible, we also have to understand that everyone brings their own baggage, and because of that, we have to be open to thinking and actions that are very different from what we would have thought or said.

And all of this sits well with me.

What is more of a challenge for me, and tougher for me to be "okay" with, is when we talk about the need to reform education (or anything, for that matter), and stop there.

Education won't reform itself, and while talking about it elevates awareness about potential problems, talk can rarely fix or solve anything on its own.

To make a difference, we have to be willing to act, and that involves changing what we do so that we might replace what we believe is wrong with what could be right.

The challenge to just talking about change, is that it becomes very easy for us to throw the ball of change into somebody else's yard.

Blame for what is wrong is much easier than changing behavior as a means to searching for potential right answers.

Before we discuss the problems that exist anywhere, we should instead begin making a difference.  In this way, we can tell others about the changes we've made and what we've learned, rather than the problems that exist without found solutions.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 354

It pays to lose ourselves, if only to have the opportunity to find ourselves anew. #QuoteADay #Day354 #edchat #satchat #NYedchat #ASCDL2L

While I admit that in most cases I like to know where I stand at all times, I’ll also happily admit that there are times when I gladly wander and get lost.  In these situations I’m happy to float a bit aimlessly, knowing that I can easily reel myself back in.

Here are two examples of when this happened to me, just within the last day.

First, I moderate a biweekly Twitter chat on the Next Generation Science Standards.  Yesterday, our topic was on tying the Next Gen standards to informal science.  I’ve been a formal science educator and curriculum director for my entire career; while I’ve taken part in informal science events and activities, I don’t have the lens of being a leader in this area.  This made leading the chat difficult, but incredibly fun and filled with learning.  My co-moderator and I commented to each other last night that we felt lost and unsure how to respond to some of the tweets.

And that was okay. J

This morning, I took a short break in between tasks to read up on the Southern Reach Trilogy.  I’ve heard quite a bit about it, but haven’t read much of the books or even the book flaps.  So, I read a quick intro to Book 1, and for about five minutes, I was transported to Area X, the reading was so gripping for me.  While I was in my office, I also wasn’t, and that momentary brain shift was exactly what I needed to dive into the next bit of work.

And that was okay. J

We need to provide ourselves with opportunities to lose ourselves. 

The reason?  Because once we find ourselves again, we’re often just a bit different, and regularly, just a bit better.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 353

Turns out that when we give to others, we're actually also giving to ourselves. #QuoteADay #Day353 #edchat #satchat #NYedchat #HappyHolidays

Today is a day filled with giving for me.  In a few moments, my supervisor and I will be sharing holiday gifts with our program assistants.

Later, we’ll be taking out our department to lunch, along with three of the agency’s program administrators.

Then, our administrative unit will be meeting for a Yankee swap at the end of the day.

While giving often involves giving a lot of ourselves (energy, emotion, finances), we also get when we give.

It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it is an important one: When we give to others, we’re also giving to ourselves.

The act of giving not only makes those who are receiving happy but it also provides joy for those who are doing the gifting.  There is something powerful about both sharing and receiving a gift; in fact, despite the work and capacity involved in giving, the best leaders understand that only through giving is there ever anything that can be taken.

As you continue through the holiday season, realize that all that you give will come back to benefit you and those around you. 

When we give, we also get.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 352

An idea can only become great when it is no longer "your" idea. #QuoteADay #Day352 #edchat #edu #satchat #NYedchat #Collaborate

I’ve never had a great idea in my life. 

I know what you’re thinking . . . surely you have.

But I haven’t.

Ideas are never great when we have them, and they are never great when they are “our” ideas.

Ideas can only become great when they are no longer our property because the “greatness” of an idea is tied to how it is vetted and how it makes the world at large better.

This is an important idea because once we stop worrying about whether our ideas are good or not, we also stop worrying about what others will think about them when we share them.

We also stop worrying about getting credit for the idea, and we start focusing on what the idea could (or could not) be really capable of doing.

Since an idea is nothing until someone acts on it, the freer we are with our thinking, the more ideas we’ll throw on the table.  And the less concerned we are with how they’re taken, the greater the chance that an idea will have a tremendous impact (simply because we’re offering up so many)!

As learners and leaders we need to be comfortable letting ideas go.  If they fly, great.  If they fall, that’s great too.

We need to remember that nobody ever has a great idea.  Great ideas are only formed when we share them with others and work together to make them better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 351

It is always better to have nothing to say than to say something that means nothing. #QuoteADay #Day351 #edchat #satchat #NYedchat #NGSSchat

One of the leadership qualities I’m working on quite a bit this year is to become even better at saying nothing when I don’t have anything that needs to be said.

Based on my experience as a leader and learner up to this point, it is always better to simply say nothing, then to say something that means nothing; the world doesn’t need anyone to prove they exist simply by opening their mouths.

We’ve all been part of meetings that were held simply so everyone could let everyone else know they still exist.  These meetings often don’t have an agenda, or have an agenda that is so rickety, that the group is guaranteed to fall off it at a moment’s notice.  In these meetings, we often don’t have anything to say, yet there still tends to be a ton of speaking going on.

And that is a problem.


Because we always leave those meetings wondering what the point was, and frustrated that our time and energy couldn’t go to other endeavors.

If we are to become the leaders we truly want to become, then we need to make sure that we acknowledge the fact that we don’t always have great things to add to the conversation.  In fact, often we’re better off sitting back and listening, if for no other reason than to support the fact that the conversation can end. 
This relaxing of our instinct to add our “two cents” accomplishes two additional goals.  First, it adds power to what we say when we do speak.  If we talk less and listen more, those we serve are more likely to pay close attention to the words we use and when we use them.  Second, it prevents us from prolonging a discussion that needs to end and encourages others to mind their air time as well.

Silence doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.  In fact, it is often more comfortable than when too many people say too many things that mean too little.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 350

#Learning must be like a web.  It must be sticky, lead to future #connections, and must never let go. #QuoteADay #Day350 #edchat #satchat

I’m a big relationship guy.  I believe in the power of relationships, and value cultivating and keeping relationships over many other aspects of leadership and learning.

So for me, as we were engaging in a discussion in our Executive Cabinet meeting today on the importance of building a network where your opportunities to learn with others are so deep that everyone wants to continue the relationship, truly hit home. 

When we build relationships with others, we need to make sure that the relationships are deep enough so that everyone involved can easily see their worth.

This often means treating learning like a spider’s web. 

Webs work wonders for three main reasons.  First, they are sticky, and like sticky ideas, they tend to occupy our thinking and our actions.  Second, partly due to the stickiness (but also partly because of how they’re made), webs tend to never let go; we’ll all been privy to the spider web we walk through that takes us forever to pick off.  Finally, the best webs are all about connections.  They either lead to additional webbings, or lead us to somewhere we haven’t looked at closely before.

The best learning is much the same.  When learning is sticky, and when it grabs a hold and never lets us go, we can say we’re truly engaged in the process.  And when we follow those sticky ideas to their source, or let them float around in our mind for a bit, we’re often led to explore other fascinating things.

This deep learning is both a prerequisite for, and a consequence of, relationship building.  The more interesting an idea or thinking process, the more likely we will deepen our relationships solely for engaging in it.  In addition, the deeper our relationships, the more we can push our collaboration to explore truly rigorous and challenging ideas, without having to worry about others giving up or not having the capacity to advance any further.

Learning needs to be like a web.  And like the best webs, we need to both admire, and experience, all that it has to offer.