This will be the last daily email for 2021 as I will be on a hiatus the rest of this week and next week. It has been a remarkable year. Probably not the year we all hoped it would be, but remarkable nonetheless.
I hope you have grown as a leader this year, and that you have felt me walking part of that journey with you. Leadership matters, you matter, and it has been a joy for me to serve you.
We need to take our work seriously, but we probably need to take ourselves less seriously. Reflect a little during the holidays but laugh more!
This morning I awoke to a remarkable sunrise.
The sun rises on a new day every 24 hours, but we often don’t take notice.
In the same way, each work day is a new one, but they can begin to feel like they are all the same.
Strategic leaders are intentional about each day. One of the primary purposes of this email and why it comes out at 6:00 am is to help us be intentional. Taking a few moments to set a leadership intention is critical for our mission but also for our mental health.
Celebrate today by being intentional in your leadership.
About thirty minutes away from me is The Road to Nowhere, a partially completed road that was promised to link several rural communities with ancestral cemeteries when the original roads were destroyed as part of the dam building during the time of rural electrification.
The Road to Nowhere has many of the hallmarks of Big Change. The goal was ambitious given the terrain and habitat, the resources were inadequate, and unanticipated events derailed the project. Now there is a half-built road that does nothing for the original goal.
Like so many Big Change projects, it lies abandoned, only halfway completed.
Think about the big undertaking that you have committed to in the past. How many of them yielded the promised results?
Instead of Big Change, consider investing more time identifying the root problem, and then figuring out one tiny thing you can do to improve the situation by working A-B.
A newel post is what your staircase handrails attach to. I know because I’ve been sanding and staining them.
Longtime readers may remember that we had our floors redone in November, 2020. We have been without a handrail or banister since then, but the end is finally in sight.
My friend Mike has made the newel posts for us, and he is a great craftsman. Through a series of events, a situation arose in which I needed to replicate some of his work on one of the posts by adding some facing and trim to the main post.
I knew how to do the work, but it is not something that I have had much practice with. My results were noticeably poorer than what Mike had done, and it had taken me four times as long.
It is obvious that people who are skilled at something can do it better and faster than those who aren’t.
I bet that there is at least one thing that you are doing in your leadership that someone else could do better and faster. Take a few minutes this morning to reflect critically on what you do and look for an opportunity to find someone else who can do something better than you, so you can focus on what you are good at.
Alternatively, dig in and get better at the task.
Before we dig in, I have a favor to ask. If you are a principal or assistant principal, please consider subscribing to The Assistant Principal podcast and rating it on your preferred media player. The show is starting to take off and some honest reviews will help other school leaders decide whether the podcast is something they’d like to invest in. You could also forward this email to some of your school leadership colleagues, including instructional coaches, and encourage them to give the show a listen. Thank you!
In the Assistant Principal Exceleration program (APEx) we’ve been working on coaching.
One of the first things we need to figure out is who we should be coaching.
Ideally, we should be coaching everyone, but nobody has that kind of time.
If we can coach just one person, who should it be?
The natural inclination is to look for where the most pain is – with our lowest performing people.
However, looking for the biggest gain yields better results.
Helping someone who is bad be a bit less bad takes more work and yields less growth than helping someone who is struggling but has high potential.
People who are bad at their jobs need to be managed, but if you have limited time to coach consider investing in those who will make the biggest growth. Imagine the impact of helping someone competent become great.
Gain over pain.