MVP: Avoid responding with prescriptions by putting people first.
My cousin George writes a weekly recap he shares with the whole family. He always begins the letter with a quote from his uncle’s diary. Last week the quote was from a day in 1953:
“Everything is the same at the office with the rut growing deeper and deeper as time goes by. Thus, I presume I am fast becoming a good bank employee.”
I reacted emotionally to this excerpt but wasn’t exactly sure why. As I reread it now, it strikes me as such a sad state of affairs, but one that is all too common.
You work in a system, and that system expects certain things of you. Some systems can be very confining or prescriptive.
When we work in these systems, we ourselves can become prescriptive, responding via formula.
That’s where the rut comes from.
It seems clear the way to avoid getting into a rut is to avoid being prescriptive.
This can be a challenge as systems throve on order and predictability, which encourages the prescriptive approach.
What would happen if we stopped being prescriptive? If we climbed out of the rut?
What if we put people first, and shaped the system around them?
Instead of doing the opposite.
Today’s intention: Check in with yourself. Are you in a rut? Are you leveraging your power and creativity? Are you putting people first?
MVP: Stop focusing on working hard and begin focusing on working to recover.
My friend Danny Bauer was a guest back on episode 105 of The Assistant Principal Podcast. We talked about four powerful perspectives (episode link).
Last week, Danny was again sharing something that has flipped a switch in my head. I encourage you to read his original post here. The gist of it is this:
I have never met a principal, assistant principal, or any other leader who wasn’t working hard. We actually celebrate how hard we work, but Danny points out everyone is working hard, so why celebrate it?
What we really should be talking about is how much we invest in our recovery.
For me, this means attending to the four essentials:
It’s those practices, and others, that can help us continue working hard and working well.
Today’s intention: If you aren’t investing in your recovery, what is stopping you?
MVP: Being present enhances your ability to serve and to celebrate.
In this morning’s episode of The Assistant Principal Podcast, I shared the highlight of my Pennine Way through-hike. It wasn’t a special sight, or event. It was the wonder, joy and contentment that comes with being fully present.
I can’t capture it well in a short email, so consider listening to the show.
The key idea is that when you are present, the small things are as magnificent as the big things.
The sounds of a tiny trickle can be as impressive as a roaring waterfall.
A tiny flower can compare to the highest cliffs.
And here’s the cool thing…
We are surrounded by small beauties every day.
If we can be present, we can see them, and if we can see them, we can celebrate them.
Today’s intention: Look for the small examples of greatness, smile, and celebrate.
MVP: When there is a communication breakdown, pause and think about how you could have communicated more clearly.
First, a moment of reflection for an event which altered the course of our history.
Two weeks ago, I reached out to some of my LinkedIn connections asking for help with a podcast episode. I was looking for tips and stories related to growing veteran teachers.
What I wanted was for people to reply in the message and share something. What I got were responses like “Yes!” and “Absolutely!” but without any content.
Has that ever happened to you?
You asked for one thing but got something else?
Or rather, you thought you were asking for one thing, but the other person heard you asking for something else.
Communication is complex.
Today’s intention: When things don’t go right, pause and reflect on the message you thought you were sending and what people actually heard.
MVP: If you are initiating change, the change begins with you.
We (Pam and Frederick) have shared the same story from two perspectives. We’ve looked at change, and at how individuals’ unique experiences inform their views and feelings of change.
The best time for us to have dealt with the horses in the barnyard would have been before we encountered them to avoid being reactionary.
Before acting, it is essential to capitalize on people’s different perspectives and assumptions. Identifying problems and the steps to address them is the work of a team, not an individual.
Intention: Have you checked in with how your experiences influence your assumptions and how you are seeing the situation/challenge? Likewise, have you checked in with other stakeholders?
Pam and Frederick