“Why wouldn’t we choose to believe that our best days are ahead of us and not behind us?” -Jon Gordon
When I was a practicing principal, the months of October and February were always my most dreaded months. In October, party manners were off, routines and procedures had been established but teachers were realizing once again the very difficult job of meeting the specific learning needs of every student AND parent-teacher conferences were looming.
February is just another story, some may call it the “Love Month” but this dark and dreary short month at times doesn’t always show you the love as a leader. Seems like everyone has a little bit of negativity ruling their world and complaining and whining tends to surface.
Last month, I had the privilege of attending Catalyst University 2016 in Kalamazoo with Debbie McFalone and Jonathan Swegles, Pullman Elementary Principal in Bloomingdale. The day was filled with inspirational speakers and Jon Gordon, the guru of positivity, gave the very first keynote! I may have mentioned that when I took the Strengthfinders test, my number one strength is positivity. So obviously, Jon resonated with me!
Jon reminded us that as leaders we have to be students first and teachers second. The main focus must be on relationships and the building and maintenance of a positive culture. Culture building is not static, but dynamic. Our job as leaders is to create what we say and do on a daily basis. As we lead with optimism, we share our vision and pave the way for the road that lies ahead.
Then reality hits, like the month of February and we are surrounded by negativity. If we are honest with ourselves, we too feel like joining the depressing party of a focus on the negative. Gordon reminds us that our positive energy must be greater than the negativity and that we must drive out the “energy vampires” on our team and always feed the positive energy and make it grow. Reflection on challenges and setbacks brings greater opportunity to grow and inspire others to greatness. In fact, Gordon reminds us that if you are complaining you are not learning. As an analogy, he said, “Complaining is like vomiting, you feel better, but everyone around you gets sick.”
We are charged to build an environment where people can grow and the three words that great leaders must live and believe are love, serve, and care! Obviously our passion and love for our team exudes the importance of relationships and our investment in them. When we focus on “we,” we can serve others. By serving others, we demonstrate the ability to be a great leader. As Tom Izzo has said, “A good player is a good player. A great player makes others great.” My interpretation? “A good leader is a good leader. A great leader makes others great!”
According to Gordon, caring is a success strategy. In order to work harder, we have to care more. A carpenter builds things, but a craftsman puts his/her heart and soul into it.
Your focus the rest of this month and until June? To look for opportunities to love your team, to serve them, and care for them. Just don’t forget about the home team and yourself!