Monthly Archives: January 2017

PMP 051: The Shocking Truth About Your Decision-Making

When I was going to graduate school for my Master’s Degree in Education Leadership, I decided to conduct my own informal research.

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Over a number of weeks, I talked to current and retired principals about what they considered to be the lessons they had learned from their years in school leadership.

I remember one man in particular who was a retired teacher and administrator who had moved into higher education. We stood in the hallway one night after one my classes, and I asked him the question:

“What do you consider the greatest lesson you learned from your years as a principal?”

He looked down for a moment, and then looked back up at me and said. “I think I had to learn that I wasn’t always right. In fact, looking back now, I think I’d be lucky if I made the right decision 25% of the time.”

I was shocked. How could someone who seemed so articulate, competent, and confident say such a thing?

He smiled and explained. “Before you become the principal, you think you have all the answers. But once you take the position, you begin to realize how many things you don’t know…and sometimes you will call it wrong.”

“The sooner you accept that fact,” he went on, “The easier it will be to not be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes.”

I still remember walking away from that conversation in a daze. Continue reading

PMP 050: The 5 Marks of a Learning Culture

After living in Oklahoma for more than twenty years, I’ve become keenly aware that our state’s economy is intricately related to oil and gas.

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In addition to our rich Native American heritage, almost every major city or town in our state has its roots in the oil fields and exploration that brought workers who in turn brought their families and built communities.

A lot has changed over the decades, but for those who work the rigs and fields today, they can tell you that drilling and production can still be very dangerous work. When managing parts and machines under tremendous pressure, one mistake can be fatal.

Recently I was listening to The New Norm, an episode of Invisibilia, a podcast on the invisible forces, emotions, or psychological influences that affect the way we think or behave.

This episode focused on a story from 1997 when Shell Oil had commissioned Ursa, the largest offshore drilling rig in history. One man, Rick Fox, was assigned the task of assembling and training a crew who would manage a floating multi-story complex the size of two football fields. His biggest fears? He worried a lot about the inevitable injuries or deaths that could take place in metropolis of such high-pressure engineering—where a misread gauge or a wrong turn could be unimaginably catastrophic. Continue reading

PMP 049: Why Self-Control Matters–5 Benefits for Leaders

A couple of months ago, I enjoyed some special time away with my son, Jack.

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He had turned 11, and when his older sisters reached that age, my wife took each of them away for a special weekend. Now it was my turn with Jack, and we had fun weekend in historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to just having fun together, one of the purposes of these one-on-one conversations is focused time to talk about life, priorities, and choices.

In a world that offers our children a menu of options everyday, I wanted Jack to understand that his choices must be based on something greater than what is convenient or fun in-the-moment. We talked about why it is important to learn patience and self-control…how the benefits of self-denial outweigh the temptations of self-gratification.

When I talked to Jack about how self-denial plays out in the life of a boy his age, I shared an illustration I have heard both from Tim Elmore and Seth Godin in presentations: The “Marshmallow Test.” Continue reading

PMP 048: Looking at 2017–Let’s Stay Connected!

One of my first superintendents had been an elementary teacher.

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Sometimes she would begin our leadership meetings by bringing a shopping bag full of hands-on materials (paper, scissors, glue, popsicle sticks) as demonstrations for a lesson or an idea she wanted us to understand.

No matter what your age, you never outgrow the need for self-improvement. And I don’t know about you, but I know I would not grow in my own leadership if I wasn’t interacting, questioning, exploring, and sharing with others.

As we wrap up 2016, I wanted to share some ways I have been “keeping my bag full of ideas” by connecting with other leaders this past year as well as some ways we might connect together in 2017. Continue reading