Friday, December 26, 2014

The Present

As we change pace this holiday season and spend time doing things we normally don't have time to do--like be with family, experience some free time, and actually not have anything scheduled for hours at a time... I find myself shamefully insecure in this role.  It is truly embarrassing that it takes me days to embrace and actually enjoy this time.  I have been doing this for over 20 years and it still takes me 4-5 days away to really enjoy "the present."  I am determined to "be and enjoy the present" this next week off before we return to school the second semester!
The question arises to myself, "Why does it take me 4-5 days to arrive at the "present?"  I have my ideas as to why but it still bothers me that I cannot simply speed up this process by sheer force of will.  For 20 years I have struggled to find the present during the Christmas break and I can't seem to shave time off of that poor record.   One thing I know I can't do is force it!  I have to allow it to come naturally or it never really comes at all.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Postponing It

I hate postponing things because I don't want to have too many things backlogged do all at once at a later time.  Yet, I also am aware that by not postponing certain things I  tend to miss out on the good things of the "here and now."  It's truly a dilemma--do it all now, perhaps miss out on same great things in the present, yet have the satisfaction of "checking it off the list."

We tend to postpone living some times in order to finish the tasks at hand.  "When I get this project done, I'll really start living."  Or, "I'll get the needed family time when I am done with this crazy period at work."  The well-balanced individual never has to entertain these thoughts because he/she knows how to create boundaries in all aspects of their lives while, at the same time, living fully in the present. 

It's definitely something to shoot for.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Paradox of US/Chinese Education Reform

Listening to leaders of China's educational reform tonight in DC I was struck by their paradox.  They are a nation and culture valuing quiet and respectful students, organization, respect for elders, self-control, not "standing out" among the crowd, and following the "norms" of society.  Yet, when I spoke about what they were hoping to reform, the Chinese leaders stated, "We want our kids to be more innovative, creative, and spontaneous."  It seemed kind of counter-cultural--which is also a problem in a state controlled communist society.  How does a culture, opening itself up to a wider world, maintain its core values and also demonstrate value for the individual differences among its peoples?  This is the paradox of Chinese education in 2014.  The leaders feel as if their students are "out of balance" due to this lack of creativity. 

Part of the problem is one of government control and fear of rebellion that often comes with allowing people to express themselves fully. I anticipate that China will have to deal with some "reformations" as access to information becomes more and more accessible.  Nevertheless, I like their recognition and attempts to head to nations where individualism is valued--like the United States.  China has no problem learning from others and seeking advice.

On the other hand, one could argue the US could take some advice from the Chinese education system.  Self-control and conforming to the group are key skills we need to learn in the 21st century workplace.  Are we working on that balance in our kids?  We are great and promoting the independent individual, our culture promotes it!  The question we should ask China is, "How do we create a sense of interdependence and unity in our student body to maximize what we learn from one another?"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"If You Leave, I'm Coming With You."--The Greatest Compliment to Any Leader

There have been a few people in my life that I would "run through a brick wall" for.  As I sit back and analyze why I was so influenced by these different leaders I came up with a list as to why I was so under their spell.  Here's what I came up with:

  • They were believable in all they did
  • They were trustworthy
  • They were likeable-their personality oozed interest in others
  • Their competence in their field was exemplary
  • They could motivate
  • They made you feel better about yourself when you were around them

The final bullet point is perhaps the most important one.  Great leaders challenge you and they also inspire you to do what you never thought they could.  They have the uncanny ability to improve performance and energy by their skillful personalities.  And lastly, you surely don't want to ever let these folks down!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Madness, Upsets, And Why We Play the Games

Viewing the many games of the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament is a tradition this time of year.  I prefer the first two rounds because there are more so called "upsets" and the teams have less preparation time in between games.  Every year,  there are around 10-12 "upsets" the first round in which the lower seeded team defeats the higher seeded team.  Of course, if these upsets occur in bulk each and every year, then there has to be the realization that these are not "upsets" at all.  As a matter of fact, they are the "norm."  If they are the norm, then they in fact are not "upsets" at all..,but, that's why we play the games!

I wonder how many times in varying instances in our own lives we fail to "even play the game."  We think that we are like the lower seeded team and we never even engage in the battle.  The lower seeds inspire us because they are not supposed to succeed.., and they do.  What if we took the mindset from the start that we are not the lower seed?  Would that change how we viewed our challenges?  Stephen F. Austin, North Dakota State, Mercer, and Dayton are witnesses that the "upset" can only happen when you confront the battle and attack the image of being inferior. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It's Out There

As I attend the National Association of Secondary School Principal's Conference in a very cold Dallas, Texas this week, I am reminded at every session that principals seem to have the same struggles all over the world.  I won't name all the struggles because that's not important.  Nevertheless, as I sit through each session, take meticulous notes, review those notes each night, and speak firsthand with the leaders who inspired those notes, I am reminded that the information to improve and grow is out there--
if we want it.  Yes, It's out there and readily available.'s free.  It may take a bold step to ask someone you may have never met, but you will be surprised when you find they are more than willing to help.  I am happily reminded as I discuss my challenges with other school leaders this weekend that we are own best resource.  The books are out there, so are the fees for engaging guest speakers.  However, there is no replacement for the individual relationship one develops with other leaders.  That forum is key to improving the lives and opportunities of our students and staffs.  Whatever way we wish to grow, there is someone out there that has done it and would love to share his/her story and save you some time and struggles as you go through it.  It's been done, and it's out there--we have to be enterprising and bold enough to seek it out.

Monday, December 23, 2013

O Holy Night!

The pulse of our life seem to change as the day draws near.  We prepare with material goods, food, organizing gifts, running to the stores, and hoping we did not forget anything or anyone.  There seems to be an underlying pressure we put on ourselves which is very anti-Christmas.  "How did the season get to this?"  Well, it's time to refocus on the message.  That message, to this writer, is a simple one--that the normal interaction between folks is love (anything else is against life).  And that there is a great source of power and inspiration available to all of us--rich and poor, old and young, that highlights the glory in the most common aspects of our lives. 

For millions, his birth marks the turning point in human history.  It marks a moment where new meaning is given to the commonplace.  The King of kings was born in a stable surrounded by livestock because there was "no room at the inn."  The Light of the world came to ignite that same light in each one of us.  How lovely our lives become when we allow the light to guide our path.  Stresses are no longer stressful, anger dissipates, judgement falls, and happiness becomes clearer. Born in a backwater hilltown, our savior continues to light the way!