Friday, August 5, 2022

11 Ways to Increase Hope and Inspiration

When I think about the times in my life I've grown the most or taken next steps or had breakthrough experiences, they almost always happened because hope or inspiration showed up in my life in a profound way. 

Usually, that hope or inspiration was connected to the actions of someone else. Someone lifted me up, inspired me, or provided me with the spark I needed at that time. That's what leaders do. They help you take that next step. They help you find the hope or inspiration to believe something greater is possible.

So I wanted to share a few thoughts on ways to inspire others, some ways to offer hope. If it seems like you've experienced more despair and hopelessness recently, you're not alone. I think that's a common experience for educators right now.

In fact, as I think through this list, I realize how my leadership has fallen short in practicing these behaviors. It's easy to focus on the negative and forget what we can do to meet needs and lift up others. We need to be mindful of how we can help each other and take our important next steps.

11 Ways to Increase Hope and Inspiration

1. Be authentic.

Share your failures and admit your mistakes. Be humble. Be honest about your struggles. As John Maxwell says, "When we share our successes, that may be impressive. But when we share our failures, that's inspiring." Your resilience in the face of setbacks is inspiring to others.

2. Show someone their strengths.

The educators who inspired me the most believed in me the most. They were encouraging to me. They showed me something in myself I didn't see in myself until they came into my life. When someone believes in you, that inspires you and gives you hope.

4. Take productive risks.

No one was ever inspired by someone who was playing it safe or just trying to protect their own comfort. It's inspiring when someone takes a leap, when they just go for it, when they take bold action. You have to be a risk taker to be a difference maker.
"To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try." Rosa Parks

5. Demonstrate passion and commitment.

Passion and commitment are evidence of how much you care. When you have strong values and work to protect and defend those values, that inspires. It shows you have a vision and want to create and build something that is worthwhile and important. Your passion is contagious.

6. Grow yourself.

Before you can inspire others to grow, you have to be willing to grow yourself. Be disciplined. Learn something every day. And share your learning with others. Your example will inspire.

7. Stand for something good and selfless.

People are inspired by something bigger than themselves. They want to do something that matters, that makes a difference, that gives their life meaning and significance. When you stand for something noble and upright, others will be inspired to do the same.

8. Listen to understand.

People are inspired and have hope when they feel seen and understood. When people know that you care about their perspective and will listen to their ideas, they will be more open and optimistic about other people's ideas. 

9. Stay calm in the face of adversity.

Inspiring leaders know things are almost never as bad as they seem. And they also know in just about every crisis there are also great opportunities. You'll help others the most when you remain steadfast and unshakable in the midst of a storm.

10. Validate emotions.

I've just learned this in the last few years. Emotions are so important. When we validate someone's experience, that is powerful. It says to them that you care about them. It's tough to have inspiration or hope if you don't feel psychologically safe, if you feel like your feelings don't matter.

11. Be grateful.

Gratitude inspires. Cicero famously observed, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others." If we want more hope and want to share more hope with others, there may be no better way than with gratitude. Never stop seeing the little miracles all around you. 

What inspires you and gives you hope? How could you take these ideas deeper? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Share Your Learning with Others

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What does it mean to share your learning with others? 

I've noticed that some educators are very good at sharing their beliefs. In other words, they share their philosophy. They might share what they believe about grading, or classroom management, or homework to name a few. And perhaps there can be some benefit to these discussions. But the benefit is limited because beliefs are sometimes entrenched and static. They don't lead to any kind of action or change. These conversations seem to be common in some education circles.

I've also noticed that some educators are very good at sharing their preferences. In other words, they share what they like or don't like. I don't like using technology. I like direct instruction. I don't like to see a cell phone in my classroom. I like to work with certain types of students. It's their preferences, and we all have them. Sometimes people share their preferences in the form of a complaint, and that really doesn't inspire anyone.

Sometimes educators share their methods or their strategies with others. This type of sharing can be really helpful when they have developed skills that are highly effective and can be replicated or implemented by others. I've noticed that some educators are reluctant to learn from what works for someone else. They seem to want to do things their way, even if it isn't the best way.

But the best type of sharing I've observed is when educators share their learning with others. When you share your learning, you are creating a powerful dynamic. You're saying, I used to think this, but now I think this. You might share your beliefs or preferences or methods, but you share how they've updated based on your current learning.

You're setting an example that you're a learner, that your practice is not static or entrenched. You're helping to create an environment in your school that is open to learning and growth. You don't come across as an expert or know-it-all when you share your learning. You're showing humility that you're willing to change. And that's leadership.

Keep learning. Keep sharing. Keep leading.

How do people respond when you share something you're learning? Is your school open to growth and change? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Good Intentions vs. Being Intentional

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The most effective and the least effective people in any profession have many of the same intentions. Most everyone has good intentions. They want to be successful in their work. They want to make contributions. They want to perform to the best of their ability.

And the same is true for educators as well. Educators want to make a difference for kids. Most every educator wants to make a greater impact, unless they've lost their way somehow.

But what ultimately makes the difference is not our intentions. It's our actions. It's having an indomitable will. It's preparing for success and then putting into practice our plan of action. It's developing the skills and habits needed to be great.

This time of year I'm always thinking ahead to the new school year and what I want to accomplish and where I need to improve. How can I drive better results and outcomes? How can I be a better leader?

My intentions are similar each year. I want stronger relationships. I want increased engagement. I want learning to be at the highest level possible. I want to inspire others to expand their capacity and be their best. I want to be the most supportive and encouraging principal possible.

But in spite of my good intentions, very little will change unless I am very intentional. 

To be intentional means to have specific actions to carry out your intentions. 

To be intentional means you have goals, plans, and steps forward.

To be intentional means you develop your habits to get the most out of your time and energy.

To be intentional means that you don't just hope to create change, but you impose your will to create change.

To be intentional means you implement design thinking to solve problems and develop solutions. You think strategically.

I want to caution here that I'm not suggesting that anyone needs to work harder this coming school year. I'm assuming you work extremely hard already and take great pride in how hard you work. This last year educators were pressed in on all sides. You can't work any harder!

However, I've noticed that even though I work hard every day, my results are not the same every day. Some days I seem to get more done. I'm more productive. I touch more lives positively. And I believe those are the days I'm most intentional. I keep first things first. I own my time instead of letting my time own me.

On those best days, I bring my "A-game." I want to bring my "A-game" every day! I want to be more intentional every day.

As you think about the upcoming school year, don't plan to work harder, plan to work smarter.

Move beyond having good intentions to BEING more intentional.

What are some ways you want to be more intentional this upcoming school year? How will you make sure that happens? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.