These 3 Things are Holding You Back


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 193.

Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast...

where we rethink what's possible to transform your school. If you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now, here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And I'm exhausted. And I'll tell you why I'm so exhausted. We just finished up our staff alignment accelerator.

When I say I loved everything on the field, I really meant it. It was such an amazing experience. Now those of you who've been listening to the podcast for a while you know that this year, we decided to do something different. We've always offered free resources to people we've always tried to make so much of our content available for free. Even this podcast is a is a training that we do every single week, absolutely free. But this year, we wanted to go deeper this year, we wanted to help people implement. And so we spent the last six days working together every single evening. Well, Monday through Thursday, we took the weekend off Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then came back on the following Monday to kind of tie everything together, helping people get their staffs aligned helping people get their staffs on the same page. And it was such an incredible experience. So many people showed up and showed out people were having breakthroughs right there. During the training people were taking the tools that they learned during the day during that day's training, and then going back to work the next day and immediately implementing them and seeing immediate results. I can't tell you how good that makes me feel. There was one thing that bothered me though, during the the accelerator. And I want to talk about on today's podcast, because I think it's something that gets in our way.

A lot of times I kept hearing objections, you know, everybody wants to get their staffs on the same page. Everybody is struggling with with staff issues right now, some small, some great, but But you know, dealing with people is always tough. And yep, I saw this common theme. And every time I saw it, it was good. I knew right away that that was going to hold people back, right, because I believe staff alignment is possible and the people inside of build a ship University, they're achieving that staff alignment right now. But if you truly want staff alignment or anything else, if you want to achieve your vision, your mission, your core values, if you don't change your mindset, you're going to get in your own way. And so I thought we spend some time together today talking about three things that are keeping you from being your best self three things that are getting in your way. And I want to help you make some what we call mind steps. You know, these are big, huge shifts in how you think about your work that can help you get out of your own way so that you can achieve what I know and I believe you are capable of achieving in your school. Now before I jump into those three minute steps, I want to talk a little bit about builder ship university because Bill to ship University is now open now enrollment closes this Friday, but you still have time to enroll and build a ship University. And here's why you should last year we opened up build a ship University and we enroll people we were experimenting with kind of a rolling enrollment of cohorts every single month. But we found that there were some people who are getting lost in that process. And so what we've decided to do now is we're going to have fewer intakes this year. 

So we are only opening up builders ship University a few times this year. 

And that gives us time to really focus on the people who come in make sure that everybody finds their way around gets settled start seeing results before we start enrolling the next cohort. So if you miss this enrollment period, you're going to have to wait for a while before you can enroll again. So if you've been putting it off, now's your chance and that chance won't be coming around very often during this year. The second reason that now is such a good time to enroll and build a ship University is because it gives you a chance to make some changes this year so that not only can you have a great into this school year. But you're also putting systems in place that set you up for an incredible next school year, you know, all the decisions that you are making right now. And you also know that really next year is being built right now your next school year is being built. 

Now, your master schedule is being built. And that determines what next year looks like, you're starting to look at staffing that determines what next year looks like, if you could put some systems in place now, not only is going to help you finish this year, strong finish this year, really aligned with your staff finish this year with some momentum going into the summer. But putting those systems in place now helps you really get yourself set up for success next year. So if you have been wanting someone to mentor you through the process of putting systems in place that help you achieve your vision in the next three years, if you aren't sure what your vision is, but you know, you have a passion for your students and and you want some help figuring out what that vision is if if you already kind of know what you want to do, but you feel stuck, because you've been trying all these different programs and, and you've been buying all of these books and all these other things and trying to do it on your own. And you want ready made systems that are there for you so that you don't have to figure this out on your own. If you want a process that seems very logical that helps you make one when after another one after another one. And really helps you feel like you're actually getting something done, then you need to join builder ship University. Now again, enrollment is only open for a few more days. So do not wait. And you can either we have two different payment programs for you. So if you you want to make the full investment upfront using a PIO and have your school invest in build a ship University for you, we have a process for doing that. We also have a process if you'd rather make that investment, a monthly investment. 

Again, build a ship University is a year long commitment. It's really a three year program. But we want you to make at least a year long commitment. Because if you do that, that's when you really see the results. And we have a process for taking you through the year. So think about that as well. But get started right now. Because I am telling you that once you join bill to ship university, you can relax, because we've helped, we figured out the process for you. So you can relax and just follow the process. And I always tell people in be you just trust the process. And when they trust the process, they are just blown away by the results that they achieve. So if you'd like to join builder ship That's where you go sign up right now. Enrollment closes shortly. So make sure you go there right now. All right, let's talk about these mind shifts. So a couple of things happened during the accelerator that that, but it disturbed me. And yet it I've seen it before I've seen this kind of attitude before. And the first one is that we were talking about things that we know works. I'm not in the accelerate, I didn't share anything that was kind of theory, I shared things in the accelerator that I know work because we've seen it work in schools. 

And then I invited other principals who are doing this work right now in their schools to come on and talk about how it worked for them. 

And the first mind kind of mind block that I saw a lot of people have is they just felt like you know what, it's too late for my staff that will never work for my staff, because my staff is so toxic, or my staff is so they complain so much or my school is in such trouble, that that won't work for me. And anytime I hear that I'm split, right? Because one part of me gets it. I mean, there's a healthy set of skepticism that you should have about people who bring programs and you know, products to you and say, Hey, this is gonna work. This is amazing. This is gonna solve all your problems, you should be a little skeptical, right? Because, you know, a lot of people are selling stuff out here these days that it doesn't work, so I get the healthy skepticism. But then take that skepticism and really vet the program. Does this make sense to me? Is this resonating with me? Can I see how this could happen? Does this follow logic does this does this speak to what's happening in my school? And when you the answer is yes, then that should overcome a lot of your skepticism, at least to be able to be open to hearing more. But when you just shut down and say that would never work for me and you just kind of shut down and you block it off. What you're doing is you are cheating yourself out of something that really may serve you. I remember when I first started teaching, there was another teacher who taught the same subject, same grade level as I did, and okay, I'm just gonna admit it. I thought she was a horrible person. She didn't ever remember the kids names you I call them little boy and little girl. And she was abrasive and her personality, she didn't fit what I thought a good teacher should look like. And so I kind of avoided her, you know, she was, she was not well liked on our staff. And so I bought into that whole thing about, you know, just avoiding her, you know, we didn't plan together, she might offer an idea every once in a while, and I immediately dismissed it, because anything coming from her had to be garbage or so I thought, well, one day I was in a computer lab, and I was getting it set up for my class, and there was a paper on a printer. And I, I picked up that paper that a student printed out and I recognize the student's name because I had had that student this semester before. And I looked at that paper, and I read that paper. And that student had made incredible progress from one semester to the next, she was able to get writing out of the student that I could not get. And it was humbling, because all of a sudden the student is writing so well. 

And so I humbled myself, I went to her and I said, you know, I found this paper in here. I asked him last semester, what did you do to get him to write this way. And she looked at me kind of shocked, because she knew people didn't like her, she knew that most people never talked to her, I wanted her advice. And so after she recovered from her shock, she just sat down and talk to me about what she did. A lot of it didn't fit my style, or my philosophy or my approach and teaching writing. But I picked up a couple of things that I incorporated into what I was already doing, that immediately made me a better teacher. And that's the thing about when you when you shut yourself off to other stuff and say that would never work for me. Because when you do that you you miss the point, right? Like not every entire program is going to work for everybody, I get that. But is there something that you could use that can make you better at what you do. And if you're open, you can find that one of the things that I believe has been a true secret to my own trajectory, through life and through through my career, is that once I learned that lesson, I started realizing you can learn something from everybody. And if you walk in with that, that attitude, you can walk out with an insight that makes you better and and you know, a lot of people say, Well, Robert, you're not that original maybe. But what I have done is I've collected a lot of wisdom from a lot of different people. And I put it together in my own unique way. So maybe I didn't invent it. But I would argue that inventing something is a myth to begin with. Because, you know, people don't really invent anything. Creativity is an adjacent exercise. So without getting too full of philosophical people, the reason that people can be creative is they take something that already exists, and they iterate on it, and they make it better. And so you keep iterating and iterating and iterating. But if you closed yourself off to ideas, how can you ever iterate? You know, somebody said, maybe tongue in cheek, but somebody said during the challenge, Jesus can't get us united. 

Now, first of all, that's a little blasphemous. But second of all, it's what it's saying is that there's nothing that can be done about my staff. Now, what if a teacher came to you and said, Jesus couldn't help these children learn? You would be shocked and appalled? Why don't we feel like it's okay to say it ourselves. And some of us may not express it aloud. But our attitude says the same thing. We just don't believe there is any hope. And if you find yourself feeling that way, about any aspect of your school right now, then you have closed yourself off to the possibilities of the opportunities that are there. And one of the things that we do and build a ship universities, we help you find those opportunities, people have come to office hours, and they've said, I just feel hopeless. And sometimes we all feel that way. I felt that way. And that's why I love bill to strip University's office hours. Because when you feel that way you come and then we help you find the hope in a situation that you felt was hopeless, but you got to be open to it. If you're not open to recognizing that there's always an opportunity in your situation, that it can always get better if you don't really believe that then you will always block yourself off to the opportunities that exist right now in your school and trust me, they do. They exist right now in your school. And if you can just be open to that, then you can find those opportunities that's we can help you find those opportunities in your school, but you got to be open. So that's the first my first mind block and the mind step is always be open. There's always an opportunity. There's always something you can learn in every situation, there's always a way out. 

If you can choose to believe that, then you will find a solution that is hidden to other people, right? 

Because nobody's looking for it. But if you can be open to it, you'll see it and other people won't. And that can help you walk into any situation that you face. And find a way through it, find a way to make it better. Find a way to achieve your vision. That's one of the reasons why we talk about impulse ship University, how to find a way to achieve your vision with the people and resources you already have. Because reality is there and then go nowhere, right? But that's, that's what you got. So how do you take what you have and build something incredible. That's what makes a builder. So you can't close yourself off to the opportunities because when you do that, you're not a builder, you're just a sufferer, you're just what you're doing is you're saying nothing can be done, we're just all gonna go down in flames together and what a what a pessimistic way of doing it. 

And again, I understand why some people feel that way. But you gotta you got to talk yourself through that and help yourself realize, Oh, you've got to surround yourself with people who believe it even when you don't, so that they can help you see the opportunities that you may not be able to see, because you've got that block, you've got those blinders on. There's nothing that can be done. All right. The second thing that I saw for a lot of people was you know what this, this would work. I just don't have time to do it right now. And I'm wondering, okay, what are you spending your time on, because if you're spending your time on stuff that that isn't working, then you do have the time, you're just choosing not to use it on something that works. I don't even understand that. People always tell me, I don't have the time. And I'm like, take me through your day, what are you doing during your day, and in most cases, 50 to 80% of the stuff they're doing in their day, they need to stop doing. And if they just replaced the stuff that they were doing with the stuff that they're learning and the accelerator, then they could see a difference. You know, a lot of people talk about they're so busy and I, my question is busy doing what, and in most cases, they're busy spinning their wheels, they're busy wasting time on stuff that isn't going to make a difference in their school, they're busy chasing and checking and correcting rather than empowering people to do the work on their own. They're busy, you know, filling in gaps, when if they just had a system in place, they wouldn't have to continually fill in those gaps. They're busy doing stuff. And they think that if I can just get through this year, if I can just get through this semester, then I'll have time to do the stuff that you are telling us we need to do. And the problem is you won't get through. 

The reason that you're feeling busy and overwhelmed right now is because you're doing a lot of work. And you're getting very little out of it. You're working very hard, and you're not seeing the results. And you'd have to feel like you've worked harder and harder and harder because you're trying to produce something this year. And the answer isn't let me continue to work hard at something that doesn't work until I want Fallout until I complete the year and I'm unsuccessful. And then I'll do the other thing. What if doubt, call me crazy. But what if instead of doing stuff that didn't work, you stopped that. And by the way, when you stop it? First of all, nobody's going to notice because it wasn't working to begin with. Right? So stop that and do something that works. I know. It's crazy. And yet, if you did that, you could see results now and you wouldn't have to work that hard. I find that people who work really, really hard and are overwhelmed. That feeling of overwhelm is because you're you're working really hard and you're still drowning. Right? What if you stopped paddling so hard, and you learned how to float. And people don't believe that it can get easier. People don't believe that they can be more efficient. People don't believe that there's a better way to do things. They they think that it has to come from all of this fruitless labor. That's the lie we've been told. But the mind step here is stop doing stuff that doesn't work. And all of a sudden, you find time, you've now found time that you can use on stuff that does work. 

Now, am I saying builder ship is easy? And you know carefree? 

Well, it is carefree. I will say that. But you do have to put in some work. It's just the right work. I mean, one of the things that we show you how to do very early on is to put some really key systems in place so that those systems do the work for you. You are not doing the work, the systems are doing the work. And it's incredible to me I was working with someone the other week and all these papers and everything Stop, let's take it, let's put it into a system. And once he had a system, two things happen, first of all, he could see what he was trying to do, he could see it all the way mapped out. And he also saw areas of vulnerability that he could shore up right away. So he averted problems that were about to happen before they happen, because he had a system that helped him look ahead and see how things were going to work. So that was the first thing. But here was the second thing. 

Once he had the system in place, he could hand off parts and delegate parts to different team members. And trust that they were going to do a good job, because he had mapped everything out. And the team members were so excited, because instead of trying to read his mind all the time, and figure out what he wanted and disappoint him over and over and over again, they knew exactly what they needed to do to be effective. And what was even better is that once they had the system, they started coming to him and say, well, we need to do this, what about this, we can add this and they actually made his system better. And he walked away with an entire playbook for how to run a school and achieve his vision. Now imagine if you could do the same thing, right? You say you don't have time. But if you could, if you could take a small amount of time a couple of hours, to think through a system and then put that system in place, you're gonna get that couple of hours back almost immediately. But then, as the system gets better and better and works better and better, you're going to find more and more time to do the big picture thinking that you need to do as a builder. So let's stop telling ourselves that we don't have time, you do have time you have 24 hours just like everybody else. And I know you've heard that before. So I'm not minimizing that. But if we could take a look at where you're spending, I should say wasting time, then a lot of times we can find time, we can redeem time. And then once you start putting these systems in place, you create more time. And that's what builders do, right? Reveal builders aren't just kind of redeeming an hour here, 15 minutes there five minutes there, builders redeem that time so that they can create time. And that is mind blowing. Builders are not trying to save time, they are creating more time in their schedule in their day. Because the more you put these systems in place, the more you create time to do the work that only you can do, the more that you become efficient and focused on the right work, the more you create time for you and your teachers to do the work that is the most important. And so the mindset here is you're saying I don't have time, the mind step is create time. And that's what we show you how to do we show you how to create the time to do the work that's most important. All right, here's the third mind block. 

The third mind block is that people feel like, I can't be good at this. So a lot of people feel like well, I don't have the discipline it's gonna take or I'm not good at online work, you know, that's that was for this specifically for the accelerator and why people were kind of, you know, hesitating to go all in. Or they would say, you know, I'm not a charismatic leader, so I can't do this, or I'm not really organized right now or, you know, there's something that you're telling yourself that you are not, and you think that that thing is going to keep you from being a builder? Well, a lot of that is an artifact from the way we were taught about leadership, right? Because leadership, you need leadership qualities and leadership skills. And you know, you have to what is a leader portrait of a leader do you have? Are you a leader and all of these things and we are taught that in order to be a leader to has to be something inherent in you finding even we start sending this message to kids when they're very young, you know, there's a Leader in Me program and it's about finding the leader in you, and that leadership is a set of skills. Well, when you're a builder, it's not about setting setting a whole bunch of builder ship skills, being a builder, it's a mindset. 

Being a builder, it's about thinking differently. And that's something you can develop that that that is that is personality agnostic, that is style agnostic. We have one of the things that I always think is kind of funny is that whenever we do like a panel of builders for like, you know, we do it at builders lab or we did it did it on the accelerator where we bought different builders and people are all saying the same thing, which is that they're all so very different. And yet they are all they all have that same sense of calm and I love that because that is what being a builder is it's not about a leadership profile and leadership characteristics that we notice that we don't have a builder ship profile and build a ship characteristics. There's no like build a ship type As to find out what your builder ship style is, know that it doesn't matter. When you become a builder, it's a mind set that you adopt. And the mindset is simply this, no matter what happens, I can take it and use it to build something that benefits every single child. Once you have that mindset, once you truly approach your work that way, you're a builder. And so stop waiting or putting yourself down or saying, you know, I don't have what it takes, because I'm not disciplined. You know, we wait, I'll be honest, I'm not terribly disciplined either. But that's why I rely so much on systems because systems do the work for me, the systems force a discipline out of me that I don't naturally have they, I shouldn't say force to discipline now, they ignite a discipline within me that I don't naturally have. 

Because the systems create the discipline, I outsource my discipline to buy systems. 

Some people are like, well, you know, I, you know, I've got a lot going on in my life right now. And I don't know that I can be focused, I'm so focused on these other things. Well, you know what, when you create these builders, ship systems, that allows you to be focused on other things, I got a ton of stuff going on too. But once you put these systems in place, you create the space to focus on those other things and not feel guilty about focusing on those other things. Because you know, that your systems are doing the work while you are, are dealing with the stuff that you need to deal with and the ball is not being dropped. People are saying things like, well, you know, I don't know if I have that kind of personality. I'm not touchy feely, this was a lot this came up several times during the accelerator where people were saying, you know, I want to get my staff aligned, but I'm not touchy feely. And, and and I don't you know, I don't have a doily gene, guess what, I don't have a doily gene either. I am not necessarily touchy feely, but you don't have to be to get your staff allied. The nice thing about being a builder is you can be who you are, and still build, right, because it's not about your personality, the leadership creates this cult of personality builder ship says it's not it's not about me or you, it's about that vision, which is bigger than us, your vision is the hero, not you, the vision mission and core values are the personality of the school, not you. So it doesn't matter. If you don't have a magnetic personality, it doesn't matter if you're naturally a jerk, you can still be a builder. And that is to me very freeing, because it means that you don't have to contort yourself into this idea of what a principle should be, or this idea of what a true leader should be. Instead, you can be yourself. 

Now, listen, should you be a jerk? That's I don't know. 

But if you are a jerk, you can still be a builder. If you are naturally timid, you can still be a builder, if you don't have a magnetic personality, you can still be a builder. If you have a very magnetic personality, you can be a builder and build a ship will keep the school from becoming a cult of you, and leave the school in good stead when you move on. You know, I see a lot of schools crumble and fall apart after their charismatic leader leaves. Jim Collins talks about this and in Good to Great about how a lot of good companies stay good and never get great because the the personality of the charismatic leader takes over so much that the company can't move beyond the leader, being a builder protects you from that if you are truly highly charismatic, because you are putting something in place that's bigger than that vision, that mission, the core values, they are the heroes, not you. And that also takes a lot of pressure off of you, right, because when you're the hero, you always have to wear the cape, you can never be vulnerable, you're always scared of making mistakes. When the vision mission and core values of the hero, it creates a level of humility in you, that also takes pressure off of you. Because you don't have to always wear the cape. If you make a mistake, you can own that mistake, learn from it and use that mistake to build more. And so you can walk into the building every day and shed all of this preconceived notions about what you should be or how you need to be or what people need you to be. And just walk in and be yourself and focus on that vision, mission and core values. And people stop looking at you and they start looking at the vision mission and core values. And that is the one of the most freeing feelings in the world. That's what happens when you are a builder. So if you're thinking I don't have what it takes, or I'm not this I'm not that stop. The mind step here is that unlike when you're a leader, and you have to fit this profile of what a leader should be, as the builder, you can be yourself. You right now who you are, you have what it takes to be a builder. All you have to do is believe in your heart and mind and soul that you can build. And then what's really nice is that well you kind of build a ship University we build on who you are right? 

Well, we are builders too. So we you come whoever you are, and we help you build on who you are, when the first things we show you how to do is create that vision and then be able to share that vision in a way that's compelling, right? We have so many different personalities thought we have a lot of sparkling personalities and build a ship universities. And so we say, Let's build on who you are, you've got that sparkling, charismatic personality, let's build on that. Let's use that to convey the vision and get people excited about the vision, Western people are more reserved. And so we say, Let's build on your reserve and help create connection with your staff, and help them to connect with the bigger vision. No matter who you are, we can help you find a way to take the vision that you have for all students, and create something so compelling, that people want to join you in the work. And so if you're feeling like, you know, I don't have enough time, or sometimes time becomes money or whatever is I don't have the resources, I need to do this work. That's a, that's a that's a mind block. And that's keeping you from doing this work. And the mindset there is that, as a builder, you can build whatever it is you need, so that you can do this work. If you're feeling like you know what, my steps too far, this will never work for me, that's a mind block, the mind step is that there's always opportunity, no matter where you are. And if you can't find it yourself, then you need to come be around a group of builders who can help you find it, there's always hope, the mind block is I don't have something in me that that there's something definite, there's a deficit in me that's going to keep me from doing this work and doing it well. And the mind step here is that you can be a builder, just as you are. There's nothing I have to ignite or or create in you, who you are right now is enough to be a builder. 

And so my challenge to you this week is I want you to really examine how you're talking to yourself. 

When you when you when you see a situation and you're like there's no hope that teacher can't be helped, or this situation can't be helped. I want you to ask yourself, am I thinking like a builder? And if the answer's no, then I want you to take the mind step and say, All right, just because I can't see the hope in this situation doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And so you start looking for the hope in the situation, or you talk to a builder who can help you find the hope in the situation, but you don't close yourself off. Because there's always hope there's always a solution. There's always something to learn in every situation. If you feel yourself saying you know what, I'm limited because I don't have the time or the money or the resources or the team or whatever it is only to stop. And then ask yourself, How can I create the resources that I need? Why do I really need this thing? And if I really need it, how do I create it, if you find yourself this week, getting down on yourself, because you made a mistake, or you've had mistakes in the past or you don't believe that you can do something, I want you to stop. And then I want you to take on the builders mindset and say, I have everything I need. Right now with who I am. Maybe there's a skill that I can develop those. But there's nothing inherently wrong with who I am, I have everything I need to be a builder, I don't have to look like anybody else, I don't have to build like anybody else, I can be a builder, just like I am. And when you start to interrogate your mind blocks, and then take those mind steps into something bigger, watch how your world opens up, watch the opportunities that you never saw before start to appear, watch, things change. 

And if you want some help with that, if you if you are ready to take these mind steps in your own work and in your life, that I want to invite you again to join me and build a ship University. That's what we're all about there. And you get personalized attention. And a lot of people join programs, and they're a part of a group. But one of the things that we've been very careful about on builder ship university is that you get individual attention. It's hard to do, but we figured it out. So you're going through the program and you're building these systems. And as you're building these systems, you are getting individual feedback at every step of the way. So what you're not just kind of put into a program and you've got to build it and it looks like everybody else's. We're showing you how to take the systems that are there and the templates that are there and customize it for you your situation your schools, you get individual feedback. We do office hours, so you get individual time and individual coaching during office hours. We have our own online forum where you can get individual feedback and support on on the forum, yes, you are part of the group. But we also recognize you're an individual. And so we make sure that you get individual support. 

If you're experiencing some of these mind blocks, you can get our support to help you make the mind steps you need, so that you can build a school where every child is successful. So again, build airship We're enrolling people right now in the next cohort. And I would love for you to be a part of that cohort, I would love to work with you, personally, to help you build because I believe in you, I believe in what is possible for you and your school. And if you can't see it yet, don't worry, you will, we'll help you see it. So again, build a ship so that you can overcome the things that are holding you back and make these huge mind steps that move you towards being something bigger and better being a builder. And when you do, opportunities open up. Stress goes away, you create the things that you need, you realize that you have so much power within you to make a difference in the lives of kids. Because you're now approaching your work like a builder. 

I'll talk to you next time.

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Inside. You'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to Join builders ship University. Just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today

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