Are you doing the right thing for the wrong reasons?


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 202.

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 today, I want to come at you with a little straight talk. It's okay, isn't it? I mean, we're friends, right? We've been talking for a while, is it all right, if I share with you just a little straight talk about some of the wrong reasons we have for doing some of the stuff that we do the things that those reasons that are unintentionally getting in the way of our work, because I think we all need to hear it, I had to have the same conversation with myself earlier this week. And I think it's really important that you hear it, too. So we're going to talk about that today. But before we do two things, first of all, it was so great meeting so many of you at the ASCD conference last week. And so I want to thank you all for coming to my session. It's always great to meet you in person, and I had so much fun. So thank you for being there. And the second thing I want to talk about is the culture course now for the last couple of weeks, I've been telling you about this culture course that I'm going to be shooting, I've been working on it for a while. And it's all about how to build a 100% culture, a culture where everybody in your school is focused on success for every single student, it is critical if you want to achieve your vision. But until now, there hasn't been a whole bunch of talk about how to actually build that. And so I'm developing a new course, where I'm going to take you step by step through the entire process and show you how to deliberately engineer that kind of culture for your school. Now, normally, when I shoot a course for builders ship University, I go into the studio, it's me, it's the crew, it's the camera.

But I have to be honest with you, it is really hard to generate the kind of energy that makes that course lively. 

And, and and it feels, you know, kind of genuine and real and, and so as we were planning for the course, we had this idea, we said, you know, what, what have we opened up the filming to everybody, that way, you get a chance to experience the entire course, absolutely free. And when you show up live, I get a live audience, which helps me bring more energy, it's more fun for me. And so it's a win win situation, you get to experience a course for free, and I get to be able to interact with a live audience. And then just to sweeten the pot, it's not, you know, not only you're gonna see like behind the scenes and all of that. But to sweeten the pot, I'm also going to build in time each day during the filming so that I can answer your questions. And so I can give you some coaching around the things that you might be facing in your culture. And if you can't make it live for every part of every single day, we're also going to do a 24 hour replay to allow you to be able to you know, if you can't, if something happens, and you meant to be there, but you know, buses are coming or parent comes in and needs your attention, you won't miss anything you'll have, you can go home that evening and watch it and make sure that you're keeping up. Now after we film the course we're going to put it inside a bowl dish up University. So if you're being a member, great, you will have access to it. But until we do that, you will have the opportunity to experience the entire course. And what's really cool about this course is that for the first time, I'm really going to break down the exact steps it takes to build a culture. So we talk about culture, we talk about how important it is. But how do you actually create one and, you know, a lot of times we'll also you know, when we have conversations about culture, it's always about toxic cultures. But not all of us have toxic cultures. Maybe there are some preliminary areas of toxicity in our cultures, but a lot of us have what I call good enough cultures where it's not overtly toxic, but there's just something kind of underneath the surface or people are satisfied with good enough and they're not really pushing to serve every single kid. And so how do you take that culture where are, you know, it's not toxic? There's no kind of red flag warning signs, but you feel like people are just satisfied with the status quo? And how do you take that culture and and get everybody on fire for serving every kid? How do you take a top a culture that's turning toxic? And help that culture? Get on on fire? How do you take a culture that's already toxic? And you just feel like there's no hope? How do you take that culture and turn it around? 

So we're going to break that down step by step, and it's going to be good. So the dates for the filming are April 18 19th, and 20th. And if you want to get a link to be able to join us live, you need to go to builder ship Builder ship Okay, third thing, I noticed that two things, I think I said two things earlier, but I do one more thing, Bill to ship University, we're opening up our next cohort sometime in April. And so I know many of you want to join, but you know, your school district and you want the school district and pay for it, and you want to pay for it with a Pio. But you know, it takes a while to get your Pio. So here is your warning builder ship University will be opening up in April. And so if you want to join, but you want to get the PIO process started, then go to builder ship And click on there's a space on that page that tells you that has a whole Pio package and in that Pio package is you know the the link to the W nine and all the things that you need to be able to fill out your Pio so you can start getting the process going. And we also have a justification letter in that Pio process. So if you need some help convincing your supervisor to pay for builders ship University, check that Pio package out because there's a justification letter that you can adapt, and then use to convince your supervisor to pay for builder ship University. So just a heads up, you'll hear more about you know, when we actually open up the new cohort so that you can join, but for those of you who likes to plan ahead, and you know, it's gonna take a while to get your PIO, here's your warning to get started and build a ship. is where you can go and get your Pio package. Alright, I think I've taken care of the housekeeping. 

Now, I want you to lean in close to whatever you're listening to whatever device you listen to come on lean and close. Because you and I need to have a talk. And it has to do with the reasons why we do the work we do. Whether it's building a culture, whether it's adopting 100% vision, whether it's, you know, planning a PD day for teachers, whether it's, you know, creating new programs for students, your y determines the outcome of whatever it is you're going to do. And many of us think we have a noble y, when in reality, we don't. And it's killing us, folks. That underlying ulterior motive is killing us. You know, I hear people say, you know, I want all of my teachers to get on board. And it seems like that's the right thing to do. We want all of our teachers to get on board with our 100% vision. But for a lot of us, it's not the vision that is driving the desire to get people on board. If we're really honest, it's because we want to be seen, as a visionary. We want to be seen as a visionary leader. And so we want people to get on board with our vision, because it fuels the story that we're telling ourselves about the fact that we are a visionary leader, we're the kind of educator that they make movies about that they give awards to. And so our work to get everybody supporting our vision is driven not by the vision itself, but by our desire to be seen as a visionary. We say we want to overcome a toxic culture. But it's not that we want to build a healthy culture focused on kids. The real reason that we want to overcome toxic cultures in many cases, is because people are getting on our nerves because we're sick of having to put out fires and we're sick of people whining. And so we want to build a healthy culture because it makes our lives easier, not necessarily because it serves our teachers and our kids better. We say that we want to get a a better feedback schedule or that we want to create more supports for teachers or you know, we want to do something nice for teachers for for PD or for Teacher Appreciation. And while those sound noble, at the heart of a lot of those desires is, it's our desire to be liked to be respected by our staff. And I get it. You know, I thought I heard someone say the other day that, you know, wanting to help is still wanting from Cleo Wade, she's a poet and author. And I heard her say it the other day, wanting to help, is still wanting.

And at first, I thought, That's stupid, I didn't even make any sense. 

But the more I thought about it, the more I had to check myself, because I want to serve this community. I've built builders ship University, and then the whole builder ship model, because I want to serve this community. But I have to be careful about how I serve you that it stays focused on serving you, rather than on my need to be of service. Do you see the difference? A lot of times, we say that we want to serve our teachers, and serve our kids. But what is really driving that is less a desire to be of use to the people we say we want to serve, and more a desire to be the kind of person who serves. It's more about our identity, and our ego than it is about the people in front of us. And we all deal with it. I struggle with it myself, I have to constantly question my motives when I'm doing this thing. Is this about providing value? Or is it about being valuable? Is this about helping other people? Or is it about being seen as helpful? And just like I battle it, I also see it. In a lot of us. When I'm talking to folks or coaching people, I do some consulting, I don't talk about it much, because I don't do it a lot, you know, but when I'm working with some of my consulting clients, same thing, we there, there always comes a point in the work where we have to make a decision. Do we do what's right for the people we are serving? Or do we hold on to our to our own ego? And is the work that that is is what we're going to do going to serve our ego? Is it? Or is it going to serve the people we are saying that we want to serve. And all of us are going to get to a point where we have to make that choice. And how you handle that choice really determines the impact you can ultimately have. Because of we are building new systems to replace dysfunctional and broken systems, but we're building systems that that are in any way about us and our ego and our needs, then all we've done is taken one set of Dysfunctional Systems and replace them with a separate set of Dysfunctional Systems. And the only difference is that the oldest functional systems did not serve us and the new Dysfunctional Systems do. 

Ouch. I'm talking to myself, I'm stepping on my own toes here. I've had to think about that. I've had to think about that. In building builder ship University, I had this great idea that we would provide mentorship for principals because it was missing, that this builder ship model is better it is it is something that I have been trying to figure out for my entire career, how do we help every kid be successful? And I have to walk a very fine line between providing a service and providing value and being seen as valuable. What's driving it? And sometimes it's really hard because I have a great idea and I get attached to my idea. I think it will work. And then when I roll it out and people react to that I get defensive right I start to get upset because I'm like these people don't appreciate it. I'm doing all this you know you we've all done it right? You you have something that you are convinced is going to serve your staff, and you roll it out and they're like, or worse, they're complaining about it. 

Then our first reaction is they're so ungrateful. I'm doing all of this for them, are you because if you're really doing it for them and it's not serving them, then you need to do something else. But what we do is we say we want to serve other people and we push through an idea that people keep telling us as to and serve me. And we say, well, you're just being ungrateful. You're just being lazy, or you're just, you know, you don't fully understand at first. And they're saying, no, no, we, this really doesn't serve me. And you're saying, You see, I, this is why I don't like doing stuff for you. Because every time I do stuff for you, you don't appreciate it. And we have to take a step back and say, is it that they're being lazy? Is it that they don't appreciate it? Is it that they don't understand it? Or is it that they are telling us the truth, this does not serve me, that's a hard thing. And that's where we come face to face with our true motives. Because wanting to serve, is still wanting, and it becomes more about our want, than their need. You know, I do a lot of focus groups with kids done it. Ever since I was an administrator myself, we build it into a lot of the consulting contracts that we do. So over the years, I've spent a lot of time talking to the adults in the building, and then going to the kids to find out what's really going on in the building. And every single time, the kids tell me a different story. The adults say kids are lazy, and they don't want to do their homework. Kids say they will do their homework, but they need different deadlines, or they will do their homework, but they need a different kind of support. And it's not that they're lazy, or they don't want to do their homeworks. It's a way if their homework, it's the way that the homework is designed. And though if the homework were designed differently, they would find value in it, and they would do it. The adults will tell me that, you know, the biggest challenge we have right now is that kids are really stressed out because of the volume of work, they have ADD, when I talk to the kids, the kids will say it's not the volume of work that's stressing them out. It's a lack of support around the work that's stressing them out. So over and over and over again, whatever I do focus groups, what the adults tell me the problem is versus what the kids say their problem is two different things. 

And what always blows my mind is this, this is a very easy problem to solve. 

All you have to do is talk to the kids. That's it. That's the day, I remember as an administrator, but I would say okay, the teachers say this is what problem, I will look and say this is a problem. And then so let me talk to the kids and find out not just go to the kids, and start talking to the kids and listening to them. And nine times out of 10 what I felt was a problem wasn't really their problem. So before I waste time and energy, trying to solve the problem that I'm projecting on to the kids, why not talk to the kids find out what the real problem is, and then provide them with a solution that actually serves them. That only happens if I'm really interested in service, versus interested in solving, being a problem solver being seen as a problem solver. If I'm really interested in solving the problem, then I need to go to the source. 

Same thing is true for teachers. I can't tell you how many times that when I used to do workshops for teachers, people would hire me because they said teachers had one problem. And then when I got in the room with a teacher, so teachers will say that's not our problem. Nobody's listening to us. Here's our problem. I mean, listen, you flew me all the way across the country. Why don't you just go talk to the teachers? But nobody does. Instead, we are so busy solving problems being pregnant, we're so busy being problem solvers that we don't really ever solve the real problem. So I want you to ask yourself something this week. Am I doing this? Because I really want to serve? Because I really want to solve problems because I really want to make a difference. Or am I doing this because I want to be a problem solver, a difference maker, a servant leader? Is this about the people I'm serving? Or is it about how the people I'm serving or the people who are watching me serve these people how they see me? It's a tough conversation. And it's not easy when you come face to face with the fact that no, I really do want to be seen as valuable. I really want to be seen as a problem solver. And trust me, I continually come face to face with that same issue. I continually have to confront myself with that issue. But here's the magic part. When you do win you allow yourself to be honest with yourself.

And then you, you see it you, once you see it, you can you can take a step back and say, Okay, how would I approach this issue? If it were really about the kids or the teachers? If, if I could take myself completely out of the equation? What would I do? What would I do if I was not the person in charge, but I was giving advice to meet the person in charge? What would a solution look like from their perspective, if you can step out of your own story for just a second, and step into their story, and really listen and pay attention to what they're saying? The paradox is, you actually do solve their problems, people actually do see you as a problem solver, you actually bring value people actually do see you, as someone who adds value. If you could step out of yourself for just a second and see things from their perspective, it changes how they see you, we are working so hard to be seen in a specific way. What if we just let that go, and started listening to people and building and seeing things from their perspective and building and, and, and, and, and actually understanding what their problem is, and building. All the things that you're doing to be seen a certain way won't matter, they will see you that way. And then this is the other part.

It is really, it's an emotional roller coaster. 

When your work is about controlling how other people see you, it is so liberating, when you can just stop trying to control how people see you and really get in and solve problems. And what, what happens is, you get free to really do work that matters, right? If all you're doing all day long is trying to you know, make things comfortable for you, or control how people see you or make people see you in a particular way or feel that way yourself, then your work relies on other people's opinions, other people's actions, when you free yourself from all of that, then your work is just about what's important and interesting and valuable. And and, and you actually do make a difference. And you actually do help change people's lives for the better. And there's nothing more gratifying in the world. When you when you let go of you, and you focus on them, you actually become more of the real you. And you actually get more value from it. So again, lean and close, come on. Because what I'm about to say can make the difference between whether or not the work you do is something that that is world changing. And something that feels really good versus work that you do that, that keeps you on a treadmill of always trying to appease your ego and your ego has an insatiable appetite. What I'm about to say to you makes a difference between whether or not you actually make a difference. Or whether you just feel like you did step outside of yourself. 

Step into somebody else's story. understand their perspective. And then give on selfishly. Because wanting to serve, wanting to add value, it's still wanting it's about your want, and not their need. But when you can, when you can step outside yourself and step into their story, try to see things from their perspective. Let go of your own ego and really just focus and fall in love with the work itself and the people you are serving if you could do just that. Not only can you make a huge difference in the lives of the people you say you want to serve. But you can make a huge difference in your own life, your own satisfaction, your own stress, because you instead of wanting to serve you actually do serve like a builder.

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 and get started writing your school success story today.

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