You can’t DIY your way to 100% success


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 204.

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'm going to tell you my adventures in DIY with a bigger lesson for you about why you may be stuck right now why you may be worn out right now. And if I had to give this episode a title, it would be you can't DIY your way to 100% success. Now before I jump into that, I do want to tell you some good news because the doors for our next cohort, a builder ship University are opening this coming Monday. So if you're listening to this in real time, you're listening to this on Wednesday, Monday doors are opening and there'll be open until Friday, very quick. We're just going to open up the doors, let a few more people in bringing the next cohort in and then close the door so that we can focus on supporting our builders. Now, let me tell you why this is such a great time to join builder, ship University, a lot of people are thinking, you know, well, I just got to get through the end of the year. I'm so busy. You know, maybe I'll join this summer. And trust me, you know, anytime you join, be you it's going to be great.

But let me tell you why now is a particularly good time. 

Because if you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off, then when you come into builders ship university, you find calm and peace I can't tell you the number of people who when they come into builder, ship university, they are just like, oh, so stressed out. And then after coming in and going through the process and coming to office hours and getting the support that they need. There's just calm. And so if you're feeling stressed out right now, when you join, build a ship University, we can help you get through the rest of the year. Here's the second and even more important reason why now is such a good time to join. Because we all know next school year is being built right now. Everything you're doing right now is really setting yourself up for next school year, you're building your master schedule, you are hiring folks, you're doing final teacher evaluations, and giving teachers something to focus on for the following year, you are recruiting students. And if you're a private school, this is huge, right? Your student body is being built right now. And so wouldn't it be great if while you were building next year, you had some support, so that you could build things right? So that next year, you're not coming in and saying, Oh, I wish I had done it differently, or Oh, this isn't working for us anymore. Because you as you evolve as a builder, you're going to start to recognize that there's some things that just won't work, things you've always done, that just won't work anymore. 

And so when you join builders ship University, right now, you get a chance to get the support and the mentorship you need, as you're building next year. So you can build it right. And so I just want you to look out for that. And then on Monday, if you're a part of our mailing list, we will send you an email let you know the doors are open. But you can go to builder ship And that's where you're going to sign up again. It's builder ship Okay, let's dive into today's episode. So I'm gonna tell you a story. I got it in my head that I wanted to redo my home office. For years, I have been living with some really ugly yellow paint that was left on the walls by the previous owners. I have always hated it, but I just was too busy to ever do anything about it. I wanted you know this kind of, I don't know I wanted a cool office. I wanted something that felt that would make me feel more productive. 

My office felt like I'd go in, knock out some work and then close the door the end of the day. It didn't feel you know, I don't know Lux and I want it to feel luxurious. I mean, it's kind of silly like that. I get it right. Why do you want your office to feel luxurious right like If you want luxury go home. And that's that was my attitude, right? Like, I'm not here to feel luxurious. I'm here to knock out work. But there is something to be said for having an office or an environment where you feel comfortable where, where that might make you more creative and productive and all the things I need to be. I don't know the answer to it. I just wanted a pretty office. And so I started looking, maybe you all have seen videos of me and my home office where there's a video of me like on Facebook with the dogs. And I'm sitting in front of the couch that I bought from my home office, and behind me are paint swatches and wallpaper swatches. And I finally settled on a wallpaper swatch. So I went I ordered the wallpaper. And then I said, You know what? I'm going to install the wallpaper myself. I'm going to do an accent wall with wallpaper. If I really like it. I'll just keep going. I'll just go around the whole room. How hard could it be right? How many of you have ever thought that you watch you know, one episode of something on HGTV and then you come back to your house? You're like, I can do this myself. So that's what I was doing. I bought the wallpaper. And then one weekend, I said you know what? I'm gonna do it. So I got up Sunday morning. And I prepped the walls ahead of time and sanded things down and filled and patched holes, and I'm ready to go. So I have I'm in my office, I've got my music playing No, I think that's listen to a podcast doesn't matter. Anyway, I start to roll I even bought, I was so excited because I bought a plumb line so that I can hang it from the ceiling. So I could keep the line straight. 

I thought I was ready. 

And how hard could it be I looked at the videos on YouTube, I read the instructions. But then the first roll went up, right? Like I rolled the first row of wallpaper. And in spite of my plumb line and my laser level and all those things, it was slightly off. And I tried to reposition it a couple of times I got it as best as I could. But it was still slightly off. Okay, no problem. It's slight, I go to do the next row of wallpaper. And everything is working great at the top. But then when I started getting to the bottom, the the part that was slightly off on the first you know row, it like the closer you get to the bottom, the more off it became. And so that row was a little bit more off. And you can see what's happening right by the time I get to the end of the wall. I am. It's a mess. I mean, it's not like a completely like I don't have like huge gap. I do have one gap, but it's going to be behind the couch. I'm not worried about it. Right. But you know, it's just there a couple of bubbles, I can't get out. One wall, which should have taken me a couple of hours. Took me several days. It took me three days, not three full days, but three days of giving up nights to work on this wallpaper. And it's still not right now. It's not coming down. All right, I'm gonna live with it. But it's not. Right. That's what happens when you DIY. I mean, we all know that we all have had DIY adventures. I'm not the only one. And we live with it. And we're proud of and we show people Yeah, I put that wallpaper up myself. And they say yes, it looks like it. And you know, but it's Rome. It's wallpaper. And so, you know, at some point, maybe I'll take it down and paint or maybe I'll you know, more importantly, maybe I'll hire somebody to do it right. And had I you know, did it I said I'll save money. But did I really save money because I spent three days working on it. Countless hours, you know positioning and repositioning the wallpaper. 

By the time I bought all the tools to be able to put it up. By the time I was done. I probably spent as much if not more money putting in the wallpaper myself than hiring somebody to do it. And by the way, mine looks so much worse. I remember seeing a meme the other day and this is so me because the mean said why would I pay $12 for restaurant Pad Thai when I can spend $45 buying all the ingredients to make a inferior version of pet Thai at home. And that is often the case when we try to DIY so okay, you are not listening to this podcast because you want to hear about my wallpaper mishaps or my penchant for, you know, trying to make dishes at home that I could go out and buy. So let's let's bring it back to school and to you. How often have you tried to DIY your way to success in schools? And we're trying to do this from the time we were teachers. We were trying to do this as a teacher. What do I do? I don't have a lot of supplies. So what do I do? I get online I figure it out myself. I spent hours making my bulletin boards and design doing activities and going on to Pinterest and going on to, you know, teachers pay teacher's sites and, and trying to create and figure it out for myself, right? Then when I became an administrator, same thing. 

So rather than, you know, buying the book, or going to the workshop or getting the training, I thought, oh, we can't afford it, we don't have the budget, I don't have the time, I'll just figure it out myself. And in most cases, I ended up spending more time and more money, trying to figure it out myself, then had I just gone somewhere to somebody who has already figured it out. And, and, and leverage that resource so that I can move my school forward. It's something I don't know what it is about educators, maybe it's the fact that we all have to do it as teachers. But when we get into the main office, and we are administrators, we bring that DIY mentality with us. And what it ends up being, as we said, we tend to waste a lot of time and a lot of energy, trying to figure it out ourselves trying to do it all ourselves. I see this a lot like sometimes, you know, I don't travel as much as I used to. But I remember when I was on the road a lot, I would be at conferences and and I would do presentations. And I would say okay, here's the presentation, this is in my book. And some people would sit there and the book costs, I don't know $20.29, or something like that. And instead of getting the book that laid everything out, people would sit there during the presentation, take a ton of notes, and then try to re redeliver that material to their teachers themselves. Rather than getting the book and just doing a book study. And having all the resources right there and hearing it from the horse's mouth, they decided we're going to do that ourselves. I can't tell you how many times I've been in schools where the administrator is trying to figure out something about organizations or the best schedule or the best this or that and the other. Like when it's already been figured out. It's already in a book somewhere, if there's a course there's a there's a training you can take, and somebody has already figured it out. I fall into this trap myself, when I first started mine steps, I was trying to make it up myself. I knew nothing about starting a business. But I thought I had to figure it out myself. And one day, I saw a book that somebody had written I was in a library and it somebody written and they'd already figured out what I was trying to figure out. And all I had to do was follow that model. And I didn't have to worry about anymore, I had success. We seem to think that that's cheating. But if there's somebody else has a model out there, and we follow their model, we seem to think that that's cheating, we feel like it's if we were if we're following somebody else's model, we're not quote unquote, leading. 

And so we feel like we have to put our own spin on it. Right? And that's the other thing I do, right? Sometimes, instead of just following the model that's out there, the proven model that's already working, I want to put my own spin on it, right? So I want to I want to take this from this model, and that from that model, and this from that model, and I end up bastardizing the whole model, and they get mad when it doesn't work. Well, I didn't follow the model. So why am I mad that it's not working? And we tend to do that in education. So that's you. First of all, I want to tell you, I get it. I still do that. I mean, I show you. I mean, look, if you look at my wallpaper from afar, great, but I'm sitting at my my desk every day, and I see all the bubbles, and I see all the mistakes. And, and so it's hard for me to enjoy it completely because I see all the places that I messed up. Whereas if I had just had a professional come in and do it, I wouldn't have the I wouldn't have the same issues. I mean, I still might look at and say, Oh, I wish they had done this. But that call them back and tell them and they do and they fix it. You know, that's the way it works. But I'm not agonizing over and I didn't spend three days. And you know, to do it, I don't have a back ache now because I was trying to hold wallpaper up and get it positioned in the right way. You know, it's just, it's just I don't have the headache. Instead, if I had hired somebody to do it, I could have focused on the things that I am already good at the things that only I can do. And I could have been adding value and making meaning in the world. 

And instead I'm sitting in my office fighting with wallpaper.

So I want you to ask yourself, Am I doing that right now? Is there something that I am trying to figure out on my own When, and it's taking a lot of time and a lot of energy, and I am not getting any closer to the solution. And should I be looking for the model looking for a solution? Should I be doing this myself? Or is it has already been done? Has it already been figured out? And then if that's the case, instead of doing it myself, why am I not going out and taking that model that's already been done, and implying that and then moving on with my life. And I have to tell you, in the last two years, I have really tried to lean in to following the model. And I have to tell you, the difference that it's made just in the work that I do personally, but also in helping other people, you know, one of the things that always happens when we bring in a new cohort of into BU, is that we have people who have joined BU, with a DIY mentality, they come in, and they're like, Alright, I'm gonna do this, but I'm gonna do this, and this and this, and this, and this and this, right, they want to take some of the tools from from from builders ship University, add them to the things that they're already doing, and then try to make it work. And you've heard me say this before, build a ship doesn't play well with leadership, or with others. And that's true, you can't be a boss here, a leader here a builder here, your builder all the time. 

The beautiful part about the builder ship model is it's a comprehensive model, you don't have to take this and add it to this and add it to this, you know, like in education, we do that a lot where like, we're going to do RTI combined with di, and then we're going to, you know, sprinkle in a little rigor, and then some culturally responsive teaching. And then we're going to layer on top of that. I can't think of a right now. But you know, what I'm talking about, we're going to the behavior program, and we're going to layer on top of that, you know, in emphasis, we just we keep, there's no one program that does it all. So what we do is we take together a whole bunch of programs, and how that works. But if you're a builder, you don't do that, right builder ship is its own thing. And when you have that, instead of focusing on 25 things, you can just focus on one thing. And instead of trying to figure it out on your own, there's a model, there are templates, there are tools, a just use them, someone in Belgium University was just telling me the other day, it's like he said, I feel almost like I'm cheating. Because, you know, for everything that comes up, I just go in to be you. And there's a tool that helps me solve it. And that's the point. That's why we created it. 

Because once you understand that you don't have to DIY, it's already there. And we do it with you, and you get the support. Right now, there's somebody out here listening to this podcast, and maybe that's you, you're tired, because you're carrying it all, you're doing it all. And you're trying to figure it out. And not only are you tired and frustrated, you may be even feeling a little bit scared. Because you're telling yourself that you have to figure it out. And in fact, everybody else is looking at you to figure it out. Everybody else is expecting you to have all the answers. Maybe you read books all the time looking for answers, and you try to study and you try to get things right. And, and over time, you're so worried about not being wrong, that you don't take the risk used to take and in fact, almost everything feels risky, you're looking for that safe bet because so much is riding on your decision. And then not only that, you're frustrated because you're beating yourself up a little bit you think you're supposed to know, you think by now you should know. And so not only you facing this external pressure from out there, but you're facing this internal push inside of you, you're harder on yourself than anybody else. And you wonder, are you even good at this job? Should you even be in this job? You You may even have a little bit of impostor syndrome, like you're feeling that, you know, you're worried that somebody's going to figure out that you don't really know what you're doing. And so you're constantly just trying to outrun the discovery that you don't know what you're doing. Well, if you're feeling that way, if that is you. First of all, I want you to know you're not alone. I have often felt that way. The reason I can describe it is because I have felt it. I spent a lot of my career feeling that way on telephone bill leadership. But secondly, I want you to know that it doesn't have to be that way. There is another option. What For the reasons why we built build a ship University, the way that we built it is because we wanted to create that other option. We wanted to create a place where you could come. And you could be transparent. And you could say, I don't have all the answers. And we can help you figure that out. So that when you go back in front of your staff, you have the answers, but you didn't have to figure it out on your own you have, you have this secret weapon, this team behind you of people who help you figure it out. So that when you go out, you can go out confidently, and you can feel sure about your choices. 

Because you had a team of people behind you, who helped you figure it out. 

Alright, so here's the thing, stop trying to do it by yourself. You can't, you need a team you need, you need a secret weapon you need, you need a model. And there's nothing wrong with that you're not cheating. This is how you grow. You know, one of the things that I've realized is that if I tried to create everything from scratch, I waste all my creativity, reinventing the wheel. The moment that I started relying on existing models, it sparked my creativity, because then I could use my creativity to fill in the gaps. What's missing from this model, I wasn't reinventing a model that's already out there, right? Nobody cares. Instead, I was leveraging the models so that I could, instead of wasting my energy, creating, recreating that model, I could use my creativity and my energy to build on top of that model. And that's what being a builder is. So you want to give you permission, if you don't feel like you have it. To go out there and leverage existing models, you don't have to figure this out on your own, I want you to, to give yourself permission to rely on the experts, I want, I want you to give yourself permission to enter instead of creating things for yourself, you know, by yourself, that you are instead building on the shoulders of what alright of the people who have gone before you. And you're taking the wisdom from them, and you're using that as your foundation. When you do that, first of all, you don't feel as stressed, you don't feel the same level of pressure, because you're not doing it by yourself. 

Now, if you join B you, you would be doing it with us. But even if you don't join me, you, when you build on the work of other people, and you rely on their models, then you have you're not doing this by yourself, you're doing this alongside whoever has gone before you alongside whoever in created that model. You're not out here figuring it out and wondering if you're going to be wrong, the models already been proven, you can rely on that. And that brings me to the second benefit, which is that you have such confidence you, you can walk confidently into your future and to your work and stand in front of people because you didn't make this up last night, on your own, you are relying on a model that has already been proven. And that works. And then the third benefit is that you unleash your creativity. Because you're not spending your time recreating something that already exists, and probably is already better than what you would build. Instead, you're taking what somebody else is built as a starting point, that model that that framework is a starting point. And then you are iterating on that. And that's what true creativity is. If you don't do it, well you continue to struggle you, you continue to feel isolated, you you get burned out, you be you continue to doubt yourself. And so I want to challenge you this week, to take a look around at the stuff you're doing and ask yourself, has this already been done? Somebody else figured this out already? Is this something I need to be doing? Or is there a model, a framework, a program, a book, something else out there that has already figured it out? And if there is, you need to stop, grab that model, grab that framework, grab that program, and get the support you need. 

So that you can re channel your energy to build things that only you can build.

Because if if you if you continue to DIY, then it's kind of like my wallpaper, right it's there. It's it's up. If you don't look too closely, it looks kind of nice. But If it's not right, there are all kinds of gaps and mistakes and things that now are going to cost so much for me that if I have to tear it down costs in terms of time and wasted money on the wallpaper, but you know, still costs to tear it down to start all over again. And there's a lot of regret in that should have done it this way should have hired somebody. Or you can leverage what already exists, build on it, get where you want to go faster. And use your creativity and things that matter most. Because instead of DIY, you leveraged what already exist, like a builder. Now, again, I want to invite you to join me for BU, you don't want to do it by yourself and be you. Once you come in, we got you. And you become a part of a community of people who have your back, you get access to templates, and, and and frameworks and tools, so that you can immediately get started doing the work. And instead of figuring it out on your own, we've already figured it out. 

So you can just take this and start funding, why do I yeah, you can do it yourself, we'll take you longer, may not be as pristine as you'd like it a lot of frustration, a lot of rework, a lot of waste. Or you can join us and hit the ground running and start making progress. And lay the foundation for the rest of this school year. So that you walk into next school year. So much farther ahead. 

Again, to join us go to build a ship 

And I'll talk to you next week.

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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