The Buildership Success Secrets


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 213.

Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast...

Hey builders real quick before we get started, did you know that we had a YouTube channel? So if you ever want to see the video version of this podcast plus get access to all kinds of other videos, shorts and training all for free, just look us up on YouTube where at mine steps on YouTube, and I would love to see you over there. Okay, now on with the show. You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 213.

How do builders like us make a dramatic difference in the lives of our students? In spite of all the obstacles we face? How do you keep your vision for your school from being held hostage by resistant teachers, uncooperative parents, ridiculous district policies or lack of time, money or resources. If you're facing those challenges right now, here's where you'll find the answers strategies, and actionable tips you need to overcome any obstacle you face. You don't have to wait to make a difference in the lives of the people you serve. You can turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Let's get started.

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast I'm so excited because today we are kicking off our summer of Success Series over the course of the summer, maybe not every week. But over the course of the summer, we're going to be doing a series talking about what does success look like for a builder. And it's a little different than the way that districts typically define success. So over the summer, we're going to be really breaking down what does success look like? It's, it's bigger than you can imagine. And we're also going to be showing you what you can do what are some of the success secrets of builders that you can use as you're planning for the upcoming school year to make this school year, your best school year ever?

Now I know that every summer we kind of we start out this summer like okay, we're not going to repeat the mistakes of last year, this is really going to be our best school year ever. And we start out with that energy and quickly life happens and we lose that energy. And by October we're like oh my goodness, here we go. We're just repeating another school year. And I don't want that to happen to you this year. So this year, we thought we would do a series of success secrets, talking about what are some of the things that you could be doing now over the summer, to set yourself up for an incredible I mean, record breaking school year, this coming school year. So we're gonna start this series by talking about what does success mean to a builder because a lot of times we use the word success is thrown around a lot. But success means different things to different people. And most of the time, when people who have a boss mindset or leadership mindset, when they use the term success, they're talking about tiny little incremental gains. And when you use the term success as a builder, we're talking about 100% of your students achieve your vision, mission and core values for your school. So this Success Series is really about how do we get there. And the first thing we need to do is we need to define what success means. And here's why. I don't know if this has ever happened to you. But have you ever hit a goal or reached a benchmark, you know, something somebody else told you to do? Somebody said you should, you know, increase performance by 5%. And you do better than that, you increase it by 7.2%.

And you hit that goal, and everybody's so excited. And you're happy to because you hit the goal and avoided you know, failing in the eyes of your district. But when you go home that night, that doesn't feel the success doesn't feel as good as you thought it would feel it has ever happened to you. Where instead of feeling elated and satisfied, you just feel exhausted, and a little disappointed. You know, you worked hard to achieve this goal. And now that you have this goal, you've got you've you've met this goal. You feel a letdown. And there's a reason for that. And so we're going to talk about that today about why you feel that way, and how you can avoid feeling that way ever again. And it starts with understanding what success looks like. Here's the problem. As long as you define success, by the measures that your district is calling success, which uses the leadership paradigm or by somebody else's metrics, then you will constantly be trapped in chasing their goals and ignoring your own goals. And so we've got to find a way to define success for ourselves. One of the

The thing about being a builder is that you're different, you think differently than other people think other people are satisfied with incremental gains. But as a builder, you're not satisfied until you get to 100%. And so their metrics of what success look like, are too small for your big vision. So let's talk about what success looks like for a builder. And it's a little different, because as a builder, it's not just hitting numbers. It's not just about test scores, you want more for your students in that you want you you want them to succeed and be successful and be on grade level and, you know, pass the test and all of those things. But you also want them to be good people, you also want them to enjoy learning, you also want them to develop curiosity and to be able to govern themselves, and to be good people and good citizens, and all of these other things that builders tell me you want. And oftentimes, the only metric that matters is a test score.

So as a builder, we have to come up with our own metrics, we have to think about, holistically what success looks like for students, for teachers and for school. So I'm gonna give you a framework. And we're gonna go through this framework today. And it's going to help you if you really think through this framework, by the time you're done, you will have a very clear definition of what success looks like for your school. And that clarity by having that that clear picture of what success looks like, it is incredibly powerful in terms of helping you think about what things are important for you to be working on this summer, and what things are not so important to be working on this summer, what messaging and communications you're going to be sending out to your staff and your families and your students. And what you're not going to say where you need to be pushing back on your district. And where you need to just not fight that battle. This clarity is going to help you think through your summer. So this is really powerful. What I want you to do is you may want to grab a pen and a piece of paper, because we're going to do some really good a class today talking about success. Okay, so the first thing that builders do when they're defining their success is they have multi-dimensional Success. Success isn't just a test score. Success isn't just, you know, movement on a scale, success is multi dimensional. And success really encompasses four things. We call them the four C's. And if you see the builder Ship Model, you'll see these four C's in the center of the builder ship model is your school success story. But right outside of that, how do you get there, these are the four things you need. 

So the four things the four C's are clarity, cohesion, competence, and confidence. 

And so we're going to take them through, and we're going to work through each one of them. So you can see how you can use this to define success for yourself. Okay, so the first one is clarity. In order to achieve success, you have to be clear about what success looks like, what how will you know, when you've gotten there? What is that 100%. And so what builders do to really identify and create and achieve that clarity is builders do two things, the first thing we do is we have a clear vision, mission and core values. 

Once you have that, you know what success looks like in your school, you know what your vision is. And the vision says, here's where we, here's what we're building. So 100% of our kids are going to be at or above grade level, 100% of our kids are going to, you know, graduate enlisted, enrolled and employed 100% of our kids are going to be eligible for an honors class in ninth grade. You've heard me talk about vision in the past. But here's why this is so important for you. Because the vision alone could tell you it defines where you're headed. But it's you need more than a vision because the mission modifies the vision. The mission says not only is this where we want to go, but the mission says this is how we get there. Right. So if you want all of your kids at our boat grade level, I mean, a whole bunch of people want that. But how do you want that look in a way that empowers kids. So some people's mission is really about empowering kids. Other people have mission about opening up opportunities for kids, other people have missions that really are about helping kids become independent thinkers and learners. And so if you hit that 100% goal, but you don't do it in a way that also honors your mission, then it will not feel right to you. If so, so you need that clarity about not just where we're going, but how do we want to get there and then the core values, modify your mission, because the core values create the guardrails around how you're going to get there. So your vision I want them all on grade level your mission. I want them on grade level in a way that also empowers their own individual thinking and make a choice making helping them make a choices, but the core value say the way we're going to do that cannot be

By by devaluing or, or marginalizing families, families have to be a part of it. The core values say, the way we do that, we can't do it in a way that that, that dishonors the opinions of others, we have to hear each other out. So when you create these core values and the vision and the mission, it creates a sense of clarity. So that you know what success looks like, you can define it, but you also have those modifiers around success, so that you're not just chasing numbers anymore. It's bigger than that, it goes deeper than that. And it really gets to the heart of who you are, as a community. And if you don't have that clarity, even if you achieve those test scores, even if you get to 100%, you don't get to 100% in the right way, or you violate your guardrails and your core values as you're pursuing 100%, it will not feel good when you get there. And so that's why the first thing that we do as builders is we work on our vision, our mission and our core values, so that not only can you have that clarity, but your staff has that clarity. And so the journey becomes just as important as the destination. How we get there, it's just as important is as the fact that we do get there. And so when you achieve success, you're guaranteed that it's going to feel good, because you know what success looks like. So that's why you got to have that clarity. The second thing you need is cohesion. Because a lot of times, we feel like we gotta get to success no matter what. And so I hear people say, well, in order to make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs. And so people are pursuing their goals, and they feel like they have to steamroll over their staff in order to get there. Not only is that exhausting, but something inside you dies, even if you feel like they deserve it every time you run over somebody else to achieve your goals. And you don't want to look back one day and see a string of dead bodies that you rolled over to achieve that. tie those test score gains or, or those goals. Sometimes we justified sometimes we say, Yeah, I want to, we have to do it, we have to get we in order to get to the goals, because the kids are so important. We might have to run over a couple of people. And I accept that sacrifice, because the goal is so important. But when you are a builder, you realize that you don't do the task to destroy anybody in order to achieve your goals. You don't have to run over anybody to achieve your goals. Even people who've seen initially resistant you can recruit and help them support you and and do it in a way that honors people and still achieve your goals. And and not only is is that a faster route to your goals, but it's a more satisfying way to get to your goals.

Because at the end of the day, you haven't sacrificed your own moral compass to get there. 

And the other powerful thing about cohesion is that when people are working with you rather than against you, the work goes faster, and it feels better while you're doing it. I mean, think about your options here. There's some people who are so persistent upon getting to success that they end up just battling everybody all the time. But builders have that same persistence towards their goals. But they, they they recruit people, they they get people on their side, then more people are working and so becomes fun. It'd be you'd be you create a movement towards your goals, right. That's why the difference between bosses and leaders and builders, bosses say go leaders say let's call the builders they come people come on their own volition that feels so much better. A lot of people achieve their goals, but they're exhausted. They've made so many enemies. They've hurt so many people along the way, that when they finally reach their goals, they're all alone. And they're bitter. And they're sad. When builders reach their goals, everybody celebrates because we did it together. We didn't run over anybody. People are happy for us, because they were part of the process. So you need cohesion. 

The third thing that you need in order to achieve your goals is you need competence, right? If you are achieving your goals, but you don't feel like you are getting better as you are achieving those goals, then it feels like you accidentally got there. So I don't know if you've ever felt this way. I used to feel this way as a student and I've talked to some people and a lot of people feel this way too and a lot of your students feel this way now. Like every time I got an A. I never could relax with that a because I was always worried if I was going to be able to repeat it next time. I didn't. I didn't ever feel I always felt like the AWA accidental like that at any moment, my success can be taken away from me. And even as an early administrator, when I would have a great conversation with the teacher, I felt good for a moment. But then I started worrying. I started well, okay, wait till that teacher goes out, and what if they talked to somebody else? And what if it lasts, or if it doesn't last, and a lot of times didn't, because I didn't have those builder ship tools at the very beginning. And so a lot of times, when, when we achieve success, our success feels accidental, we, we don't really understand why our how we got there. But when you build competence, you know exactly how you got there, you you and you know how to repeat the process and get there again, I mean, think about that, think about, you know, not having to worry, every time something good happens. 

I know principals right now, when they get their test scores, the first thing they feel as like, so excited, yay, you know, we've seen gains. And then the next thing they do is they start panicking. Because now that they've had been achieved these gains, now they have to keep them. And now they have to repeat that success again next year. And they don't know if they can do it again. But when you achieve success, like a builder, it's not just about the goal, it's about building the ability to repeat your success over and over and over again. And the more competent you get, the more confident you get, which is the last C confidence, success. If you do it like a builder, you will feel confident, not arrogant, confident, you'll feel confident that your team can take things on even when you're not there, you'll feel confident that if you were to leave that school tomorrow and return to that school, five years later, the work that you've done would still be carrying on, you will have left a legacy and other people will walk into that system that you created and they'll be able to operate it even without you, you'll have the confidence in yourself that that you know now what success means and how to achieve it. 

And you'll know that you can achieve it no matter what.

Hey, it's Robyn here real quick, I just want to interrupt this episode for just a second. Because if you are enjoying what you're hearing, then would you mind sharing this episode with somebody else. So all you need to do is just go to your phone, if you're listening to it on your phone, or your podcast player, and then click the three dots next to this episode. And I'll give you the option to share the episode that if you do that three things are going to happen first, the person that you shared with is going to think you're a hero, especially if they're struggling with what we're talking about right now. They're gonna love you. Secondly, you're going to feel good, because you're going to get the word out about builder ship, and start building this builder ship nation. And third, you will get my eternal gratitude because I really want to get this out to the world. And you'd be helping me out, you'd be doing me a huge favor. So please share this episode with someone right now who's who's dealing with this same issue, someone you think would really benefit. And now back to the show.

Now, if you put it all together, clarity, so you know clearly what success looks like, you know, when you've gotten there, and cohesion, so you're not doing it alone, you've got other people supporting you and, and doing the work with you. But that dragging you down, you're not dragging them to the goal, everybody's pulling their own weight, you've got competence where everybody is getting better, you're getting better your school is getting better. So the success isn't accidental. It's repeatable, because you've built the skills to continually have success over and over and over again, and confidence. So you're not worried that it's an anomaly. You know, that you can, you can achieve the goal that you can stay where you are and continue to move forward, you're not going to lose ground, you trust your team, they trust you. And so then the success feels good, then the success feels, feels like you've earned it, then the success feel satisfying. You're not exhausted, you're exhilarated, you're excited, you're looking for the next thing. So when we do this summer of Success Series, that's what we're talking about. That's what we're talking about. We're not talking about just hitting a test score or achieving a benchmark, or or hitting a goal. When we're talking about success. We're talking about clearly understanding what success means to you.

And let me stop here and talk about that because a lot of us are chasing goals that are not our goals. A lot of times when I'm working with folks, and they first come in to build a ship University, the first thing we do this we work on our vision. And for many people, it takes a long time for them to let go of how we've been trained, which is to create a vision that sounds good doesn't truly motivate us. And to give ourselves permission to really think about what does success look like, for us.

And it's different for some people. It's not test scores. For some people, it is test scores, but not in the way that has been defined by the district. And so when you can sit down and stop chasing other people's goals, which keeps you on this constant hamster wheel, and then start really pursuing your goals, the goals that make sense for your students, your staff, your school, it changes things. But then your work starts to matter. You're not, you know, you're not the slave of somebody else's conception of success. Your success is clear for your students, you know, it's mean something to you to your school. So, while we're doing this summer Success Series, before you even go and start diving into the content over the summer, my challenge to you is to first define what success looks like for you.

Get that clarity. Think about your vision, your mission and your core values. Think about like not only where you want to get what the what that goal is for your school, that 100% goal, but think about Alright, I want to get to 100%. But how do I want to get there? That's what your mission does. And and think about? What are the guardrails? What are the lines I don't want to cross to get there? Those are the core values. Get clear about that. Because the more clear you are, the more engaged you become, the more passionate you become about your work, the more the more clarity you get around what's important and what's not important. What should you be doing this summer? And when should you leave alone? So that's the first thing, okay.

Second thing is that after you've gotten that clarity, think about cohesion.

I want you to imagine a school year where instead of fighting and dragging and teeth pooling, you actually had a school year where everybody was on the same page where everybody was aligned. What does that alignment look like? Because here's what I know, a lot of people say they want alignment, but they've never really thought about what that looks like, other than I just am tired of fighting with people. But I want you to copy on that and think about what would it look like if everybody were working together towards this goal? What work or would they be focused on? And what what what stuff? Wouldn't they be doing? And paint that picture? Write it out? Sit down and think about it? If everybody's aligned? Would it mean that that that teachers were collaborating around the lessons and aligning their lessons to the standards? If everybody's aligned? Would it mean that teams are working together to create extra curricular non not necessarily academic experiences for kids that fostered their their the student's independent thinking and growth? If everybody were aligned? Would it mean that we spent some time together socially, once a month, blowing off steam and getting to know each other outside of school? What does that alignment look like for you? And most people have never thought about that. But you need to sit down and say, Alright, this is where we want to go. That's the clarity piece. And then the the the cohesion piece says, what does that look like for my staff? Paint that picture get vivid about that picture. Because if you don't understand what cohesion looks like for your staff, and what kind of cohesion it's going to take to get there, then you waste a lot of time. Let me give you an example.

Every year we come back and we do you know some splashy, big thing for staff, I we see something on Pinterest, or somebody posted something in the Facebook group. So we pick a theme like this year, we're going to pick a theme of everybody's going to be a builder, right? So we go to the party store and we get those orange construction hats and and we get some the big shoot the construction hats aren't orange, they're yellow. Okay, that's not mature enough to get the yellow construction as but you get the orange vest, right. And the first day back, you give everybody construction hat you give everybody a vest. You talk about being a builder, you applaud them when they come in. You give them a toolbox with all of their supplies, you have a big breakfast, and that sounds really great. But does it create cohesion?

Probably not.

So then, two days later, you're still in pre service week, and people start complaining and you're like wait a minute, I just bought you the construction hat and the vest and a toolbox and I just fed you breakfast and I just gave you gift cards for Uber Eats for lunch. I just, I just canceled a meeting. So you'd have more time in your classroom. Why are you complaining? Well, the reason they're complaining is because all those things are nice. But none of those things, were deliberately creating cohesion.

So if you don't think about what does cohesion look like for us? What is it that I want, then it's really hard to design a reentry plan for your staff that will foster that cohesion. And you get frustrated, because you spent a lot of time and energy doing stuff. That's cute. That sounds nice, doesn't mean you don't do the little orange construction hats. But understand that that's not what's creating cohesion. That's the branding on top of the cohesion. So think through what does cohesion look like? What do you need? Where do you need people aligned? And where does it not matter? Be really serious about that. A lot of people are like, well, I want all my staff to get along. Okay, is that what's going to help you get to your goals? And if so, then how are you going to foster that? If that's not what's gonna help you get to your goals? Then don't do the trust falls? You know, a lot of people like, Oh, I'm gonna do Myers Briggs. I look, I have no quarrel with Myers Briggs. But is that going to give you the cohesion you want and need in order to achieve your vision, mission and core values? And if not, maybe you skip that this year? Maybe you focus on the things that really matter.

Alright, so clarity than the cohesion, and then the competence in order to achieve your success. 

What needs to happen for you? How do you need to get better? What are your goals for your own growth this year? And this is something we don't often talk about as builders. So I want you to be thinking of I mean, as leaders, we talk about it all the time as builders. But I want you to think about what is it going to take for you to get there? What is the competence? A lot of times when we think about competence, we think about ways that our team needs to improve. But I'm going to take a hard look at yourself right now. And I want you to ask yourself, what do I need to grow? If if I'm going to achieve the success? What what has what competence do I need to build? One of the ways I like to think about it is I like to think about, I like to imagine the school that I want to or the organization that I want, you know, get to that clarity, if we achieve that vision, mission and core values, what would that organization look like? And then I asked myself, in order to sustain that organization, what does the builder in charge of that organization do? And then I compare it to myself, do I do those things now? 

Like one of the areas that I'm working on right now, is that I am so I'm really lacks as a as a as a as a person who's like, when I'm when I'm when I'm supporting other people when I'm when I'm working with other people I'm very lacks. So, you know, I don't hold meeting times, you know, the we're supposed to start at 12. We started 1205 1210 1215, then, you know, well, that's just wait, you're just not. I'm not on top of that. But the message that I send when I do that, when I think about the organization I want and that organization, do meetings start on time? Yeah. Because we have work to do, and people need to get back to their jobs. Do we have kind of a lacks attitude towards getting stuff done and meeting deadlines? No, because those deadlines are important to help us continually make progress towards our goals. So when I think about my own competence, the thing that I think about is, what kind of builder do I need to be to be at the helm of the organization that I'm trying to build? Like, who does that person look like? And then I look at myself and compare myself to that person. And that tells me the areas of competence that I need to build in order to be ready for the thing I'm building. And I want to challenge you to do the same thing. Think about the school that you're building. Think about what happens when you get to 100% success. Think about what happens when you achieve your vision, mission and core values. And you've got your entire staff on board, what is that person doing? And then what areas of competency you need to build now, so that you'll be that person when you achieve that goal. And then the last thing is confidence. I want you to think vulnerably about the areas where you don't feel so confident. This one's hard, right? Because I'll admit something to you.

There are some things over the last couple of months that as I'm building, build a ship University, and I've been trying to build my own competence and working with mentors and you know, doing a lot of reflection that I realize that there are some areas I don't feel confident. And so when I bump up against those areas, I retreat. I don't work as hard or as passionately. And because I retreat, I don't see success in those areas, and therefore my confidence drops even more. And it's a self. It's a self fulfilling prophecy that happens. I don't know if that happens to you at all. But anyway, I've really had to take a good hard look at some areas where I don't feel confident. And one of the things I'm going to do is over the summer, we're going to talk about confidence a little bit more like what you need to do. But one of the things I'm realizing is that, as a builder, one of the things that you're going to have to protect the most, is your confidence. And when you have areas where you lack confidence, those are going to be some of the most vulnerable areas that things are going to hold you back the most in your in your business, or in your school or in your building.

And so we got to have a hard look at ourselves and start to ask ourselves, all right now all I want you to do you don't to fix it, I just want you to ask yourself, Where am I not confident? What is some of the work that I avoid? When do I give up? When do I stop fighting? What parts of my practice? Do I try to hide?

Where Where what things? Do I what work? Do I avoid? What what worked? And do I dislike doing? Where are the areas where I just feel vulnerable? Where are the areas where I defer to other people? Because I don't trust? My own opinion, I don't feel like I know what I'm doing.

Just be aware of them for now. And then this summer, we're going to start to address those areas. So for now, you're asking yourself the question, get clarity.

What does success look like?

Think about cohesion. What does my team look like? How does my team work in that successful? And that successful picture that I'm I'm picturing. Think about who you have to become in order to be at the helm of that organization that you're building? And assess your areas of competence and incompetence right now? And then assess your confidence. Where do I struggle, where where do I not feel so confident, because that's going to play out in the work. And then after you have that assessment, here's what you have, you not only have a picture of what success looks like for you, so you can stop being the slave to other people's ideas of success. But you also have an understanding of your current landscape, and where you are with regard to that picture of success. And it's that that area in the middle that gap that we're going to try to bridge this summer and the summer Success Series. So that's your homework this week. And then as we start rolling out some of these success secrets, a podcast will start to take the that landscape that you just created today will start to fill in the pieces so that when you walk into next school year, you're doing so with a clarity about what success looks like and about what that work is going to take to get there with the cohesion because you've gotten your whole staff on board and you know what it takes to get your staff on board and the competence because you've worked on yourself and built your own skills, and the confidence that you will achieve your goals 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, the new need to join Buildership University. Just go to and get started writing your school success story today.

Hey, real quick before you go, if you enjoyed today's episode and you know someone who would really benefit from what you heard here today, maybe they're struggling with a thing that we talked about in today's episode, would you take a moment and share this episode with them? 

You see, not only will it help us get the word about builder ship out to more people, but you're going to look like a rockstar because you're going to give people something they can really use to help them get unstuck and be better at building their schools. Plus, it would mean the world to me. Thanks so much, and I'll see you next time.

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