Success Secret #6: Don’t talk about it. Be about it.


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 219

Hey builders. Before we jump in today's episode, I want to make sure you know about the free masterclass, we are hosting on Monday, August 7 2023, and you are welcome to join. So in this masterclass, we are going to be building your back to school staff alignment plan, we have a one page plan that we're going to help you complete and fill out so that you have everything you need in one place to show you how to get your staff all on the same page from the very beginning and keep them on the same page throughout the entire school year. So if you haven't seen it already, make sure that you go to build worship so that you can join, it starts at 7pm. Eastern, and there will be no recording. So you will have to show up live but everybody who does show up live not only do you get the one page, back to school, a lot staff alignment plan, but we have a couple of other surprises that you're gonna get as well some tools that you're really going to find useful as you get ready for your staff. Again, it's builder ship Now onto the show. 

Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host Robyn Jackson. And today we are continuing the summer of Success Series. And this is success secret number six. And it's pretty straightforward. Don't talk about it. Be about it.

You see on today's episode, I want to talk about one of the things that I've seen that I think distinguishes builders more than anything else. And that is that builders implement. Now, if you're anything like me, you consume a lot of information. I mean, you know, people listen to podcast, we tend to be readers, right. I listen to a lot of podcasts, I listen to podcasts every single day, I'm constantly consuming information. I'm always reading a book of some sort, or an article or a blog or watching something on YouTube. I'm constantly consuming information. But here's the challenge is that we can get so caught up in consuming information and learning new things that we think that is a substitute for actually implementing AI. I've been thinking about this a lot, because I heard someone recently define learning in a way that I've never heard it before, which is that learning is simply facing the same circumstances, but choosing a different action.

Now, as an educator, I quarreled with that definition for a long time, because I thought, you know, learning is so much more, you know, noble and profound than that. But at the end of the day, it really is just that simple. It really is a matter of facing the same circumstances, but taking different action that is at its very essence, learning. And so the more that I've been thinking about the more that I've come to embrace that definition, especially when it comes to my own, my own, you know, trajectory, my the the work that I do. And so the reason I want to talk to this about talk to you about this today was because I think that a lot of us are stuck in a loop where we are consuming information, or we're not learning from it. And if that's you, then first of all know that you're not alone, I often struggle with the same thing. But second of all, let's fix it let's let's together figure out how you can do something different this year, how you can actually learn from everything you're consuming. So the first thing that happens is that our training has taught us to fill a toolbox, right? Like you hear that from the time you are a teacher, you need to fill your teacher toolbox. And so you go in and you just gobble up all this information, you grab every resource you can and you just put it in your toolbox in case you need it one day, but the challenge is if you just kind of grab stuff and put it in your toolbox But you've never actually implemented that all you're doing is lugging around all of these things that you've learned. 

And they're just weighing you down. 

And you keep thinking, if I just had one more thing, then that that thing would help me get to where I want to go. But that's, that's not true. It's, it's, you know, we know this, I remember when I first shifted from being a teacher to being an administrator, I was cleaning up my classroom. And I found all these handouts from conferences, all these lesson plans that I had gotten from other teachers, especially at the beginning, like I remember the beginning of being a teacher, I went to a friend of mines classroom who had been a teacher for a few years, and we both taught the same subject. And I said, you know, do you have anything that could help me and she gave me this huge stack of lesson plans and assignments and sample tests. And I didn't use any of it. And then it just sat in the file cabinet for years. And you know, I'm dating myself, right, because nobody uses file cabinets anymore. But if that in my file cabinet for years, and I saw it every year, and I looked through, it doesn't really fit my style, I don't have time to go through it. And it would just sit there and I felt guilty about throwing it away. So I just carried it with me from classroom to classroom for, like, almost 10 years until I finally became an administrator. And then even as an administrator, I didn't want to throw stuff away. So I took boxes of stuff home, because I said, maybe I can hand it off to other teachers, maybe I'll save it for, you know, someday, maybe I'll go back to teach in one day, because I wasn't even sure you know, that I wanted to be an administrator, because I loved teaching so much. And so, you know, just save this stuff for years. And then I remember moving, you know, into another house, and just finally looking at those box of things. And, you know, they were now 15 years old, and finally deciding to throw them away. And even now, I still wonder, Should I have kept it? Could I pass it on, though? You know, Ed, you always carry that guilt. 

And I did the same thing as an administrator, you know, when I became an administrator, I would just keep stuff I would, you know, go to conferences, I'd get all kinds of handouts are you know, then when the digital when I entered into the digital age, you know, my camera roll, I took all these pictures of all these slides, and all these keynotes and workshop presentations. I have a google drive full of stuff. I consume a lot of information. But when I really think about it, how much have I actually implemented? And maybe you're the same way, maybe you're listening to this podcast every single week. And learning about being a builder and consuming all of this information about being a builder. But how much have you actually implemented? You see, we start early, learning how to consume we think that consuming information makes us good at our jobs makes us the kind of, of educator that that is always innovating. And so we consume all this information. And we also lurch from you know, one concept or theory to another one thing to the next, we have a very DIY aesthetic. And so we think that if I consume enough information, I will be able to figure this out on my own. But we get stuck in a consumption cycle. And we never do anything about it. Sure, we can talk about builder ship, and, you know, people come to me all the time. And they say, you know, hey, you know, listen to the podcast, I have a builder, you know, I meet him in real life. And I'm so excited. And then I start asking questions. So what have you done? What have you implemented? Well, you know, I'm still working on my vision, and, you know, you know, but I'm gonna get it done. And I'm gonna go back and listen to these episodes and or they pick and choose and, you know, do some things that are kind of adjacent to what they're already doing. But they never take the plunge. And they do it for years. 

This podcast has been in existence for years. And there's some people who have listened to every episode they listen to in a car on a walk, or while they're doing dishes, but they never do anything about it. They never implement, they're always in the process. They're always waiting for the right moment to get started. And I'm gonna say something that, you know, maybe even against my best interest, I want you to listen to the podcast. But if you listen to this podcast, and you never implement what you're learning, what is the point? So why don't we do this? Let's talk about three reasons why we do this and how we can overcome this this trap of consumption versus implementation. So the first reason that we do it is because we don't fully believe that builder ship is going to be You the game changer? We think it is right. I mean, we're, we're intrigued by it maybe and, and maybe you're you're you're hearing this and saying, Yeah, I mean, I see some of the concepts, I see how it could work. 

But there's a part of you, that still thinks leadership is going to get you there. 

There's a part of you, that doesn't want to give up the leadership stuff that you already know. And you're already good at, even though the leadership stuff doesn't serve you. You see, you've had training on leadership leadership is what has gotten you to where you are right now, because of your leadership skills, you are a principal when other people are still trying to get jobs because of your leadership skills, you've been able to kind of take the helm of a school and get some professional accolades for for what you've done in your school because of leadership, you have experienced a degree of success. And so turning your back on that, embracing something else, ah, you're not. While you may be intrigued, you may not fully believe that builder ship can actually get you where you want to go. You don't actually believe that builder ship could be the game changer that you've been looking for. And so you kind of straddle builder, ship and leadership. And you don't want to turn your back on and build a ship, right, because you do see the merit and the value in it. But you're quite not quite ready to turn your back on leadership. And so you want to find ways to combine it or you want to find ways to kind of dip your toe into builder ship, and straddle the line. And the challenge of doing that is that you stay stuck, you can't be both. 

So you have to decide you have to take a look at the future that is in front of you as a leader, which is that you'll make some steady, tiny incremental gains, you might, you know, be near the top of your district one day, or somewhere solidly in the middle, you might have a school that where everybody kind of gets along, maybe your staff even feels like family. Most kids do, okay. And you might even climb the ladder in your district and, and find your way into central office and, and and achieve some professional success. That's the pathway you have as a leader, but some of your kids are going to fail every single year. Some of your teachers are going to continue to struggle, and defy you and, and do their own thing. And, you know, you're always going to be struggling around getting a whole staff aligned, and you're gonna have some people on board and you hang out with those people and the ones who aren't on board, you complain about those people, you're always going to have this, this nagging sensation in your heart that you could have done more for kids. But you didn't, you will achieve a degree of professional success. But you will sacrifice some professional satisfaction, because you knew that there was more you could do. And so over time, you'll rationalize it, you'll say I did my best there were some kids who never would have made it if I hadn't done it, while ignoring the kids who didn't make it, even though you did some things to help them. And at the end of your career, you'll look around and you will have become the person that that you often criticize. When you were a teacher, you will have become the the person that you criticized. 

When you looked around at your fellow principals and they didn't have a passion for 100% of kids, you will become that. That's that's one future. That's that's your leadership path if you stay on that path, even if you try to straddle leadership and builder ship, that's the future waiting for you. 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 it will 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 going to 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. To someone who you think would really benefit. And now back to the show. If you decide to take action and really do the work to become a builder of a different future, right, it's going to mean you're going to have to kill some sacred cows, you are going to have to let go of some things that may have been beneficial to you, you'll still achieve some professional success, because you will have taken a school and turn that school into 100% success story. But that professional success doesn't come at the sacrifice of some kids, in fact, that professional success is even bigger. Because now people are coming to you. 

They want to know how did you do it? You can write your ticket in terms of what you want to do. Do you want to stay in the district and begin to create that 100% success? Not just in your school, but in the schools across your district? Do you want to become a consultant and begin to show other principals how to do that? Do you want to coach other principals? Do you want to write a book, do you want to stay at your school and continue to build a model school where other people from all over the country come and visit to see what you're doing in your school, you write your ticket, so you still get the professional success. But that success comes, comes because you've helped every child succeed, not in spite of the fact you didn't help every child succeed. In addition to that, you have professional satisfaction, because you actually made a difference. You, you can look back on your career, and feel proud of what you've done. Because you were a builder. Now, one of those features has to die. One of those features has to die you you when you choose leadership, that builder ship future has to die. When you choose builder ship, that leadership, future has to die. And by trying to straddle both by understanding build worship, and still not taking action and becoming truly a builder, and implementing that whole model into your professional practice. When you do that, you you, when you do we try to kind of play both hands, and you stay inactive and you and you and you continue to just talk about it. But you don't ever choose to be about it. You kill the builder ship future. And in doing so, you you you kill the future for some of your kids. I don't I know that sounds dramatic. I just don't know another way to say it, you kill the future for some of your kids, because you've decided that you can't reach every kid. And you've decided to be okay with that. Instead of figuring out how you've decided that there's some kids who just aren't going to make it on your watch. If you choose the builder ship future, you kill your leadership future you you kill that future where you are just maybe even achieving professional success, but at the sacrifice of what you came to this profession to do, which was to, to help and to serve every single kid. So which future dies. That's what it boils down to. And if you really believe in the principles of builder ship, you got to go all in. You cannot straddle straddling the line is nothing but leadership dressed up straddling the line, just as a way to make you feel better about your decision to stay a leader. 

And that's what keeps you in an action. 

But once you truly embrace builder ship, once you truly embrace 100% success for every kid, you must take action. That's why the builders who truly truly truly believe in it, they take action right away, and they see results right away. And they keep moving. So if you feel like you're consuming a lot of information about builder ship, but you're not truly moving in that direction, then you have to ask yourself, Do I really believe that builder ship is better than leadership? Do I really believe in 100% success for every kid? Do I really believe that builder ship is the way to get me there. And if you do, then you got to stop straddling the line and you've got to fully embrace it. You've got to let that leadership future and activities die and fully embrace build a ship. Alright, so the first reason that we get stuck in inaction is that we don't believe the second reason that we get stuck in inaction is because we have given the power or to move to other people. So a lot of times people will say, I believe in builder ship, but my teachers are fighting me on it, or my district doesn't support me, those are you know, those that other people thing. So let's talk about it. You see, if you're a builder, when you truly believe in this, then nobody can stop you from building the whole idea about being a builder. And the thing that makes being a builder different than being a leader is that as a leader, you have to wait for other people before you can move forward, right? 

You're not leading if nobody's following you, which means you can only move as fast as the people behind you move. When you're a builder, you're supposed to go out by yourself, you're supposed to start building, nobody's going to support you, when you first start there, either your teachers are going to think you're crazy, and you're pushing too hard, your district is going to think that you're being unrealistic. So what they haven't seen it yet, you haven't proved it yet. As a builder, you go out ahead, you start building and when people see what you are building, then you invite them to join you in it. And that's when you get their support. So it is unrealistic to expect everybody to believe and buy into what you're doing from the very beginning, because you're building something they've never seen, you are building something that didn't currently exist in your school. So if you're waiting for them to move, then you're not you haven't, you're not a builder, you're a leader, a builder says I'm going to go out and I'm going to start building because this is important. And then you trust that as you build, and you invite people to come join you in building, then things change. A lot of people just want to talk about builder ship, and they're waiting for other people to give them permission to start building the waiting for their staff to be on board before they start building. No, just build. And then invite them to join you. Once you've actually done something, stop talking about it, and be about it. Third thing that stops us so we've gone through belief, we've gone through other people, the third thing that stops us is that we think there's something in us, that's that's holding us back there, we don't know how to do something, we, we don't have confidence in our ability to start building we we feel stuck. And this is one I have a lot of compassion for. Because being a builder is very different. We have a ton of training and experience on how to be a leader. We have very little training and experience on how to be a builder. And because you're stepping out there by yourself, you kind of look around and everybody else thinks you. You're crazy. And so you begin to wonder, Am I you know, we say all the time and build a ship university. 

When you become a builder, you become the weirdo in your district, people look at you and you're like, oh, you know, especially at the beginning. She thinks she's gonna get 100% success, what's wrong with her, she'll learn. And so you're kind of out there by yourself. One of the reasons we create a builder's ship university, so you wouldn't have to be you could be around your tribe of weirdos, other people who are doing it and believing in it. So that so that you can drown out the naysayers and be around people who aren't talking about it, but they are being about it. And that can kind of encourage you, right? So that, that that safe space for you to be able to do that. But when you feel inadequate, as a builder, here's the thing that you have to tell yourself. You can continue to consume and and learn about it and, and that sort of thing. But you won't really actually understand what it takes to be a builder until you start building. A lot of people think I believe in builder ship, I'm ready to build, but I need to learn more. But I need to figure this out. And so they go read books and listen to podcasts. And they think that if they just consume enough information, it'll give them the competence to move forward. Well, here's what I need to say to that, which is that you won't develop the confidence until you start building. You. You you can learn about builder ship all day long, but you don't become a builder until you actually start building. Will you make mistakes? Yes. But the beautiful part about being a builders every mistake puts you further on the pathway because builders know how to take their mistakes, learn from them and make what they're building even better. Will you stumble it first of course. But it's not fatal. You're stumbling now, right? You you make mistakes now. So making mistakes is not the problem. You're always going to make mistakes. 

The problem is that we let our past mistakes burn us twice. 

Once when we made this mistake in the past US, and then we get burned again, because we don't move forward with something we really believe in. Because we're scared and scarred from the mistake we made in the past. Don't let a past mistake, burn you twice. Instead, trust the process, I say this to people and builders University all the time, you've got to trust the process. And one of the things that I've been working on this is where I'm dedicating my life right now is that it is taking me 20 years to learn enough to be able to develop this builder ship model, and the tools around it, 20 years of working with 10s of 1000s, of educators, of making all the mistakes of of of missing points, and then going back and saying, oh, no, we need this part of building tools and testing them and having people come back and say, This isn't working, and then refit, you know, figuring them out and redesigning the tools and coming up with tools that will work and, and, and so by doing that, I've made a lot of mistakes for you. I don't know, if I thought I was doing it for you.

I mean, I've just made a lot of the mistakes I've learned from them. And the nice thing about it is that now we have a program that can help you, you know, Sidestep some of the mistakes you might make on your own, so that you can make better mistakes, because you're gonna make mistakes. And we can't prevent you from doing that. But you can, you're not making mistakes, that are as fatal the mistakes you make a really mistakes that help you learn that helped me grow that that actually put you ahead, and a lot of the other more fatal mistakes, have already made them and to learn from them. And you get to benefit from that as well. So I get it, I get sometimes, you know, you can feel like this is so new, and I'm ill equipped, you always are going to be ill equipped at the beginning of the journey. But the moment you start building, you learn you get better. If you think that you're going to read yourself into perfection, you're not Perfection isn't even available to us. Instead, what you want to do is you want to start building. That's how you become a builder. That's how you learn. You start building, you know enough right now to get started. So today, I want to challenge you stop talking about it. Be about it. This is a brand new school year, you have an opportunity this year to do something trans formative. You have an opportunity this year to make this year better than you could have imagined. Will it be easy? No, I always say build your ship is not. It's hard. But it's simple. It's hard, but you're working hard anyway, why not work hard at things that actually matter? Things that actually pay off things where you can actually see results. And, and it doesn't have to be complicated or confusing. It's very, very simple. It's very, very straightforward. But you already know enough to get started. Now it's time to build. you've consumed enough information. You don't need any more information. To now get started. You just need to stop talking about it and go and start being about it. 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 builder ship University, just go to builder ship and get started writing your school success story today everybody, it's Robyn here. I hope you enjoyed that episode and the straight talk that came from that episode. We're going to be opening up the doors to build a ship University in just a few days. aise and if you know that you want some support to help you to stop talking about it and actually being about it, then go to builder ship and sign up for this next cohort, a builder ship University, and we can get started building your 100% success story right away like a builder.

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