The only 3 ways to fail


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 232

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. We're at mind 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 232. How do builders like us make a dramatic difference in the lives of our students in spite of all the obstacles we face? How can 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 your host, Robyn Jackson. 

And today, I'm a little hungover, I don't drink. So it's not that it's just that we just completed the October reset. And we also started enrolling all of our new Bluetooth into build a ship University and I'm so excited this this group, this cohort is off the hook. I mean, people are so eager, so ready to go, I cannot wait to start working with the new boots. Now. This was our last cohort for the year we will reopen a new cohort in 2024. The the investment involved in building up University is going to be significantly increased. But you can look forward to that new cohort in 2024. Now, if you missed the cohort deadline, and you still want to join be you and be able to take advantage of our 2023 pricing and and get started right away, then what I would urge you to do is join the waitlist because every once in a while we have someone who graduates out of the program. And when they do we have an extra slot. And when a slot opens up, we go to the waitlist first. And so we move pretty quickly because the slots don't open up all that often. But when they do open up, we'll go to the waitlist, you'll get an email from us saying hey, there's a slot opened up, and you may be able to slip in before 2024. So go to builder ship Join the waitlist. Alright, so let's get to today's conversation. 

So I've been thinking a lot about this for my own self. 

And it's really been helping me to look at some of the things that I'm doing some of that, you know, the year is winding down, I'm starting to kind of look back over the year and some of the goals that I had for things that I wanted to accomplish during the year. And I've been thinking a lot about, you know, not just the goals that I've hit, I'm grateful for those. But I'm also thinking about the ones that it looks like I might miss for the year. And trying to understand why it is that I'm going to miss those goals and and maybe you're in the same space, maybe you after going through the October reset, have you know been really reflective about the work you're doing and what is it really going to take to achieve your goals this year. Maybe you didn't join us for the October reset. So you're just kind of stuck right now you are you felt like you're treading water, you feel like you're drifting off course you feel like your school is drifting off course. Or you've already started dropping some balls, and you're starting to wonder if your goals are even possible in your current circumstances. 

You know, a lot of people have been hit by things. That's why I was talking about the October surprise, right because a lot of people have been hit by things people have been hit by some really tragic things. Even inside of our in our BU community we've had several people who have been hit by a lot of tragedy during October in that tragedy, under normal circumstances with threatened to totally derail the work for the year. But because they've been anchored in their vision, mission and core values, they're able to recover from that tragedy, but they still feel a little off and so we're doing the work inside of bu now to help them you know, get back and get refocused and I'm sharing with them some of the same things that I'm thinking about sharing with you today because I feel like we it's really important. It's critical for this time of the year. So these are some private conversations I'm having with builders, but it's been so useful to me. It's been so useful to those village builders that I thought I would share it with you today. And that's this, there are only three reasons why you're not getting where you need to be just three. And I know it sounds like I'm oversimplifying, but hear me out. The three reasons that you aren't where you need to be is either you're not using the right approach. Or B, you're not doing enough of the right work, or C,you're not doing it long enough. 

So let's unpack what I mean by that. So the first one, you may not be achieving your goals because you are just not using the right approach. Now I see this happen a lot. A lot of times when people join builder, ship University, this is where they are they, they have been steeped in that leadership training, they have been taught to be leaders, or worse, they've been taught to be bosses. And so as a result, they're using tactics that are never going to work because they weren't designed to work that way. The A lot of the tactics that we were trained to use were designed to get us tiny incremental gains, but they weren't designed to get us to 100% success. And so we're just using the wrong tactics. You've heard me talk and rail against the bubble kids as a tactic. But here's another one. A lot of times we grab a program, you know, we see something the the our students are, are struggling to take notes. And so we we grab a program to take notes, or our teachers are mired in teaching too many of the standards. So we grab, you know, power standards, and we say we're going to do this, and we grab tactics, but we really don't think it all the way through. And because we're just trying to solve the immediate problem in front of us, and we get people mired into, okay, these are the power standards only teach the standards. But the problem is not which standards they're teaching. The problem really is how they're teaching any of the standard or not, even if I gave them these standards versus the ones that they were teaching, it wouldn't work because they're not doing a good job of teaching any other standards. 

So power standards isn't my first line of defense. I'm spending a lot of time trying to get teachers to teach power standards, using tactics that aren't helping students master any other standards. Or let's say that I think, oh, you know, a lot of our students aren't taking notes. So let me teach them this note taking strategy. While maybe the problem isn't that they need another strategy. Maybe the problem is that our students, even after they've taken notes, don't know how to study from those notes. Maybe the problem is that what teachers are giving students notes on is not aligned with the standards that we're teaching. So a lot of times we are not solving the right problem. One of the things that we do and build a ship University, we do it in level three, is that after you've gotten your vision, mission and core values together, and after you've gotten your staff on board, then we have a whole whole kind of section, the level that shows you how to identify the right problems to solve. And some of you got a taste of that last week during the October reset. But just figuring out the right problems to solve, just figuring out the right solution to that problem is a game changer.

It saves you from wasting your time solving problems that don't need to be solved. 

It saves you from wasting your time using a solution that isn't going to solve a problem. So like when we're when we're talking about cheap University, and office hours and people are you know, saying well, here's what I'm gonna do on like, when it back up, what problem are you trying to solve? Because in most cases, we are not clear about the problem we're trying to solve. People tell me all the time, okay, well, my reading scores are down, I need to bring my reading scores up. Okay. But what problem are you trying to solve? I'm trying to solve the problem of bringing my reading scores up. No, reading scores. The is not a problem. It is the the reflection of a problem that the scores tell you that you have a problem. Why are your reading scores down? What what is getting in the way of your students being able to read at or above grade level? That's the problem if you can understand that, that's the problem you need to solve. And then instead of just grabbing a solution and hoping it works, you're actually using a solution that is designed to solve the problem that needs solving. Alright, so if you're not seeing progress right now, if you are feeling stuck, the first question need to ask yourself is, am I solving the right problem? And will the solution that I've chosen actually solve that problem? Right, so step number 1am I doing the right work? Am I solving the right problems? Am I using the right solutions to solve those problems? 

Now, if the answer is yes, the second thing you need to check is how am I doing enough of it? I say this a lot especially When it comes to vision, so a lot of people when they join builders University, they're really excited because your first big win inside of builder ship University is when you create that 100% vision that it's so exciting, it feels so good to finally have a 100% vision, you can see it, you're excited about it, we always say that it passes the tangle test, you know, it makes the hairs on the back of your arm stand out. And then the next vit big victory that you get inside of builder ship University is sharing your vision with your staff. And having your staff embrace your vision, have your staff take ownership of the vision. But here's where a lot of people mess up. We teach a process called the vision story and builder ship University where we show you how to share your vision in a way that gets people excited that helps people embrace your vision that overcomes the resistance that gets people who've been stuck moving, it is so powerful. And so when people go through that, and they develop their vision story, and then they share it one time, everybody gets excited tears are happening in the room. Teachers are reconnected to the work and so excited. They want to run through a wall for you. And then I never share their vision story again. And so after all of that excitement and feel good after a while people just start drifting back to what they were doing before. And people say see, my vision didn't work. No, no, that's not true. My vision story is not working. Maybe How many times have you shared your vision story once or twice. 

So you think that sharing a vision story once or twice in a culture that has been designed for shooting for less than 100% is going to suddenly change your entire culture and radically reorganize your teachers work so that they're focused on 100% of students and make them better teachers and help you achieve your vision and get everybody galvanized and working to that end. That's ridiculous. People don't even know yet what it means. They may feel the initial excitement, but then they go back and they think about it and have questions. And so repeating the vicious story again and addressing their questions and keeping people constantly engaged in that conversation. That's what moves the work for it. Hey, Robyn here, and I just want to break in real quick to ask you a huge favor. You see, I want to get the word out to everybody about builder ship, and I could use your help. If you're really enjoying this episode. Would you mind just going to your podcast platform and leaving a quick review? You see the reviews get the word out. They tell other people this is a great show other people who have never heard of school leadership reimagined before can hear about it. And you'd be sharing the word about builder ships. So would you mind just leaving a quick review? It would mean the world to me. Okay, now back to the show. 

So, a lot of times, we do have the right strategy, but we're not doing it enough. I see this happen all the time, when you know, we send teachers to one day or training for the new curriculum rollout. And then we go into the classroom the next week with a checklist, checking to see if they're teaching to standard. They've had one training. And one of the things that we teach the builders do differently is that builders give people opportunities to practice and a non evaluative environment before they go in and start checking for fidelity of implementation. We have to give people multiple opportunities, multiple exposures to anything new. In order to do that we have something called the builder's transformation cycle that talks about how you can steadily slowly but surely give people multiple exposures so that they can it actually sinks in they can actually do things with fidelity. It's how you get something embedded into your culture. Most people give up before the big they don't they do it once or twice and they think you know it didn't work I did it once or twice well no you need to be sharing your vision story until you're it makes you nauseous. You need to be sharing your vision story until you you are sick of hearing it you know I talk about builder ship all the time. Sometimes I say builder ship 100 times a day. And sometimes I get sick of mice. Well actually I don't because I love build a ship like look I'm even I'm wearing my builder ship University sweatshirt, I think about build a ship all the time. But that's how you have to be. 

A lot of times we fail not because we don't have the right strategy but because we are not doing it enough.

We're doing it onesies, twosies here and there. We're just not doing it enough. If you did more of it. You could see more results. Now maybe you're doing the right strategy Maybe you're doing a lot of it. But you're not doing it long enough. So I don't know where we get this thing. I mean, we think that, you know, if we do something, yes, this is a strategy that add water and stir being instantaneous results. And it doesn't work that way doesn't work that way. When we're working with students and helping them learn, we know that we can see milestones and gains, but it's about committing to the journey, it's about sticking with it over time. That's what makes a difference. And a lot of people give up, they try something one school year, it worked that one school year, but it didn't work completely. They're not at 100% yet, and they're saying, See, I did it, it worked. So now we're going to try this new thing, instead of sticking with something long enough to give it time to work. 

Now, I'm going to tell you what I am the poster child for this. Okay? So for the first 15 years of mine steps existence, I remade the business every year, I am not kidding you, every single year, say oh, we're gonna do this, and oh, we're gonna do this job, my team crazy. It limited my ability to have impact. It drove me crazy, I was constantly wearing myself out wasting time and energy, it got to the point that my team, when I came with a new idea, they would just slow walk me, not because they didn't believe in the idea, they just didn't believe that I would commit to it long enough for it to be worth their time. Now, let me ask you, is that the case in your school? Or are you creating chaos in your school by changing every single year? You know, last year, we did this this year? We're going to do that, and not sticking to anything? The problem, of course, is that when you stick to something, it's boring, right? So what are we gonna do, we're gonna do the same thing we did last year, we're just going to do more of it, we're gonna get better at it. So boring, right? It's way more sexy to go to a conference and be like, Oh, I learned this new thing. I've talked to this vendor, I just bought this program up, I've got this little tweak. And we're gonna do it this way. And as a result, you never see results, long term, sustainable results, because you just didn't stick with it long enough. 

Some of you know exactly what you need to be doing right now, in order to achieve 100% success for kids, you know. But instead of just doing that, you're doing that, and this and that, and this, and that. And the other thing, and then you let that go for a while and it starts to languish, because you're off to something new. And you're shooting yourself in the feet. Because you have the answer, you know what it will take, but you just for some or whatever reason, he just won't do it long enough. We give give up way too, too quickly. Think about kids in your in your class, think about how we tell them all the time, you have to persevere, you have to stick with it, you have to practice you have to do it every day, and then you'll get better at it. We teach that to kids, but we don't model that for kids and how we approach approach instruction, how we approach the way that we do our work in our schools. And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we're under a lot of pressure to get stuff done. Now. We people are pushing us immediate results, you got this school year, this is all this is the only first grade that these first graders will experience hopefully. And so we just keep pushing, push, push, push pushing. And, and so we feel like in order to show that we are doing something, then we need to try something new. And as a result, we end up pushing, pushing, pushing, lurching from one activity and idea to the next. And we don't give what will work time to work. So if you're frustrated today, because you're thinking, you know, I, I've been I've been doing this for for a month now and I'm not seeing results. The first thing you need to ask yourself is do you believe that that's the right thing to do? Do you believe that what you are doing, it's gonna get you to your vision? The answer is yes. 

Then the next thing is have I done enough of it? 

And if the answer is yes, the third question is, Have I done it long enough. And if you do that, if you use that, that that that process, that thinking process, to look at the work that you're doing, not only is your work going to be more focused, not only is your Are you going to have more certainty about your work, but you're going to start to see results. And you're also going to start to see the work that maybe you shouldn't be doing. It's going to keep you from adding yet another thing to teachers plates. If if you know that it's going to work, do more of it. And then after you've done more of it Do it long enough to see results. So my rule of thumb is, first of all, you need about three years for anything to really work at a at a systematic level. So, if you're thinking, Oh, I'm going to just do this for the whole school year, and then see how it goes, You're not thinking long term enough, you're playing along to playing the long game, we just did a podcast about that. Instead, you need to give yourself three years, it's not just three years are doing the same thing. But the first year is the year that you're going to establish whatever the new system is, and it takes a whole school year to get something really fully established to get your teachers fully comfortable. And to the point where they've mastered the material and the work and you need to go through the rhythm of a whole school year, then the second school year, you're going to focus on on executing, so you're not going to add anything, no, you're just going to get better at executing the thing that you've done. And then the third year, you're going to start embedding it and extending it only in the third year, can you start putting a whole bunch of tweaks on it to make it better, because now you know, something? Now you have the data now you've learned something about it. So three years is what it takes. 

And so first, do I have the right thing? Secondly, am I doing enough of it? Right? If he, you have to do it and talk about it and push it until you are blue in the faith faith. If you are not sick of hearing yourself, say it, if you are not sick of doing it yet, then you're not doing it enough. That's that it takes that level of commitment to do it every day, multiple times a day, whatever it is, before you can really give up on it. Have you done it enough? And then finally, have you done it for at least three years? If the answer is no to any of those than before you go grab something new, you need to take a look at what you're already doing. Sometimes, you're not doing the right work, you're not solving the right problem. Sometimes you are doing the right work. It's just not doing enough of it. And then sometimes you're doing the right work, you're doing enough of it. But you haven't given yourself long enough to see the results. When you do that, you'll have more focus, you'll see more results, you'll be less crazy, because you're not lurching from one thing to the next, you'll feel more confident because instead of falling for every new shiny object instead of giving up too soon and ever instead of getting hard on yourself, you have that long term focus and that discipline, like a belter. 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 that you need to join builder ship University, just go to build a ship 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 gonna look like a rock star because you're gonna 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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