The cheat code to success


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 253

Hey builders. Before we begin, I have a quick question for you. Are We Connected on social media? The reason I'm asking is because as much as I love giving you the podcast episode every single week, I'd love to take our relationship deeper. So if we're not connected on on social media, let's connect. I'm on LinkedIn at Robyn, underscore mind steps. I'm on Twitter at Robyn underscore mind step someone's on Facebook and Robyn Jackson, please, let's connect so we can keep the conversation going. Now on with the show, you're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 253. 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. A builder's walk.

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. 

I'm your host Robyn Jackson. And today I want to talk about probably the thing that I think makes the biggest difference between people who have success with builder ship, and people who don't. And before I talk to you about that, first I want to just say thank you to all of you who came out to see me at the ASCD conference last week, it was really great to spend some time with you. And so thank you for being there. I was so nice to meet you at the book signing and then at the session, the session was amazing the energy in that room the questions, you may have heard a rumor, which is that to morrow, if you're listening to this in real time, tomorrow, we are doing a free live vision workshop. We haven't done one of these in over a year. But so many people have been asking for it. And it's the workshop is designed to help you build your 100% vision. Now, we still have a few slots left, if you want to join us, it's a one day workshop, it's going to be about 90 minutes long. And it's a workshop, we're actually going to be building that vision taking you through the three steps it takes to build that 100% vision. And so you can leave that workshop with your vision your 100% vision already created that it's just up to you to actually go do it.

So if you want to join that workshop, you need to go to school leadership school leadership and go to this episode. So school leadership 253 go to that page will have a link to be able to join the workshop, it's happening live, there is no replay. So you got to be there live. But it's happening Thursday 7:30pm. Eastern. And so if you are listening to this, and that time has already passed, and then you know that it's all gone, then you still want to go check out school leadership And so that you can find out about the latest things. But you know, the best place to get information about all the free stuff we're doing is to join our Facebook group, we have a school leadership reimagined Facebook group, it's for principals and assistant principals and aspiring principals. And it's a safe space where we kind of share all things build worship, every once in a while inside the Facebook group, I will do an Ask Me Anything live where you can get some free coaching. If we do any kind of free training or free event, we'll usually post about it there. So that's the best place the other best place to find out is to join the mailing list, go to school leadership Sign up for the mailing list, we'll send you the podcast episode every single week. We'll also send you what we call the Monday morning mind step which is a really short email to kind of get you inspired for the week with some some nuggets, things to think about and a challenge for the week that helps you move closer and closer and closer to your 100% vision of your school. So people are telling me we just started that again. We've done it before we stopped we just started again. But people are saying what they just look forward to that every single week because it just gives them the thing they need to get started. So make sure you sign up for that. And you can sign up for all these things go to school leadership 253

Alright, so let's go ahead and dive in today and I want to start off by telling you a story. 

Okay. So when I first became an assistant principal, there was a teacher he was a science teacher and he was blue of Dubai, the kids. So he, you know, his classroom was just this crazy place, there are all kinds of animals. And there was he had a greenhouse, and it was a jungle. And, you know, the kids loved him. But what I observed him, there was just, you know, I was giving him some feedback, it was it was still kind of rough, you know, the teaching there, there was a lot of refinement that needed to happen at the teaching that could have taken the the natural goodwill that he had from the kids and taking it a step further. So I remember meeting with him to do the post observation conference, and I was sharing some of the feedback with him. And he was saying, you know, that a lot of it was because the material still felt a little new. And I was confused, because we hadn't done a new curriculum, the curriculum had been there for the last several years. So I said, you know, we haven't changed your schedule, you've been teaching, you know, the same class for years at the same grade level, what do you mean by new? And then he goes, Oh, well, one of the things I do is, every year, I take all my lesson plans, and I destroy them, I get rid of them, I throw them away. And I start from scratch. And I think that's what keeps my teaching fresh. So even though this teacher had was a veteran teacher, and had been teaching for over 10 years, instead of building on what he'd already created, and getting better and better and better at that, he had been repeating his first year of teaching for the last 10 years. So while he had 10 years of experience, his expertise was stuck at the first year teacher level, because he kept repeating his first year.

And I remember thinking about that recently, when I was looking and talking to a couple of principals. Because I think that as principals, we tend to do the same thing. We are always looking for the new thing, we're always trying to find out what's best for school. And so we do something one year, but then as the year ends, we take stock, we oh, I'm not sure that worked, or that worked as well as we wanted. And so we start looking for the new thing. And then over the summer, we build a CIP plan that has a new thing that we're going to do next year, rather than building on the thing that we already were doing. I get why we do that, too. Because a lot of times when we try something, we have hopes, high hopes about how it's going to work. But then when we actually implement it, it's not working quite as well as we think it's going to work. And we've got all this pressure on us that we've got to show progress, and we've got to grow. So we take that thing, we either keep it and then say, but this piece isn't working. So I need to get this new thing and added to it to compensate for that piece that isn't working, or we scrap the entire thing and do a new thing every year. So instead of our school getting better and better and better. We just keep repeating the same year over and over and over again.

So I want you to tell me right now, like when you're thinking about the last three to five school years, have they felt fundamentally the same? Do you feel like you're in the same place that you've been? Or are you frustrated that while you've made progress, the progress has been tiny, and incremental. And it's not taking, you're not nearly where you want to be as a school. And if you're feeling that way, then I'm going to guess that this is part of the problem. And so today, I want to talk about how you can stick with things. And I've talked about this before because you know build a ship University is built to help you do that. So the first year of build a ship University, that's the year you're putting everything in place. So those of you in bu you know that you know you're you're building your architectures, and for those of you who are not in bu what I mean by that is that you're putting systems in place. So you start out with establishing your vision, your mission, your core values, and something that we call your one plan. The one plan is the one page plan that says this is how we're going to get to our vision, very simple pairs back just the basics. And we're saying if we only did these things on this one plan, we would reach our 100% vision.

That kind of clarity gives you a lot of focus, and it makes you realize all the stuff you're doing that isn't working.

Okay. The next thing you do is you build your feedback support accountability and culture architectures. Those are systems to help you consistently give teachers the feedback, they need the support, they need to build accountability and to your organization so that you don't have to run around and hold people accountable. And yet people will be accountable to the work. And then to build the culture, you need to keep the work going. Okay, so those are systems in place, you build them once, and then you may maintain them. But you don't have to build them every single year over and over again, you rely on those systems. And then we go to the next level where you then build a system for how you're going to make decisions going forward and how you're going to look at data going forward and how you're going to use that data to help you decide what's the next best move. So you're creating a whole system that helps you stay accountable to that one plan. And then finally, you are building other builders so you are helping to empower the other builders in your building or build builders in your building. So that may be your admin team that Maybe the team leaders and the department heads and really creating the systems, you need to make sure that your organization runs smoothly, even without you. Okay, that's the first year you do those things, you've got those things in place. Now, the next year is the year that you know, the first year we're going to establish things the second year is we're going to actually implement the things that we establish, so you're not building any thing new. Instead, what you're doing is you are maintaining and enhancing and getting better at the things that you put in place to begin with. And then the third year, that you've learned a lot, that's when you can begin to extend things and, and take them even further.

And that's when you can start looking at innovations. But they're very targeted innovations based on what you've learned. So you all know that that's, that's the the bill to ship university system. It's a three year kind of commitment. I mean, three year program, we take you in one year commitments, but it's a three year, that's the three year trajectory that you take as a builder, okay? Now, even if you are not in builder, ship university, you should be thinking the same way. So a lot of times we get a program, and then we do it for a year. And we're like, Well, we did that last year. Now we're gonna move on to this No, no, no, no. Instead, what you should be doing is you did it last year, what did you learn from it, and then do it again, don't do anything new. Do it again. Because the whole first year of that program was your establishment year, that was the year that you were putting things in place. The second year, the program is where you actually begin to execute on that program. Because you're not building anything new.

Now you're executing on all the things you've learned, and you're getting better and better and better at it. Here's the problem that most of us face. Most of us do that thing the first year. And we don't give teachers time to get good at anything before we move on to the next thing. And we wouldn't be doing our schools a bigger favor. If we gave people time to actually get good at something, give ourselves time to get actually good at something. But that's not the way we're trained. That's not the culture of the principalship. Right now. It's all everybody's always looking for the next thing. So I can't tell you the number of calls I get from the office in the office where people are like, Yeah, we did this last year. And we did this two years ago. And so now we're going to to build a ship. No, build a ship, it's not something you do. On top of everything else you're doing. Build a ship is a new way of approaching your work. So you're not layering it on top of something else, build a ship dismantles everything you're doing to establish something else. And I think that's really important. Because there are a lot of people who are trying to dabble and build a ship, builders ship is a jealous person it is the builder ship does not want to play with other people, we did a whole podcast episode on that the builders ship doesn't play well with others, because it's a totally different way of thinking. So a lot of times people will say, hey, you know, can I get this tool? Or can I get that tool? Or I want this piece of the process? And we say no, I mean, look, you it's out there. So I've taught it and you can take the books and do it.

But when people try to take a piece of builder ship and add it to something else, they almost always fail. 

And then they get mad to build a ship. And I'm like, don't get mad at us, we told you that it's not going to work with what you're doing, you have to choose to be a builder. And when you choose to be a builder, you leave all that other stuff behind and you go in an entirely new direction, you know where that Direction is Up. Because you're headed towards your goals. Finally, you're headed towards 100% takes a totally different skill set. So what people do is they jump in and out of builder ship, they see the success of the people, the builders who are having incredible success stories. And if you have not heard some of those success stories, you need to go to builders from and click on the success stories and listen to them all my going to show inspiring, but they see those success stories. And they're like, oh, yeah, they had a vision story. That's what I need. I need that vision story. If you do the vision story, but you have not done the work of establishing that 100% vision, and you do that vision story. It's going to fall flat, it's not gonna have the effect or you do the vision store. You get everybody all excited and invested in 100% vision, but then you don't do anything about that 100% vision, then why should we why should we believe you for anything else you say? So it's it's not the vision story. It's not the alignment architecture. It's not the one plan. It's not all these other pieces that make you a builder. It's putting them together and being consistent about it. Someone said something to me the other day that there's there's two things that they said that I just can't get out of my head. The first thing that they said was that a mediocre plan done consistently. We'll beat a good plan done inconsistently. Can we say that again? A mediocre plan Have done consistently will outperform an excellent plan done inconsistently.

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 gonna love you. Secondly, you're going to feel good, because you're gonna 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.

And I think that a lot of us are out here spending our time looking for the perfect plan, rather than taking what we have, and working it consistently. You know, that teacher who tore up his lesson plans, I don't care how good or bad, they could have just been mediocre lesson plans. I guarantee you that if he went through an entire year, and then taught them again, the next year, they'd be better, versus the stellar lesson plans that he he put together and he doesn't really understand. And he's trying it for the first time. I think the kids in that classroom perform better with a mediocre lesson plan done consistently learn, you know, where he learns from it and gets better at it than trying to find the perfect unicorn lesson plan. But being unfamiliar with it and bumbling his way through it, and then at the end getting rid of it. And in fact, How committed is he going to be to that lesson anyway, when he knows he's just going to get rid of it the next year? Get a lot of us are doing the same thing. So think about this. And I'm not trying to shame you.

But let's let's have a let's have a tough conversation for a moment. 

How many plants have you started and abandoned? Before you gave it time to work? How much farther? Could you be if you just stuck with any one of them? No, I recently had to do this for myself. I just sit and ask myself a plan. We had a plan for something we were doing. We did it all last year consistently. And we had some uneven results in you know, there were some things that really worked, there were some things that didn't work. And at the end, I was like, hey, you know, we did that for a whole year, I'm ready to move on. I still suffer from the disease myself, I want the next shiny object. And it wasn't even that I was just chasing the shiny object, the things that we did. It was hard work. And I didn't get the all the results that I want it to get from it that I thought I would get from it. So I'm frustrated. And I'm just like, well, let's just you know, we did that last year.

Now let's do something else. And I started looking for something else. And because you all are friends, I'll be honest with you, I wasted about two weeks, chasing something else, trying to learn it trying to overcome the learning curve. And I remember, I was talking to a team member. And I was going through these things. And you know, it's taken me all day at set aside a whole day to try to finish some things up in this new direction that I was headed. And I needed some help, as I called a team member took her away from what she was working on so that she could help me do this new thing that we're not even sure will work. And it was just getting more and more complicated. And finally she said, listen, Robyn, one of our core values is drama free work environment. And this new process you have that you think is going to be better is creating too much drama. We need to scrap it and go with something simple, not sexy. I can't tell you how hard that was to hear. Because I had spent two weeks on this. So there's that sunk cost fallacy I spent all this time working on it. I know it will work. I've seen other people it's worked for, but we just have to give her time and and but when she said that to me about drama free work environment, I realized that this was creating a lot of drama. I was not doing the work I should be doing because I was trying to fiddle with this thing that I had another person not doing the work they were doing. And even if I got it right, I was looking at hours more work when I was getting close to a deadline. Whereas the simple thing could be done in about 15 minutes. It would give me the same results but it wasn't sexy. It was something that I had done before already. And you know, it was okay but this new thing was sexy and that other thing and not so much. So I wanted it, I wanted to do that other thing.

But then when asked myself, what problem am I trying to solve? You've been hearing that question a lot lately. But when I asked myself that question, I realized that I was headed in a direction that wasn't going to serve me. And what I was trying to do was not solving the problem, I was trying to solve no solving a different problem, because it was making me feel innovative and fresh, it was making me feel like I was making progress, because I was frustrated that I hadn't made the progress I wanted to make. And that's why we get seduced by all this new stuff. Because we think if I go in this direction, maybe then I can finally get my goals. Well, the secret to the people get their goals is not because they keep changing horses. It's not because they keep trying new stuff. The secret to people who achieve their goals are people who stay consistent. And it's hard for us, I know, it's hard for me, when that team member, that's why I love core values, because we have core values, it creates checks for you not just for you're not the only person holding people accountable, everybody holds each other accountable, because the core values are non negotiable. And when she said this, one of our core values is drama free work environment, would you agree, this is a lot of drama for the little bit of results we're gonna get. And once you put it to me that way, I had to let it go. Now, it's in the hopper, I'll keep it there, I may pull it back out at some point when it makes sense.

But right now, I'm going with the simple, not sexy, and it's going to get the job done. 

And I'm not going to waste another two weeks chasing down another rabbit hole for something that may or may not work. Instead, I'm going to take what we're doing what we've been doing, and I'm going to double down on it. And I'm going to get better at it. Because a mediocre plan done consistently will always beat an A sexy stellar plan, done inconsistently. So the first challenge I have for you today is this. Are you already starting to think about next year? And all the new things you want to try? And are you looking for the new program or the next thing, I want to challenge you to stop. And instead, I want you to shop your own closet, I want you to look at the things that you are already doing. And ask yourself, have we gotten everything from this strategy yet? And if the answer's no, rather than finding something new, why not take that thing that you're already doing? Keep doing it consistently and get better at that it's less work for you. It's less stress for your teachers. And it will result in way more progress for your kids, because a mediocre plan done consistently, will always trump that super sexy program, or plan done inconsistently. So that's the first challenge of the day. Shop your closet, you know what I do not I mean, by shop your closet, like like, I'll be honest, like, I this spring, I've got some things that I'm working on. And I need to not be spending so much money, we got some big repairs we need to make around the house. But Spring Fashion is out. And there's so many sales out and you know, every single day, my email inbox is like 25% Off 50% Off checkout these new spring things. I don't need anything, right. But I want it. And so there's this urge, right to shop to shop for some new stuff. Am I alone in that it's anybody you know, maybe it's not close for you, maybe it's something else. But you ever have a time when you feel that urge to shop, right? So.

So one of the things that I've been trying to do is instead of going out and buying something brand new, I'm going into my closet, and I'm looking at clothes that I haven't worn in a while. Clothes that I've forgotten about. And I'm wearing, I'm trying to be more intentional about wearing those clothes, shopping my closet, it feeds my sense of you know, my desire to have something new. It helps me to use what I have, and it keeps me out the stores and offline shopping. I would challenge you this spring that instead of trying to find the new and the latest, I would challenge you to shop your closet. I bet there is something that you have right now, that will solve the problems that you're facing. I bet it's already in your school. I bet if you went into the book room, you might find a box of books or that that somebody ordered at some point and never use that will be the exact fit for what you need.

I bet if you take a look at at the classrooms that that are succeeding and study what they're doing, they're doing something that is can be easily taught to the rest of you For teachers and help you have the same success, I'm willing to bet that right and let now you are looking at data from a program you still launched last year. And then you realize that the program hasn't quite given you what you wanted. So there are things but you also realize that there are things that you did last year that weren't consistent with that program. Like he took that program, and you tried to, you know, kind of duct tape it onto something you were already doing. And then you didn't get to do this piece, and you tweak this piece this way. And he didn't follow the program exactly the way it was meant to be followed. I bet right now that if instead of trying a new program, you went back to the program that you already purchased or already implemented. And you really said, how can we do this with more fidelity so we can get the results that this thing promised so that we can solve the problem we're trying to solve, I bet you would get farther faster than starting something new. So my challenge to you this week, is to take a look at what you're already doing. Shop your own closet, don't go out and start thinking about the new program. Don't add another thing to what you're already doing. Instead, take a look at what you're doing. And find a way to make it better, because a mediocre plan consistently implemented will always beat the sexy new plan that's inconsistently implemented. So my challenge to you this week is to find ways to be more consistent, 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 bill to ship University. Just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today. Hey, it's Robyn here. And I want to thank you for listening to today's episode. And if you have a question about today's episode, or you just want to keep the conversation going. Did you know that we had a school leadership reimagined Facebook group, all you need to do is go to Facebook, join the school leadership reimagined Facebook group now they're going to be a couple of questions that we asked at the beginning because we want to protect this group and make sure that we don't have any trolls come in and that it really is for people who are principals, assistant principals, district administrators, so make sure you answer those questions so you won't get in but then we can keep the conversation going. Plus we do a lot of great bonus content. I'm in there every single weekday so if you have a question or comment above the episode, let's continue the conversation. Join us at the school leadership reimagined Facebook group and I'll talk to you next time.

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