Summer Success Series Pt. 2: How to Get Unstuck


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 266.

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 266. 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.

Hi builders Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. 

I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And today we are continuing our series on the summer of success. These are success secrets that you need in order to have an amazing school year this year in order to achieve the goals that you've been trying to achieve. And today I want to talk about something that I use personally, anytime it gets stuck, you know, you know that time when you get stuck you are you're working really hard. You're trying to achieve a goal. And it's just not happening. You're doing all the things you know how to do it's not working, you're getting more frustrated. And then you think, well, I'll just grind it out, maybe I just need to work harder. Or maybe I need to find a book or program or a guru or something that can help me and so we are constantly looking for the thing that's going to solve the problem. I do this all the time, I am constantly, you know, like I get stuck. And then the first thing I do is I think oh, I need to read another book or I need to talk to you know, a coach or a person or I need to buy another program. And over the years, I've realized that even though those things are helpful, if you don't do this one thing first, then all those things really don't matter. It might make you feel good in the moment, but you'll still be stuck. So today I want to talk about that one thing that you need to do first, before you buy a book, before you do a program before you grab a framework, there's an inventory that you need to take to do first with yourself to make sure that whatever thing you do eventually choose, you're going to be successful, because you'll choose the right thing. So when you're stuck, usually it's a problem that has one or three, the root of the problem is one of three things. It's either that you are missing a skill, or a trait or a belief. So let's break that down.

The first level is that you may just be missing a skill. 

So a lot of times we get stuck because there's something we don't know how to do, we may be stuck with managing our teachers, because we don't know how to have conversations with people that actually get them moving, we may be stuck with looking at data because we don't have the skill to kind of take all those numbers understand what they mean and make meaning out of them. We may be stuck with being organized, because we don't have a system in place that keeps us organized and helps us to find the materials we need when we need them. And then to be able to take all of the stuff and put it in places where we can find it later on. So there's there's sometimes our problem really is that we are lacking a particular skill. And that's the easiest problem to solve. Because once you realize, okay, there's a skill that I'm missing. You go you learn that skill and problem is solved. So I meet a lot of of builders who, who know they want to build a vision, but they're stuck. And a lot of times they're stuck because they don't have the skill of thinking about vision, the way the builders think about vision. They come to a vision workshop, they get the skill and their vision is there and then they're unstuck and everything's, you know they're happy. But for months they've been sitting there struggling because they have been trained to write visions one way and that skill doesn't serve them for being a builder. They need a different skill. 

You learn a skill, you get unstuck you move forward I meet a lot of builders who are stuck because they're saying, you know, I can't get into classrooms enough. And I don't know how to get into classrooms. And I'm trying to get into three classrooms a day and I. And then they learn the skill of thinking about feedback, the way that builders do, they learn the skill of creating a feedback architecture that gets you into the right classes at the right time, and helps you to give people the right feedback, they learn the four feedback conversations that builders use, and they know how to use those conversations to get people to not only hear their feedback, but to accept their feedback and get there and get moving. And applying that feedback to the practice. It's very simple, they learn the skill, they apply the skill, they see the results. This is why so many builders sees such a big results very quickly. Because once you understand that there is a there is a skill, if it's really a skill problem, if you're trying to do something, you just don't have the skill, you come you get this skill, you apply the skill, the problem goes away. So that's the easiest one to solve. I mean, we create, it builds up university, because there are certain skills that builders need, there's certain frameworks that builders need. So the courses and the tools and the materials are there, you're missing a skill, you grab a skill, you learn it, you apply it, problem solved, if the easy one. Sometimes your issue is not that you don't have a skill, because if you knew what skill you're missing, you can go learn it, there's a book, there's a course is a program, there's there's a there's a there's a training, there's something that can help you acquire this skill. 

But sometimes I see people who even after they acquire the skill, it's they still don't make any progress. And so they look back and they say, Oh, this program didn't work, oh, this skill didn't work. Oh, that training didn't work. Oh, that book was was was nonsense, because I read that book, and I did those things, and it still didn't work. And a lot of times, the problem isn't that you are missing a skill. The problem you're dealing with is something deeper. And even if you were to go get the skill, if you don't solve this problem, the skill won't matter. And that's that you are missing a trait. Now, this one's hard for me, because I was dealing with something recently, and I was looking for a skill I was looking for a solution I was, you know, doing all the research, like I tend to do to try to find the solution. And I found the solution. And I said okay, this will work, it's worked for other people. So surely it will work for me. And then I applied the solution. And then I did it for a couple of weeks and then got bored and start sliding back to what I always do or sliding onto the next thing. And I didn't stick with it. And as a result of not sticking with it, I was I found myself stuck again a few months. And our tendency is to say, oh, that thing didn't work. And we keep looking for the next thing, when really what we're missing is not a skill, because most things will work if we stick with it. And so what's missing is not the skill, it's a trait. So tell me if this is true for you. Have you found something that you know will work and you start out every year strong gung ho doing it, and then you get distracted. And then you start doing something else. And then you start doing this next thing, and then you start doing the next thing. And before long, that thing that you knew would work and maybe even was working, you're not doing it anymore, you're on to the next thing. It's not the skill you don't need. 

Another thing what you need is discipline. 

what you need is the trait to stick with something what you need is perseverance, what you need is consistency. And so a lot of people right now, because it's summer, you're thinking about what we need to do next year. And many of you are looking for a thing, we need a new program, we needed this. And a lot of times you think the program, or the training is going to correct what's really a lack of a trait. Let me give an example. I'll give you a couple examples. One was student at the school level, a lot of times, you know, people say well, my my teachers aren't, aren't planning. And so I need to find a lesson planning format that I can force someone teachers to use. Well, do you think that your teachers got through all of their education courses and all of their training and never learned a lesson planning format? Do you really think that if you just find the perfect lesson planning format, and you do a training around that, that that's going to address a problem? Because I guarantee you all of your teachers have a lesson plan and format. Okay, I can't guarantee it. 

I don't know if that's true for all of them. But I mean, that's like education courses, one on one. So if they've gone through an education program, they've learned how to plan a lesson. They've been given a format or training around how to do that. So their problem isn't a lack of training. The problem isn't that they don't have the skill if they do, you know, you can train them, certainly. But I'm pretty sure that it's not a skill issue, it's a will issue, it's that they don't use it. They are not consistently planning lessons. So training people on how to plan lessons won't fix the problem, because it's not a skill issue. This is a trait. This is about consistency. This is about understanding the importance of planning. Okay, so now you we all get that. But now let's talk about you. I see this happens so many times where people come up to me and they say, Hey, you know, I'm a builder, I believe in 100%. I've read your book, people even will join builder, ship University, and then never do the work. And then they'll go, oh, the read the book, and then never apply anything. I mean, stop leading start building, lays it out. I mean, it's you could take that book right now and just follow that book, you could get very far by just following the book, or people listened to the podcast every week. And they were like, oh, you know, I've listened to the podcast every week, and never apply anything.

So it's not a skill issue here. This is a trait This is a will issue. This is, this is something else. This is people who refuse to commit, for our week it takes to really work on your school, rather than in your school. This is people who buy a whole bunch of stuff, and then let it accumulate. And quite frankly, that's me, right? I buy books that I while I used to I used to buy books that I never read, I I enrolled in programs and got strategies that I never applied, we think the buying the program, enrolling in the program, buying the book, buying the thing going to the training, we think that's a substitute for actually doing the work. You have to your problem, probably, it might it could be a skill that you're missing. But that's an easy fix, you acquire the skill, you solve the problem. And a lot of cases, you have the skill already, or you bought the program with a skill in it that you've never opened, you know, I was in a school one time. And they they were facing a problem. And we looked at and we said oh, what we need is we need these, you know, we need a different book, we need a different curriculum. And they're like, oh, we have that it's in the book room, in a box. We never opened it. So the whole time the skill was sitting there, it's available to you, you know where to find it. 

You know what skill you need, but you'd never do it. 

So maybe you're missing a trait, maybe you're missing the work is not about acquiring the skill, the work is about developing your discipline, the work is about develop being more choosing to be more consistent, the work is about choosing to show up. Last example, because you know, this, this one, this one is gets all of us including me, every year, a couple times a year, we offer free training, we do five days of free training, and it's not fluff. It's intense. And we give you a workbook every single day. It's absolutely free, we are taking some of the best pieces of the work we do and build it from university, and we give it to you for free. So when people say, you know, I can't afford to join bu right now. So okay, then come to our free training, even the people in bu come to the free training because it's that good there, they have access to the whole bu library and vault of training. And they still come to the free training because they get something out of it as well. So this is not fluff. And it's absolutely free. All you have to do is show up for one hour, you don't even have to stay for the q&a, the training is an hour and then we do a half an hour of coaching afterwards. That's all you have to do. And it's five days and people sign up that we get but maybe of the people sign up, a small percentage actually show up at an even smaller percentage show up every day for the five days. Now you say you have challenges, you say that you want to develop the skills to to remove those challenges. You say you're frustrated and overwhelmed and you want things to be different. You get a free training that gives you the tools to make a difference. You believe those tools will make it different and you don't show up. 

Do you really have a skill problem? No, this is a trait. You're missing a key trait. And that trait is just as easy to solve. You just have to decide to show up Weird, we don't deal with the trade stuff. And I'm speaking to me here too, because a lot of times, it's just easier to buy the thing, it's easier to sign up for the program you're never gonna show up for, it's easier to get another book and put it on your shelf, because you feel like you've done something. But you still have the same problems. And until you develop, you take a hard look at yourself and develop the traits that you need, you're going to be stuck with those problems. Now, I had to have this conversation with myself. Recently, I was facing, you know, a challenge. And in the work that I do, and trying to build, build a ship University, I was facing a real challenge. I'm going to be vulnerable with you here. I did what everybody does, I bought the stuff that I never read, I took the free online training signed up for him, didn't show up, I bought the program and the coaching, started out really strong, after a couple of weeks, got busy, didn't show up for the following stuff. And a few months later, I was right where it was before just broker because I'd spent all this money trying to solve the problem, and hadn't solved the problem. And I remember one day I was sitting there and I was thinking about it. And I came across this framework about you know about the idea of Is it a skill problem? Is it that you're missing a trait? Or is it a belief? And I sat down and ask myself the question I began to write, that's how I process I think so I started just writing and I said okay, asking myself, is it really a skill problem? What skills am I missing? And there were, frankly, a few skills that I was missing. And then I said, How do I solve the skill piece. And I realized that I knew the skills that I was missing. 

But I also knew the resources that had the skills, some of them are sitting on my shelf. Others of them were or trainings that I had access to. Some of them would require others in the matter already invested in and some of them were going to require new investment, but nothing major. The ICT, the skills were there, I knew what skills I was missing. And I have the resources available to me to fix the skills. So what was the problem? Well, when I got to the trade section, I said, What traits do I need in order to achieve this goal? Now, this is hard for me to admit, but I'm gonna go do it because I hold you accountable. You gotta hold me accountable to one of the traits that I was missing was I had gotten lazy. I am old. I'm telling you to do. And I've been doing this for a long time mine steps is almost 20 years old before that, several years, over 10 years in education before that before I mean, as a teacher and as an administrator before that. And I'm old, and quite frankly, I wanted to work less and spend time puttering in the garden. And so I wasn't spending the same amount of time working that I used to work. Now listen, I'm not talking about grinding it out. I'm just talking about basics. I was getting to work, lay, leave work early, take it off when I felt like it. And so the work was piling up because the work still needs doing, it's still going to be there. But I just got tired and just wasn't working as much as I should have been working. I am overdue to write my next book, I have the book outline. I know what book it's going to be. But you know, when I wrote my other books, I would get up every day. And the first thing I would do is I would write for an hour. And lately, I was getting up every day. And the first thing I would do is read the paper, look on you know, check my email, do other things. And then the day started happening and I didn't have time to write and I wasn't writing. So it wasn't that I didn't have the skill to produce. It wasn't that I didn't have the skill to solve the challenges that I needed to saw. It was simply I wasn't doing it. 

I've gotten lazy.

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 on your phone or your podcast player, and then click the three dots next to this episode and it'll give you the option to share the episode. Now 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 gonna 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.

Once I realized that I said, Okay, now we got to get back on the program, I put protections on my phone to keep social media from distracting me, I started setting my alarm early, getting up an hour earlier, I started going to bed an hour earlier, I started showing up every day, because that's what it takes for me to write a book. And I spent an hour I set the timer, I spent an hour focused on writing a book. And in the last week or so I've written probably 3040 pages of the book. So it's not a matter of a skill, it was just a trait. I just hadn't decided to do the work. I just hadn't decided to get it done. The moment I recognized that it was a trait issue. Then I started doing the work. And the moment I started doing the work, guess what? The work got done. So for some of us, this isn't a skill issue. You know, what it takes to move your school forward, you at least know what it takes what the next step should be. But are you doing it? You? Are you? Are you showing up for the trainings? Are you reading the books? Are you taking the what you learn to the training and implementing it? Are you staying consistent? Are you getting distracted by every new shiny object? What trait is missing? And once you understand that, that's the work.

 You don't need another book, you don't need that training. Don't do like, you know, some people do, oh, I need to try to discipline let me find a book on discipline, don't do that. Just decide once you know, it's discipline, once you know that, you have to focus on a particular thing and only to get it done. Just make a decision and do it. And then you get unstuck, and you solve the problem. Now, for some of you it's a skill for others of you. It's a it's a trait. But the third one, I find to be the most insidious because this is the one that sneaky it's still right. So maybe you say yeah, I've got all the skills I need. And yeah, I'm doing I am disciplined, I am being consistent. Why am I still not successful? Well, the third reason might be your beliefs. See, I made a lot of principals who work hard and show up and have all the traits that they need to be successful. But they hit a plateau, they get stuck. And the reason they get stuck is because they don't truly believe that 100% is possible. They say it every kid every day, whatever it takes, they say all means all. But they don't believe it. In their hearts, they think it's not going to happen for every kid. It can happen for most kids, but there's some kids who just aren't going to make it. Furthermore, they don't believe in their staff, they don't believe that their staff has the ability to get there. So they're saying all means all. And they might mean it for kids, but they don't mean it for the adults. And I don't know how you can have 100% school without you know, we talk about being a builder and having 100% school, we talk about it on two levels, 100% staff alignment, and 100% student success. Because you can't have one without the other. 

It's hard to get to 100% student success. 

Without 100% staff alignment, you need both. So what most people do is they say All means all they do the work, they're consistent. They're wearing themselves out actually. But because they don't believe it, they they do things that subtly sabotage their success. They they don't go all out 100% full of it. So a lot of people say yeah, my 100% vision and we do the work and we get the 100% vision, and they believe in it. And then they go to the district meeting, and somebody tells them you're being a little naive. They're scared to say 100% because they're worried what if I don't make it, then I look foolish. And that fear changes their belief that fear alters their behavior. And so we often don't even realize it, we convince ourselves we believe something, but in our heart we really don't. There's doubt there. So if you are are you you have the skills and you're doing the right work. And you have the traits you're you have the will your your your your your your you're disciplined and focused and doing all the things that you need to do and being all the things you need to be and you're still not successful. The net Step is to examine, is this a belief issue? Is there something that I believe that is getting in my way? Here are some examples? You know, I talked about how some of us don't really believe all kids can achieve our vision that our vision is too big for all kids. And if that's your belief, then you want to take that apart a little bit. Are you saying that it's not possible? Or are you saying that it's not possible with the school you have right now? Because what I find is most of the time, you believe it's possible, but you don't see how it could be possible with the school you have right now. And guess what you are, right? That belief is, is correct. 

But the question you should be asking is not as impossible at the school I have right now. But what does my school have to look like in order for that to be possible. And when you get that vision of that school, and you believe in that, then the belief that what your current school looks like doesn't matter, you believe in what is possible, and then you begin to build your school to make it look like that, that the possibility that you dreamed up. Now, you some of you may be thinking, I believe it's possible, I'm just not sure that I am the kind of person who can make it possible. I'm not charismatic, or I'm not exciting, or I'm not dynamic, or I'm not like this person over there. And if that's the case, I want you to ask yourself the question, what do you think they have, that you don't have? Because there are a lot of charismatic principals right now who are failing. There a lot of dynamic principals right now who are quietly failing. You don't have to be Joe Clark, you don't have to be I don't know how many Escalade Oh, you want to be a movie principal in order to succeed, you really can succeed and achieve 100%. With the personality you have right now? Well, that's good, because you can't change it anyway. So you can do it with who you are. So the question you should be asking is, how do I leverage who I am, and still make this, this this school successful, because it's not personalities don't create 100% schools processes do. So if you believing that it's a personality issue, and you don't have the personality of somebody like that, then you don't have to worry about it. Because your personality isn't going to get you there. Anyway, it's your processes, and how consistent you are through processes. That's what makes you a builder. 

Notice that when I talk about being a builder, I never say anything about you have to look a certain way, you have to be a certain way, or you have to say a certain thing. All that stuff is just, it's just its shell. And those people out there peacocking and profiling. And when you look at their data, when you go into their buildings, the buildings, there's something missing, and they're not at 100%. And every it's a cult, it's not a culture. And so those things aren't going to last, here's what will last. And this is what builders do. You can build a school that creates 100%, staff alignment, and 100% student success. And we'll continue to do that after you leave jet to have the right processes. So if you're worried about personality, or you're worried that you you yourself, you don't you're not the you're not that dynamic, or you're not whatever, doesn't matter. It just matters that you have the right processes. Another false belief that people have is that they don't believe in our staff. They think I'm not going to get there with these people, these people are holding me back. And again, it's not, you know, you need people you need to get your staff aligned. That process is something that you can do. We've seen, I've seen it happen too many times. I believe in it that if you do the right process, you will get the staff aligned. And then once you get the staff aligned, they take ownership of the work and they get better. So the staff you have right now, probably not going to get you to 100%, but doesn't mean you need to change people, it means that you need to grow the people you have. We believe that you can achieve 100% staff alignment and 100% Student Success with the people and the resources you have right now. And so our job as builders is to not only set the vision, but put the processes in place to grow the will and skill of our people so that we can achieve our vision. That's the work, but it is possible. 

Now, you may need some new skills. 

You may need some new traits, but you can get there. So but you have to believe first that it's possible or you won't even try. Have you ever gone into a teacher's classroom and it looks like it's a disaster. And you, in your heart don't believe that that person should be teaching, not because they're harmful to kids or, you know, criminals pedophile, not because of anything like that. But just because you just don't see the potential for them to be what your ideas of a master teacher. And so then when you go and have that feedback, conversation, you go through the motions, but you don't believe your feedback is going to make a difference, you don't really in your heart believe that they'll be able to act on your feedback and grow that belief. It's leaking out all over to all of your conversation. And that belief is governing how you treat that teacher. So it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, because you don't believe in that teacher, you don't have that teacher grow, that teacher doesn't grow. And so we think, See, I told you, they weren't right. Well, maybe if you believed in that teacher, you would behave differently. And maybe if he behaved differently, that teacher would grow. And maybe then seeing that growth would make you start to invest more in that teacher and help a teacher grow even more, until that teacher surprises everybody and becomes a master teacher. That's the difference. But if you don't believe in that teacher, you'll never try.

So you see a belief can undermine the work that you do. So you got to ask yourself, Am I missing a skill? Is it a trait that I'm missing? Or is, Mr. Do I believe something that is preventing me from being successful. And if you go through this inventory first, if you if you ask yourself those questions, and you're constantly monitoring and being self aware, then instead of spinning your wheels and chasing, you know, shiny objects and, and trying and working really hard and not seeing success, you could get to the heart of why it is that you're stuck right now, and then do the work to get unstuck. Because once you understand, oh, this is a skill, easy fix, grab the skill. Once you understand this is a trait still easy fix, grab great, you know, change, choose to do something different develop the trade, once you understand it's a belief, still easy fix. Take that belief apart, look at the assumptions, see the false assumptions, and then choose to believe something different. You do that, and you get on stuck. You see success. People think it's hard. What's hard about success is not the path. There's so many people who've written and drawn out the path to success already. The hard part of success is you the hard part of success is us. Because we often as I said, Last episode, we often unintentionally sabotage the road to success. But when you understand yourself, when you do this inventory, when you when you when you when you check in with yourself to figure out where is the blockage in you, you can get unstuck. You can clear all the nonsense out of the way so that then you can move forward and achieve the success that you are meant to achieve the success that you want. But not only that you want the success that you were you were made to achieve. I mean, you can accomplish the things that you were put on this earth to accomplish. Because you dealt with yourself 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 than you need to join build a 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 Nope. Now there are 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 or 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 they'll talk to you next time.

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