Unmotivated people can’t motivate anybody


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast, episode 66.

Welcome to the school leadership re-imagined podcast where we rethink what's possible to transform your school if you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement than stayed tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey builders.

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host Robyn Jackson, and today we're going to talk about another mindsteps-ism, but before I tell you what Mindsteps is and we're going to discuss today how you doing. This has been a tough several weeks and many of you have been engaging in heroic efforts to make sure that students get an education and a quality education under really untenable circumstances. You've had to take your schools quickly and start remote learning. You are still feeding children, you are managing your own stress. There's a lot of uncertainty out there and you are also trying to keep a calm face even though you don't feel calm inside. You're trying to keep everybody else calm. And maybe you're also trying to take care of your own family and yourself. Or maybe you are by yourself at home and, and you've been at home for a long time and you're missing the company and you're missing your kids and you're worried about your kids and you know, you're not sure whether or not we're going to go back to school.

Many of your districts have already ended school for the year and you're wondering what does that mean? So there's a lot going on right now and I bet you're stressed. And the challenge right now is that I know that most of us are trying to manage our own stress and we're also trying to make sure that the people we serve are not stressed out. But as this week Mindsteps ism reminds us unmotivated people can't motivate anybody. We've been saying this for a long time. It actually started when I was doing a motivation workshop for teachers. It was how to motivate your reluctant learners. And I remember standing there and looking at this audience of teachers, many of whom were complaining about how unmotivated their students were and they were so beat down that they had lost their own motivation. And I remember stopping the workshop and saying, listen, y'all unmotivated people can't motivate anybody.

There's no youth in my showing you all of these strategies for motivating students when it's your own motivation. 

That's the problem right now. I wasn't trying to blame the teachers, I was just simply saying, it's really hard to motivate other people when you yourself not motivated. And the same thing is true for those of you who are builders, it's really hard to keep your staff on board and motivated when you're not motivated yourself. And so even though I had been planning on talking about this Mindsteps ism for a while, it's been amazing to me how over the last few weeks, the Mindsteps ism that I was planning to talk about is exactly the one that's relevant for where we are right now. April, 2020 we're dealing with a lot. And so on this episode I want to talk about how do you sustain your own motivation and I want to give you five things that you could be doing right now to make sure that your staff stays motivated even in these extraordinary circumstances.

But before I do that, I have two things I want to remind you about. The first is I want to remind you about builders lab. People have been asking us if we're still going to have builders lab this year, especially when travel restrictions are in place, and the answer is yes, we believe that you need what we teach at builder's lab. Now more than ever, we're going to be mindful of safety. We're going to follow the guidelines of our local governments, so we're monitoring things very carefully to see what's going to happen, but regardless of whether we are going to do builders lab face to face or we're going to provide a virtual experience, it will still happen. In fact right now we have all kinds of backup plans and contingency plans in place to make sure that you get that bill just lab experience regardless of what's going on right now and when I talk about a virtual experience, I'm not talking about you on a zoom meeting for three days straight.

That is excruciating. 

I'm talking about designing something that can help you capture the magic and the support of builder's lab. Even if we have to deliver it remotely. We're still hoping that we're going to be able to deliver a builder's lab live, but regardless, we will have builder's lab this year and again, I believe that what we're teaching you in builder's lab, you need Mount now more than ever. I've been in touch with several of our builders lab alumni and their schools are thriving right now. Sure. They still are facing difficulties. Sure. They still have a lot of, a lot of things that they have to deal with, but because they hear using the tools that they learned in builder's lab, their schools are not just surviving. They're thriving. So we will have builder's lab this year. You can still register for builders labs, simply go to Mindsteps inc com slash builders dash lab.

Now the second reminder is that we have a popup group going on right now. When this crisis first started, I just jumped in and started a pop up group so that I could provide support for all of the builders all over the world who were trying to manage this crisis and still keep their schools thriving. So every week inside of the popup group, I do at least one training on something relevant right there. So last week I did a training on how do you manage your staff when you are trying to manage them remotely, you know, how do you make sure that they are still accountable? How do you provide them with feedback, how do you provide them with support and how do you still build a healthy school culture when you're doing all of this remotely?

That training has gotten an overwhelming response. 

In fact, so many people have benefited from that training that we have. We did a reach play of the training because we have some tech difficulties and so some people couldn't get on the training live, so we rerun the live training this week and we are also have the training replay inside of the pop-up group so you can see that, but every week we do kind of a big training like that. I also host office hours where I just, you know, I jump into a space and online space and I'm there for an hour and anybody who wants to can just pop in, you can ask a question. It's an opportunity to get my help on your specific challenges and we do that for an hour. You don't have to stay for the whole time. You can pop in, ask your question and then get back to work. Or if you want to stick around and hear what other people will have to say, you can do that as well.

We've also done some more hands on workshops. We've had a workshop. Probably our most popular workshops so far has been on how you can either develop or tweak your vision statement so that it can become your true North star for you and your staff during this crisis and beyond how you can use that to set your school up to thrive now and beyond. And so that training is happening. We do that workshop, we've done it three times now and people have come in and walked out with these amazing vision statements that they're using to galvanize their schools. So if you'd like to join us inside of that pop up group, you can go to Mindsteps inc com and then there's a banner there and a place for you to kind of click on so that you can join the pop up group. Now we're going to keep the popup group going for at least another month.

At some point I am going to have to get back to work. 

I'm trying to finish the book and do some other things and I'm spending a lot of time in the pop up group right now, but it's going to be going on for at least another month and when you join you can have access to all of the archive trainings. You can join us for office hours and for any upcoming trainings. Again, go to Mindsteps inc com and then look for where it says join the pop up group. All right, let's talk about this week's mind step. Unmotivated people can't motivate anybody and I'll be honest with you, I am preaching to the choir here. All of us are under a tremendous amount of stress and that stress has been going on for several weeks now as we are scrambling to try to build a school and provide students with with quality learning experiences in an online, we're managing staff members, we're managing our own families and our own stress and it can be a lot.

So what can we do to not only maintain our own motivation but also to make sure that we're keeping our staff motivated as well. While I have five things for you. The first one and probably to me one of the most important ones is that we need to be really careful about how we are framing this crisis. I've talked to several administrators who have said, wow, you know, this year is a wash. The moment you say that, if the moment that you kill not only your own motivation but everybody around you, their motivation, because when you say this year is a wash, then if I'm a teacher in your school, why am I working so hard to provide students with some semblance of normalcy, some quality learning experience when you've already just negated all of my work by saying this year is a wash.

Why would I as a parent work hard to make sure that my students are participating in the remote learning experience?

If you're saying that this year is a wash, we have to be really, really careful about the language that we're using right now. We have to stop saying things like, well, I'm so worried about the summer slide and this year is, Oh, I get it. I know we're worried about those things, but our language is so powerful and people are listening to that language and they're putting that language together to create a narrative about this time. We should not be talking about this time as if it is a wash, as if it is a lost cause as if the kids aren't going to be learning anything that does not have to be your reality and it starts with the language. So we should be framing this opportunity not as as a crisis that is going to make us lose things and kids are going to be behind. We should be framing this as an opportunity, an opportunity for us to provide meaningful learning experiences and a sense of stability to our students.

An opportunity for us to grow as individuals in this profession as we have learning new ways to provide for students and opportunity for us to re shape the profession. I've been saying to people that you came to this profession because you wanted to make a difference and now you have an opportunity, potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a bigger difference than even you could imagine. So that's what we need to be telling our teachers. We need to stop with this negative talk. Stop with this, this lamenting about all the things that we're losing. Stop with the complaints about people don't know what they're doing. All that may be true, but you have to shape the story. Remember an earlier episode where I talked about whomever controls the narrative controls your culture. Well, if you give people a negative narrative, that negative narrative will take over your culture and it will cause short term and longterm damage.

In the short term, it's going to SAP people's motivation. 

It's going to make people feel like this is an unending uphill battle, that you know the this is fruitless. We're just, you know, floundering. And in the longterm you shown people that in the midst of crisis, you don't really have an answer for that. So can they really trust you as their builder? When it came down to it, you are negative. You see, if you really, really believe in your vision, mission, and core values, this crisis does not change them. If you really believe that it was important for all of your students to be reading by second grade, that hasn't changed. If you really believed it was important for all of your students to achieve at least one year's worth of growth for one year worth of school that has it change, nothing has changed.

That's still important. The question now becomes how do we provide that in under these circumstances? That's the only difference. So your narrative can't change. If you truly believe in your vision, mission, and core values, then your narrative hasn't changed. It's still we believe that this is important. This is what we're building. This is why it's important. This is everybody's role. That does not change and maybe you know that intellectually, but the language that you use right now when you are talking about what's happening will either enhance and support your school narrative, your vision, your mission, your core values or will undermine them. Question is, do you really believe it? So you have to show people, no, I walk the talk. I really believe this, and that means that you have to make sure that the language that you are using right now about this crisis supports the story that you have been telling people and that you want to tell people when this crisis is over.

Make sure that you are careful how you frame the crisis.

Number two, now is a time to invoke a sense of destiny. I know that sounds very lofty, but let me tell you what, what I mean by that. You see a lot of people are so caught up in the day to day stuff of the crisis and that can be so demoralizing. It can make us feel like we don't have any control over anything. There's a lot of fear happening right now and what you want to do is you want to shift your vision and everybody else's vision from what is happening right now to what it will mean later on. You see, this could our finest hour. This is an opportunity that we have to not only shepherd our students and our families through this crisis, but to redesign education and make it better for kids instead of lamenting the inequities, fix them.

We have the opportunity right now to do that. Instead of lamenting the loss of learning, find ways to help students learn. Even now, the things that we do now can reshape what happens for our children's future and we need to start talking to people about that. It's not about did you get your Google classroom set up? How many zoom meetings did you have a week? Every time we're talking about that we should be talking about because what we do now will either set us up for success in the future or it'll reveal our failings. People need to understand that what they do now, it's not about just now. You have to provide that context for people because that will keep people going even when they're tired, even when they're scared, even when they're frustrated. If you just make this about now, it's easy for people to say, wow, it's only going to be for a few more weeks and then we'll get back to normal and then I'll deal with it.

Folks, that is a delusion. I hate to use such strong language, but we are not going to go back to normal. 

There's going to be a whole new way of thinking about education. I'm not even certain that we're going to go back to school in a lot of state superintendents are starting to raise the same issue. I'm not even certain that we're going to be returning to school in the fall, so you can't get people to just focus on now. You have to get people to focus on future destiny. And I know that sounds lofty and and touchy feely and, but trust me, this, what we're doing right now is going to shape the destiny of our schools and the way that we educate children. And we have to get beyond just the immediate day to day demands and remind ourselves and remind our staff often that this is our finest hour.

How we respond to this crisis will symbolize to our students what it means to be truly resilient. You know the number of schools who have grit and resilience in their core values, but who are not demonstrating grit and resilience in the way they're handling this crisis? No. If this is important, if grit and resilience are important, now's the time to show it. Because what we're doing right now is not just surviving. What will you're doing right now is an opportunity for us to redefine the work that we do to make it better, to make children's lives better. So number one, frame the crisis. Number two, invoke a sense of destiny. Number three, we need to tell people what a win looks like. We need to define victory. Here's what I mean by that right now, so many of us can't see our way through the crisis.

We just see what's happening in front of us. It's hard to imagine what things will look like on the other side. 

You have an opportunity to help people imagine that, to help people think beyond just what's happening now to to what we have the potential to build together. Remember when I talk about how bosses say go and and leaders say, let's go and build or say come. Well now is your opportunity to say come and you're inviting people to a future that feels very, you know, way out there right now, but you are you by saying calm. You're showing them that that future is tangible. It's possible for them. So you need to be saying to people, you know what? One day we're going to get through this crisis and we're going to sit down on the other side and we're going to smile and we're going to look back and we're going to see all the things we've done and we're going to be in a better place.

We will have built a school that's better. Here's what it's going to look like. And then you tell your vision story what you can build together and then you say to people, so what we do right now? We have to remember that we are doing this so we can earn the story we want to tell later on. You got to get people to look beyond this to the future and you have to tell them what the future can look like if we work together. Your vision is more important now than it ever was because if you don't give people something to work towards, it's going to hard to be, to keep them motivated. And remember, unmotivated people can't motivate anybody. I'm motivated. People are not going to do the work that has to be done right now to build the school we want to build.

So frame the crisis, invoke a sense of destiny, define victory.

And number four, you need to redefine hardship. This is hard right now. There is no question about it, but a lot of people are saying, we're asking you to do an impossible job. I know we're trying to show sympathy, but we just told people with what they're doing, it's impossible. Now you have to talk about how it isn't possible, but it will be hard. You have to make sure that you are confronting the brutal of your reality, but you are maintaining unwavering faith that we will get there. So when I say redefine hardship, I don't mean that you're going to tell people, well, come on. It's not as hard as you know it's all a bed. No, that's, that's denying the hardship. You want to admit, yes, this is hard, but you also want to say, this is the price that we're paying to build the school we want to build.

You want to make sure that you understand that you are telling people that this hardship that they're going right now, it's going to be worth it because we're going to be better because we're going to serve students better. Because we're going to figure out a way to educate students that is context agnostic, which means that if this happens again, we won't be thrown off of off of our game because we will have been building something so that we can educate students no matter what context we're in. You've got to redefine hardship. So first you want to frame the crisis sectionally. Second, you want to define evoke a sense of destiny. Third, you want to define victory. Fourth, you want to redefine hardship. And then fifth, you want to make sure that you embody the change. First, I've always said be who you want to see.

Remember, people are looking to you. If you're freaking out, then it signals to them that maybe we should be freaking out too. 

But if you're calm, if you're focused, if you are confronting the brutal facts and you're looking at them square in the eye, but you're still maintaining that unwavering faith, then it gives people the signal that they can too. It helps people understand we're going to be okay and you know what we are, we are going to be okay. And years from now you'll sit back and, and you'll listen to this podcast and you'll remember that during this time we were calling through all of this, but we took steps now to set our schools up for success. We took steps now to build better schools. And because we did that, we can sit back and we can Marvel over the success story that we built together and we can look back and we can be proud of ourselves and how we handled ourselves in the midst of crisis.

And we can see through hindsight, all of the opportunities that this crisis was a what's affording us. And we can feel good because we built a success story together. Unmotivated people can't motivate anybody. So if you're feeling unmotivated, then you need to take some time. And reframe this crisis as an opportunity. You need to take some time to invoke a sense of destiny for yourself, to remind yourself that you are taking steps now, but this is your finest hour. You need to take some time right now to define victory and redefine hardship. And finally, you need to embody the changes that you want to see other people make so that you can go out, motivated and motivate others like a builder.

That's it for today. But if you need my help in anything, know that I'm here for you. 

We have a free pop-up group. I'm in there every single day. I'm providing as much support as I can. We will get through this together, but I don't just want you to survive this. I want you to thrive. You see you're a builder and as a builder you have the opportunity now like you've never had before to truly, truly build something extraordinary. If the opportunity right now, even in the midst of crisis, to turn your school into a success story, and I cannot wait to hear in a few years the story that you will tell, but it all depends on you. It all depends on how you handle things right now. It all depends on what you are building right now. And so if you need my help, I'm here. I'm together. Let's build something amazing.

Bye for now. See you next time. 

Thank you for listening to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast for show notes and free downloads visit https://schoolleadershipreimagined.com/

School Leadership Reimagined is brought to you by Mindsteps Inc, where we build master teachers.