School Leadership Reimagined - How to Protect Your Confidence

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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 80. 

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 faith. 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, Robin Jackson. Today we're going to talk about how you can protect your most valuable resource as a builder. And that's your confidence. You see, when things are going crazy, or even in normal circumstances, a builders confidence is always being attacked. Because remember, you are building something that people have never experienced before you're building something new, something better. And a lot of times you can see it because you've gone out ahead, but other people can't see it. And if you listen to them, they may begin to shake your confidence they may start to raise questions or issues or what about so yes, buts. And after a while it can shake your confidence Plus, you are inviting them to come join you in something that they've never experienced before. And not everybody's going to take you up on that invitation. First. Sometimes you have to start building before people actually join you in building. And during that in between time that that time when you are out there building by yourself. A lot of times our confidence can become shaken. It can become shaken by the naysayers, it can become shaken because people may not move as quickly as we thought they would move. I want to talk to you about how you can protect your confidence.

Confidence is your most valuable resource as a builder. 

We're going to talk about five ways that you can protect your confidence, especially during that in between time so that you don't get disheartened that you don't stop building that you continue to build and trust the process and know that what you're building can materialize and will materialize. But before we jump into that, I have a couple of announcements. So the first one is that we are right in the middle of our support sprint. So for those of you who have been listening for a while, you know that I filmed our our building master teachers course a couple of weeks ago. And after we filmed the course everybody in builder's University joined me in a sprint where we're actually building the resources that you'll need to set up a support system for your teachers that ensures that all of your teachers grow one level in one domain in one year or less. And so this week, we've been meeting every single day with that's why we call it a sprint, we go four days straight, we go hard. But at the end of those four days, everybody and build a ship University is going to have all of the tools they need to put this system in place, they're going to build out that system together. So that once we're finished, they're going to put that system in place and they won't have to worry about creating another system for the rest of the year. They can just monitor that system and watch all of their teachers grow one level, one domain one year or less.

It's been a lot of fun. And that's the kind of stuff that we're doing inside of builder ship University. It's not just a repository for trainings and courses and resources. Although there's a ton of really valuable training inside a builder's University there are courses that you can take to help you develop better feedback processes for teachers and to help you be accountable and help your teachers be accountable there all kinds of other training resources there. And then we have a ton of just tools and exemplars and strategies and things for you to use to help you on your builder ship journey. But in addition to that we have a lot of live work so inside of builder ship university, I am coaching you through the process we are getting the work done and a lot of times people want to know the difference between builders ship University and builders labs so builders lab is where you go to get your you know your Crash Course and buildership it. During builders lab we really working on refining your vision and showing you the entire process for achieving your vision in your school. So during builders lab that's you know, three days of intense work with people other builders just like you and you are Learning the entire process and starting to put it in place, build a ship University is a place where you can kind of do that work and continue that work. So when build a ship University, that's the place where you will build the tools, that's the place where you'll flesh out the details. So builders lab gives you that crash course that helps you get started right away. 

Buildership University is the place that helps you continue the process.

It helps you to kind of do the nitty gritty, you know, work. And it gives you the space to do a lot of this work on your own so that you can work at your own pace, and in your own time, and build out all the things that you need to set up your entire builder ship system in your school so that your school is moving towards your vision and your mission and your core values. So right now build a ship University is not open for open enrollment, we are enrolling founding members only. And the difference between kind of open enrollment and founding membership is that as a founding member, you get a little bit more intense support. Not only that, you get to have a lot of input about what goes into build a ship University, we're relying on our founders to tell us the kinds of resources and tools that they want to see inside of builders University. And so we have just a few more founding memberships left. And once we get to our cap on founding memberships, we're going to close down enrollment, really serve those founding members as we finished building out build a ship University, and we will have open enrollment starting in January. So if you'd like to be a founding member of builder, ship University, then you want to go to build a ship university.com and go ahead and fill out the application. Now builders lab tickets are open for everybody and they are on sale right now. And the beautiful thing about getting your builders lab ticket is that you start builders lab, we're going to have builders live January 25, or 27 2021.

We're gonna start the year out with builders lab and if you get your tickets early, you get a lot of resources and access, we're doing some things to help you get ready for builders lab. So the earlier you buy your ticket, the more support you get. But not only that, when you come to build his lab, three days intense work, we're working together to build out your vision to help you figure out the process for creating your mission and your core values in your school for figuring out what your school's one thing is, and then giving you the resources and tools to build out a 90 day plan for knocking down your biggest challenge in the next 90 days. And not only that, when you leave builders lab, you don't just get three days of intense support, you also get three months of follow up support, we want to make sure that your 90 day plan actually comes to fruition, we want to make sure that that you achieve everything you're trying to achieve. So for the next 90 days, once you leave builders lab, we're going to be sending you weekly emails that prompt you on what you need to be doing that week to make sure that your plan comes to fruition. Not only that, we have monthly office hours where you can come back check in, you know, bring the the challenges that you're facing as you're implementing your plan. I can coach you through that. You are part of a community so that way you can stay in touch with all of the other builders that you meet and build a ship builders lab and you can do that work together. So builders lab Tickets are available right now and you need to get your ticket right now. Just go to mindstepsinc.com slash builders dash lap, that's mindstepsinc.com slash builders dash lab. Alright, let's get into our discussion for today.

I want to talk about protecting your confidence.

One of the things I'm seeing from a lot of builders lately is they have a vision and they really believe in that vision. But then something happens like a nationwide quarantine or, or something happens, something smaller happens like teacher leaves or a parent complains or enrollment drops or, you know, your your district is moving from virtual to face to face and then back again. And when those things happen, it's hard to stay focused on your vision, it's hard to to still feel like you can achieve something this school year. So a lot of builders right now are having their confidence shaken by everything that's going on in the world. And so I just want to spend some time with you today and talk to you about some really tangible, specific ways that you can implement in your own life, almost like a builder's self care where you can protect your confidence. Because if you don't protect your confidence, if you stop believing and what you are building, people pick up on it, people don't take you seriously. And it becomes this self fulfilling prophecy.

The more you doubt, the more you put your vision in doubt. So we have to do some things to protect that confidence to help you to have that same energy in November and December that you had in August. It's things to help you really believe in your vision even when things happen that you weren't expecting. So The first way that you can protect your confidence and you've heard me say this 100 times, and I'll keep saying it because it's true, is you need to anchor in your vision, mission and core values. You see one of the reasons that I insist that you keep working on your vision until you have a vision about what you are truly passionate is because if you are not personally passionate about your vision, your vision is always going to be vulnerable to any naysayer or Yes, butter out there. If you are not anchored in your vision, if it's not a vision you truly believe in, you believe it's as necessary as air for the students. If you don't have that feeling about your vision, then your confidence is always going to be vulnerable.

The first step is a vision gut check.

When you read your vision, whatever your vision is, right now, is that something that feels necessary? Is that something that feels vital? Is that something that gets you excited? Do your eyes light up? Read your vision to yourself in front of the mirror? Do you see your eyes light up? And if the answer's no, then you're not ready yet. You know, builders lab, people get on peoples nerves, right? Because they they work hard. They come up with a vision, that's technically correct. But I'm watching their faces as they tell me their vision. And I'm saying no, not yet. And then we do a lot of like vision workshops inside of builders University. And the same thing. When people bring their vision to the vision workshop. I always say, Okay, tell me your vision. And everybody in the workshop is looking at their faces. And if we don't see their eyes light up, we say not yet. And it's not just because we're trying to make everybody feel good.

There's a really practical reason why your vision has to light you up. Because if you believe your vision as is as necessary as air, if you believe that your vision must happen, if you are not passionate about your vision, then anytime something happens, your vision goes out the window, you can forget it because it doesn't mean anything to you. And so the first step is you have to have a vision you're passionate about. And if you if you don't have a vision you're passionate about, that's where you want to start, don't worry about the rest of your confidence. When you have a vision you're passionate about, you have confidence in that vision, no one can dissuade you from that vision. And it's going to take that level of focus and dedication and commitment to the vision to help you navigate your school through the tough times. So you must believe that your vision is necessary, you must believe in your mission, you must believe that your core values are non negotiable. And when you do that, that's what gives you your anchor. That's what helps you to stay confident even in the midst of crisis. 

The second thing you need to focus on is the bright spots. 

Now, I first kind of started toying around with this concept when I read a book called, oh goodness, I'm just Oh, it's by Chip and Dan Heath, and it's called switch how to change when Change is hard. And one of their suggestions was that you have to deliberately focus on the bright spots. And ever since I read that, I've been playing around with it myself, you know, to protect my own confidence. But I'm also encouraging builders to do the same thing. And it's unbelievable how it can bolster your confidence. It doesn't mean that you don't pay attention to the things that are going wrong. But leaders kind of exclusively pay attention to what's going wrong. They're looking for problems, and they're just looking to solve problems. So their focus is on problems, and that can become overwhelming. But when you're a builder, you have a vision, you have a plan for achieving your vision, you understand what your biggest obstacle is. So you're not worried about all the other obstacles at the moment, you have a singular focus on removing your biggest obstacle, because you believe if you remove your biggest obstacle that gets you closer to your goal, and then the next obstacle will appear.

So as a builder, you're not trying to solve all the problems or remove all the obstacles, you're focused on one your biggest obstacle. And so it's a lot easier to focus on the bright spots when you're focusing on one obstacle because as you're making progress towards removing that obstacle, you can see bright spots, you can see areas where you're making progress, and that can feed your confidence. So builders are with that singular focus on their vision, mission and core values with that singular focus on removing their biggest obstacle. The bright spots are a lot easier for you to see. And when you see those bright spots when you see where things are working. Even under tough circumstances. It helps you to believe in your vision. When you see a classroom where the students 100% of the students are achieving. It helps you believe that it can happen for your entire school. When you see a teacher who was struggling, grow one level in one domain in one year or less. It gives you confidence that you can eventually get that teacher to mastery and you can eventually help that teacher reach all students when you see that the plans that you're executing you're using Meeting rhythm and you're meeting regularly. And you're looking at the data and the way that we show you how to look at the data. And you start seeing that data move, those bright spots will bolster your confidence, you have to have a way to deliberately focus on those bright spots. If you are not intentional about looking for those bright spots, a lot of times they escape unnoticed.

One of the things that I want you to do as a builder is to set up a system.

Finding your meeting rhythm will help you do this. If you don't know what I mean by meeting rhythm, we did an episode where I talked to you about stealing my meeting agenda, we'll put the link to that episode in the show notes. But using that meeting time, and being intentional, deliberate, not just about dealing with the challenges you're facing, but also intentionally surfacing those bright spots. Because that can bolster your confidence that shows you that what you're doing matters, it matters to the students that matters to these teachers, it matters in this way. And that can help you keep going. Even when you're not there yet, even when it feels like you're not making the progress, you want to make focus on the bright spots. One of the things that we do every meeting here at my steps is we start the meeting by going around the table and everybody has to share a win that week. And what that does is we know the rest of the meeting is going to be about Okay, what's not working, how do we fix it. But when we start the meeting intentionally by sharing that win, it helps us to realize we are making progress, we are seeing results. And that also changes the conversation that goes afterwards. It's not just what was me. We know it's working. We look at what's working, we try to figure out why it's working in this area. And we try to replicate that in other areas.

Focusing on the bright spot gives us the focus in the in the hope that we need to protect our confidence. All right, so the third thing you want to do is that you want to measure yourself against your core values, your vision and your mission, not against other people. I see this a lot with leaders, they're always talking about we're ranked this number in our school district, or, you know, everybody else made a 3% growth and, and we only made a 2% growth or everybody else made a 3% growth, we made a 5% grow. I mean, that's a false metric. Friend of mine always says when you do it that way, the best you can come out with is that you are the tallest Jackie at the racetrack. Yeah, you may be the taller Jackie, you're still short. And so I don't want you to measure yourself against anybody else. I don't want you to measure yourself against an external metric. I want you to measure yourself against How close are we to achieving our vision and are we making progress there is the work we're doing on mission or off mission. And our core values inherent in our culture, are our core values truly non negotiable in our culture, and is everything that we're doing aligned with our vision, mission and core values.

Our Vision, Mission and Core Values are the only measures that matter.

I think a lot of us, our confidence gets shaken whenever we try to measure ourselves against some sort of external metric, something that somebody else who doesn't get built or ship has created as a way to kind of rank people or as a way to kind of sort people that can kill your confidence. If instead you say, okay, those metrics are out there, I get that those metrics are things that other people are using to measure me, I get that. But if I know that if I focus on my vision, mission and core values, and I make progress there, I'll blow every other metric out of the water. Think about this, your district may be measuring to see if you're growing five or 10% in two years, which is ridiculous. That is such a slow pace, that's such a low bar, your vision says I got to get to 100% of my students being successful. Well, if you have 100% of your students being successful in the way that you outline, will you show that growth on the district mass metric, of course you will. But you are not, you're not bound by that metric. You have a bigger vision, something that's bigger than the metric the district puts out. So that's what you want to focus on. If you measure yourself that way, then your confidence grows. And by the the byproduct of that is that you also blow those other metrics out to you, you you use far surpass what the district thinks you can do. Don't be limited by what a state or a district or some other governing body thinks you can do.

Your vision is bigger than that. No be contained. by that. Don't, don't get caught up in what they're telling you matters. You focus on your vision, your mission and your core values. You measure yourself against those. When you do that. The other metrics will take care of themselves, you'll be fine on those other metrics. But more importantly you are achieving things that matter that matter to you to your students and to your school. So that's the third thing. Now the fourth thing you need to do to protect your confidence is that you need to surround yourself with other builders. But this one seems obvious. You know, people say that you are the sum total of the five people you hang out with the most or you know that you've heard this advice before. But I think it's really important as a builder. You see, builders see things differently than leaders do. And if you are a soul builder, around other leaders, you are, you're looking at everything different, you're looking at your data differently, you're looking at how you're going to grow your people differently, you're looking at the work that you do differently. And if you're the only person talking this builder game, and everybody else around you is talking leadership, a lot of times that leadership mentality can start to creep back in. After all, we were trained in a leadership mentality. So it's already in us.

Being a builder is a deliberate choice to step outside of leadership into something bigger and better. 

If you don't have other builders around you, nobody gets what you're doing. And they can often naysay what you're doing, they can often ask questions that may be well intentioned, but can shake your confidence. You're looking around and seeing everybody else do one thing, what you're doing can feel weird or different or or countercultural, or maybe even futile, because builders do things differently. So it seems logical than that. If you want to protect your confidence as a builder, you need to be around other builders. You know, just the other day inside of builders University, we had a principal who was kind of she's she's on this builder ship journey. And she raised a question and she said, I just, you know, I'm just not, I'm just uncertain. And she came to those office hours, we have live office hours inside of builder ship University, where, you know, I'm there and other builders there, and we're all kind of troubleshooting each other's challenges. It's really cool. But when she came to the office hours, she was just so unsure. But then the more we talked, the more we we encouraged her to do that she was on the right track, the more her confidence grew. I've had other people come to office hours, and I'm like, Well, I want to try to share my vision story. And then somebody else's, I did it last week. And it was amazing.

We've been on Office Hours where someone says, Well, I'm not sure what to do with my team right now. And somebody says, I just did it with my team, give, here's my email, you know, we can set up a time we can chat, I'll share all the tools. And so that kind of support that you're getting with other builders helps bolster your confidence. Now, you don't have to join builder ship university to get that you can just find and reach out to other builders, we have a free Facebook group that's full of builders, listeners of the show. And you can post questions inside of that Facebook group it is it is a closed group, which means that it's not going to be splashed all over Facebook. But you can post your questions inside of our school leadership reimagined Facebook group. And it's a place where you can hang out with other builders, and that can bolster your confidence. It lets you know, I'm not crazy, this thing works. And it will work for me if I do it if I work the plan. And so the more that you surround yourself with other builders, the more confident you become in your own buildership.

The more that you surround yourself with leaders, the more you slide back into that leadership mentality.

You start to doubt yourself, you start to doubt whether or not 100% vision is really realistic with our kids during these times. When you're around builders. There are people who are working on their own hundred percent vision, there are people who have already achieved their first vision and are working on their second vision for their school. And that bolsters your confidence. So you need to surround yourself with other builders to protect your confidence. Or the lesson I'm going to share with you today is that this one is a hard one because it really is about criticism. One of the things that shakes my confidence the most personally is criticism, I have a hard time with it. I I'm I'm a mastery, different person. Those of you heard me talk about will drive it, you know what I mean by mastery driven. And so when people criticize something i'm doing i take it really hard, probably take it harder than I should. And not only that, I'm also very hard on myself, I'm very critical about some of the stuff that I do because I want it to be right. I want to make sure that I'm serving it as best as I can.

One of the things that I've had to learn myself to protect my own confidence is that I have to turn criticism on its head. You see, when criticism comes to me the first thing I look at and say is there any merit to this criticism? Is this somebody just hating on what I'm doing or somebody who doesn't understand what I'm doing? Because I'm building and they're leading? If that's true, then I'd say okay, well, then this is that need to make my message more clear. If there's some merit to the criticism if, if their criticism is accurate, if they're pointing out something that I need to bolster, then instead of getting devastated by the criticism, I become thankful for the criticism because it's making me better. So if you are worried about criticism, if you are facing criticism, and you will, because build a ship is so different than leadership, that a lot of times people will be critical of what you're doing. rather than taking that letting that criticism kind of devastate you, or chip away at your confidence, welcome the criticism, turn it on its head.

Many times builders don't like the Explorer stage of the the transformation process.

During the Explorer stage, we're saying you have to intentionally surface criticism and complaints and constraints, and they hate that phase. And I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of that phase either. Sometimes it feels really hard. But if I understand how that fits in the bigger scheme of things, if I know that I'm going to take that explore phase, where people are raising all the things that could go wrong with my plan. If I take that and use it, right, if I turn that on its head, then every time somebody complains, or criticizes, it's just making my plan stronger. And for those of you don't know what I mean, by the Explore stage, let me kind of go back and explain. So we have a six part transformation process, one of the things you do a builder's lab is you build, you built out this plan. So it starts with kind of figuring out what your vision is, and then what's your biggest obstacle to achieving your vision? And then how do you remove that obstacle in the next 90 days. So the 90 day plan has six stages. And the second stage of that 90 day planning process is the Explore stage.

During the Explore stage, you intentionally surface complaints by now you shared your vision. So during the excite stage, which is the first stage, you share your vision, and and you talk about what you think the school can achieve, you talk about the biggest obstacle, you talked about how you're going to remove the obstacle you taught, you know, you share kind of what you're going to do you lay everything out, then the very next stage is that you intentionally ask people to say, what all the reasons why you think this wouldn't work? What are all the questions that you have? What are all the doubts that you have? You don't let those surface on their own. Instead, you give people a place where they can actually raise those doubts, raise those criticisms, raise those concerns. And the reason you're doing this, is because people have many way. So rather than being afraid of them, turn criticism on a TED bring, give, create a place where people can bring that criticism. And then once it's there, and here's the ninja trick. After it's there, after everybody's just exhausted themselves, and you're just taking notes, you're not saying anything, you're not defending it, that's hard. But do it because you know that there's going to be a better outcome, right?

You're not just getting beat up, you're taking all this down and putting it back together.

Which one is the biggest one to you? And now they have to argue about it? Well, that criticism is okay. But this one's really important. And as they're doing that they are talking themselves out of the very criticisms they just raised by prioritizing the criticism by by not you doing it by having them do it. They are now talking about and prioritizing and contextualizing their own criticism, you've turned the criticism on their heads. And then once they come to agreement, this one is the biggest obstacle, then they have given you the key to getting them involved. So what you do you say to them, is if we remove this obstacle, which you feel like it's just standing in the way of us getting started, if we were to remove this obstacle, would that be enough for you to get started. And once they agree, yeah, if you remove this obstacle, then then then we could get started. They have just told you what it will take to get everybody moving towards your vision and your plan what it will take to get everybody actively engaged in your plan. They've just made a contract with you. So then, you go about instead of trying to solve every problem that they raise, you solve their biggest problem.

They see that quick win, it creates momentum, they've made a contract with you, you remove this obstacle, I will get engaged, you remove the obstacle, they get engaged, easy peasy lemon squeezy, you've taken their criticism, which could really chip away at your confidence. And you've turned it on its head so that now their criticism gives you your next step. And you know, it will work because they told you, you don't have to guess you don't have to figure it out. You can walk in confidence that that that obstacle, if you remove it will get everybody engaged and started because they told you they spent time prioritizing it for you. You've turned criticism on its head. So what I'm sharing with you today, and they're probably other things you can do as well, but I'm sharing with you some of the top five things that a lot of builders I'm working with right now are using to protect their confidence. The more you do this, the more that you begin to protect your confidence, whether it's your competence about giving teachers feedback, or your confidence about moving towards your vision or your confidence about even sharing your vision. The more that that you anchor in your core values vision and mission, the more that you focus on the bright spots, the more that you measure yourself against your core values, vision and mission instead of some sort of other measurement or metric. The more that you surround yourself with other builders and the more that you learn How to Turn criticism on its head. The less your confidence gets attacked, the less you get attacked, the more confident you can feel you are protecting your confidence.  

When you protect your confidence, it allows you to be creative in
a crisis.

It allows you to project that confidence to your staff so that your staff doesn't get stressed out, you know, in the schools where we have established builders in those schools, their staff is not stressing out right now, sure the district is doing its thing, or the state or their province is doing its thing. And they're making, you know, crazy demands or, or changing things or not being transparent about the decision making process. They're struggling with the same challenges that everybody else is struggling with. But in those schools, because the builder has this, this confidence that can't be shaken. People look at that builder, and they say, well, they're not stressed out.

So maybe I shouldn't be stressed out. They seem to have a plan that they believe in. So maybe I'll trust their plan, you just don't see the same level of strife and stress and, and burnout, as you see in other buildings. So protecting your confidence is not just about you, protecting your confidence, it's about your staff. That's why it's your biggest asset. If you have confidence, not only can you move forward in uncertain times, but when your staff sees you doing that, it calms them down, it gives them the assurance that they're going to be okay. So, I want to challenge you. Check in with your confidence. How's your competence doing? And are you taking deliberate specific measures to protect your confidence, because it's the only way that you're going to be able to move forward in the uncertain times, like a builder. 

That's it for today. I'll see you next time. 

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 offers. 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 Buildership University. Just go to buildershipuniversity.com and get started writing your school success story today.

I'll see you then!

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