Nobody Cares About Your Why


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 81. 

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. And today, we're going to talk about a phrase that I hear thrown around a lot lately. And that phrases start with the why. And it comes from a famous TED talk that Simon Sinek gave years ago, where he talked about why it's really important to start with the why. And people have co opted his his ideas. And they repeat a lot. We've got to start with a why and so they go out there especially, you know, I see a lot of school leaders doing this, they go out there, and they start telling people about their why here is why I want to transform this school.

It almost feels heroic.

When people start talking about their wives, they share these passionate stories about because every child deserves a good education. And these babies deserve to have rigorous and challenging instruction. And people go out and they share their why and these impassioned ways, and then they wonder why people still don't buy in why staff members still resist them? Why staff members, either overtly or covertly steer out themselves outside of that, why? why people don't seem to care. And people get really frustrated. And the reason that that happens, the reason that when you share your why it doesn't always result in immediate buy in from everybody on your staff. It's because nobody cares about your why. So we're going to talk about that today on this episode. But before we do, I have a couple of quick announcements.

First announcement is that builders lab Tickets are available right now. And so a lot of people have been reaching out to me and in DMS on social media, and they're asking whether or not we're doing another virtual builder's lab and we are we are doing BL 360, the builders lab the 360 degree experience in January. So the dates for that builder lab are January 25, to 27. And because we're doing it virtually you don't have to travel anywhere, you will have to take off work because this is not something you can have playing in the background. This is this is a fully immersive 360 degree experience. So it's part of that experience, we spend three days and during those three days, we accomplish a couple of things. First, we get really clear on your vision for your school, we help you develop a vision that includes 100% of your students, and a vision that is so inspiring to you that it re energizes your work. The second thing we do is we help you figure out what is the best pathway to achieving your vision. And so we show you how to figure that out, we take a look at things that are happening in your school, you get support around understanding what's happening. And you also once you see those barriers, we give you strategies and tools that you can use to start removing those barriers in the way of your vision.

You walk out of Builders Lab with the builders blueprint.

That blueprint tells you this is the best pathway to achieving your vision right now with the people and resources you already have. And then we also help you develop a 90 day plan to get started a 90 day plan that results in at the end of that 90 days, one of your biggest obstacles is no longer a problem. It's it's completely removed. And we don't just spend three days together we spend three months together because after that three days of intensive training, you get three months of follow up support that includes office hours with me every single month where you can bring challenges and and and we can work through them together and I can give you that coaching live coaching. Also we have check in emails where you can write to me directly and tell me what's going on. We also send you an email every single week, outlining what steps you need to be taking that week that help you be accountable. And we also have a a closed Facebook group just for builders, lab alumni so that you can share resources and stay in touch with the people that you meet at builders lab.

This is not just three days of training. This is really Signing up for three months of support. And what that means is that when you come to builders lab in January, by April, you've already seen some success, we show you how to figure out what to work on right now, what will give you the biggest bang for your buck, we show you how to create a plan to actually achieve that. And then 90 days from now you're telling success story. We're just finishing up the 90 day process with our builders lab, folks this summer. So we met with them this summer. And we're here in November, and we just finishing up. So this is something that stays with you. We're not just kind of, you know, I'm going to teach you something and lead you out there we walk alongside of you. But the success stories that are coming out of the summer have been really incredible. It's I'm just so proud of the work that people are doing as a result of their time at builders lab, even in these crazy times. And I think the same thing that's going to be happening in January. In fact, I know it does, because it happens every single time we have builders lab. So to get your tickets to builders lab, go to mind step Slash builders dash lab.

We almost reached our limit for founding members in Buildership University. 

So Buildership University will be officially open in January, but we release a limited number of founding member tickets. And we have about nine left. And then after that we are going to close down enrollment to build a ship University until January. Now if you miss the founders, you know kind of level, it's okay because in January you'll be able to join, but founding members have a particular advantage. So I was meeting with our family members this week. And we just went through the building master teachers sprint together. First of all, this is an incredible community of people, our founding members are some of the smartest, most committed builders I've ever met. It's one of the reasons why they've stepped up to become founding members. And we have been creating such a community together we meet together live very frequently, not just for Office Hours where people can bring their individual challenges. But we're meeting together in Sprint's like the one we just completed, where we're building the tools, the resources, the systems that we need in order to exercise our builder ship in our school this year. So just last week, we finished building our support system for our teachers, we everybody has a teacher dashboard now. And we're using that.

The teacher dashboard is revealing so much. It's just the conversations that we're having inside of that founders group are just, they're just priceless conversation. So if you want to be a part of a community of builders who can lift you up who are doing really important, interesting and amazing things in their schools and who are dedicated and friendly. And you know, we were going to be getting together, I've got this really cool social plan for our founding members, we're going to be getting together virtually to hang out. So it's not just about getting worked down. Although we do work together really well. We're also going to be hanging out and getting to know each other, it's becoming this really close knit tight knit community. And like I said, we have nine more tickets for that. So if you want to be I shouldn't say tickets, it's really spots, but nine more spots for founding members. And so if you're interested in being a founding member, what you need to do is go to builder ship And you can fill out an application to become a founding member. So builder ship to become a founding member, but hurry up because we only have nine slots left. And once we have that once we hit that limit, we are closing down builders University until January. Okay, so that's it for the announcements.

I know it seems kind of harsh when I say nobody cares about your why, but I have to speak the truth. 

Nobody cares about your why, you know what Simon Sinek first created that video, that Ted Talk sorry that he he talked about how companies have to lead with why nobody cares about what you do until they understand why you do it. And so he's talking about companies and products and and that language got co opted and education everybody saying start with your wife start with your y. And it seems like it makes sense, right? Nobody wants to follow you as a leader until they understand your why what's driving your work. And in a leadership paradigm that logic makes sense. But remember, builders aren't looking for people to follow them. builders are looking for people to join them and building something better. So I don't care that you follow me. In fact, builders, the best builders build other builders. So I'm not interested in you, keeping you behind me and my staying out front. I'm interested and are working together bringing our collective wisdom and talent and expertise together for something bigger and better and greater than either of us. So it's not me in front of you. I'm not a boss. I'm not a leader. We are co builders. And if you take that position, if you think about builder ship as being something Invitational rather than you're dragging people or coaxing people or pushing people towards your goal. Instead, you are inviting people to join you in this work.

If you really think about buildership that way, then then going around and telling people your why. And assuming that's the end of the conversation is never going to work. So a lot of people took this idea of start with your why. And they began to walk around and tell people about their why. And it feels good, it feels gratify you are getting in touch with your why you're telling people why you do what you do. And as you're talking about it, it feels really good. It feels like you're being inspirational, you've tapped into your y. But if you just talk about your y, but you never take the time to understand everybody else's y, then you're having all the fun. It's just like watching a teacher in front of the classroom, you know, performing math, or performing science or performing English, or performing social studies. They're having all the fun, and the kids are sitting back and watching them and say, well, that's great for you. But it has nothing to do with me.

People don't care about your why, what they care about is their why.

How often do we take time to really understand what y is driving our teachers? How often do we take time to include their why in the narrative of our school? The answer, unfortunately, is not much. A lot of people talk to me now about what do I do about my burned out teachers, and they assume they know why teachers are burned out, they make assumptions that their teachers are burned out for the obvious reasons, the movement back and forth between virtual learning and in person learning, managing the technology, those may be the things that people openly complain about. But ultimately, that's not really what's going on. Ultimately, their concerns are not just about those external factors. their concerns are really about how those external factors impact the work that they are trying to do with students. internally.

You see, the technology bothers me or my lack of facility with the technology bothers me. Because that is a barrier that's getting in the way of getting in between me and being able to reach my students, I may have been a really good teacher in the classroom, I've been may have been really good about establishing relationships with students in the classroom. And now on technology. I don't know how to get that same magic. But my wife for teaching, it's about those relationships, and technology is standing in between my wife, that's why I'm mad at technology, not because I can't figure out what button to push that technological concern, just looking at and saying, Well, I'm unfamiliar with technology. If you just did that, then you're going to give me training around technology without really dealing with my why. And my Why has nothing to do with the buttons to push, you could give me a training for an hour and I know all the buttons to push and which things to do and how to get everything up on the screen. And you still have not solved my problem, because you assumed that my problem was technology when my real problem is about my why. You see what Simon Sinek was talking about start with the why he wasn't talking about starting with your why he was really talking about understanding the whys of the people we are working with that we're building and starting with their why we assume that that teachers are burned out because everybody's working harder now. But that's not the only reason.

That's the external problem. 

The internal problem is we're working really hard, but we're not seeing results. Students are not showing up. Students are not engaged in the same way. So I'm working harder than ever, but I'm not seeing the same results. I'm not seeing that aha moment and see the faces because they're not there. That's the real problem. And that problem speaks to my why that I want to do work that makes a difference. And I feel like I'm working harder and I'm making less of a difference. Until you understand that and until you can articulate that no strategy that you use to help boost teacher morale. No strategy that you use to help overcome teacher burnout is going to work. I remember one time, I was hired by a school district to come and work with our teachers because they said Our teachers are so burned out. They they're so they're so overwhelmed. And I just written a book called never work harder than your students.

The district said, I think it's because they're working harder than their students. And so could you comment, teach them not to work harder than their students? And I made the mistake back then of saying, Okay, I'll come without asking more questions. So I did, I came and I started my presentation with the teachers and was talking about ways to not work harder than their students. And the teachers were just stone faced, it was just a wall. And finally, I just stopped and say, Okay, so what's really going on, and the teachers look to the right and left realize that the administration had started the meeting but like they typically did that left somewhere in the middle of training to take care of more important stuff, and they weren't present for the training. So the teacher said, here's the real problem. Three years ago, they introduced six trades writing to us, they told us that it was the way to go and to teach writing. And we learned the curriculum, we went to the trainings, we got the materials, and we actually believe it six traits writing, we've seen the difference it makes in our students.

This year, they come to us and said that they've changed the state test. 

Now we're not doing six traits writing anymore. As a result, they now want us to teach VCR. So they want us to throw away everything that we've already done. But we believe in that that's important to us. We want our students not to be a test takers. We want them to be good writers, but they won't let us teach writing. That's why we're burned out. What the teachers were doing is they were sneaking and teaching six traits writing except for the days that they had to do benchmark assessments, then it wasn't try to teach all the BCR stuff. So the kids would do well on the benchmarks. And then they go back to teaching sixth grade six traits writing. But unfortunately, the administration saw their overwhelm. And they didn't listen to the why behind it. The administration saw their frustration, but they made assumptions about why the teachers were frustrated, and they dealt with the surface problem rather than digging beneath the real problem.

So my presentation just went out the window I'm talking about never work harder than your students. And they're sitting there talking about how they are being forced into a curriculum, that doesn't jive with their why. So I just turned off the PowerPoint, I sat down and start a work with him working with him to help them try to figure out how they could do both how they could satisfy their why, but also satisfy this this mandate that was happening with the district, I flew across the country to do that, when if the administrative team had just taken five minutes to listen to the teachers why they could have saved their money. And they could have solved that problem on their own. So nobody cares about your why. And maybe I should say it this way. Nobody cares about your why first. First, you have to do with their why, you know, there's a guy who his name escapes me right now. But he teaches advertising and one of the things he said that a lot of marketers Repeat as a mantra over and over again, is that if you want to sell somebody, something, you can't interrupt the conversation that they have going on in their head, you have to join the conversation they have going on in their heads.

The same thing is true when being a Builder. 

If you're going to be a builder, you don't go interrupt people's conversation that they're having in their heads. By touting your y what you need to do is you need to understand their why. And then when you come in with your vision and and you come in with your why you connect that to their Why? Or otherwise they they're going to say well that's that's real nice for you. I'm glad you have found your why but you still haven't dealt with my why you have to listen to people you have to understand not just their external problem but what's going on with them internally. And usually that internal problem comes down to there's a in congruency between their why and what they're being asked to do. You really want to solve teacher overwhelm if you really want to help your teachers during these difficult times. You need to stop going around and telling your why and take some time to listen to their why first that's what's most important there why and then once you understand their Why then they have already given you the answers they've shown you how to help them solve their problem and as a builder you equipped with that knowledge around there why you can start helping build something that not only appeases is there why but also a piece is yours and I'd say a piece and it's probably not the right word because you're not appeasing anybody you can you can build something that satisfies that's the word I'm looking for satisfies their why and satisfies your why.

In fact, when you understand people's why you can share your vision with them in a way that helps them see how your vision directly connects with their why. And then you don't have to worry about buying. You don't have to worry about convincing or cajoling or dragging or or pushing people towards your goal because the moment they see how your vision for this school connects with their why they're on board because they're trying to solve their why anyway so I think we need to reverse the water first you need to start with their why now over time you'll share your why I think it's important for you to share your why it helps people trust you It helps people understand where you're coming from, but your why it's not the most important why out there there's is so I'm not saying suppress your why I'm not saying you know make your why the victim of their why I'm saying your why is not the only way out there and until you understand what other people's wives are until You are able to connect what you're building to their why they will not join you.

I know a lot of you right now are dealing with teachers who are overwhelmed, you may be feeling overwhelmed yourself.

I know a lot of you are anxious to get back to the most important work. It seems like right now, because of all the logistical nightmares that are happening, as we're trying to navigate this new learning environment, it's really hard to stay focused on the right work. And I know a lot of you now are really trying anxiously to get your teacher centered and, and focused and, and working on the right things. But I'm telling you, you're not going to get there by starting with your why you're not going to get there by ignoring their fundamental real concerns and just trying to solve their superficial concerns. In fact, if you just focus on their superficial concerns, all you're doing is setting yourself up for failure, you're going to run around, you're going to give teachers exactly what you think they want, and they're not going to be satisfied. And then you're going to think it's because they're being ungrateful. They're not being ungrateful. You saw their external problem, but you didn't take the time to understand the internal problem, their Why you didn't solve anything, you've placated them. But if you approach this like a builder, then you're going to listen for their why you're going to actively work to solicit their why you're going to find the common ground between their why and your why and their why the next person's why.

You're going to co create a vision, mission and core values a sense of school purpose, that that accommodates everybody's life. That includes everybody's why. And when you do that, you don't have to worry about getting buy in, people will automatically start to quote unquote, buy in because it's theirs, they own it. They're not having to buy anything, it's already there. It's because it's connected to their why. And then they will start building not because you force them or make them or trick them or piece them, they're going to start building because they are committed to it because what you're building solves their fundamental problem. So here's your challenge. Stop touting your wife for a little bit. Take some time, don't just listen to people's external problems probe a little deeper, try to find out what is the internal problem that's going on?

What is the why behind that external problem before you start trying to solve it. 

As you listen, you're going to learn something you're going to you're going to learn something really interesting, in most cases, are fundamental wise are the same, they're very similar. That's why we're attracted to this profession in the first place. There is common ground, there is a place to start where you can build on. And if you do that, then you can help teachers manage their overwhelm. You can figure out what the right direction for your school is right now you can you can manage your overwhelm, you can get focused on the things that are important. And you will have your teachers with you, they will have bought in because it's not your why anymore. It's our line. That's how you start with why like a builder.

That's it for this time. I will see you again 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 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 and get started writing your school success story today.

I'll see you then!

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