This One Question Changes Everything


Note: School Leadership Reimagined is produced as a podcast and designed to be listened to, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 87. 

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, I'm going to ask you a really tough question that I've been contemplating myself a lot. And it's a question that you can use to create instant accountability in your school, you can ask it of yourself, to help yourself be more accountable for the results that are happening in your school. And you can ask it of your teachers or of your staff members, even of your students to help people get out of blame and shame and and actually take responsibility for their outcomes. So I'm going to ask you that question in just a second. But before I do, I just want to remind you about builder's lab.

Right now we are in the process of preparing for Builder's Lab 2021.

The first one is the builder's lab 360 degree experience. It is a totally virtual experience. But it's not just a three day zoom meeting. It's not even like some of the online conferences that you may have attended this year. This is something entirely different. You see, when we first started going into quarantine, back in March, we were thinking about builders lab. And in fact, we asked ourselves this question when we were thinking about builders lab. And as a result of really contemplating the question that I'm going to share with you today, we came up with something entirely different. It is a 360 degree experience, you get all of the things that that you loved about builder's lab face to face, but we do it in a virtual environment. And that gives you the added benefit of being able to can do builders lab from your home or at your school. So a lot of times what people do is they bring their entire admin team to builders lab, and over the three days, they just get so much stuff done. So you have the option of coming by yourself, or you can come with your colleagues. And it's a lot easier to do because you're not traveling. During those three days, we're going to do three things, the first thing we're going to do is we're going to get you very, very clear about your vision. And even if you think you're clear about your vision, we're going to do some work together in Builder's lab to get you so clear to make your vision is so compelling that you're going to be excited about going back to work. And it's going to be the kind of vision that galvanizes your school.

The second thing we're going to do is we're going to figure out what is the biggest obstacle that's getting in the way of your vision. And I'm going to tell you now, it's probably not what you think you may be thinking, our biggest obstacle this year is that we have all this uncertainty around whether we're going to be face to face or home or your biggest obstacle may be the poverty that your students are experiencing. Or your biggest obstacle may be that people are just kind of happy with and complacent with the status quo, and they're not pushing. So you have a good school, but you really believe you could have a great school, but you can't get people excited about that. You know, whatever you think your biggest obstacle is at builders lab, we're going to go deep, we're going to find the root of that obstacle. And then the third thing and this is the most exciting thing, once we understand the root cause the one thing that is responsible for a lot of the symptoms that you're fighting right now, then we're going to figure out a 90 day plan to remove that biggest obstacle to solve that one thing once and for all.

When you leave builders lab, you don't just leave with a plan and our best wishes. 

No, we stick with you over the next three months, the course of the entire 90 days to make sure that you remove that obstacle. When you do, you will see things will start to open up the reason that people who go through this process that builder's lap have these really dramatic results. It's not because they've done something dramatic, right? It's because they are dealing finally with a root cause and they're laser focused on that records and when you remove that root cause when you address that root cause remove that biggest obstacle in the way of your vision. Everything opens up, the results are dramatic. And we have so many success stories that that have that common theme. And I'd like for you to have that success story too. So I want to invite you to builder's lab in January. I know you've got a lot going on right now I know you're probably not even thinking about January, it still feels so far away, but it's right around the corner. And so it's time it's time for you to get your tickets to builders lab. And to do that you want to go to mindsets, slash builders, dash lab. That's slash builders dash lap.

Okay. Now, let's get to this question. You know, I was reading a book that actually was on our Summer Reading List last summer, and it's by one of my favorite authors. Well, half of one of my favorite author pairs. So you all know I love Malcolm Gladwell. Well, Chip and Dan Heath also loved Malcolm Gladwell. And they write their books in the Gladwell and style. And they take cultural phenomenon or challenges that we're facing as a culture, and they investigate it. And they really take a lot of research from all these different places, they pull it together, they really write well written books. And so the book that I've returned to recently, is a book called upstream. And it's about how to solve the real problem. So you know, builders, that we do a lot of work around the root cause we do something called micro slicing, where we show you how to get into a classroom, and within five to seven minutes, you've identified the root cause for why that classroom either works or doesn't work. And then that way, you can give teachers that one thing, feedback that that helps those teachers really focus their work on the right work.

I'm really interested in NOT fooling around with chasing symptoms, but dealing with the root cause.

The book upstream, talks about that, it talks about how you can do that it looks at companies who have done that, and organizations who have done that and solved big problems. And so I was reading this book again. And in one chapter, they talk about this idea of how we get so overwhelmed with all the things that we have to deal with on a day to day basis that we we lose sight of the problem, we're still we're playing this, you know, kind of galactic game of whack a mole, where you know, every time our problem jumps up, we address it, we knock it back down, but we just are stuck in the cycle of doing that. And he calls that phenomenon tunneling. And I see that a lot with administrators where we're just so busy trying to fix the problems or blame other people or accept as excuses that we can't do anything about the problem. And so it keeps us from actually solving any problems. It keeps us from actually, you know, having any impact. And I know that a lot of you are feeling that way right now, where you feel like this year is a wash, you're just constantly you're working, you're working harder than you've ever worked before, teachers are working harder than they've ever worked before. And student achievement is still dropping, we can't get students to show up to school. Well, it's we're worried that we may have lost some students for good. And so we're just playing this giant game of whack a mole. And not only that, but over time, the fatigue of doing that the the challenge of always being in this firefighting mode is actually wearing on us and it's making us feel helpless.

It's making us feel as if there's nothing we can do that this problem might be too big, that the best we can do is just kind of accept things as they are now and hope that that vaccine comes or hope that something else happens that maybe then we can get back to normal. And I'm using air quotes here. Because I don't know that that's really the goal. I mean, how great was normal to begin with, except for that. We're just we're so overwhelmed right now that normal feels like paradise by comparison. And so a lot of people are just trying to get back to normal rather than seizing this opportunity to really do some transformative work work that is career defining work that can make this huge difference on the lives of students. And you've heard me challenge you on that before that we have a real opportunity. We're seeing a seismic shift in the way that we do education, and the people who are working to get back to normal, those people are going to be left behind when they look up and realize that there is no getting back to normal.

This is the new normal and we're not preparing for that.

We're not even shaping what that's going to look like I mean, it's one thing to prepare for it and you're still kind of passive, you know, I'm going to prepare for the new normal and try to you try to divine what that new normal is and try to be there you know, ahead of the curve a little bit. That's what leaders do. But builders we're not even trying to prepare for the new normal. We're trying to shape the new normal We're trying to create what that new normal looks like. And, and for us that new normal is going to look a lot like our vision for 100% of our students, that new normal, it's going to look a lot like our mission for our schools, that new normal is going to look a lot like those core values that we've worked on, because that's the way things should be anyway. So we're not worried about our circumstances, we're not worried about what's going on, we are thinking about this opportunity that we have to shape the new normal. So the question I was reading this book, and he, there's just a little section of the book, it's something that I missed before, but this time, it really struck me, it's, you know, a page or two, you know, this bigger book that would these bigger ideas. But I've been thinking a lot about accountability lately, and I've been thinking about how passive I'm seeing a lot of people be around what's happening right now as if there's nothing that we can do about it. So just like I said, people are just kind of just Well, you know, there's nothing I can do about it. So we're gonna have to just ride this out. And till we can get back to normal and those phrases, you know, people saying that I get why they're saying it. But when you say that you are putting yourself in this in the place of being a victim to the circumstances, instead of being a builder in spite of the circumstances.

I was thinking about that a lot. And so when I saw this question, it really struck me in the book, he tells a story of a, of an HR, you know, the head of HR who calls to women and who have not been getting along at work, and they're creating a toxic work environment. And she tries something different instead of, of, you know, just trying to mediate, like you normally do in HR, she asked each women, each woman to tell the story of their disagreement, as if they were the only person responsible. Look, I don't want you to miss that. I missed it. I skimmed over the first time, but I started thinking about it, what would happen if we told the story of our schools, as if we were the only people responsible? Here's the way we're telling our story right now. And I don't know what else we can do. We tried everything, we can't get the kids to show up. And if they don't show up, they can't learn. All my teachers are so overwhelmed. And I don't know what to do about it. Because they're just, you know, they're just working so hard. And if we just can't keep this up, and the circumstances, oh, you know, we this year, I think it's going to be a wash. And I'm worried that we're going to lose kids even more.

We were barely keeping up when we were face to face. 

Now the studies are showing the kids are going to be behind and you know, I don't know what else we're going to do about it. Notice every time we tell that story of our school, we abdicate, we absolve ourselves from all responsibility for those results. And I get why we do it. I'm not even beating you up about that. It's the way we were taught as leaders, you do your best, but there's some things you can't control. They're just some things that are outside of your control. You can't control whether or not parents are getting students on on camera every day, you can't control whether or not parents are working with students at home and making sure they're keeping up with their work. You can't control a pandemic, you can't control what the district or the state mandates about whether or not we're going to be face to face or, or whether or not we're going to be remote or some hybrid model. You can't control how teachers feel they are feeling overwhelmed. Shoot, you're feeling overwhelmed. So you know, what are you going to do about that and you can't, you know, take your little Pollyanna, it's going to be okay, rah, rah rah stuff, and, and and ignore the fact that that these things are happening right now. But here's the thing, even when there isn't a crisis, we make the same excuses. We say, you know, we do the best we can. But you know, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.

We have to get the parents support. The parents aren't supporting us. What do I do when the kids are coming to us from other countries, and they have had no schooling but they're 12. And they're illiterate. What do I do when we have a community that's ravaged by crime and poverty, and the students have so much trauma? You know, what, I can't fix everything, and yet they're trying to learn? What do I do when we have this affluent community where the students have access to everything, and I'm trying to hold them accountable for their homework, but their parents are doing the homework for them where the parents are making excuses for them. It doesn't matter. We whenever we tell our school story, from the perspective of there's nothing we can do, then we're stuck. We're stuck with the circumstances we have if you really believe that there There's nothing you can do about certain things, then how can you be a builder? What can you build? Under those circumstances?

The difference between a Leader and a Builder is simply this. 

A leader accepts the circumstances and tries to do their best with the circumstances they have. A builder does not accept their circumstances as a final verdict on the outcome that they can achieve. Instead, a builder says, Okay, here are my circumstances, how am I going to build the thing that I came here to build in spite of them. And that starts with changing how you tell your school story. Now, we're all guilty of this. I remember back in March, when when quarantine happened, and all of a sudden traveling was prohibited or strongly discouraged, and, and they were canceling flights and flights were empty. You know, my work shut down the work that I was doing shut down, because all of a sudden, I could no longer travel. We were in the process of planning the builders lab that was supposed to be happening that summer. And we were just about to release tickets for the summer builders lab. But you know, we got shut down No, in person gatherings, no, in person gatherings, more than 10 people. Well, we average about 50 to 70 people, a builder's lab, we keep it small, so we can have a really intimate experience. And, and so that shut down. And, you know, I could have sat there and said, Well, I don't know what to do other than file for unemployment, my business is gone. And there's nothing I can do about it. Because nobody wants to get online, nobody is going to invest that amount of money to just sit online for three days at builders lab, nobody, nobody's going to, to to want online training, and they want me there face to face when I go to individual schools. So you know, I'm gonna have to lay off some employees, and we're gonna have to shut down. I could have accepted the circumstances. But I've been doing builders for a long time. And so we started asking ourselves this version of this question, what, what our stories sound like? How would we tell our story? If we were the only people responsible?

I had a choice I, I had two options of a story that I could tell, I could tell the story where I was a victim of the circumstances, there was nothing we could do a lot of businesses shuttered and closed during this time. And, you know, what are you going to do, I could tell that story. Or I could tell a different story, which is that I believe in build a ship. I believe that, that this is the thing that can transform schools, I've gone all in on builder ship to the exclusion of almost everything else that I teach. It all comes under the umbrella of builders ship now, I believe in it. And if I really believe in it, then how do I help people make the shift from leadership to build a ship? How do I help people get unstuck? How do I continue to help people realize that they do have options? I have to walk the talk here.

Let's figure out how we tell this story as if we were the only people responsible. 

So we did. We said, well, it doesn't mean that we have to shut down our our conference. Do we believe that our conference, the materials, the experiences that people have? Do we believe that they're still worth it? And the answer was, yeah, we do. Do we believe that this will transform schools? Yeah. So how do we take what worked at builders lab face to face and make it work in a virtual environment? And so we got to work. We started going to virtual conferences, we started studying that. We went back and looked at all of the feedback that we got for builders lab, we sat down and we said, What is it that makes builder's lab special? And we came up with a couple of things. One is that people needed that time to step away to really figure out what their vision was. So we said, How do we help people still do that? What makes people just love specialists and it's an intimate experience people get opportunities for significant one on one help and support from me and from from my team. How do we do that? So we figured out a couple of things. One is that when you come to builders lab, you can sign up for a 15 minutes session coaching session with a team member to help you if you get stuck.

The other thing is that we kept builders labs small and intimate, we built a new studio so I could see everybody's face so that people could still it wasn't just you know, me dragging them through their slides. It was a lot more dialogue and and back and forth. We played around and figured out some things on zoom so that we could get people not just in breakout rooms but in the right breakout rooms and and to do the work and we created a rhythm and a schedule that makes it work. You know, one of the things that we do a builder's lab that we love, and it's an extra but we figured out it was really important to us into who we were as we we feel You we, we get we have great food at builders lab, we will not go back to a hotel, if the food isn't working, we sit down with the chef at the hotel and carefully craft a menu. And so we said, well, how do we still do that? And so we figured out a way to still feed you at builders lab 360, you know, all the things that instead of sitting back and saying, Oh, we can't do it. So we have to, you know, just let go. We said, No, we're going to do this, we're going to, we believe this is still valuable. And we started retelling the story of mind steps as if we were the only people responsible.

We built something that is better.

The people who went through builders live 360 this summer, actually, they're more bonded, they're closer, they're sticking to it there. It I don't I can't explain it. But what we decide, well, actually, I can't explain it. Because we decided to take control over our narrative, and tell the story and take accountability for that work. And we built something better. It's not just me builders are doing this to you know, there are builders in our universe, people who came to builders lab who bought into this, who have chosen to take accountability. And what they're doing in their schools is amazing, you know, the schools that are saying, well, there's nothing we can do, the kids aren't showing up every day. And you know, we keep calling home and and they're still not showing up. I don't know what else to do. That's one story. Maybe that's your leadership story. But builders ask, How can I tell the story in a way where I'm the only one accountable, and so they start saying, the children are not coming to school. So we have not figured out a way yet to make online school compelling enough that children will overcome the understandable obstacles that they're facing at home and getting online and getting connected and get connected.

They're starting to ask themselves, what else could we do? There are some schools who instead of just making, you know, kind of generalized calls home, they have every single adult in the building who have a group of children that they are personally responsible for. So those adults are finding those children, they're connecting with those children. And those schools are experiencing 90 95% attendance every day when other people are excited about 75% 80% attendance, the difference? They decided to take accountability, they said, Okay, how can we tell this story, in a way we are 100% accountable for the results. And when they did that, it opened up new ways. It was no longer okay to accept the circumstances. Once you take accountability, the circumstances don't deter you. Instead, you say, Okay, here are our current circumstances. Is this what we want? Does this align with our vision? No. So how do we work to make them work? I know that there are people were saying, Well, you know, the students, you know, under normal circumstances, weren't even doing the work and turning in their homework, and now they're really not doing the work and turning in their homework.

That's your leadership story. But as a builder, you need to tell a different story. 

How can you tell that story in a way where you're the only one accountable? Which means that you start to think, do we need students to do homework? What does homework have to look like? How can we redesign the homework experience? Have the students see meaning out of it? If they're not doing the homework? How do we still provide value for them? It starts to open up new ways of thinking, it starts to help you redesign the learning experience, so that it works for your students, so that you can help your students achieve your vision for them. That's the difference. There's some people are saying, Well, you know, our we're private school and our enrollment is down because parents don't want to pay tuition. For a school that is going to be online, they can get online schooling free from the public school. And so that's your leadership story. But as a builder, you won't be happy with that story, you're going to ask yourself, How can I tell this story in a way with that I am 100% responsible for the results and accountable for the results. And all of a sudden things change.

So then, these schools have started thinking, what is it about the experience that students have at our school that make it worth money? Why were parents parents could always get access to free public education? Why did parents choose to bypass that and invest money for something they could have gotten for free in the first place? And how do we continue that experience? So these schools are rebranding? These schools are providing a discernibly different experience for their students and parents are investing intuition. Even though those students those schools are still remote. They just To write a different story, they got creative and found a way to deal with their challenges. Because they asked themselves the question they weren't, they weren't satisfied with the circumstances that were handed to them. They asked the question, how can we tell our school story in a way that makes us totally accountable for the outcome? And when they ask that question, that's where they got creative. You know, when I was a teacher, a lot of my students were not college bound. So I was in 11th grade English teacher and the 11th grade is usually when students are starting to think about colleges and write college essays. And we're trying to get them to take psats least back in the day now could stick psats in second grade, but back then they were thinking about it, and in 11th grade and starting to take the psats. And then the stts in 12th grade, you know, getting thinking starting to think about college. But a lot of my students have parents who had not been to college, a lot of my students were thinking about, you know, careers, and there's nothing wrong with careers, but they didn't see college as an option.

A lot of my students were choosing the career path because they didn't see a clear pathway to college success.

The other thing that was happening that was that even if our students went to college, a lot of them were dropping out after their freshman year, because they just weren't making the adjustment. Well, several of them were were not even able to take English one on one, they had to take remedial English and routine remedial math. And so they finished their freshman year and they still, you know, didn't have enough credits to be able to pursue their majors. So those were our circumstances. And for years, as a school, we had accepted those circumstances, there's nothing we can do. This is the community we serve. And the fact that we've even haven't are having the conversation about college is a big deal for many of these students. And so at least, they've considered college at least they did a year of college. And we accepted that as okay. And there was something in me as a teacher that said, No, that's not okay. If we're going to make a difference. We can't just dangle College in front of students. And then, you know, set them up to believe that the college was for them only to have them fail that I had too many students who came back and they said, What are you doing now? Well, I was going to, to community college, but and they drop out because it's too hard, because really quipped, so I started doing some research. And at the time, there was there was something called the Gates Millennium scholarship.

I started doing some research with what Bill Gates was trying to do to get students to college and he was paying for everything for college and giving them for years. And how was he selecting students? And how is he making sure that students accomplish those four years and the the statistics were pretty dismal. But there was a set of research by a guy named William setelah. sec. And he had identified eight non cognitive factors that were actually more predictive of student's college success than parental income then grades than just about anything else. And so I got excited about reading that research. And then I started to feel like worse because the things that he said were predictive of college success that were that you could look at, if a student had these characteristics, they were more likely to be successful in college, were things like a strong support network. I don't remember all eight of them now. But I remember that one. Another one was a preference for long term goals versus short term goals. And I started looking at those things. And I said, these are things that I can't control in a classroom, I see kids for 48 minutes a day, how am I going to give them a support network? How am I going to help them develop a preference for long term goals versus short term goals? Another one was leadership experience, how am I going to get them leaders who have experience in English class, and I could have just stepped away and in fact, I did for a little bit. But if it kept bothering me, if these are the things that kids need to be successful in college, and I am trying to prepare kids to see college not just as an option, but as a viable option for themselves.

If they don't have these characteristics, what do I do about it? 

In other words, I switch from this is just so depressing to how can I tell the story of the kids in my classroom in a way where I am completely accountable? And so I went through that list. I redesigned my classroom to align with that list. I said, Okay, they need leadership experiences. All right. So how do we redesign the classroom so they have opportunities to lead in the classroom, not just opportunities, but it becomes a requirement that students are leading out. So I restructured the classroom so that students had all kinds of different leadership opportunities, not just up in front, in front of everybody because not everybody wants to do that. But how could they take the lead in other ways I just was looking for anything that would create a leadership opportunity for students. They need a strong support network, not all my kids have that and nothing I could do about that. If they went home. I couldn't go home and you know, take them out of the homes they were in and put them in homes. Whether we're going to get this trunk support, so we figured out how to give them support in school, we did a couple of things.

One thing I did was I divide the kids into groups. They were their individual study pods in the classroom, but I didn't just have them study together. If its child was absent, then their study pod was responsible for calling them that night finding out why they weren't in school, giving them the homework and make sure that they showed up the next day with the work completed. If a student was struggling, I didn't run and help them right away. I said, Have you asked your study pod and the study pods were responsible for helping each other they began to bond they built their own support networks inside the classroom. Another thing they needed was they needed a preference for long term goals versus short term goals. How am I going to do that these kids are almost fully grown. How am I going to, you know, do a marshmallow study with the kids? And what happens if they don't delay gratification? What? I couldn't figure that out until I start thinking about I have the perfect thing. We do the research paper in 11th grade? How can I structure this research paper experience to show students how to set long term goals and how to persist to the end? So we redesigned the way that we did the research paper. And we made that research paper. So important people thought Why are you getting so excited about a research paper wasn't the paper? Sure I wanted them to be able to write because that was the thing that a lot of our kids were not passing freshman composition. So I was taking them through a you know, freshman composition boot camp, so they will be sure to pass. But it was more than that. I wanted them to see what it was like to have long term goals versus short term gratification. So we structured in a way to teach them how to do that to build that.

Instead of accepting the circumstances of my classroom, I decided to write a different story.

I decided to think about the story in from the perspective of what if I were the only person responsible? What if there was nobody else? And it was just me, what would I do. And when I did that, I came up with all kinds of ways to help my students be successful. I came up with all kinds of ways to prepare my students for college, my students went to college, they were successful. they graduated, more kids went to college more kids enrolled in AP and honors than ever before, more kids started talking about college as if it was a real, real option. You can do the same thing. I don't care what your position is. A lot of people say, Well, I'm just an AP, you're an AP with a sphere of influence. Now, you may not have a whole school as a sphere of influence. But are you in charge of a department? Are you in charge of a particular group of teachers? Are you in charge of a program, make that program that department, that group of teachers, your mini school and get to work? Maybe you think, well, I'm just an instructional coach, there's not a lot I can do? Sure there is. If you tell the stories, if you're the only person responsible, you may not be getting the support of the principal you serve. You may be spread too thin among all these other schools. Yeah, that's your leadership story. But what's your builder ship story? What can you do with the teachers you serve? If you can't get to the schools? How can you leverage virtual tools to be able to do that? If you're not getting the support of the principal? Why do you need it? And how can you get what you need another way?

There's always another way. Maybe you're thinking I'm a principal, but there's not a lot I can do because the parents because the kids because the community because my staff. That's your leadership story. But as a builder, how can you tell that story in a way that makes you entirely responsible, and therefore opens up all kinds of avenues, things you hadn't considered before? You know, builders lab, one of the things that I think is like, the funniest part for me is when people start to see the possibilities, you know that you can't put that in that slogan, you can't say come to builders lab and see the possibilities. But it really isn't. It's it's an it's an unamortized outcome. Because when you start to really think through your vision, when you get passionate about it, this is what I really want to build. And then we start looking at, okay, what's the story? You're telling yourself? What's the obstacle that's felt insurmountable in the past, and people start doing that work and figuring that out? Then we start digging through and figuring out the root cause of that obstacle.

People start to say, "Wait, there IS something I can do."

I thought my obstacle was these this obstinate group of teachers that that are creating a toxic environment, but I have now a tool that can move the will and skill of my teachers. I can go back and I know how to move they're willing skill. Now I have I understand well, drivers I can go back and have conversations with people and and see dramatic changes and shifts in the way their attitudes because of the kind of conversation I had, same people, different conversation, different outcome. You know, I thought my biggest obstacle was that, you know, I was dealing with my teachers and they wouldn't implement the new curriculum and and now I realized that the new curriculum isn't the answer. It's it's about how we shift teaching. It's a principle that's at work. So whether they implement the new curriculum or not, if this principle is not at play, it's not going to work. Ah, so now I know how to do this. I thought my biggest obstacle was that I had low attendance, I thought my biggest obstacle was that I don't have people who are willing to pay tuition, I thought my biggest obstacle was that I, I have a district that is unsupportive, and that makes bad decisions. I thought my biggest obstacle was that I have parents who are not invested in their kids, whatever that biggest obstacle was.

That's true leadership story. But as a builder, it's no longer your story. Because no matter what that obstacle is, no matter how insurmountable it is, if you start thinking about how would I tell my school story, if I were the only person accountable for the outcome, it starts opening up new options for you. That new ideas, you know, one of the reasons we say that we help you turn your school into a success story with the people and resources you already have, is because we know that as a builder, there is no circumstance, no person, no obstacle, big enough to stop you from achieving your vision. If you stop looking at your circumstances, like a leader and start looking at your circumstances, like a builder, you will always, always find a new option. always find a new way when you do that. And so, I want to challenge you this week. Think about the bane of your existence, the biggest headache you have. Think about the story that you may have been unconsciously telling yourself about those circumstances.

Write a different story. 

Ask yourself, how would I tell this story about these uncooperative teachers or these these uninvested parents or these students who just don't seem these disengaged students or this this ridiculous district policy? How would I tell the story differently if I were the only person accountable. And if you do that, you're going to find that there are new options you hadn't even considered, you're going to find that you have opportunities that you've ignored, you're going to find that there are 10 million different ways that you can solve a problem that two seconds ago felt unsolvable. That's how you can begin to take accountability like a builder.

If you want some help with that, if you want a thought partner, and someone who can kind of guide you through that process, we have a great process that helps you figure all of that out. And you can get it at builders lab. All you have to do is go to slash builders dash lab.

That's if for today. 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 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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School Leadership Reimagined is brought to you by Mindsteps Inc, where we build master teachers.