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Great leaders act on curiosity. Learner-centered leaders know they do not have all of the answers...they are constantly curious.

Curious about the people they work with.
Curious about the world in which they work.
Curious about what they do not know.


Giving yourself permission to be a "beginner" frees your mind to be curious.
 

The Opposite of Distraction

 
The opposite of distraction is not focus...it is traction. People know they are distracted when things are not getting done in their lives. Some claim it's a "focus problem" when this occurs.

But let's think about it for a minute. Someone can be focused and still not accomplish what they need to accomplish. It's better to take action to get things done...thus traction.

Start by doing something. Every weekend I start this newsletter by doing one simple thing, replacing the quote that starts the newsletter. This one action builds on itself, and voila, 2-3 hours later, I have a newsletter.

What is one thing you can do this week to gain traction on something you want to accomplish? I would love to hear about it. Please email me at tom@poweringuped.com to share how you are going to gain "traction" this week.  

Good Luck!

How Mindfulness Can Help You Become A Better Learner-Centered Leader
 

A polyseme is a word that can have multiple meanings for different people. In our society today, the term "mindfulness" is an example of a polyseme...it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

Was your initial image in your head when you heard the word "mindfulness" of someone meditating? Maybe your image was one of some hippies sitting in a circle humming a Buddhist prayer. Mindfulness is neither of those and is much more important for learner-centered leaders.

Mindfulness is simply the ability to pay attention. Simple. Straight forward. Easy to understand.

There are four benefits to practicing mindfulness.

1. Improves Your Ability To Pay Attention
     Mindfulness increases the efficiency of brain pathways that process information coming in from the senses.
     Mindfulness can boost the ability of the brain to direct attention to the task or situation of interest. 

What you can do...
My first suggestion for any school leader is to be aware of your decision-making context. For example, if you are walking through a school visiting teachers, classes, and students do not fall into the trap of answering a question from someone that has nothing to do with what you are currently doing...which is experiencing what is going on in the school. If someone wants to ask you a question about the upcoming budget year, ask them to email you the question, or come and see you when you are in your office where those types of decisions about budgets are made.

2. Changes The Brain...For Better!
From the article: The fMRI showed how mindfulness affects different parts of the brain. Awareness does not require emotion, because awareness and emotion are mediated by different brain regions.
Noticing a mistake might grab our attention and automatically trigger an emotional response in the amygdala. But becoming aware of our own reaction activates the prefrontal cortex and calms the amygdala.


What you can do...
Focus on what you love about your job or the people you work with, your attention will actually improve!  (I go see and talk to kids to accomplish this).

3. Improves Your Ability To Set Goals
From the article: New research has found that mindful people who excel at living in the present moment are better at setting the right goals. Given that mindfulness helps us develop a deeper level of self-awareness, it’s logical that mindful people have goals that are aligned with their values, talents and interests.

What you can do...
Create a list of your non-negotiable goals for your career, your school, and your leadership. I have created a workbook to help you do this!

4. Increases Gratitude
From the article: In this “I’m right and you’re wrong” mentality that we seem to be stuck in, it’s important to remember that mindfulness is nonjudgmental observation and awareness. At its core, mindfulness allows us to observe our interior thoughts and external circumstances with compassion and a lack of judgment, no matter how harsh the reality. Researchers have argued that it is not pain or sadness that determines our outlook in life; rather, it is the frustration that continues to generate more frustration and irritation. Those negative emotions devolve into a downward spiral that takes us closer to Hell every day.

What you can do...
Go outside for a walk when you feel the inner tension becoming too much and you are worried you are becoming overwhelmed. Look at your surroundings. The other day I did this and I noticed how the rain was hitting the leaves in the trees...it almost looked like the leaves were dancing. That simple observation got me out of the mini stupor I was in.
 
Read the Article
Download My Non-Negotiable Goals Workbook
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How To Get Your Point Across In A Presentation

In this article, the author talks about "executive presence" while giving a presentation.
From the article: Showing executive presence in presentations will give your words and opinions more power. As you begin all presentations, remember three things:

1. You don’t need to justify why you’re there
2. Speaking slowly will show confidence
3. People want to hear your ideas -- and they need you to sound decisive
Read The Article
I saw this at our grocery store this weekend and I couldn't resist taking a picture of it.

One thing that I cannot figure out is why people are so mad all of the time. It seems like there are those in media that want to keep Americans constantly mad at someone or something. I am afraid that people are being conditioned to believe someone is always "trying to get something over on them." 

Here is what I try to remember...

We are blessed to be alive.
We live in the best place on earth.
No one or no organization is perfect...let's just accept this and understand that all of us are doing the best we can!
Let's just smile and see what happens!
Food For Thought
The Power of Forgiveness
 

"In this respect, forgiveness is the exact opposite of vengeance, which acts in the form of re-acting against an original trespassing, whereby far from putting an end to the consequences of the first misdeed, everybody remains bound to the process, permitting the chain reaction contained in every action to take its unhindered course....Forgiving, in other words, is the only reaction which does not merely re-act but acts anew and unexpectedly, unconditioned by the act which provoked it and therefore freeing from its consequences both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven."

— Hannah Arendt
 
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