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Good Morning <<First Name>>!

There is a bonus question today. I made up a word somewhere in this email...let me know what the word is and where you found it...maybe a prize will be in the offing to those who email me!

I was in Tampa last week dropping my daughter off at college. While we were there, my wife and I stopped at a Brewpub for dinner...something we do quite a bit when traveling! We struck up a conversation with the bartender who is a senior at the school.

As we talked, I found out his major is "sports marketing." I asked him how he chose that particular major and what he told me made me laugh and think that we adults sometimes take things too seriously. He said he chose the major because that was the only major with the word "sports" in it! Interestingly, he loves what he is learning and has really cool plans for his future.  

Who'd a thunk it?

Have a great week...and take your job seriously, but not yourself!

Tom

Become A Tribe Of 1


Okay, you have heard me wax philosophic about the importance of purpose and mission for your leadership journey. I have stated that purpose and mission are important to have for your career as well as for your school (or school district). I believe these two facets are incredibly important. I also know that something that is a strength can also be a weakness and that is what I want to throw out to you today to make you think a little bit.

I am concerned a strong purpose and mission in your professional life will overshadow, or replace, a purpose and mission in your private, personal life. This concern grows out of the polarization of America around "tribes." We as a society are gathering in tribes of people that think alike, act alike, and share a similar worldview.

Tribes inherently also create a worldview of those outside the tribe as "the other." If someone (or some group) does not believe what we believe, then they are somehow deficient or inadequate. As this worldview takes root and becomes stronger, "the other" can morph into an enemy. An enemy of not only the ideas you believe in but an enemy of you personally and your group as a whole. 

I see the beginnings of this in our little corner of the world in education. Try to have a calm conversation about the benefits of cyber charter schools on one side or how public schools are actually constantly innovating on the other side, and you will see what I mean. To help us think through purpose and mission, let's consider a few things.

First, let's all agree that "work" should not replace one's psychological need to belong. It's a real problem in American society that work is replacing religion. According to sociologist Carolyn Chen:

"Fifty years ago, white-collar professionals were looking to fulfill their needs for identity, belonging, meaning, and purpose through organizations outside the workplace, such as their churches, temples, synagogues, or neighborhood associations. These days, work consumes so much of their lives; it's in work that they find their identity, their belonging, their source of meaning, fulfillment, and purpose in life."

Our work is incredibly important...but it is never so important that it equates to your identity.

Second, let's think of the "purpose-mission" problem in a linear fashion...and add another part to it.
 
Your purpose lies beyond your work. It is the reason you think you exist. Most leaders do not take the time to really consider their purpose, or they lie to themselves about their true purpose. As a matter of fact, it is easy to put words on a piece of paper claiming your purpose is "to help learners learn" or whatever the latest education fad that is in vogue. Your purpose may be "to help learners learn," but you should only arrive at something like that after a lot of deliberation.

Think of Purpose as a 30,000 ft. view of you. Your purpose might be "do good in the world." Mine is "be helpful to people, especially those less fortunate than me."  Your purpose might be "spend as much quality time with friends and family as possible." Great. Your purpose does not have to be making world peace...it is your purpose, so there really is no wrong answer!

Now you come to Mission. Mission is the planned actions that lead to your purpose. One of my missions is to help school leaders create the conditions for awesome learning experiences for every learner every day. I now have a framework of actions I can take to reach my purpose. 

The last item is Action...actually doing something. Writing this newsletter every week (for 20 months!) is an example of an action. What are the actions that you do that reflect your mission and lead to fulfilling your purpose?

I am available to talk through your purpose, mission, and actions with you...just reply to this email, and we can set up a time to talk.

Skills Students Need To Succeed

First of all, my headline is slightly bullshittish. How do we define "success?" Our job as educators is to help learners figure out what success means for them and their families within the context of their world. 

BUT, I do like the idea of figuring out what are the actual skills students need to have a chance in today's world, so...
You can go to your staff and have an incredibly vibrant debate about the merits (or not) of these lists.

Here are some quotes from the article where I read this to make you think further.

"Organizational psychologist Adam Grant writes, 'The evidence is clear: academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance.'"

"Dr. Grant continues, 'Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.'"

Consider the first sentence in Dr. Grant's quote. "The evidence is clear: academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence."  If that is true, and I believe to the core of my being that it is true, then we as educators have been speeding down the primrose path of irrelevancy by staking our entire profession on these stupid, God-forsaken State-mandated exams. These tests simply have NO CORRELATION to future success and happiness. PERIOD! They are simply education reformers' versions of bullshit.



Emotional Intelligence. Employers believe a high EQ is as important (if not more so) than a high IQ...see the opinion of Adam Grant above. Working in a diverse work environment with people holding different viewpoints about how the project should be completed, let alone differing views on politics, requires a high EQ. Helping learners achieve a high EQ is simply a no-brainer.

Cognitive Flexibility. According to Tim Elmore, cognitive flexibility is defined as,  "how well a student can deliberately switch between mental processes to generate appropriate behavioral responses."  Employers do not want their workers to get "stuck" or become paralyzed when faced with difficulties. Cognitive flexibility prevents the paralysis.
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Bonus Video
The Netflix documentary about this song is OUTSTANDING! Ol' Johnny had guts and conviction!
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