I know I am totally going to age myself here, but there were two video games I loved as an adolescent: "Paperboy" and "Frogger". As I navigate my way through life, both professionally and personally, this picture of "Frogger" continually pops into my head. In this post, I wanted to connect this game, to the leadership game. Please remember, when I speak of leadership, I am speaking to ALL of you! I wholeheartedly believe that leadership is earned through actions and we are ALL leaders. So this post is for all!
In my leadership journey, I have always had one goal, and one goal only...to do good. Anyone that really knows me, knows this. That's it. One, more specific "sub goal" is to support others in their journey of growth. So when I think of the game Frogger, crossing that street, is that sub goal...navigating through those waters is that ultimate goal.
Here is what I have found...this leadership game, is not an easy one. Getting across that street is hard. Getting across the water...hard. You need to be aware of everything going on within and around your goal. You need to forsee and maneuver around obstacles (that are always moving). You will get hit, you will get bitten...often. Many times, you will not understand where this is coming from. You get side swiped and perplexed. What do you do? You keep going.
Here is what I like about Frogger...when you get hit, the game isn't over. You get a re-do. You get to begin again. You can choose those next steps. You get to reflect on the course you took, and course correct. You get many tries, but your frog is always moving in the same direction...forward. Sometimes it takes a few lateral moves to get that forward moving traction, but that is where your strength and growth occurs. And just like Frogger, once you have reached that first goal, you are not done. There is more work to be done. There are a different set of challenges, the game looks a little different, but the goal stays the same. To move forward..always forward. In the "water" portion of the game, there are logs and turtles that help you along the way. They carry you across; those are important. Leaders need their people as much as people need their leaders.
Here is what I would like to change about Frogger to make it more like real life:
1) When you get hit by a moving vehicle or eaten by a creature in the water, I would like to see the frog grow. Because that is what should happen when faced with struggle or strife. Growth. As the frog grows, it should become more and more invincible. As we learn and grow, we are armed with more ideas, strategies and tools to maneuver and make change.
2) I would love for the frog to travel in a group. Leadership is NOT a game of Solitaire. If it is, it is a losing game. You are not leading if no one is following. The greatest leaders (in my humble opinion) are those that lead from either the middle or behind. They are in the mix, doing the hard work and bringing others into the fold at every turn. They are the ones helping others to see their potential and supporting them in their growth. They help others find their "leadership voice" and start them on their own "leadership journey".
Since we are all leaders, we will all encounter those naysayers, those road blockers, those that are trying to pull you down. (In Frogger, it's that little green snake between the road and the water). But JUST KEEP GOING. If you are true to your purpose, you will also pick up those that are in your corner. Those that will help you, encourage you, guide you and advise you. Those that will help you find your strength when you can't find it yourself. Those are the people that you need to listen to. It is our choice as to what/who we let take up space in our minds and hearts. WE control the dial. I know how hard it is to tune out that chatter...I struggle daily...hourly. But if we want to be leaders and help create positive change we need to always tune into the good.
The game is important work, we need you, our leaders, to keep leaping forward. The game is never over.
For those of you that aren't familiar with the game....check it out: Frogger
I knew that I would be writing a post about change, this weekend. I just thought it would have some different content, but things...change. Time to course correct and move forward.
Do you ever have those moments when your words come back to haunt you? It has happened even more so since Twitter and blogging has entered my life. But, I don't know if "haunt" is the word so much as, remind. I wrote these words in a blog post, and Cristina Aguirre, tweeted them back at me at some point. Then my gal, Alice Keeler picked them up and made them pretty (image to the right). They have shown up in my twitter notifications, a few times since. They are great reminders as to my intent, especially during winds of change.
But I think I am going to take this post in a different direction. I want to talk more globally about change. I have learned that change brings out many different reactions in people. Some people are like me, they just roll with it and "just keep swimming", but for others it is more of a struggle. I am not saying one way is better than the other, the whole change process just fascinates me. Either way, change is not easy, and it is a process and part of the journey.
For some people, when there is change, they retreat, put up walls, dig a moat and/or draw their swords. Many times, those swords are their tongues. I encountered this phenomena on the third day in my current position. I was personally attacked for a good 30 minutes by a staff because of changes coming from the district office. To them, I WAS the district office. I tried to take it like a good little soldier, because I was so new, I didn't know any better. I didn't take it easily and came out pretty bruised. But I picked myself up and decided to learn and grow from it. And I have! I have spent the last 2 1/2 years observing and discussing the change process with anyone that will engage with me. The interesting thing is, just like students, everyone is different. Everyone reacts differently. Which means, the approach needs to change as quickly as their reaction. I believe this is part of being an Empathetic Leader. Knowing and understanding that circle of viewpoints. So how do we help to create change? Where do we start? What do we do, when there is resistance? How do we handle it when people lash out? How do we help people realize that there is a need for the change? How do we support others through the process?
Luckily, I have been incredibly fortunate to have connected with many great leaders. These are not new conversations for them, but I just soak it up. I feel like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz". I have some how collected this amazing tribe that I can turn to and learn from. Here is just a small sampling of what I have learned from them, on my journey... (not listed in any particular order and with their permission).
As I type all of these fantastic leadership nuggets on change, I see why I have aligned myself with these folks. One of my favorite of the CA Academic Standards is: Integration of Knowledge. That is what I have done with these guys. I have taken in all that I have learned from them, mixed it in with all that I have learned and observed on my own. I have synthesized the information to come up with my own ideas on change. Here are my current thoughts:
"Change is inevitable, we can either choose to fight it or choose to embrace it. Change is hard because it becomes extremly personal. We must consider how change will effect all players and adjust to help support. This can only be done after there is a foundation built on trust. It is important to guide others in understanding the need for change, even when they refuse to see it. Don't give up if it is something you believe in, assess the situation and course correct, but don't back down. We need to be agile and adaptive in how we handle these change situations and people, as a model for them. Being a "change agent" is hard, but necessary. Kids Deserve It!
Who's in? Suit up! What are your thoughts on change?
I don't know how I did it, but I ended up with two incredible humans for children. Not only are the both extremely smart, but they are really good people with huge empathetic hearts. When I step back and reflect, there are many lessons that I have learned from them. I was reminded of these particular lessons today, when my friend George shared a reflection from one of his students.
So, what did I learn from these two? I found how important it is for students to find and use their passions. We need to provide opportunities for them to explore, create and produce things that they are passionate about. By doing this, we will create learners that are curious and excited. Students that will persevere and problem solve because it is important to them.
How do we build this into the "curriculum"? How do we not? There are many options, some being "Genius Hour", "20 time", "Passion Projects". In doing these tasks, students will be digging deep into the standards. All the ELA and ELD standards, for sure. They will also understand their place in the world, that they have a choice and they have a voice. This engagement and empowerment will lead to increased learning and that "stickiness'. How can we build these lessons from my kids, into the learning model for all students? They deserve it.
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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