A few days ago, I wrote a post entitled "Forward". That is my #oneword2017 and I want to tell you...it ain't easy! It seems like a pretty simple concept...just keep moving...forward, but it is HARD. There are so many pitfalls, curve balls, walls, deterrents that can get in the way. But I believe that it is incredibly important to continue in that forward motion.
I have come up with some adjectives to help describe the traits that I believe one needs to keep on moving forward:
F-Futurist: So I looked up the definition of this one. Here is what I found, futurists focus on "forcasting, imagining or creating the future". I think it is pretty clear, that we just CAN NOT forcast the future, because it is changing so rapidly. But for someone to keep moving forward, I believe that we must be able to imagine the future. This means we are always thinking ahead, and planning. We are not stuck in the past, nor the present, we have our eye on what is to come. I also believe we must create our future. We can't just wait for things to happen TO us. We need to see what is needed and we create that space, that opportunity, that THING to make it happen...always forward.
O-Original: In order to keep that forward momentum, we need to be an original thinkers. We don't settle for "status quo". We see a need for change and work hard to make it happen. We need to be confident in being different, celebrate it...in fact. People may look at us funny, try to change us...but we have to stand firm. Being orgiginal does not mean that every action/idea IS original...this just means that we look at it through a different lens and iterate in our own way...always forward.
R-Reflective: In order to move forward, we DO need to look back. We don't need to LIVE there, but we do need to acknowledge and understand. We need to take all that has happened before and find the learning. Both what TO do and what NOT to do...both are important. We need to keep these in our backpacks as we travel forward. We will need to refer back to them as we try to line up those forward dots. We will pull from them in times of dissonance and change..in times of success AND failure. They are what makes us who we are, it is what keeps us going...always forward.
W-Wonderer: As we travel on that forward journey, we should always be questioning...always wondering. What if...Why not...How can we? These are like the journeyman's staff. They will help to keep us moving. When we think we can no longer move forward, we need dig in and question. Where are we, where do we want to be, how can we get there? Then take those steps to start finding those answers...always forward.
A-Adaptive: Life is nothing if not complicated. It is ever changing and we must be chameleons to adapt with it. There is no reason to resist change, it will happen with or without us. We must reflect on our surroundings and quickly decide how to best move forward. We will have to change our thinking, our ideas, our actions...often. But never let it deter us, never let it turn us back...always forward.
R-Resilient: Like I stated before, this journey forward isn't easy. There are times you will feel like you are in a sand pit, a tornado, quick sand, swimming against the current, falling down the rabbit hole. When this happens, we need to be resilient to keep going on. The way I do this, is I always use my purpose as my "north star". I focus back on why I am here and align my thoughts, ideas, actions with that. If I need to course correct...then so be it, but I can't let it stop me...always forward.
D-Dreamer: I attribute this one to goal setting. If we are going to set goals, let's DREAM BIG! Imagine what it would be like once your goals are reached. Plan backwards TO move forwards. What are the steps to get you to where you want to go? What do you need to do to get there? Share your dreams, share your journey. Bring other dreamers along for the ride, traveling is always better together! Once your goal is reached...how can you stretch beyond?...always forward.
Steve Wyborney inspired this post when he asked me what words I could come up with for the acronym "forward". I enlisted the help of my pal David Culberhouse to brainstorm some word ideas with me. These two AND many other amazing folks have helped me to continue on my journey...always forward.
Lately, I have found myself saying a particular word, over and over again. This word seems to come up in a lot of my conversations. It has been paired with a few different words, but it is always there...always present within me. That word is FORWARD. This week, something registered with me. As I was explaining my bracelet (that has this one word on it), I remembered that my #ondeword2017 is FORWARD. Ha! Without me consciously doing so, I have continued to live it and try to help others live it as well.
Why is forward so important? Because we CAN NOT afford to be stagnant. We CAN NOT afford to live in the past. We deserve to continue forward movement for ourselves and those around us. Here are some the "forward phrases" I have been using lately. I believe there is a definite order to these, there is a process to help us to move forward:
Risk Forward: (@SteveWyborney)- When I read this phrase in The Writing On The Classroom Walls I fell in love with it! I am a huge proponent of taking risks. In order to start that forward movement, we need to start with risk. We need to not let fear be the driver in our lives, we must take that wheel and just DO. What is something that you have wanted to do...that you need to do...that you just haven't done? What is holding you back? What would happen if you just went for it? You will never know unless you just DO. You could fail or you could fly...in either instance, it's a win in my book because you took that first step to #riskforward.
Stretch Forward: (@SteveWyborney)- My heart fluttered this week when I heard one of my colleagues say that she wanted to do something to stretch herself. It was music to my ears. She wanted to take that risk, to move out of her comfort zone, to go beyond. This is so important if we want to keep that forward momentum going. Take that rubber band of yours and stretch, go farther than you think you are willing to go. You don't need to stretch so far that it snaps, just far enough to create some tension, some dissonance. It won't be easy, it will no doubt be pretty uncomfortable, but I'm going to challenge you to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Lean into that discomfort because that is where the growth happens. That #stretchforward is worth it!
Fail Forward: One of my favorites! I have written and talked about this one for about a year now. This is not the notion that it's plainly ok to fail. That is not the goal of this one. There is a fail forward process.
Learn Forward/Grow Forward: I believe these two go hand and hand. If we are not learning, we are not growing. If we are not growing, we are not living. The world still needs us...our students still need us, so we are too young to die. Try to find the learning in every situation...whether it is a positive instance or a negative one, there is ALWAYS something to learn. With that learning, make sure to use it to grow yourself. Is it learning, if there is no growth afterwards? I'm unsure. Continue to feed your mind and your soul as you #learnforward and #growforward. Keep stretching to become someone, you never thought you could be, that best version of you.
Share Forward: (@PintoBeanz11): I absolutely believe that we are all better together. Why would we not share? Since I am a constant learner, I learn new things from everywhere and everyone. I am so excited when someone shares their learning, their growth, their story with me. It feeds me to risk, stretch, learn, grow, which then leads me to #shareforward and continue the cycle. Let's not hoard the great, let's pass it on so that others can move forward in their journey.
Go Forward: This one encompasses all the rest. At the end of the day...just keep moving. Let's make sure that movement is forward. I wholeheartedly believe that it is important to look back, to #reflectback. But we CAN NOT live there. It is not healthy. We instead, should use those experiences as a springboard to jump forward. As hard as it is, look straight ahead. Our paths will all look different, our destinations as well, but that journey should always be a journey forward. #goforward
This is one of two posts about "forward". What does it take to do the above? It is within all of us, we just need to discover and foster it: FOWARD...
As you are driving, when you look back, using your side mirror, like the picture above, there is a warning "Objects are closer than they appear." This is an interesting concept when thinking about reflecting back on our life. Many say "don't look back.", but how can we not? The things that have happened in our life are "closer than they appear" because they are always there, whether we are conscious of it or not. Our past is what makes us who we are. It is never far away.
As I come to the close of my third year in my current position, it is time to reflect back on my time. It has been filled with many peaks and valleys. It has definitely stayed true to my blog site title: "Leading In Limbo". What lessons have I learned along the way? There are too many to list here today, and the learning continuous daily, hourly, constantly. So, for this post, I will replay my top 10 "Leadership Hits" that have helped stretch, shape and grow me forward.
1) Find the learning in everything: In leading, just like life, there are many ups and downs. Many wins and many falls. Regardless, it is important to always look for the lesson. This will help keep us in check...not let us get too high nor too low. What is our key purpose and how does everything tie in? In order to do this, one needs to be very reflective, often. When we work through this lens, it helps us stay in focus, stay in line.
2) Everyone is a leader: We are all leaders, we can't deny it. Many think that leadership comes with a title. I argue that. There are many with the title, that are not leaders and many leaders without the title. A leader is grown through action. A leader is one who champions for their people, who is in the trenches, who sees that spark in others and helps it shine. A leader creates a shared vision and a plan on how to reach it. A leader grows other leaders. They find the strengths in others and builds their capacity. "Talk" is very different than "Act". A true leader shouldn't have to tell, they just show.
3) Leadership is not a game of Solitaire: No one can lead alone...effectively. We have to include others. We need to have a team. Everyone has their own areas of strength, a well rounded leadership team is a much stronger force than an army of one. It is important to ask AND receive input from those in your charge. Do something with the input, show them that you HEARD and not just listened. Make sure to check those mirrors often. Look around, not only look behind you, but look next to you. If there is no one there, you are not truly leading.
4) You do you: Be authentic, no one can do it all and no one is perfect, so don't even try it. People can see through that. The leaders I gravitate to, are the ones that are real. They are great successes who share their paths of continued growth. They share their stories...their success stories, but even more powerful, they share their failure stories. When you are real, people will pull towards you. Part of being real, is being transparent. This doesn't mean you need to air your dirty laundry...it means say what you mean and mean what you say. That is the cornerstone of integrity and integrity goes a long way. Anyone can "talk the talk", but there needs to be action behind it. People will see through smoke and mirrors...eventually.
5) Newton's 3rd Law: This is a tough one. Since we are all leaders, we are always trying to do things to propel others forward. When doing this, I have learned that there is an equal AND opposite reaction. For the most part, people will stand behind you, stand with you. They will celebrate successes and grow with you. Unfortunately, there are the small few that will do the opposite. They will look at forward movement as a negative. They will try to hold you back...they will be the cloud to the light. They will nay say, roadblock, bully. This is when you need to choose to tune out the chatter and keep plowing forward if you believe in your purpose. This is when it is important to take stock in why you are doing what you are doing. Does the good for others out weigh the bad that is coming your way? In most cases, I would think yes. This is when you need to muster all of your strength and keep on moving...always forward.
6) Look behind the curtain: This was something I was not expecting. There is a "curtain". My Pollyanna brain was not prepared for this. Things are not always what they seem. At first, I really struggled with this. But once I decided that this was a real thing, I decided to use it for good. It is important to learn all sides of the things around you. We need to know the good, the bad and the ugly of what we are working with. We need to be informed, so we can make the best decisions. We may not agree, or even like what we see, or what we have learned, but it is important. We need to keep our eyes open and just learn. Use what we learn to guide us in our decisions, communications, our actions AND our non-actions.
7) Play to your strengths, hone your weakness: It is incredibly important to know ourselves. We need to know what we can bring to the table and what we can't. It doesn't do anyone any good to pretend. A good place to learn about yourself, is the Gallop Strengths Finder 2.0 It is pretty spot on in finding strengths. Once you know your strengths, it is important to know your weaknesses. In doing this, it is also important to find those who can fill in those gaps. Find others whose strengths match your weaknesses and observe and learn. Have humility and ask for help, ask to learn, team up. I have learned so much in working with others these past three years. I have gained much knowledge, not only in learning how to hone my weaknesses, but also my strengths. We just have to be open. We are all better together, let's work together and help each other stretch forward.
8) Find your tribe: This one is KEY. It wasn't until this last year that I found my tribe AND realized the importance. Your tribe is made up of people who will not only support you, but who will push you and stretch you. They are there to listen when your are down, and they are there to build you back up when you have broken. They are also there to help you grow beyond where you ever thought you could grow. They will challenge your thinking, your perspective...they will move you forward. BUT it is important that you do the same for them It can't be a one way street, you may think you have little to give...but everyone has something, so give big.
9) Lead with empathy: This one is a big one for me. I try to be empathetic in everything I do. Now it is important to recognize the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is 'feeling sorry for someone"...empathy is "feeling like someone". It is being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes. To think from their point of view. This is important because as a leader, we need to know who we are leading. We need to always take them into consideration when making decisions or planning actions. How will this affect others, no matter their "level"? This is not a guessing game, this comes from building authentic relationships, observing, ansking and listening. It takes time, but it is time must be spent.
10) Take stock...often: Reflect...a lot. Where are you, where were you, where are you going? What works, what doesn't work. What did you learn and how will you apply it? How can you use things that have happened to help others in their journey of growth? Share forward.
Well, those are just my musings as I reflect on the last three years. I have spent those three years trying to deny that I was any sort of "leader"...because I don't have a fancy title. But, I guess I have always been a leader, in some way or another, just like YOU. No matter your role, title, perception...look behind you and next to you...check those mirrors...there are people there...there are people that you help, that you guide...YOU ARE A LEADER! Own it! Lead Forward!!!
Anyone that knows me, knows that I have a quote issue. I LOVE quotes!! What I do with said quotes, is I repeat them...again...and again...and again...until they become my "catch phrases". These are phrases that I annoyingly repeat in hopes to help myself and/or others in their path of growth. That is at the heart of everything I do.
Last school year, one of my catch phrases was: #takerisks. I said it all the time, I wrote about it often. I created plaques with the saying on it that I gave out to educators in our district to celebrate their risk taking. But most of all, it forced me to take risks.
One of this school year's catch prases is: #failforward. I say it sometimes, wrote about it a bit and hear others say it from time to time. We now have stickers and t-shirts with the phrase #failforward. I often get tagged in tweets that refer to failing. I love it! Cori = failure. But, hey I will take it if it is helping others to take a leap.
Currently I am reading my new favorite book: The Writing On the Classroom Wall (#TWOTCW) by: Steve Wynborney. I have fallen in love with everything he is saying. So many of his "Big Ideas" resonated with me. In writing about his "Big Idea 14 : Expect Much of Yourself" he brought up the phrase: risk forward! OH MY GOSH...the words jumped out at me. He just put my two catchphrases together: #riskforward. He and his words have inspired this post, today.
I have heard people speak from their hearts, knowing what they want and should do, but their heads get in the way. They are scared to just take that ONE step. Afraid of the outcome, of failing, of not being good enough, of not being perfect, of what others may think...say. But it is that one step, that is a step toward growth, it could be that one step towards amazing. I encourage people all the time to just #riskforward. Just do it...go for it. Don't be afraid to push buttons, push boundaries, push out of that comfort zone. Let's see what happens. It could go great or it could fail miserably...either way...you are moving.,
Anyone that knows me also knows that I am BIG on integrity. To me this is: actions = talk and talk = actions. So I am forced to "walk the talk". I can not in good faith, encourage people to #takrisks or #failforward, if I am not willing to do so myself. Knowing this, has helped me in my journey of growth. When MY head is trying to hold me back, I remember to just go for it. I have done a lot of this lately. Does it always end up great...nope. In fact, it usually doesn't. BUT that is where the learning and growth occurs. We do not grow when things come easy, why would we need to? It is during the struggle, where we become who we were meant to be. In #TWOTCW Steve writes: You need to be "paying attention to your growth and watching what happens to your strengths as you permit yourself to question, to struggle, to succeed, to fail and to reflect. With every experience we can all grow as learners, especially if we are hungry to recognize the impact of those experiences."
Growth isn't easy...there are growing pains...but if we can push through that pain and reflect and look for the learning, we grow forward. For me, some of my #riskforward moments have been rough, even heart breaking at times. There have been many tough conversations and truths uncovered. But I always try to say "What could I have done differently, I want to learn and grow." So even through tears, I speak those words, out loud and I am being completely honest. How can one grow, if they don't understand? It's in these raw moments, I feel, we are most open for change. BUT we have to put our necks out there and risk...in order to move forward. We need to #riskforward not only for ourselves but for those that are in our circle of influence, whom ever they may be. We need to show them the best versions of ourselves AND encourage/model risking forward for them.
So my call to action is for not only myself, but for everyone reading. When you are at a crossroads, take that leap...try that "other road" and #riskforward.
So...whether we like to talk about it or not, we all have an ego...it is part of us. It is that part of us that gives us a personal identity. It is our self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-image and self confidence. Essentially, it is who we are. I believe that it is actually what we choose to do with that ego, that really makes us who we are.
I have been a part of many conversations and many observations where I see ego is the driving force of either action or non action. I feel it is at the root of a lot of what is stopping us from being our greatest selves and doing great things. OR it causes us to do things that hinder others from being their best selves. In this sense, EGO = Edging Greatness Out.
Here is my take. Ego and fear go hand and hand. Ego feeds fear and fear in turn, feeds ego. It is a sick cycle that will never stop, unless we consciously make the effort. From my vantage point, I see that ego has two sides that seem polar opposites, yet both are grounded in and conclude with fear and insecurity.
*I know I am not using the correct Psychological terms here, even though that was my Undergrad. I'm secure with that :)...
Inflated Ego: This is the one most people think of when one talks about Ego. Someone is "egotistical". They appear to think they are better than others. That they deserve better, people should treat them better, they do not have to follow the same rules as others. They are right and everyone else is wrong. They feel that they are on a higher level, and others should bow down accordingly. These people might belittle others, throw up road blocks, bully, insult, sabotage others so they can feed that ego and "stay on top". They put shadows over other's light, try to steal their thunder by diminishing their actions and/or ideas.
But let's really think about this...where does this egotistical behavior come from? My belief is that it stems from a fear- "I am not good enough". Are these people overcompensating for their own insecurity? Do they feel the need to push others down, to lift themselves up? When I look at it from this lens, I am saddened. I am sad that people feel this way. That they project their issues on others...without even realizing the damage it might be causing.
Deflated Ego: These are the people that want to make themselves small and quiet. They act in the opposite way than the above. They try to "blend in", not make waves, hide. They believe that they offer no added value. In fact, I may argue that they feel THEY have little value, worth. They hold the same belief as above "I'm not good enough". But, they internalize their fear and insecurities. They try to stay in the shadows, hide their light and diminish their own shine. They blame themselves for any thing that goes awry, even if they have no control or part in it. They beat themselves up. They are the perfect prey for those with that inflated ego. I am sad that people feel this way. They are causing themselves much damage, without even realizing it.
Regardless of which ego is in the drivers seat, it stops people in their tracks. I feel that a lot of reasons people don't want to change, is because of ego. They either don't believe they need to change, or they can't change. They are afraid of failing, falling, not recovering. OR they have a fear of flying, succeeding, or the pressure to do more. It holds them back from new, from different, from innovation. Imagine how much good...how much great, the world is missing out on because of ego. Because of fear. Because of insecurity.
Imagine what would happen if we vowed to leave our egos at the door! Take that step, that leap...try that thing, connect with that person, open up that world...that mind. Build each other up, lean on one another, join forces.
What it comes down to, is purpose. Are we here to self serve or service others? If it is the latter, we need to keep that as our focal point...move past that ego, for the greater good. Let's NOT let EGO mean "Edging Greatness Out", we can't, we need YOUR greatness. Let it shine through.
Mother, Teacher, Administrator, Presenter, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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