Saturday, June 30, 2012

Building Champions – Part 4

To review, we have discussed 3 vital components to building a champion, and “building” is the right term.  This is an exhaustive intentional process that leaves nothing to chance, interpretation or luck. 

1.      To build a champion, there must exist a goal, benchmark or objective that is worthy of champion status.  No little goals, status quo, or getting by!

2.      The personalized, custom and unique plan of the champion sets up the behavior and desired outcome. No more doing the same thing and expecting different results!

3.      And the perfect adherence to the correct plan separates the champion from all others.  Practice DOES NOT make perfect.  Only PERFECT PRACTICE makes perfect!

4.      Finally:  the champion needs the right team for support.

What does this mean to have the right team?  Of course we know Jim Collins addresses getting the right people on the bus and then taking the bus anywhere!  Sometimes, however we inherit the team, we get the team in our class, group, club or even our co-workers.  He produces great research that those companies that went from Good to Great all had this in common. But the question still remains, what is the right team? What are the attributes? Or even, how does the championship team differ from everybody else? 

To begin, this team of support behaves a certain way.  To behave like a champion by definition, means the behavior is different.  For example, students that want to come to class for the sake of what they get out of showing up, verses the perception that they “have to be there” is a good indication champions are being built in that setting.  Thus the champion builder encourages, looks for authentic praise, understands the term approbation and uses it appropriately and realizes there are plenty of people finding fault.  The champion builder finds and focuses on the success.  As a test, of this concept, consider the infamous parent-teacher night at the beginning of the year.  Why do students NOT want the parents and teacher to meet?  Of course it is because the student believes they will gang up and the teacher will not say anything nice about the student.  Parents may also believe this and in a situation of self-fulfilling prophecy, the parents and the teacher spend the entire meeting focused on the student’s deficiencies and areas of concern, all under the guise of “helping.”  As an alternative, the few days leading up to the parent-teacher meetings, invest time praising each student, in front of the entire class!  Yes, even the worst student in class!  Go around the room and intentionally share publically some positive attribute about everyone.  Let them know what is going on and watch them ALL sit and listen to the individual and specific sentence or four about each of their peers.  They will all listen intently.  They will begin to believe in themselves just by watching another take the first step.  This is called approbation and is the key component to the successful support team behind all champions.  Champions are not built by focusing on the problems but by magnifying the positive.

What we just described here is a behavior.  It is an action.  It is reproducible, a skill to develop and something we can practice on ourselves, get better at, and change in our own lives, even consider accountability to each other.  It is not a belief.  It is a behavior.  It is a choice that we make over and over again.  Even when we do not feel like it! Behavior must come before belief, even though our belief influences our behavior, we cannot expect to wait for our beliefs to change if we want our behavior to change.  Just like we behaved by saying 2+2=4 as a little child, long before we actually knew what it meant.  We behaved, then we believed.  These actions all demonstrate an attitude or choice and an active decision on our part as leaders.

This display of care, attention or affection is the best way to connect.  The opposite of apathy is care!  The champion builder is the first one to care.  The champion has to LEARN what it looks like to care, what it means to care and how it is actually vital to care. Our wards do come equipped with the ability, understanding or even the desire to care.  As champion builders, we must ignite that passion in others.  Before we can reach them with our content, we must reach them as candidates to championships.

This is just the beginning of champion building.  I will continue to post characteristics, attributes and attitudes necessary for champions, champion building and how that affects us in our day to day living.  Please examine these as perspectives gleaned from experience and not directives.  Feel free to take the risks necessary to put these concepts into practice, share them with others and mentor others into championships!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Building Champions: Part 3 of 4

After spending a few days at Tan Tar A in on Lake Ozark Missouri, a renewed energy and focus has boosted my enthusiasm once again. Hearing many motivational and educational speakers cast vision, lead and share with passion verifies that things will continue to improve at Winfield School District. I have noticed during our discussions of championships, these 4 components seem to encompass just about every other feature or characteristic brought up.

The first was the establishment of a worthy goal; the second, a unique plan. Today we are examining the third component:  Perfect adherence to that plan.  We do not consider shortcuts, easy way outs or doing just enough to get by, ever sufficient for a champion.  This means we must follow our unique plan perfectly.  The adage about practice makes perfect is false.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.  For instance, we could do the problem wrong or miss the shot but that would not get us closer to our goal.  Consider Van Gogh, who painted over 900 paintings, and actually painted over some.  Modern technology has confirmed the existence of paintings hidden other paintings!  Our shots must be perfect and our practice perfect but our failures should not be penalized.  Attempts and the learning curve is part of the perfection process.
Another adage, overnight success takes five years also falls under the umbrella of championships.  Case study after case study of people like Tiger, Larry Bird, Bill Gates and others mentioned in Malcolm Gladwells Outliers,  @Malcgladwell verifies the rule of 10,000.  For example, given a 40 hour week, 50 weeks a year, thus 2000 hours a year, we see that five years produces about 10,000 hours of practice.  Therefore overnight success really does take five years.  Thus, we must measure our progress with a calendar and not a watch. Building a dynasty takes time, focus and a plan.  We have discussed these 3 and are ready for the fourth to follow soon.

Finally, we see our practice must cause us to sacrifice other things in our lives as well.  Once our quest to reach a goal becomes our major focus, we often put other interest to the side and do the thing that supplies the greatest return.  In real-estate, they call it the highest and best use of a piece of property.  As champions, we consider our highest and best use as we improve and focus on our true goal.  As students, we study, as teachers we teach, and as leaders we lead.  What does that mean and how does that look is personal and individual for each one of us. 

For this champion, it means allowing her creativity to flow unencumbered through a Prezi and her particpation in SW-PBIS and the great way she built champions at our school.

What is your highest and best use?

Do you focus on your most productive activity or do you allow yourself to be distracted?

How long are you willing to sacrifice to reach your goal?

Our final message in this series will refer to the last and major component necessary to build, create or duplicate a champion.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Plans to Build Champions - part 2 of 4

Last time, we mentioned having a goal worth a champion as the first key. Today, we consider the plan to reach that goal and the characteristics of that plan.

Unique or individual are two descriptors of a plan necessary to build a champion. For instance, practice, workouts and preparation must be so customized, that every exercise addresses a specific need of the champion. Efficiency and effectiveness meet and every act of preparation aids to the creation of a champion. The current condition of situation thus determines the direction or path of this perfect and unique path. This path is also unique relative to others. There is no way that a cookie cutter or box plan will build a champion. These principles are similar but the plan is unique and based on the needs of the participant. Doing what everybody else does will get their results. Doing the same thing as before will also give the same results as before!

Completed or perfected would also describe the plan necessary. Obviously detailed implies the need to have every act serve some intentional purpose aligned with the quest. Nothing can be left up to chance or hope. Chance and Hope are not part of the perfect plan. An interesting interpretation of 'perfected' means there is no way to get it better. Loosely, this implies 'the best.' Thoughts and actions all will align to this champions goal. Everything will be deliberately planned to support and activities or thoughts that hinder will diminish. Every detail in life is now open for examination or even suspicion. Thorough also describes the plan of a champ.

What noble goals are established, published and worthy?
What plans are in place to reach those goals? Are they the same as before? Are they the same as everyone else? Do the plans consider the candidate's strengths, deficiencies and natural abilities?

What do you think? Is this too much work? Is it worth it? Is status quo sufficient?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Building Champions: Part #1 of 4

As we look at what it takes to build a champion, we find there are 4 common elements that rise to the top.

Today, we look at the first, a clear definition goal or objective that defines true Champion status. This can be in the form of a contest or personal singular feat. When part of a team, group or unit, the goal is something like, to win this or that. This is truly a noble objective and part of the uniqueness or singularity of focus is that it must be worthy. To be the best is too broad but to win district is specific. This goal then becomes that focus, where we consider nothing else. We refuse to get distracted by the urgent or good but consider only the great and noble and worthy prize.

Similarly, the singleton may have a noteworthy goal or objective like complete a marathon or raise a GPA or something measured individually. Personal fitness goals fall into this category.

Once our goal is established, agreed upon and brought into true articulation, it forms our mission or our definition of purpose, the reason for our drive. Some even call it our purpose.

Once it is clear enough for articulation and concise enough to be memorable, it is ready for publication. Personal, among the team or within the organization, but ready to get behind. Is it necessary to join this troop? No, but there is no championship status by chance! It only happens ON PURPOSE with a singular focus and deliberate self-discipline regarding distraction.

Hope is not a strategy!

These distractions come in many styles. People with good intentions may distract, but without an understanding of the goal their involvement often diverts energy, attention a drive away from the center. Therefore we must not even waste energy worrying about things that we have no control over. Things out of our hands, too far removed of even just fun may actually deter us from our singular purpose.

In a school setting, what would be a goal worthy a Champion? Status quo for ourselves, passing all our students, playing on the team or just getting by? I believe in big harry audacious goals that take everything and everybody to reach successfully. Thus we measure our success by the success of all those around us. Limiting our participation in the group goal steals from the team, fosters divisiveness and keep everyone from reaching their potential.

Interestingly, our adversaries deserve our respect but we don't need to focus any energy, either positive or negative on them. In the competitive setting, we don't need to talk any trash to our adversary, none to our team-mates, nor about our team-mates but even harder to accomplish, NONE to OURSELVES. This means no trash talk to or about those on or in our team. This component is key to building a champion! Why, because the words are what we all remember as we replay the day, the meeting or the but confrontation. The is no need to tell someone they are wrong but maybe their answer is not right! Self-talk or affirmations are the most effective at narrowing our focus on the goal. Please speak nice, tease no one, and leave sarcasm for the second place finisher.

This describes the first step in creating champions, the way I see it. Do you agree?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

a principal evaluates or advocates???

What is the highest and best use for the educational leader in the building? To identify the single greatest does disservice to the big picture of education.

Today we are going to discuss evaluate and advocate and the shirt in perception. As an evaluator, we look for the problems, issues concerns and focus on the negative dilemmas face every day. The advocate considers how the situation can be improved without diminishing the hope of those involved. Can the leader take each person in the building and take them individually to their next level?

Many years ago, I was once asked in an interview with a prominent district whether I wanted to teach advanced or basic content. After a moment, I answered somewhat flippantly, "people, stuff.". Needless to say, I did not get that job but that dialogue has left an impression on my decisions since. My true goal is to get to know each person, assess their current situation, gather ideas, techniques and ideas on pedagogy, execute that plan, look for and celebrate success in every single person.

That is how I want to teach. That is how I want to lead.