The theme for the Model Schools Conference was ACT FOR IMPACT. As I sat there listening to keynotes and sitting in sessions I was overwhelmed with the prominent thought of, “am I still impacting my babies?”
When I was a teacher I could easily see the impact I had on my babies. In my role as an administrator, I don’t feel or see the impact I’m making. Many of the conversations I had over the last few months, have been centralized around this specific topic. People have been asking if I am ready to move on to my new role. My reply is immediately, yes, however often include that I felt like I was unable to impact my site in ways I feel like I have made a difference.
I sat in the last keynote, Be The Best You Can Be by Simon Sinek. And whoa, was my mind blown. His keynote focused on 5 characteristics/components that leaders should have as they ACT FOR IMPACT and lead students. Prior to listing the 5, he stated that in order to lead, we as individuals must be the best version of ourselves and specifically pointing out that our job is not about competition or the end game. He then began to distinguish that people can fall under two categories when it comes to their viewpoint of their impact: finite or infinite.
He described finite people as people who find their sense of worth and value in self gratification. They want to be the best and receive all the accolades for themselves. They are looking out for themselves, as opposed to the team they are part of.
He then described infinite people as people who find their sense of worth and value in contributing their efforts for the greater good. They don’t seek immediate gratification, but rather look at the bigger picture. Their small efforts and contributions, allow for the group to succeed and in turn directly impact everyone involved.
In order for leaders to succeed, Sinek stated that leaders must have the following components:
1. Just cause.
In order to have success, there must be a just cause. We have to have a reason…you can call this the “why”. What’s the reason behind it? Why are we doing it? When that is established our desire to work towards this “just cause” requires our utmost sacrifice. That sacrifice must supercede your own interest. It’s not about winning and there is no such thing as best. It makes your work feel worth it.
2. Trusting Teams.
Simon posed the following questions: Do you love your job? Do you feel like you can be yourself based on the environment you get to work? How do we create an environment where people can work at their natural best? When we don’t have that, we have people who are lying, hiding and faking. How are we treating our staff? Our number one goal is to allow people to work at their natural best. They don’t have to put on a show. They get to come to a place that allows them to be themselves. They feel safe to take risks and to try new things. They feel like they are supported and can grow.
3. Worthy rival.
What is a worthy rival? Another player in the game that show us our weaknesses or areas of growth. When you are comparing yourself to other people, it doesn’t tell you about them, it’s about you and what you need to reflect on. Instead of being angry at them, go in with the approach of, what are they teaching me? How can I be grateful for them? They help make us better, without them we would not be able to grow into a better leader. Remember our only true competitor is yourself.
4. Flexible. Capacity for existential flexibility.
Do you have a just cause and trusting team? The willingness to walk away from something based on the just cause. Are you ready to blow it up if it doesn’t have a worthy just cause? What if your team is not trustworthy? Are you brave enough to blow it up or walk away?
5. Courage to lead.
It is so easy to play the finite game than the infinite game. But you have to adjust your mindset. Do you have the mentality of it’s just my job now, and it will be someone’s else’s problem in the future? We get one choice. Your choice should be, “I’m gonna be the best I can be and I’m gonna leave this place in a better way than I found it.” Most importantly the mindset should be when helping a just cause is, “I’m gonna help and build other people up”.
As I sit here reflecting on this powerful keynote. I was able to pick out parts of my life where I could see my “finite” mindset. Definitely not something to be proud of, but still true nonetheless. Thankfully, I have been blessed with some wonderful people. So many of them possess these 5 components and have taught me to think outside of myself and current moment. They have challenged me to look at the bigger picture.
So now I challenge you….
Do you have a “finite” or “infinite” mindset. Be honest.
Do you have your “just cause”? Is it clear for your team? Do others find it worthy?
Are you leading a team that is built on trust? Are they able to work at their natural capacity?
Do you have a worthy rival? Someone that is better than you? Someone that has characteristics you aspire to attribute?
Do you have a flexible mindset? Are you willing to change things if they are not working?
Do you have the courage to lead? Do you have the right mindset?
How can you impact the team around you?
So how can I still impact my babies? I can continue to reflect upon my practice. I can reassess where I’m at and continue to work towards a better future for them. I know deep down they deserve it and so do the people I work for. Feeling or seeing the impact, doesn’t matter to me anymore. Doing the best job I can and being the best version of myself to those around me, is everything.
I urge that as you continue on this journey of “being the best you can be”, you continue to take time to reflect upon where you are. There may come a time where you may need to reassess the “just cause”. There should not be an “end game” spot on the radar, but merely continual reflection and growth.
I believe you can best the best version of yourself. You’ve got what it takes. I cannot wait to see it.