Friday, July 29, 2011


Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing.
~Steven Grayhm

This week has been all about CHANGE.
  1. Becoming an intentional changer
  2. True optimism
  3. Questions are the answer
  4. How one step leads to another
Today is about perseverance.

I grew up watching the "Rocky" movies. I remember seeing the original Rocky at the Drive-In theater behind my house as a little boy. As I grew older, I cheered for Rocky against Mr. T and the Russian and then lost interest as the series never seemed to end.

So, when Rocky Balboa came out a couple of years ago, I was a bit skeptical. Reluctantly, I watched it and it was an okay movie with a bit of the nostalgia of the earlier movies. But one scene in particular stood out in the movie.

Rocky's son had a hard time growing up in the shadow of his "old man." In one poignant scene, the son tells his dad as much. What follows is one of my favorite movie scenes. Take a look...

This week, we've been talking about CHANGE. We set a micro-goal on the way to reaching our bigger life goals.

As I end this series, my encouragement to you is to never give up on yourself. This is a cliche' phrase and we hear it all the time. But, you never know how close you are to achieving your goal or victory...SO YOU CANNOT QUIT. 

Perseverance is not about always winning. Like Rocky said above, it's about getting up when we get knocked down and then getting up again if needed. 

Life is ALL about the journey not the destination - don't let anyone tell you different. Don't live for some fantasy-land down the road. Live for today - drinking in the life that you have while you take micro-steps to create the life that you want. Don't miss the journey.

Live today with love, perseverance, and joy. 

QUESTION: How do YOU define perseverance?

Thursday, July 28, 2011


“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward. 
~Old Chinese Proverb

Las Pozas by Lucy Nieto

This week the focus is personal CHANGE. 
  • Day one we discussed intentional CHANGE. 
  • Day two the focus was on the first step to CHANGE: confronting the brutal facts of our current reality. 
  • Day three was all about asking the right questions to direct your CHANGE, setting a micro-goal and planning the next 7 days.
Today, we elaborate a bit more on this concept of micro-goals and small steps.

I fully believe that the reason so many people fail in personal CHANGE efforts is because they set too lofty of a goal with no plan of reaching it. Big goals are exciting, challenging, and fun – but, it takes tremendous discipline to sculpt the goal, set a plan of action and follow through. I’m all for big goals…but first you need some momentum (micro-goals).

Why is it that most people at least think about New Year’s resolutions each year only to forget them in a couple of weeks? When we set these goals, we are sincere and really want to follow through. The problem is momentum. It is just too difficult to change long-entrenched habits in a day or two. That is the power of micro-goals.

“Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.”
~Bill Vaughan

Next is a 5-step process for creating a micro-goal:
  1. Decide on your big goal. (i.e. walk for 30 minutes, 5 days per week) 
  2. Set a micro-goal for the next 7 days. (i.e. walk 5 minutes for 5 days this week) 
  3. Use integrity and commitment each day to reach this micro-goal (Who can’t walk 5 minutes a day for 5 days?) 
  4. After 7 days, create another micro-goal (i.e. walk 7 minutes for 5 days this week) 
  5. Repeat this process until you are walking 30 minutes, 5 days per week
Some lament this process and say, “It will take forever to reach my goal. At that rate, it will take me six months to walk 30 minutes, 5 days per week.”

The problem with goal-setting and goal-achievement is that we think we have to have “it” now. That is a product of our “give-it-to-me-now” society. That is not the way true and lasting change occurs. It takes process – setting one micro-goal after another until you reach your big goal.

“You reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow.”
~Charles Stanley

Does this process make sense? One of my favorite quotes by legendary basketball coach John Wooden explains this process very clearly. Read it and let it sink in.

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”
~John Wooden

My challenge to you today is to set a 7-day micro-goal and determine for yourself if this process works.

Using micro-goals is how one step leads to another and another until you reach your goals.

Now…go and make a difference today. The world needs you!

Tomorrow we will wrap up this series on CHANGE with a few thoughts on perseverance.

QUESTION: Have you ever used the process of micro-goals to reach a larger goal? If not, can you think of a way to try out the process in your own life? Please leave comments below.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”

~Anthony Robbins

 'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: 

Today is the third part in my week-long series on CHANGE. On Day 1, we decided on something to CHANGE in our lives. On Day 2, we used the Stockdale Paradox to face the brutal facts of our current reality. Today, we use questions to write a goal for our CHANGE idea.

I love what Earl Weaver, Hall of Fame Major League baseball manager, asked a player of his one day: “Are you going to get any better, or is this it?”
"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer."
~Bruce Lee
So, what is it that you want to CHANGE? To become very clear about your change idea and to help you set a goal, below are 4 important questions to ask yourself about your CHANGE idea.

1. Where are you now?
  • Develop a crystal-clear picture of your starting point. (Stockdale Paradox)
2. Where would I ideally like to be in the future?
  • Idealize and practice future orientation. 
  • Imagine that you can make yourself into anything that you like in the months and years ahead and create a perfect vision of what you would look like if you were successful in every respect.
3. How did you get to where you are today?
  • What have you done right? 
  • What would you do differently? 
  • What have been your biggest successes so far, and why did they occur? 
  • What have you failed at, and what were the reasons for it? 
  • “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” ~George Santayana
4. What do I do now, to get from where I am to where I want to go?
  • Based on your experience, what should you be doing more of or less of? 
  • What should you start doing that you are not doing today? 
  • What should you stop doing altogether?
If you have worked your CHANGE idea through the four questions above, you are ready to set a goal. This is a key step in this process.

Keep these ideas in mind as you develop a goal for this change:
  1. Make it short term (one week) 
  2. Make it specific (stay away from vague ideas) 
  3. Start small (Make it nearly impossible to fail) 
  4. Commit the goal to paper (This is critical)
Examples of CHANGE goals:
  • For someone who needs to begin exercising: “I will walk for 5 minutes a day for the next 7 days.” 
  • For someone who wants to pray more regularly: “I will pray for 5 minutes a day for the next 7 days.” 
  • For a leader: “I will write one thank-you note per day for the next 7 days.”
The point of this exercise is to make an intentional choice and DO IT! You need a win.

I believe it is a huge mistake to write a goal such as: “I will start a gym membership this weekend, buy some workout clothes, and start exercising an hour a day beginning next week.”

NO!!!! Forget the gym membership, put on some old clothes, put on your shoes, and walk out the front door. Take a baby step. The hardest part to exercising is walking out the front door. Once you get moving you’ll be okay.

Once you meet your goal for 7 days, you will have gained some momentum. If you feel good about the direction, set another 7-day goal with a slight increase.

Life is lived one day at a time.

One final thought: Brian Tracy wrote an awesome book called Goals! In this book, he shares a strategy that he uses once he sets a goal. He has a small notebook and writes his goals ten times each morning. His reasoning is that it burns the goal into your subconscious so that you are mentally working on it all day. I’ve used this before and decided to share it. I believe there is validity in the process of writing our goals.

Please set a micro-goal today. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the power of taking small steps.

QUESTION: Does setting a small, short-term goal make sense to you? Have you used this process before? Was it successful? Please leave comments below.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


“Things do not change; we change.”
~Henry David Thoreau

 Magic Light by Robin Robokow

This week, my focus is CHANGE. 

Yesterday we decided on an area for change. Today we begin the CHANGE process. 
In order to do something you must be something.
~James Stockdale

Admiral James Stockdale was the highest ranking military officer in the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. He was held captive for seven years. He was brutally tortured over twenty times and wrote a moving memoir about his captivity in his book titled In Love and War.

In Jim Collins’ brilliant book, Good to Great, he relates the story of Admiral Stockdale. A couple of surprising points were made about surviving these brutal conditions. The first interesting observation that Admiral Stockdale shared was when Collins asked him who didn’t make it out of the camp? Stockdale stated that the answer was easy – the optimists.

He said the optimists would always say, “We’ll be out by Christmas.” Then, Christmas would come and go. Then, they would say, “We’ll be out by Easter.” Easter would come and go and this thought process would repeat itself year in and year out. Stockdale said these people died of a broken heart.

On the other hand, Stockdale said that he survived by deciding that he would prevail and turn this into the defining event of his life.

Collins relates what he terms The Stockdale Paradox:
“You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

AND at the same time…

You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Read that statement again because it holds power for creating true, lasting, and meaningful CHANGE.

Based on the Stockdale Paradox, I offer you the first steps to making lasting CHANGE. 

1. Assess your current reality with brutal honesty
This is not easy. You cannot sugarcoat your need for CHANGE. You cannot think to yourself, “It’s not that bad. I’m doing okay.” If you’re not exercising or eating like you should, then you need to be brutally honest about how you are cheating yourself from a life with your family down the road. If you’re in bad shape, call it like it is.

We can live in one of two worlds: reality or fantasy. Sometimes it takes a difficult or trying situation to wake up to truth. Don't wait for one of those situations - CHANGE now before you are forced to.

Oftentimes, real truth in our lives comes from someone else. So, maybe, we need to ask our spouse or close friends about reality. We might be surprised. 

2. Have faith in yourself that you will prevail
Sometimes having faith in ourselves is more difficult than assessing the current reality, but it is so important. Many times at the outset of a CHANGE effort, we start thinking about all the times we’ve failed before. Or how many times we’ve started something and quit.

Remember…forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself.

Be gentle with yourself. Personal growth is holy and sacred ground and it is hard. Love yourself and believe in yourself.

So, your work for today is to think about your idea for CHANGE and walk through these two thoughts:
1. Where is your current reality?
2. Can you believe in your ability to make this change? 

Tomorrow, we will narrow down our focus and set a small, specific goal to move forward with your CHANGE.

I leave you with a 2 minute, 35 second audio clip of Jim Collins talking about Admiral Jim Stockdale. It’s worth the listen. Click here to access the audio clip. 

QUESTION: Why is it so hard to truly assess our current reality? Please leave comments below.

Monday, July 25, 2011


“Change before you have to.”
~Jack Welch

Godolphin Woods, Cornwall by Tony Armstrong

This week, my focus is CHANGE. 
“Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” ~Frank Herbert
Life is about CHANGE. Don’t believe me? Think back to this time a year ago. Can you identify CHANGES that have occurred in your life in the past year? 

Maybe it involves: 
  • CHANGES in weight 
  • a few more gray hairs 
  • a major job CHANGE 
  • the addition or loss of a family member 
  • new friends 
  • health issues 
  • impact from a book you’ve read 
  • experiences in life that have CHANGED your perspective
CHANGE is inevitable. Intentional CHANGE is a choice. 

This week I want you and me to focus on intentional CHANGE. Today we will identify one small area for growth. 

If you could choose one area for CHANGE that would be a positive step forward in your life, what would it be?  
"People don’t like to think, if one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant."
~Helen Keller 
Before we can go about making CHANGE, we must identify an area of CHANGE. Follow these steps to decide what CHANGE you want to work on:  
  1. Think about the key areas of life: physical, mental, spiritual, recreational, family, career, social, and financial. 
  2. Identify one of these areas that you know needs attention. 
  3. Once you have decided on the broad category, think of a CHANGE that you can identify that would give you momentum in this category. 
  4. Don’t worry about being too specific about what action you will take at this time. The "W" questions (what, where, when, and why) will be answered later. Simply decide on a CHANGE that you know needs to be made. 
Do you have an idea for CHANGE? This is key. Please commit to paper your idea for change.
    Over the next four days, I will take you through the process of gaining momentum and moving in the direction of this CHANGE. 

    To whet your appetite, below are the areas of focus as we move forward with this CHANGE initiative. 
    1.  Taking the first step to any CHANGE. 
    2. Questions are the answer. 
    3. Baby steps…why one step leads to another. 
    4. Why we quit. 
    I leave you with a 2-minute video below by Daniel Pink, entitled Two Simple Questions that Can Change Your Life. This is a great thought as we move forward.

    QUESTION: Why is CHANGE so hard? Please leave comments below.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    WHY NOT?

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
    ~ Marianne Williamson

    Chariots of Fire by Steve Jurvetson

    Today I am featuring a short video by Randy Cantrell. Randy is the founder of Bula Network and you can learn more about Randy by reading here. I can tell you  from a few conversations that I've had with Randy that he is sincere and has a heart for others.

    This 4-minute video asks a powerful two-word question. Take a look.

    What impacted me the most from the video?

    - "We have such self-limiting beliefs."
    - "We cross bridges we'll never get to."
    - "Why not chase whatever it is you feel the urge to chase."
    - "There is safety in not advancing. There’s safety in not trying something."

    Stop living a safe life. 

    Stop waiting until tomorrow to begin working on your dream. 

    Stop living to please others.

    I hope today and all weekend, you keep repeating those two simple words to yourself: "Why not?

    Please check out Randy's awesome blog at

    QUESTION: What are you asking "Why not?" about today? Please leave comments below.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011


    ** Last week, I attended the Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas. This week, I will be sharing what I learned from the conference. Although the conference is for educators, the ideas that I will share can be applied to life. **

    Today is my final blog entry sharing information from the DI conference. I’ve mentioned three great sessions that I attended. Today, I talk about a fourth.

    Have you ever heard of Monte Selby? If not, you need to learn more about him. I was in his 75-minute session and he just dripped coolness. He’s the musician dude that you wish you could be!

    Dr. Monte Selby is an educator, author, and speaker. He is known as education’s songwriter. Monte has written numerous songs for teachers and students. By visiting his website, you can learn more about what he does.

    Below are a couple of great ideas that he shared for administrators and teachers:

    • Great quote by Pedro A. Noguera: “The problem is not the children. The problem is our ability to create the environment where children can learn.” 
    •  Monte suggested starting all faculty meetings with five minutes of successes. To do this, ask teachers this question: “Tell us about a kid that you would stand up for.” I think that is a powerful and subtle question to set a positive focus for a faculty meeting. 
    • Another suggestion was to autopilot the first five minutes of meetings and class. He accomplishes this by beginning a song (i.e. Lean on Me) a few minutes before the start of the meeting. His faculty knew that by the time the song was over that the meeting would begin. This gave everyone a moment to finish conversations and be ready to start. He also suggested using this in your classroom at the beginning as students are taking out materials and preparing for class. 
    • Monte suggested ending any meeting by clarifying WHO does WHAT by WHEN. This makes sure everyone is on the same page moving forward.
    The amazing aspect of this workshop was the presence that Monte possessed. In the middle of a topic, he would take out his guitar and play his original songs which always have a great meaning for educators. And these are not cheesy, “edu-songs.” The songs I heard were hip, cool, and very non-cheesy.

    I have embedded a performance of his at the National Middle School Association conference several years ago. The song is entitled “Peer Pressure” and has a great message. Also, Monte has an awesome book (with accompanying music CD) that is great for professional development (Because You Teach). 

    I was super-impressed with Monte because of his heart for kids and his heart for educators. You should definitely visit his website at

    QUESTION: Have you ever had an "off-the-beaten-track" teacher who made a great impression on your life? Please leave comments below.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011


    ** Last week, I attended the Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas. This week, I will be sharing what I learned from the conference. Although the conference is for educators, the ideas that I will share can be applied to life. **

     imagine what 2008 will show by Iris Shreve Garrott

    Another of my favorite presentations last week was by Tom Lindsay. Tom is the Superintendent of Mannheim SD 83 in Franklin Park, Illinois. He is not your typical Superintendent. He was wearing red glasses, an earring, and saddle shoes.

    He was also not your typical superintendent in what he said. His district has a simple motto: All children can and will learn. This is simple, direct, and speaks volumes.

    Tom provided my favorite quote of the week when he stated this:
    “The problems in education are not rooted with the students or the teachers. Rather, they are a result of gutless administrators who don’t do what’s best for kids.”
    That is a powerful statement and one that I do not disagree with. Many belittle the fact that bad teachers can not be removed due to tenure. This is not true. I’ll not jump into the fray on tenure, but administrators must do their job and help their poor teachers.

    Tom stated that administrators have two obligations to mediocre teachers (those whom you wouldn’t want to teach your kid) – help them get better or help them get out.

    Another idea Tom shared was how his district implements change. Their change process goes through a 3-year cycle. Below are their steps:
    1. First year the change is implemented with principals only. 
    2. Second year the change is implemented with the staff at each school. 
    3. Third year the change is fair game for being evaluated.
    This is a brilliant method of implementation. In education, we tend to start new initiatives every year only to see them burn out.

    Finally, Tom gave us a list of what he calls “Lindsay-isms.” I will list some of my favorite below for you to peruse. Although he acknowledged that he borrowed many of these from other sources, there are some powerful thoughts in the list.
    • If you do what you’ve done, you will get what you’ve gotten. If you want different, do different. 
    • That which gets tested gets taught; that which gets evaluated gets done.
    • You learn from your mistakes, not from your successes.
    • Do unto your students as you would have your Principal do unto you.
    • Collaborate, not castigate.
    • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink...but, you can salt their oats. (referring to making them thirsty).
    • You learn to read by reading, to write by writing, to think by thinking and to worksheet by worksheeting.
    • If they can't learn the way you teach, then we have to teach them the way they learn.
    • Teach from your feet, not from your seat.
    • If you wouldn't want your own child in a teacher's classroom, then why should anyone else have their child in there.
    • Talk is cheap...performance is expensive.
    • No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
    • Stop whining and start aligning.
    • Early is on time; on time is late.
    • When in doubt...get them out. Oh, I don't know, then let them go. (referring to teachers)
    • He who does the talking does the learning.
    • Never be afraid of trying something new. Remember: amateurs built the ark and professionals built the Titanic.
    • Everyday above ground is good.
    • Move slow to go fast.
    • If we teach today as we were taught yesterday, we will rob our children of their tomorrow.
    • Be yourself; everyone else is taken.
    • The problem with schools isn't that they are no longer what they once were; the problem is that, in some cases, they are precisely what they were once.
    • Service is the rent we pay for living.
    I enjoyed Tom's presentation. He also recommended many books for educators. You can read more about Tom, his "Lindsay-isms" and view his recommended books by visiting his website here.

    QUESTION: Do any of these ideas resonate with you? Please leave comments below.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011


    ** Last week, I attended the Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas. This week, I will be sharing what I learned from the conference. Although the conference is for educators, the ideas that I will share can be applied to your life. **

    next-generation technology by Joseph Robertson

    Another session that I attended at the Differentiated Instruction conference last week was led by Dr. Frank Buck. Dr. Buck has served as a teacher, principal, and administrator throughout his career. Now, he consults and presents workshops on productivity and digital tools for administrators. He also has a great blog entitled "Get Organized!"

    During his session, Dr. Buck talked about 4 productivity tools that I will highlight below.

    If you do not currently have a Google account, you should click here to sign up for one. This will enable you to access a whole host of productivity tools that Google offers. 

    iGoogle is an interactive webpage that you design. Once you have added all of the features that you would like (i.e. weather, calendar, Google Docs, stock quotes, movies, and many other items you choose from) you can set it as your homepage. Then, anytime you open your web browser, you will be directed to iGoogle and all of the information that you most need at your fingertips.

    One very cool feature of iGoogle is being able to save bookmarked web pages. Using this feature, you never have to worry about saving your favorite bookmarks on all the devices that you use throughout the day. Google even makes this easy by providing a bookmarklet that you can add to your toolbar to automatically add bookmarks. Click here to learn more about bookmarks with Google.

    You should definitely check out iGoogle. You can learn more by clicking here.

    Google Docs Forms
    After you set up your Google account (see above), you can begin using Google Documents. Google Docs is a great place to save your documents in the "cloud." 

    A great feature that you might not know about is the ability to create forms through Google Docs. Once you create a form, you can send the url to the people who you wish to complete the survey. Then, as respondents complete the survey, Google Docs compiles all of the answers into a spreadsheet. 

    This is a great tool. For specifics on how to create forms, click here to watch a video. 

    Dropbox is an online "cloud" storage website that gives you 2GB of free storage space. If you download Dropbox to your desktop, you can use it just as you would a regular drive on your computer. The advantage is that when you open a document and work on it from Dropbox (no matter where you are) and save it, the saved document will be updated. You no longer have to download your document, work on it, then upload it to your account.

    Additionally, you can share your Dropbox files with others. There are lots of uses for this feature that you can explore on their website.
    You can click on the link above to set up a free account or you can click on this link, set up your free account and you and I will both receive an additional 250 MB of storage. Once you click the link, you can view a short video that explains the whole Dropbox concept.

    You should have a Dropbox account. It integrates wonderfully with your Mac or Windows machine and is very simple to use. Dropbox also has applications for iPhone, iPad, Droid, and BlackBerry.

    reQall is a very cool productivity tool. Have you ever been driving down the road and think of something that you need to remember? Or have a great idea and a pen is nowhere in sight? reQall will solve these problems in a snap.

    Basically, once you set up a free account, you can dial a toll-free 888 number and leave a message for yourself. The beauty of this product is that it will then transcribe the message and email it to your designated email address. Additionally, you can record a message and designate who to send it to (from contacts) and it will email the message to that person as well. Very cool tool.

    You can also email items to reQall or directly type in text to reQall.

    You can create an account by clicking here.

    Thanks to Dr. Frank Buck for providing such great information at the Administrator's Summit at the Differentiated Instruction conference last week.

    QUESTION: What is your favorite digital productivity tool?

    Previous posts recapping the DI conference:
    Shift the Monkey

    Monday, July 18, 2011


    ** Last week, I attended the Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas. This week, I will be sharing what I learned from the conference. Although the conference is for educators, the ideas that I will share can be applied to your life. **

    Funny Face Making by Petr Kratochvil 

    Todd Whitaker is a rock star!

    I have previously read a couple of his books (What Great Teachers Do Differently, What Great Principals Do Differently, Seven Simple Secrets: What the BEST Teachers Know and Do!), but when I heard him in person at the Administrator’s Summit last Monday, he blew me away.

    He was engaging, funny, and a dynamite speaker. The title of his presentation was “Shifting Your Monkey.” The presentation was so practical that it could be applied to all areas of life.

    The thesis of the presentation was this: Why do good people “take on the monkey” when bad people act inappropriately? His presentation was about shifting the "monkey" (ownership of the issue) to the people who deserve it and taking it off of those who don't.

    How do you do this? First, start by treating all people as if they were good. One example that he used to demonstrate this idea involved two parallel scenarios. 

    How do we typically respond when we see the two worst kids in school walking down the hall? We say, “What are you doing out here?” Essentially, we are treating them as if they are up to no good. 

    Next, think about what we typically say when we see the future valedictorian and salutatorian walking down the hallway. Nobody belittles them or treats them as if they were bad. We usually say, “How are you doing today?”

    Todd offered a much better option as to what we should say in either situation: “Hi, can I help you?” That is how you treat people as if they were good.

    After we let this idea of "treating all people as if they were good" sink into our mind, then, ask these questions:
    1. Where is the monkey?
    2. Where should the monkey be?
    3. How do we shift the monkey?

    This is an idea that is much simpler in theory than in practice, but he gave many examples of how to do this as an administrator.

    One example that he used involved a high school basketball game. Have you ever attended a game and the one fan is yelling and screaming and generally acting inappropriate? When this happens, who has the monkey? Not the crazy guy - it's everyone around him.

    So, what should the administrator do? (Hint: Don't stand on the side and stare at him!) The administrator should walk up and sit down beside the man. This immediately takes the monkey off the good people in the stands - they are relieved. When you sit down, it shifts the monkey. 

    Remember, treat everyone as if they are good. So, don't sit down and feel like you must address the situation. Simply talk to the man and get to know him. Maybe it's the first time he's ever seen his niece/nephew play and he doesn't realize how crazy he is acting.

    Regardless, you have shifted the monkey away from the good people and made everyone more comfortable.

    Again, this idea is simple in theory, but somewhat counterintuitive. I hope he writes a book about this principle at some point. I need an audio copy of the keynote to listen to many times to try and sink this idea into my mind.

    Besides this big idea, Todd offered many other nuggets. I mention a few below:
    • An ineffective teacher has an inordinate number of ineffective parents.
    • Every teacher does the best they know how. 
    • Ineffective people do not know how others perceive them. 
    • Great principals teach the teachers. 
    • There is nothing wrong with being afraid. The problem is acting afraid. 
    • Adults pout because it works. 
    • Ignoring is a choice (I wrote about this last week). 
    • It’s always easier to not deal with something today. 
    • Great principals have faculty meetings that teachers value and look forward to attending. 
    • Avoidance is not a strategy. 
    • Be the aggressor; but, never be aggressive. 
    • All actions in dealing with teachers, parents, or students are about future behavior.
    I have two more pages of notes from this session, but I’ll leave you with one more gem. If you supervise others, you know that when you deal with a negative behavior, most people have an excuse or offer any number of other reactions. When addressing a challenging behavior, Todd suggested this statement: “I was just telling you because I would want to know.” That is inarguable. That statement is the first step of shifting the monkey. The ball is now in their court.

    This was powerful information that is just as applicable to living as to educating young people. Read back over the bullet list above and think about how these ideas fit in with your work.

    If you are an educator, you need to read Todd Whitaker’s stuff – it’s very powerful. In fact, you can follow him on Twitter (@ToddWhitaker).

    QUESTION: Do any of these ideas resonate with you?