Sunday, January 12, 2014

Gratitude, Fearless, and Focus

This year rather than making resolutions, I've decided to take Jon Gordon's approach (see the video here) with the one word.  In determining my one word I had to engage in a lot of self-reflection.  I had to ask myself some tough questions, such as:

  • What is holding me back from achieving what I want to achieve?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • How can I lead in such away that will be inspiring to others?
  • Where do I want to be a year from now?  How about 5 years? 10 years?
I also read a great article from Lolly Daskal, which gave me even more to think about, particularly in my role as a leader.  With these questions rolling around in my brain, I was able to determine there were three words that I felt were my guideposts for the upcoming year.  Then, I read a wonderful post by Jennifer Hogan.  It was this post that helped me narrow my focus even more.  They were gratitude, fearless, and focus.  Why these three words and how did they relate to my tough questions?

First, when I think of gratitude, I believe it is a mindset or attitude that one possess.  In a world where negativity is pervasive, it is difficult to maintain a positive outlook.  I prefer to see the world as a world of possibilities- a glass is half full mentality.  This doesn't mean I am always Rosy Sunshine.  There are times I get frustrated or need to "vent," but am quick to recover.  I think by sharing what I am grateful for will help me achieve what I want to achieve in my role as a building principal.  I want my staff and students to be excited to come to school.  By making my gratitude visible or public, I can influence the culture of my building in a positive way.  By expressing my gratitude, my students and staff will know how important they are to me.  I'm not always good at expressing what I am really thinking or believing.  I've been told I that I am "hard to read."  I am a deep thinker and try to process information on a regular basis.  I hope by sharing my gratitude openly, more people will learn more about me and learn to "read me" more easily.  I am not who I am today or where I am today without a great team of people who have supported, inspired, and helped me.

Secondly, when I think of being fearless, I don't think of bravery or courage.  Rather, I think of risk-taking.  Not the jump off a cliff or out of an airplane kind of risk taking, but the "set a lofty goal and go for it" kind of risk taking.  Many times when I make big decisions, I have done a lot of research, talked out the pros and cons, and selected the best option based on the evidence.  I'm not planning to change that practice per se, but I do believe that I am guilty of making safe choices.  Choices where I can be certain of the outcome- personally and professionally.  When I looked back on 2013, I realized that some of the best results came from being fearless.  When I was uncertain of the outcome, but stayed the course, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.  Being on Twitter and writing a blog are two examples of that.  For some, sharing in those realms comes naturally.  But for others, like me, this is not an easy task.  Additionally, I had the opportunity to do a presentation and be videotaped.  These opportunities would not have happened had I not been fearless.  

Finally, when I think about focus, I think about making the goals I have personally and professionally a reality.  Without focus, those goals won't be realized.  Without focus, I won't continue to grow and achieve.  For those that know me personally, they would tell you that I am focused/ driven.  However, I often make choices that put my personal and professional goals on the sidelines.  With focus, I won't make excuses.  With focus, I will prioritize.  With focus, I will grow.  With focus, I will achieve.

So, if I follow Jon Gordon's approach of one word, the word I would choose is focus.  With focus, I will be fearless.  With focus, I will make my gratitude known to others.  I am excited to make 2014 my year of focus!

I was so inspired by this process, that I shared these resources with my staff.  Last week, we gathered together to share our one word with each other and the reasons we selected them.  We made paper hearts, writing our one word on them, and then posted the hearts outside our doors.  The postings serve as a reminder for ourselves, but also a way to help keep each other accountable for our one word.  I also took pictures of each staff member with their one word, which I will be posting in the waiting area of our office.  The best part of this whole process was to see staff members sharing this with students!  

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