As we prepare to close out 2019, I find myself reflecting on the year. I love the quote, “Don’t fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.” This quote resonates with me. I think about all the opportunities that could have been missed and those that were missed because of how I regulate the impact of fear on my choices. A great colleague, who I am thankful to also call a critical friend, and I we’re discussing this very point a few weeks ago. Whether it’s trying a new strategy in the classroom, taking a leap with a new curriculum or programming, or even a new opportunity for advancement – how many times will we allow fear or (it’s sibling) doubt hold us hostage.

There have been lots of amazing changes in my life over the course of this past year. I can honestly say I am not in the same place as last year as a professor or as a leader. As I reflect on these changes they have been hard won, and the majority of them required overcoming fear, challenging doubt from myself and others, and embracing a growth mindset. None of these things were easy. Accepting a principalship at a new schools, setting a new mission and vision, creating a new team of instructional leaders, and embarking and creating a shared plan for comprehensive school improvement have added value to my students, community, and school but they have also added tremendous value to me, as a person.

If I had to attribute my year to a set of ideas, strategies, or beliefs here are five that pushed me, challenged me, and kept me moving forward despite any fear or doubt.

  1. Cultivate a relentless focus on what matter and the evidence that it’s working. Keep the main thing-the main thing and be committed to seeking evidence that our is impactful. I don’t want to feel like we’re doing a good job, I want to know.
  2. Be a risk-taker. Magic happens outside our comfort zone. Without exploring different avenues and approaches there can be no innovation. Our schools should be hubs of innovation and creativity.
  3. Find your tribe and make sure you have a critical friend. I value those who are close to me and look for people who are both positive but also willing to challenge my thinking. I try to surround myself with people who “geek-out” on things they’re passionate about especially folks like me who education is their passion.
  4. Trend the positive. The culture of your organization and those around you is directly connected to your contributions and leadership. If you (and your team) lead with positivity and integrity others will follow. Overtime, it becomes the standard operating procedure.
  5. Make your growth and that of those around you a priority. Imagine an environment where everyday we are committed to bettering ourselves and those around. Sometimes I think we forget in the flurry of increasing student achievement that this idea is at the heart of what education should be.

What quotes, ideas, strategies or beliefs have allowed you to overcome fear and move forward this year. I would love to hear from you. Please comment and share. Your ideas might be what helps someone as we close out 2019 or begin 2020. #BeGreatToday #BetterTogether