The Ambient Angst of Stuff

simplifi Jan 12, 2021

How many times in the past 24 hours have you thought about something you need to do while trying to be present with someone close to you? Do you carry the weight of unfinished projects to bed at night? Do you practice conversations in your mind that you need to have with a colleague while you drive?

Wasting time and mental calories on the same stuff only add stress.

Such habits have become normalized and a cruel form of white noise in our busy lives. The last thing a fish would ever notice would be water. (Ralph Linton)

If something's on our minds, most often it's because we want it to be different. Until the change occurs or we feel progress, it will hang there as an open loop in our minds.

An ambient angst pervades our society—there’s a sense that somehow there’s probably something we should be doing that we’re not, which creates a tension for which there is no resolution and from which there is no rest. (David Allen)

Our first instinct is often a futile...

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Are You a Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

amplifi clarifi simplifi Dec 15, 2020

Isn't it amazing that we can go years without hearing someone's name and then that person shows up two or three times in a few days?

This same phenomenon can also happen with an impactful quote or story.

This parable that first landed upon me almost two decades ago, has shown up three times in the past month. The original author is unknown, and perhaps this is how it should be ... the first to tell an impactful story is certainly a coffee bean.

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about how things were so very hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and was ready to give up. She was tired of struggling. It seemed that whenever one problem was solved, a new one surfaced to take its place.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen, where she filled three pots with water and placed each on a hot stove. The pots quickly came to boil. In the first she dropped carrots, in the second she placed eggs and in the third, she put ground coffee beans.

After about...

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The Fence Needs To Go

amplifi clarifi simplifi Nov 13, 2020

Do you know any well-intentioned leaders who come in with new initiatives without first removing tired practices from your current reality? Perhaps you've had change happen to you and it feels like change for the sake of change?

Decluttering and change are necessary and there shouldn't be tension between the two. Decluttering is always the ideal lead domino. An effective leader invites change with, "what can we do right now to make anything on our things-to-do lists easier or unnecessary?"

Of course, sometimes, potentially impactful new ideas reveal themselves. While new shiny toys are always captivating, we need to first ask how this might make any other practice or policy easier or unnecessary, and this habit quite naturally leads back to a little decluttering.

However, some have an itchy trigger finger and quickly declutter just because things feel messy. Discomfort isn't reason enough to hand out erasers and red pens.

Effective leaders understand it's impossible...

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How We Do One Thing Is How We Do Everything

amplifi clarifi simplifi Nov 07, 2020

Are there parts of your day, week, month, or year that you simply can't stand, but you tough it out for the greater good or the love of your job? 

When I was a principal, my introverted self hated parts of the job. Mostly, I winced at anything that required me to be the focal point.

My stomach twisted every year when asked to give a graduation address, but I refused to focus on the cringe of delivering a speech to a couple of thousand people. I was determined to make It the best speech ever and represent our school in a way that made everyone proud to be part of it.

I'd endure these moments.

Certainly, a less than a positive mindset until my eyes were widened with a more encouraging lens from Dean Graziosi, who articulated a new approach so clearly: how you do one thing is how you do everything.

As long as it doesn't violate our values, we should try to be the best in the world at it. No matter what we're doing, even...

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Home Base

amplifi clarifi simplifi Oct 02, 2020
We don't subscribe to playing armchair psychologist, but given our number one goal is to remove obstacles for aspiring leaders, we've seen patterns. We all know that our beliefs, worries, and everything that is swimming in our heads will generally dictate our actions. In Nohea, we operate under an assumption that we all have a home base, a place we usually return to when things get scary or go bad; some go to a working home base, many to a worrying space, others land in an angry place, and a few go to a determined mindset. 
 
We're optimistic around here and believe our home base or mindset is conditioned by experiences and quite malleable. We've found that one of the greatest obstacles to building a more positive mindset home base is a lack of clarity.
 
When times are tough, we need to simplify our problems, perceived or real, and find a clear pathway to move forward. Pathways give direction and hope....
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Teacher Evaluation in a Pandemic: 5 Ways to Make it Work

amplifi clarifi simplifi Oct 01, 2020

Teacher evaluation.

Ugh.

The term evokes so many mixed emotions. Teachers often find them useless at best and fear-inducting at worst. And principals often see them as just another item to check off a list.  

In my work with leaders during this challenging time, many are wondering how they will fulfill this essential job function in these new and strange times.  Some feel the pressure from their state or district to get a required number of evaluations completed by a certain date. Some wonder if they should just stop altogether for at least the time being. 

Now, of course, there’s another layer of complexity as teaching and learning takes place with cameras, in Google Meets or Zoom rooms or with some hybrid approach. Teachers are understandably nervous about observations–especially if they haven’t seen any benefit to the process before we entered this new reality.

So, the principal who wants to create or maintain a culture of deep and joyful...

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We Talked About This Last Year, Right?

simplifi May 22, 2020
Intellectual Capital is the most crucial, yet easily discarded resource in Education. The universe seems to challenge us by surfacing the best new ideas at the most inopportune times.
 
 

The Staff Meeting: Meritocracy vs Efficiency

Here’s a scenario that many will recognize:
The agenda item is very familiar to the veterans in the staff meeting who had lived it 10-12 times before: End of Year BBQ. They are confident it will take only a few minutes to sign up for tasks. But Mike is new. He innocently and cautiously puts the efficiency of this well-worn item in peril, wondering aloud about the Start of the Year BBQ that would follow in a couple months.
 
“Just a question and I know I am new here, but given we do the same kind of event to start and end the year--which I’m totally good with, it’s so cool--um, could we prepare the set-up of the non-food materials once for both events? We could even purchase the food in the spring for both...
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