Sunday, October 11, 2015

Today's Reads, Links, and Views

I can't believe I haven't done one of these blog entries yet this year.  And we're already past the mid-term!

I was telling a colleague the other day that it seems like I get to school on Monday and by the time I've taken a single breath and exhaled, it's Thursday!

So here we go!

This podcast from Entreleadership featuring Lee Cockerell is gold.  It's the best podcast I've listened to this year.  Entreleadership's theme for October is culture (which happens to be my all time favorite subject), so they interview Cockerell who was a VP for Disney for many years.  This podcast is well worth your time.

One of my favorite takeaways from this podcast is simply the line, "Get the keys."

Cockerell talks about how at Disney every single employee is encouraged to go above and beyond for not just their guests but for each other too.

Then Cockerell gives this example - it's in the evening and you've lost your infant's pacifier.  You run to the local department store, but it's closed.  You call the owner and tell him you need to get a pacifier quick.  Now that store owner has two choices.  He can say, "Sorry but we're closed.  You shouldn't have lost that pacifier."  Or he can say, "I'll get the keys."

When it comes to working with others, always get the keys.

Of course, I had to apply this to teaching.  This is why I give out my cell phone number to students.  I demand so much out of them that it wouldn't be fair for me to say "Sorry that you were gone and missed the assignment or sorry that you didn't write that due date down . . ."  Instead, I offer my own version of "Get the keys," which is "How can I help?"


I'll say it again.  Negative people suck.  They should be shunned and avoided.  

Over at Michael Hyatt's podcast (and blog), which is phenomenal, by the way, he focuses on how to avoid a hiring fail.

The whole focus of his keys to hiring great team members is avoiding negative people.

Here are the quick five signs of people who will suck-

1.  They enjoy, create, and thrive on drama.

Good lord, you know this is true.  Don't you?  

For some reason these people have such little belief in themselves that they aren't content with their own accomplishments and abilities.  Thus, they cause drama to take the attention off of the person the drama is about and put it back on them because they are gossiping.  What they should do, is just get back to freaking work and - as Steven Martin and Cal Newport suggest - be so good they can't ignore you.

And to be totally honest here, I used to be just like that.  If there was a juicy piece of gossip, I was out in the hallway sharing it with my coworkers.  Or if there was a negative comment I could hurl at our former principal, I would hurl it as far as I possibly could.  Man, was I a cancer.

Luckily, I was challenged to try to become more of a leader.  And I have tried to do just that.

2.  They gossip and backbite.

Guilty as charged.  Now, everyone needs to vent from time to time, especially if there is an issue that isn't going away or being resolved.  I wouldn't put that under this category.  I think that's actually cathartic.

But I think gossip and, especially, backbiting is the total opposite of that.  When I've vented in the past, it was to help me and to get something off my chest.  I often had a colleague who offered suggestions on how I fix the issue.

When you gossip and backbite, there really isn't any desire to fix the issue.  It's only done to revel in the issue.  And that's never a positive thing.

We have a core value to address this: integrity communication.  Dave Ramsey over at his company has a no-gossip policy where you can actually be fired for gossiping.  How refreshing is that.

Ramsey offers this scenario - someone from his organization is waiting to meet with a VP.  While he waits, he opens up his laptop and it's not working.  So he vents to the VP's secretary how stupid the IT department is and how they can't do anything right.  

That person has just spread his toxicity to that secretary.  She might have been having a great day, but now she has doubts about her company that she didn't have before.  

What Ramsey demands at his organization is that all negatives go up (so this person should not vent to the secretary - I mean what could she do about it? - instead he should report to his supervisor and voice his displeasure).  

3.  They complain about everything.

This ties right in with the image above.  As Hyatt says, "Any idiot can walk into a room and spot the hole in the donut."

How true is that.

Instead of complaining - how about trying to solve the problem?

Personally, what I find annoying about complainers is how some like to totally blow everything out of proportion.  If they have an issue, suddenly they blow it so out of proportion that it starts to effect everything they do.

And it rarely, rarely, rarely is ever as severe of an issue as they make it out to be.

4.  They need constant supervision.

If you are only working hard when you know the boss is looking, what is the point?  Last year in College Comp we were discussing one topic for our how to essays: how to improve LHS.  We look at both teachers and students.

It was at this moment that one of my students said, "You know we can totally tell when a teacher is being observed."

"Really?" I said. "How?"

"Well, it is usually the best class of the year.  It's like they know they have to teach instead of just going through the motions."


That is someone who needs constant supervision.

5.  They won't accept responsibility.

In other words, these people need to be held accountable every single second of the day instead of rising up and assuming responsibility or taking ownership.

Hyatt again gives this example - when he was a VP at Thomas Nelson, he had a meeting with an outside consultant who simply asked him why he didn't reach his expected sales target and what went wrong. 

Hyatt began the usual excuses with "Well, it was the economy" and "we should have re-adjusted the numbers" and on and on and on.

Then she asked him a simple question, "But what was it about your leadership that led to this result?"

Wow.  Talk about being held accountable.

Hyatt even acknowledged that his first excuse - "Well, it was the economy" - was just an excuse.

But her follow up question really demanded that he be responsible and take ownership for the failure of the goal.

I think this is healthy - incredibly hard, yes - but it's healthy and vital.


I'm so excited to see that historians in Maryland are trying to revive this amazing tradition regarding Edgar Allan Poe's gravesite.

I just wish they knew who the original gift leaver was!


This is awesome.  Thanks to Coach Mumm for sharing this via his Morning Motivation emails.

This is one thing I love about youth sports.  It kind of puts things in perspective for you.


This article addresses one blogger's way to shift deeply rooted belief systems.  Some very interesting thoughts it here as we face many students who come right into our classes with a deeply rooted belief system that school is a waste of time, that our subjects are irrelevant, that they are stuck in one frame of mind . . .


I can't wait to start this book with my College Comp 2 class after next week: Steal Like an Artist.  This video series from Kirby Ferguson, Everything is a Remix, is a great companion piece to the book and Austin's ideas.


This is the opening paragraph to a very interesting read from Barry Schwartz

Why do we work? Why do we drag ourselves out of bed every morning instead of living lives composed of one pleasure-filled adventure after another? What a silly question. We work because we have to make a living. Sure, but is that it? Of course not. When you ask people who are fulfilled by their work why they do the work they do, money almost never comes up. The list of nonmonetary reasons people give for doing their work is long and compelling.

This is from his new book, which I can't wait to get, by the way, Why We Work.

We all know some of the staggering numbers - up to 13% of Americans find any sort of engagement in their work.  Most Americans work (using a phrase from Dave Ramsey) a J-O-B, where they arrive late, leave early, and steal while they're there (again, that's from Ramsey).  Many Americans put in 40 hours just to enjoy the 48 hours of the weekend . . . 

I'm one of the 13% who derive incredible meaning and pure joy from my work.

Here are some of the things Schwartz found about those who also love their jobs -

1.  Their "official duties" aren't part of the job description.  

Schwartz focuses on a custodian who works in a hospital.  Having wisdom and kindness were not part of the job.  Only they are essential skills.  He offers examples of how one janitor swept a floor twice because the father of the young man in the coma didn't see him do it the first time and the janitor wanted to reassure the father that he was doing his part to care for his son.  The same is true for another cleaner who got off schedule because they decided to avoid cleaning a room where a family was visiting extra long.

What official duties are part of your job that can't possibly be advertised for?  In teaching, it's also wisdom and compassion.  I wrote at the beginning of the year how disappointed I was by the school lawyer's address to the faculty.  Again, he sees only the teacher who get in trouble.  I wish he could see all the great things that occur at LHS so he would change his tune.

2.  You don't need to work for an organization that saves peoples' lives to find meaning and purpose in what you do.

Jon Acuff was talking about one rather routine job he had when suddenly he got sick.  Luckily, the job he was working had excellent insurance.  Suddenly, he realized that the job he was working - which he thought had been routine - was not routine at all.

The same is true with this anecdote (and I can't remember which podcast I heard it in) - there are three construction workers.  They are all working on the same project.  One sees the bricks he's laying and simply can't wait to place the last one for the day and get off of work at five.  Another sees the bricks he's laying and thinks of the hours he is putting in and can't wait for the paycheck.  The third one sees the bricks and thinks "I am building a cathedral."  In that little narrative is the key -  I think - to having work that matters.

3.  Virtually any job has the potential to offer people satisfaction.

I believe this.  If the job skills are matched to a person's passion (their element, to borrow from Sir Ken Robinson) and their greatest talents.  

I think a line from the infamous Amy Chua, The Tiger Mother, sums up this idea well: "nothing is ever fun until you're really good at it."


If you have an amazing idea, you can get it funded by others using kickstarter, which is an incredibly innovative idea on its own.  But just look at some of the most funded ideas if you really want to see interesting and innovative ideas.


Finally, let's end with something positive and uplifting.

Talk about having work that matters.  Here is it.  Yet, how many times have we had care or service from others that was totally unremarkable.  How easily Rene could just be unremarkable at her job.  Instead, she chooses to be linchpin.  And look at the impact she has!!!!

Here is one more.  Talk about having an impact when you don't have to have one.  Amazing.

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