It was a great year!
I had a blast!
It had a lot of ups and downs.
It was a tough year.
It was awesome!
One down, 25 more to go.
After seventeen years in education, I think I have used all of the responses above to the all too familiar question from others during this time of year -
So, how did the school year go?
How can you take a year's worth of memories and simplify it into one sentence?
While most of my responses were spontaneous and depended on the person asking, the time it was asked, and the tone, I tended to focus my answer on the end of that school year. This is the first year in which I am answering that question with a focused, stern commitment in my voice in looking ahead to next year -
I'm just getting warmed up!
The reality of the quote "life is a marathon; not a sprint" is indeed profound. When people believe each year is a sprint to the finish, they are setting themselves up for disappointment and disaster at the end of the year. Although they may "finish", there doesn't really seem to be the ticker tape parade they had hoped. Real leaders know that work, as with life, is a marathon, so they prepare for the long game for success. And to prepare properly, real leaders warm up. To help you get in shape for next season, here are "3 Tips to Warming Up":
Tip #1: Don't Warm Up Alone
Leaders understand that relationships matter in any position, vocation, and challenge. Too often, people think they are in a competition in which only one winner can be crowned. I have seen people sabotage others and backstab others as if it were a game of Survivor. Or, they believe the mission to completion is easier if conducted alone, so they leave people behind at any chance. Leaders understand the need to develop positive, real, lasting relationships through community building and trust. More often than not, it's not a lack of understanding in how to build positive relationships but a lack of desire that harms growth.
Tip #2: Start Easy and Work Your Way Up
Leaders understand the benefits in taking incremental steps. In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the "flywheel" concept to create small and early successes that build off one another to create a momentum for change. Too often, people get impatient in the early developmental stages of understanding, building awareness, and validating the need that leads to a vicious "doom loop". They believe they know what's best in isolation and forage ahead without the proper plan. Leaders work with their team to develop plans that build incremental steps for awareness. Great companies such as IDEO (https://www.ideo.com/expertise/education/) and Education Changemakers (http://educationchangemakers.com/) support this concept through design thinking principles for learning.
Tip #3: Stay Active
Leaders understand the need to maintain a high degree of flexibility, agility, and tempo. While taking a break is necessary and should be part of any regiment, taking a break for too long can be disastrous. Just as it is important to keep your muscles loose and heart rate up during a competition, it is important to stay active in your mindset and learning. Leaders who regularly read books, participate in Twitter chats (#ohedchat on Wednesdays at 9 PM EST and #leadupchat on Saturdays at 9:30 AM EST), read journals, attend (un)conferences, and read blogs are more apt to taking risks and growing both personally and professionally.
Our words matter and they are a window to our heart and soul. When asked about your school year, is your reply "I'm glad it's over", or "I'm just getting warmed up"?