Moments like these are so beautiful.
Watching our son Myals grow over the last six months has been like watching a miracle. I could have never realized this unless I lived it myself. I could watch him forever.
In this moment, Myals has one goal: Get the ball! With gazelle-like intensity, he is 100% focused on and driven toward the objective. All of his faculties are working together to fulfill his mission. For a moment, he celebrates what he has earned with a smile. Because the journey took longer than expected and may have incurred a few extra rolls and speed bumps along the way, he smiles a few more times. And then–almost instantly–he is on to his next adventure.
The educator in me couldn’t help but analogize:
- How focused, dedicated, and driven are we in pursuit of our goals?
- Are we setting both short-term and long-term goals?
- Do we celebrate small wins frequently enough?
- Does the entire school’s faculty work together to live out the school improvement plan, mission statement, and vision?
- How are we embracing the whole child?
Finally, one last parallel that really provoked my thinking:
- Is this how we develop and multiply leaders? Do we incentivize them with differentiated goals just beyond their reach; watch them learn, stretch, and grow; support them along their journeys; and have a ball when they cross the finish line?
Accelerating Through Goals
As a beginning teacher, the next big thing was always the current short-term goal. Once that goal was reached, it was very quickly on to the next thing.
After a seemingly long and arduous journey at the time, I can remember feeling like I was on top of the world after reaching every new milestone or earning one more accolade. They meant so much to me.
Still, these short-term accomplishments weren’t widely celebrated by others, because the bigger picture expected, commanded, and required so much more of me as a professional, which was a perspective I simply hadn’t experienced or lived yet.
To others, my short-term successes were no big deal at all.
Over the last six months, I’ve been so overfilled with joy that I couldn’t help myself from telling everyone about our first baby, Myals! Yet most of the time, the response was: “Oh, just wait.” Just wait till he’s actually crawling. Just wait till he’s walking. Just wait till he starts talking and asking questions. Just wait till you have another baby. JUST WAIT!
But I didn’t want to just wait.
I wanted to celebrate each and every myalstone as it happened.
I wanted each myalstone to last forever.
#MyalsMoments like these are daily reminders that my GPS has been lying to me. We never actually: arrive at our ultimate destination; reach the mountain peak; or attain perfection. Rather, we’re on a meandering journey of continuous improvement, learning, and growing. We’re on a mission to become better daily.
As I’m approaching the end of my second decade of teaching, I’d still love to hike Grand Canyon’s touristy Bright Angel Trail–or even the rigorous South Kaibab Trail–again. But lately, I’m also starting to see the whole canyon–and as a series of gorge-ous opportunities from which to learn and grow.
Decelerating For Growth
“At some point in your career winning recognitions, climbing the career ladder, and hanging another plaque on your wall will become less motivating than earlier in your career. What should educators do when they reach a plateau?”
“If you’re growth-oriented, and establish goals within your growth-oriented journey, you’ll hit those goals, but you’ll say: ‘Hey, this is just another step towards my total growth.'” —John Maxwell
“When you lead followers, you add. When you develop and lead leaders, you multiply.” —John Maxwell
Multiplying leaders is way more than just creating, managing, and delegating tasks, and then watching others complete those tasks. Developing and multiplying leaders is about equipping, inspiring, and empowering others to become leaders themselves.