Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story #exploitingchaos #leadwild

Relentlessly.  Obsess.  About.  Your.  Story.

So says Jeremy Gutsche in Exploiting Chaos.  One of my top 10 edu-reads.  Get it.  Now.

Currently, this paragraph speaks to me:

A Culture of Revolution breaks down structure and liberates your organization’s ability to adapt.  Within your organization, intentionally destroy in order to create, encourage failure, obsess about your customer, and understand specifically what it is that you are trying to do.

This paragraph shouts at me.  And challenges me.  And makes me wonder about changing education and if it’s even possible.

School doesn’t feel very adaptable right now.  We have financial, institutional and cultural barriers.  We don’t do ourselves any favors either.  Our own worst enemies, as it were.  Many barriers.

Intentional destruction just hurts my heart when I think of current students, their needs, their growth and well-being.  But with a future-oriented mindset, we must break down the structures of traditional education to ever arrive at what students will need for THEIR futures.  Change for more than change sake.  What do we know about our students’ futures?  What can we reasonably project?  What do we know about their present situations, needs, ways of learning?

Encouraging failure works.  By nurturing risk-taking, outside-of-the-box approaches, and processing/reflecting on outcomes, I encourage failure.  It’s not a negative.  It’s a growth opportunity.  For students and adults.  If you’re an educator uninterested in your own learning, you don’t belong here.

My customer is students and their families.  I love that part of my work.  Just today, our kindergarten team remarked at how often I’m in kinder.  They appreciate my connectedness to students and what they’re doing in class.  Our cafeteria manager remarked recently, “You check in often.  I feel like a real part of the staff.”  The staff is my customer as well.  Relationships are everything.

Specifically what we’re trying to do… harder to define.  Or at least hard to define in fewer than a novel length text.  It’s academic, it’s social, it’s about learning to move through the world, it’s about problem solving, and so much more.  How do students nurture the world around them, how do they lead others, how do they think critically?  When should I speak up for a peer, share my scientific thinking, give 100% on the mile run, ask my teacher for help?  School is amazingly complex and, for me, shockingly simple: build & nurture relationships.

Mentally, I’m deep in a Culture of Revolution.  I feel it.  But the realities of school drop it down a notch.  Ok, honestly, my Revolution is gets squashed.   It’s a big ship to steer.

So what now?

Exploiting Chaos (via a JP Morgan story) has an answer:

  1. Every morning, write a list of the things that need to be done that day.
  2. Do them.

… the time to act is always now. Thanks @jeremygutsche Ready to continue my Revolution.  My list of things needs to focus on Relentlessly Obsessing About Our Story.  #leadwild

The book that keeps giving… Exploiting Chaos @jeremygutsche

A recommendation from Jon Corippo (one among many in our #leadwild Voxer group).  Books, video, articles… the resources just keep coming.

I’m a book hoarder.  They are everywhere in my house, my office, my car.  I carry them like a child carries a well-loved blankie or stuffie.  And they become just as road worn: dog eared corners, markings, post its, coffee stains.  Signs of love.

I read Exploiting Chaos the moment it arrived.  “Mom, you got a book today!” one of my boys greets my return.  The smiling Amazon box waiting on our door immediately signals Book Purchase to my kids.  It’s an easy read, clear illustrations, tidy categories, almost PSA style take-aways, but here’s where it doesn’t stop with one read.

You just can’t dog ear every page of a book.  Sheesh.  What good is that?!  And how much post-it fringe is too much?  It was a dilemma.  So I stopped those habits and just keep it close.

As I’m knee-deep in school transition, meeting staff, talking with parents, getting my bearings around the campus…. I decided I needed another does of Exploiting Chaos.

Here we go.  The nuggets.

Nugget #1:

Be careful to look beyond your own hill of competency.

That’s exactly what I needed to hear this week.  I was competent at my former school.  But now, I need to look beyond that to this new situation.  I’ll need to build back up to competency with the myriad of differences I’ll experience: culture, values, priorities, personalities.  It’s overwhelming.  But then again not when I remember that I don’t have to come in with all the answers.  FullSizeRender (2)

Gutsche’s example here was the Smith Corona innovation team that couldn’t innovate beyond a typewriter.  Great typewriters but they could see beyond their hill.

“…find a new place to climb.”  I like that.  See me there?  Smiling and standing on my new hill.

Nugget #2:

Don’t ask, “Do you like it?” Ask, “What’s wrong with it?”

Guetsche’s point here is that we hear mostly the positive and even edit out the critical responses within our own speech and what we allow through our own ears.  Self-validation, echo chamber, whatever you call it.  It’s no good.

And it’s hard to hear.  And sometimes people aren’t gentle.  And sometimes they are wrong.  But, “you are more likely to get a truthful, critical answer.”  Yes, indeed.

You’ve probably got books like this on your shelf (or in your bag or car) that you just come back to again and again.  This is one for me.  And for this time in my career, at this crossroad, these two nuggets really go hand in hand.  One hits my heart and head: look beyond your own hill.  And the other helps me look to my new community and how I can elicit real input and feedback as we move forward together.

Thanks Jon.  And Jeremy.  Good stuff.