Sunday Seven: 7 Things I’m Thinking About

This post was originally written for DBC’s #SundaySeven. This is one of my favorite weekly emails and I was honored to be a part of it. You can sign up to catch all of them here.

1. Revelation that I’m Pondering: There is a difference between being open to feedback and seeking feedback. I’ve always prided myself on being “open” to feedback but in the last 18 months I have actively sought out feedback and it has made all the difference. As I was preparing for a keynote last year, I pulled together a feedback group and facilitated a practice-run. I gave them specific things to look for and asked specific questions when I finished. It was a game-changer and I rarely present now without hosting a feedback practice session. When I was writing Thrive Through the Five I also utilized a beta reader (and chose someone who gave GREAT feedback) and her notes made so many aspects of the book better. During COVID, we sent out more surveys than I thought possible – but every one was to ask how we could be doing this work better. The question isn’t “are you open to feedback?” The question is “in what ways are you actively seeking feedback?”

2. Person to Follow: I am not a huge sports fan, but I root for every team that Buzz Williams coaches. That means I’ve been a Marquette fan, a Virginia Tech fan (admittedly difficult for this Pitt Panther alum) and much to my Texas Longhorn husband’s dismay, I’m currently a Texas A&M Aggies Men’s Basketball fan. While Buzz’ field of work is on the basketball court, his model of leadership transcends the sport. Watch one of his video snippets here.

3. Tools I Use: Paid Tool – My favorite graphic creation tool is Adobe Spark (there’s also a free version but I’m a subscriber). I love their image library and robust text options. You can check out a few of my quote cards here. Free Tool – I know there are a lot of super cool and fancy apps, but the app I use most is Notes. Seriously. I have these beautiful journals and notebooks to capture ideas on but the Notes app is ALWAYS with me (because my phone is always with me). You can pin a note to the top, create checklists, add pictures, and more. I dictate ALL the time and have even dictated entire chapters into my Notes app.

4. Email I Love: There are a lot of fantastic daily/weekly/monthly emails that I receive and among my favorites is James Clear’s 3-2-1 Newsletter (3 ideas from me, 2 ideas from others, 1 question to ponder). From the bestselling author of Atomic Habits, this weekly email is always full of profound thoughts in bite-sized chunks. One of my favorites came from his April 9, 2020 newsletter: “When you say no, you are only saying no to one option. When you say yes, you are saying no to every other option. No is a choice. Yes is a responsibility.”

5. Mantra I Live By: Just Take the Next Best Step – So often we get inspired; we feel this call to something incredible, and we think we should be able to get from Point A to be Point B in one fell swoop. And when we can’t we get stuck. Contrary to popular belief, big things don’t always happen with a leap; big things can happen when we continue to take the next best step, over and over again. It is about being faithful to what is before you right now and looking for small steps you can take that are in alignment with where you ultimately want to be. What is that you’re dreaming about? Where is it that you want to be? Instead of wishing it was already here, what is the one thing you could “do” today to move yourself closer to that goal?

6. Tip to Connect: I’m a big believer in the power of the written word – especially in the form of handwritten notes. I’m also super busy and tend to move from issue to issue very quickly as a superintendent. I keep a notebook on my desk where I jot down names of people that I want to send a note to. I may not have time at that moment, but by jotting down the name, I can carve out 20 minutes each week to do it. John Maxwell once said that while we judge others by their actions, we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions. I have always been so thankful for the great work that our staff and students do, but I needed a way to systemically take my good intentions and turn them into action.

7. The 5%... I hear people say all the time that “if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’m here to tell you that I LOVE what I do and I’ve never worked harder than I have the past 6 months. I wrote Thrive Through the Five because while I love my job 95% of the time, there is a 5% that is so, so difficult. And it’s not enough to just “survive” those moments – we owe it to ourselves and those around us to truly THRIVE. So if you find yourself in a place where you feel like you’re underwater, know that you are not alone. Understand that the feeling of being overwhelmed, and even at times inadequate, is part of the growing process and not a sign that you’re not right for the job. We’ve got this!

Thanks for reading. Check out Thrive Through The Five here!