Saturday, August 21, 2010

Aspiration for average? Not here.

Many organizations spend a lot of time in leadership meetings talking about ensuring excellence in their product and their work with customers. This isn’t any different in school districts. In fact, we have spent a lot of time in various meetings this summer talking about our role in ensuring that excellence and being remarkable is pervasive throughout the system.

Seth Godin provided a moment of pause and reflection for me recently when I read one of his blog entries. He challenged leaders by stating, “Our task, then, is to find people we can encourage and nurture until they're as impatient with average as we are."

John Maxwell, a well-known author on leadership, shares a similar sentiment --"those who are average, don't want others to go above average."

When I think about our society, and the culture of education, there often seems to be a push for people to fit in and strive for the middle. Often, people feel like they need to "hide" their excellence from colleagues or friends. An aspiration for "average" is far too common. I believe that this is a culture that needs to shift.

Accomplishing a vision of excellence in any organization takes a team that pushes and supports one another. It takes a team that is collectively working to foster a culture that results in each and every member of the staff seeing excellence and being remarkable as their aspiration; a culture that results in every individual being impatient, or unsatisfied, with average.

While we've made progress in the Spring Lake Park Schools towards being a world-class learning community of choice -- great progress -- we also realize we haven't arrived. Our students deserve a personalized, world-class learning experience each and every day; a learning experience that fosters self-direction and curiosity; that results in their seeing no limits to what they can accomplish.

I feel fortunate that we have a team of leaders, teachers, and staff who are aligned around making this happen in the Spring Lake Park Schools, that is already making this happen each day.

This won't happen in isolation however. Ensuring the success of each of our students is a community-wide endeavor. The support, active involvement, and “impatience with average” of our parents and community is a necessary ingredient as well.

As you read this, are you impatient with average? Do you want to create a culture and system – in whatever it is that you do – that is remarkable?

I do.

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