- Lebanon Community School Corporation
- Thoughts for the Week
Rule #24: You always take your own weather with you.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 2/28/2020
I used to have a sign in my classroom that said, "As you move through life you will find that people take their own weather with them – choose to carry sunshine.”
There is a difference between carrying sunshine and blowing sunshine.
When we choose to carry sunny weather with us (and it is a choice - See Rule #4) we are choosing our own attitude and our own path. We control each moment. We know we have that choice. Making that choice every day is hard. The truth is, our health (our mental and physical health) depends on our ability to feed ourselves a steady diet of sunshine rather than rain clouds.
Does this mean that some days we have to “fake it until we make it?” Yes.
Does this mean we have to be insincere about the way we feel about issues? No. We can be direct, driven, and serious while still projecting “good weather.” We must confront issues. But we also owe it to ourselves, just as we owe it to those around us, to do so with grace and humility.
6 Powerful Ways to Protect Yourself from Negative Energy
It’s never easy to be around negativism. But beyond that, it can be quite toxic and detrimental, fostering a mindset of cynicism, fatalism, and even defeatism.
If you are surrounded by negative energy that’s coming from a coworker, partner, friend, or family member, you must how to protect yourself without engaging.
Here are six powerful strategies you can use to protect yourself against
- Focus on solutions, not problems. Negative people tend to spend more time on problems than on solutions. What that usually sounds like is a lot of complaining, finding fault, and dissatisfaction. To stay positive, focus on creating solutions that work. If you meet resistance, look at strengths you can build on or simple steps to get the momentum started.
- Don’t feed the drama. Negative people need drama in their lives as much as they need oxygen. To take their breath away, stay positive and upbeat and refuse the bait, no matter how tempting. Work to keep things on time, calm, flexible, and even keeled. When you do, you give them nothing to work with.
- Watch your boundaries. It’s a sad fact of life that you’re better off with some people out of your life. But you can’t accomplish the things you want to do in life if you are surrounded by negative energy–one of the most toxic and contagious forces on earth. Create and keep your boundaries from anyone who wants to break you down, even if they’re a family member or someone who thinks of themselves as a friend.
- Stop trying to fix everyone and everything. If you find yourself doing for others things that they could and should be doing for themselves, you’re not helping but enabling. Sometimes we can unintentionally produce negative energy by carrying people when they know how to walk, or we try to fix people when they weren’t broken to begin with. Learn when to stay clear.
- Respond, but don’t react. A response flows from mental clarity and emotional strength and is chosen to produce a desired outcome; while a reaction is an uncontrollable reflex that flows from fear-based survival impulses. Stay clear of unthinking reactions and learn to respond thoughtfully in the face of negative energy.
- Take care of yourself. You can’t care for others if you can’t care for yourself. It is not selfish or vain to love yourself, take care of yourself, or to make your happiness a priority. Learning and practicing self-care will help keep you grounded and strong when you’re faced with negative energy.
Don’t underestimate the harm that negative energy can cause–learn how to protect yourself and be smart about it.
My challenge this week is to focus on one of Lolly Daskal’s six strategies. Find one that resonates with you. Write it down and put it in a location you will see it throughout the week often. At the end of the day, reflect on situations when you were successful with the strategy. You will find yourself beginning to anticipate situations. You will become more comfortable, more focused, and in control.
We can do this. We can overcome negativity by not allowing it to enter our space in the first place.
Author and speaker Jon Gordon says it well:
Two Keys to Success
- Don’t let praise go to your head;
- Don’t let critics in your head.
Every. Moment. Matters.
So do you.
Thank you for another week of carrying sunshine for our students!
Have a wonderful weekend.
Rule #23: Sit silently for at least ten minutes every day--no phone, no Facebook, no Twitter, no email--silence.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 2/21/2020
“Here’s a give you may not have expected. It’s a gift for you to give yourself. Sometime in your day today, try to turn off all the noises you can around you, and give yourself some 'quiet time.'” - Mister Rogers
We live in a noisy world.
We like to blame technology--the speed at which technology influences our interactions with others and for continuing to contribute to our noise and our distractions.
Technology’s advancements and how we are now constantly connected through technology can become all-consuming.
But I will submit that we have always had distractions and noise that fill our day, even before inventions like the Internet. Mankind has always wrestled with our daily responsibilities, with outside influences, with deadlines, with negativity from others, and with choices.
As Mr. Rogers reminds us, we can give a gift to ourselves: the gift of silence.
Research is clear: sitting in silence and focusing on breathing as part of a routine is healthy. It is healthy for our minds and our bodies.
We problem solve better.
It helps our heart and blood pressure.
It can help boost our immune systems.
It helps stimulate new brain cells in the hippocampus, linked to increasing learning and memory.
Silence brings us in touch with the most important things in our lives.
The hardest part is starting.
To be honest, starting a routine of spending time in silence is hard. At least for me, it is uncomfortable. I am more comfortable in my “noisy place.” After all, that is where I spend most of my time. From morning until bedtime, I am answering questions in person, receiving or sending text messages, updating social media posts, checking email, responding to email, preparing for a meeting, checking voicemail, returning calls, making calls, in a meeting, or processing paperwork.
Everyone’s “noise” is different, but no less stressful, and no less consuming of thoughts than anyone else's. And remember, thoughts become become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits shape our character, and our character becomes our destiny.
So, owning our thoughts is pretty important. Silence helps us own our own thoughts.
But we are comfortable in our “noisy places.” If we sit silently, we have to deal with our own thoughts. And that can be intimidating. Silence can actually be intimidating.
Like anything worth doing, it takes practice.
So, my challenge this week is to practice. You may not be able to sit in silence for an entire ten minute stretch to start. That’s OK. Start with a minute. Set a timer to help you if needed. Just take a minute or two before bedtime. Go to a place in your home that is different that you normally go before bedtime, turn everything off--and sit. Calendar a few days over the next week. Then, as you become comfortable, work it into your routine. You will be at the ten minutes soon.
We all give ourselves to everyone around us every day. Give ten minutes to yourself to you. You will have more to give to others tomorrow.
Thank you for another week of serving our families.
Have a great weekend!
Rule #22: It’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can learn a lot about someone by the way she/he shakes your hand.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 2/14/2020
The old cliche that “actions speak louder than words” is true. We watch the way people act, carry themselves, how they appear—and they are watching us, too.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Finding Forester. It is a story of a famous author (William Forester) who, for a variety of circumstances, withdrew from society in a sense. He was a grumpy, angry, lonely man. Through another variety of circumstances, he became attached to a young African American student, Jamal Wallace. Jamal, like the author, had his reasons to be skeptical of society and skeptical of his own abilities. But, Jamal was immensely talented as a writer—and in the end Forester came out of the shadows to help both Jamal the world see Jamal’s talent. Forester's and Wallace’s relationship alone is a representation of Rule #22. First impressions were not good. But the relationship was incredibly life changing for both of them.
But one scene from Finding Forester specifically embodies Rule #22. A young “hot shot” representative of a publishing company drove to Forester’s apartment, where Jamal was playing basketball on a nearby court outside. The representative was driving a brand new BMW. He proceeded to make a spectacle of his routine of locking the car and calling out Jamal for looking at it—being very suspicious that this kid shooting baskets was going to vandalize his car. Jamal, having some new found confidence, struck up a conversation with the owner. The young representative attempted to “school” Jamal, saying things like “this is a BMW…” to imply that he doesn’t understand how great the car is (and therefore how important the driver is). Watch the scene.
Jamal, with a bit of a sideways smile, proceeds to give the driver a history lesson of the Bavarian Motor Works (BMW). He tells him the origin of the company, how they get into a car company, and what makes the car very special. This kid that the representative thought was a vandal, or possibly a thief, was actually a bright, well-read, young man. He made an assumption. He misread Jamal’s book cover.
We do this all of the time. At least I do.
I think, after years of interviewing candidates for jobs and interacting with people of all ages, races, nationalities, and social stations, that I am pretty good at withholding assumptions. But I find myself misreading people all of the time. It is frustrating. I feel like I’m being unfair—and I do not like being unfair to people.
This is where the second part of Rule #22 comes in. In order to know more about the person—to learn about them—we need to “shake their hand.” We don’t have to literally run around and shake the hand of everyone we encounter. But we do need to give people a little time, a little grace, to show their true selves. The clothes they wear, their hairstyle, the way they seem distant, their confidence or even arrogance, or their shyness—all of that may mean something about the true person or possibly nothing about the true person.
The only way we will know for sure is to shake their hands. You see, the way “they shake your hand” in Rule #22 is more about us than them. In order for the handshake to take place, someone needs to initiate it. If we want the world to be a better place, if we want we want better relationships, if we want the world to be connected in new and exciting ways and we want to connect to it—we need to initiate the “hand shake.” We need to reach out, either through actually engaging with the person, or through observing the person through a variety of lenses. We need to give people some grace—Why do they act shy? Is it really not shyness but circumstances of the day? The only way to find out is to observe people with an unfiltered lens.
Now, if you do actually shake her or his hand, you will learn even more. The way someone shakes our hand does reveal a lot. Is there eye contact? How firm is it (both too strong and too weak can tell us something)? How do they go in for the handshake (with confidence or timidly)? How do they pull away? We can learn a lot, but we are learning about what people are going through as much as who they truly are. We can learn about those circumstances, and we can find out how to connect and help (Rule #1 – Greatness is a product of serving others).
Rule #22 is really describing the heart of the new buzz in education - Social Emotional Learning and Culturally Responsive Teaching. It is about getting outside of ourselves and into the circumstances that shape those around us, so we can live in a more connected, productive, and positive place.
My challenge this week is (like the Pickles cartoon shows) to clean our own window glass first. Read Rule #22 as an opportunity to examine our own “book covers.” What do people think of us? Why do they think that? What would we think of ourselves if we were them?
Do you think some people are misreading you? Why?
Are we misreading them? Why?
If we all took a little more time to find out just one new thing about the people around us—new and old—think of the impact. As Rule #18 says, everything is connected. Think of the power of positive change if all of us had just one Finding Forester moment.
Thank you for a week of Finding Forester and “handshake” moments this week. And thank you for all that are to come.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Rule #21: Mistakes happen, but your eraser shouldn’t run out before your pencil. Fail, but fail forward.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 2/7/2020
Yesterday, LCSC conducted our first eLearning Day. I cannot thank all of the faculty, staff, and administration for the hard work that I know took place in preparation for this day. Many of us had to move outside of our comfort zone in preparing and executing lessons for our students.
Like anything that we try for the first time, there were a few challenges and stumbles. For example, as Murphy’s Law would have it, a recent Canvas update caused an unforeseen issue that blocked some students’ access to content. But, with the help of our staff manning the live Help Desk, real time comments back to parents on social media from Central Office and teachers, and ongoing communication with families, we overcame the roadblock.
I am sure there were other issues, like websites that didn’t load properly or a few extra words of instruction teachers wished (after the fact) they included in the student directions.
The fact is, we took initiative. And mistakes of initiative are always better than mistakes of indifference or even avoidance.
Our district office monitored comments and feedback throughout the day.
Many parents shared that their students were able to access content successfully. One parent remarked how amazed she was at the level of work her elementary student was able to create and do.
I have reviewed several of the lessons teachers prepared for students. What I saw was quality, relevant, and well-designed instruction. The work students completed during the eLearning day will be part of a seamless continuation of the standards and curriculum currently being learned in their classes.
Was the day perfect? No.
Was the day successful? Absolutely! It was impressive!
The next eLearning Day will be better. We will learn from our mistakes. We may use our eraser, but we won’t use much of it. We will work to refine an already quality product.
My challenge this week is to use our eLearning Day experience as a model for our students. Talk to them about their experiences. Embrace both the positive and not so positive experiences. Our students will be our most important critic. They are the “consumers” of the eLearning Day.
Share with them that we are working to get better. Model for them the process of trying something new, knowing that it will not be perfect, and making adjustments to make the situation better.
Please know that I am one proud superintendent for the efforts of the entire LCSC community.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Rule #20: Don’t write a check with your mouth that your body can’t cash.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 1/31/2020
There is a scene in the movie Top Gun when Captain Tom “Stinger” Jordan says to “Maverick,” played by Tom Cruise, “Your ego is writing checks with your mouth that your body can’t cash!”
Maverick was always pushing the boundaries. He thought he could do it all--himself.
At the end of the film, Maverick did get the job done. And he had to push the boundaries to do it. But he also learned a couple valuable life lessons as well:
- He cannot do it alone; he needed a “wingman” to support him;
- A little humility and allowing others to help doesn’t make one weak; it makes everyone stronger and better.
These are good lessons for all of us.
We can do a lot. In fact, we can sometimes sell ourselves short and fail to realize just how much talent, support, energy, and expertise we possess and how powerful those characteristics and traits are when we give them to others, with no expectation of return. When we fail to realize the values we possess, we fail to give--and no one wins.
We can also fall into a trap of trying to do it all.
Saying “no” to request of our time and talent is hard for many of us. We want to help--everyone, all of the time. We bounce from responsibility to responsibility and from task to task in a constant state of movement. In the end, we do a disservice to others because we are exhausted, mentally and physically.
In education, we are in the “people business.” We are helpers. We are givers. We hate to say no. We don’t want to let people down, especially our students. We may also have a little ego in us that tells us, “You can do it all! You don’t need any help."
But we need to ask ourselves, “Are we giving the best of ourselves to others, or are we giving what’s left of ourselves to others?”
Remember Rule #6? - If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. It is true.
We have to prioritize. We have to take time at some point of everyday to quietly reflect on all of the demands on our time. What requires our thoughts, our energy, our time, our focus, our attention? Then, prioritize the list (either in your mind or on paper). We have to give ourselves permission to prioritize without guilt. In the end, everything on the list will get our attention, but we only have so much attention to give. If we are going to be true to the first two steps of “Worth It/Not Worth It,” both requiring us to add value, we have to actually have something of value to give.
My challenge this week is to remember the two lessons that Maverick learned:
- Which of the demands on our time require a “wingman?” Go to that person and ask for help. Maybe they are looking for a “wingman” too, and by sharing each other’s load, it’s lighter for both of you (you may even discover that both of you were working on the same thing).
- Show a little humility. Understand that you cannot do it all. Work with the person asking for your energy to come up with a timeline that can work within your priorities. If it doesn’t fit into his/her timeline, help them find a “wingman.” But don’t own every issue and every problem. Be humble enough to realize that there are smart and capable people around us that can do it--and do it well.
You will see both lessons in action this weekend in the Super Bowl. One player will likely make a great play--but pay attention to the replay. I can almost guarantee the play was made possible by a “wingman.”
Following these lessons will assure us that the checks we write with our mouths (or our egos) don’t “bounce.” Because when they do, they usually bounce right back to us!
Thank you for another week of giving to our families and students.
Stay strong. Stay humble.
Have a great weekend.
Rule #19: If we always knew the question “Why?” there would be no reason for faith, trust, or hope.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 1/24/2020
Rule #19: If we always knew the question “Why?” there would be no reason for faith, trust, or hope.
The origin of Rule #19 came about through a personal loss.
After the sudden passing of our two-year-old son Alex in 1997, we experienced all of the normal layers of grief. For quite a while, I was unable to get past the question - “Why?”
A best-selling book by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner entitled When Bad Things Happen to Good People helped to draw me out of that phase. Kushner not-so-subtly reminded me that, as people of faith, we acknowledge that we are not entitled to all of the answers (such as “Why?) while we are living - that the answers will be revealed to us later. Chasing the “why” will not change the circumstances and will result in wasted opportunities to serve others. That revelation has stayed with me since reading that book chapter over 20 years ago.
Our circumstance was not unique. Almost everyone can point to situations that have caused us to question “why?”
Eliminating the “why” is just as important in our daily lives within our organizations, personal lives, personal choices, personal growth, and personal and professional leadership development.
A wonderful little book called “QBQ! The Question Behind The Question - What to really ask yourself to Eliminate Blame, Complaining, and Procrastination by John G. Miller is on my list of must-reads if you want to make the move to achieve maximum productivity. Basketball coach Brad Stevens agrees. This was a book that he used to unite his final four teams while at Butler University. In fact, there was a large QBQ! sign posted in the Bulldogs’ locker room to remind them.
In the book, Miller challenges us to eliminate the question “Why?”
- “Why don’t others work harder?"
- “Why is this happening to me."
- "Why do they make it so difficult for me to do my job?”
He challenges us eliminate the question “When?”
- “When will they take care of the problem?"
- "When will the customer call me back?"
- "When will we get the information we need to make a decision?"
He challenge us to eliminate the question “Who?”
- “Who made the mistake?"
- “Who missed the deadline?"
- “Who dropped the ball?"
Instead, Miller says, we need to replace “Why”, “When”, and “Who” with “What” and “How.”
- “How can I do my job better today?"
- “What can I do to improve the situation?"
- “How can I support others?"
- “What solution can I provide?"
- “How can I more creatively reach the customer?” (Yes, in education we have customers)
- “What can I do to find the information to make a decision?"
The answers to “what” and “how” are in the questions. We need to allow ourselves to trust that our faith in ourselves and in others will lead us to those answers - and that should give us hope.
My challenge this week is to find one situation where we are stuck on asking “why?” and replace it with “how?” or “what?”
Write it down. Write the “why” question - the one you want to throw away. Then write a new question using “how” or "what.”
Then, answer the question. We may not want to admit it in some cases, but the answers will likely be obvious. Like all meaningful journeys, it has to start with us. Asking “how?” and “what?” are the first steps in adding value to ourselves and others. Not only is it “worth it” - it is essential to meaningful and lasting change in our personal and professional lives.
You might need an accountability partner for this challenge. Think about sharing your questions and answers with someone you trust. I think you, and we, will see amazing results.
Thank you for another week serving and adding value to our LCSC community.
Have a great weekend.
Rule #18: There are no independent decisions. All of them have consequences, and everything is connected.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 1/17/2020
I love this series of Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials. Any time one of them came on the TV, I was reminded of the importance of kindness, paying it forward and the true meaning of character.
The legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said:
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are…the true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching.”
The Liberty Mutual commercials remind us that often someone is watching. As educators, we know that someone is always watching. But, even if no one is watching in the moments that reveal our true character, our thoughts and actions are still connected.
Our thoughts shape our actions. So, whether it is an action in public, or in a private setting, we are influencing others, or we are influencing our own future actions.
In those moments, we can choose to water what author Denis Waitley defined in his book as Seeds of Greatness - Seeds of Self-Esteem, Creativity, Responsibility, Wisdom, Purpose, Communication, Faih, Perseverance, and Perspective.
Or, we can choose to neglect the Seeds of Greatness.
Whatever we choose, Rule #18 reminds us that our decision has consequences. Consequences that may be felt immediately, or consequences that may not be observed directly. Many teachers know this to be true. From time to time, educators receive notes, letters, or emails from former students or parents. These notes of thanks outline the influence the teacher had on their lives. Sometimes the letters include references to very detailed and specific moments in time - and the teacher may or may not remember the moment, or the words that they spoke to the students 5, 10, 15, or 20 years ago. But, to that student - it mattered.
So it is with our daily actions and interactions. So it is with our thoughts, because our thoughts become our actions. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this. In October of 1967, he told a group of students in Philadelphia this:
“Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star. For it isn't by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”
My challenge this week is to reflect on John Wooden’s thoughts on character. Are we doing the things that are “worth it?” Are we thinking about the things that are “worth it?” If we were the people in the Liberty Mutual commercial observing someone, and that someone was us, what would we see? Are we being “the best of whatever we are?”
All of us are connected on this big “bouncing ball” we call Earth. There is nothing we do or think that is insignificant. Even the smallest action can gain momentum, and have profound influences on others - Sometimes those around us, and sometimes those across the globe. It is true.
Every. Moment. Matters.
And, all of these moments are connected in some way. It is an awesome, scary, and exciting truth.
Thank you for another week of making a difference.
Have a wonderful weekend and MLK day. We will see you on Tuesday, January 21.
Rule #17: Listen to children. Realize that the best ideas often come from kindergarteners. They are a wealth of simple, yet profound solutions.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 1/10/2020
Over thirty years ago, Robert Fulgham wrote a book based on the simple truth that “All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten." The book expanded on lessons we learn in kindergarten as we learn to play together, learn together, and grow together. The list of lessons includes:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don't hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don't take things that aren't yours.
- Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
Fulgham’s book sold over seven million copies and it is understandable why: everything in his list is true. If we follow these rules, the world would be more peaceful, more inclusive, more focused, more giving, — more.
So, why can’t we remember the wisdom of kindergarteners?
As we get older, we experience life differently than we did in our kindergarten classrooms. We are exposed to the influences (both good and bad) that come with getting older. The peer pressure is different. The types of influences are different (political, personal, social). Over time, we start to become more cynical, more self-centered, more critical of others, and less trusting. We shape our views of the world through older eyes. The world is complicated (or so we convince ourselves). So, we get complicated along with it - and then we complicate things. We make excuses for why things can’t be done. We justify our questionable decisions with “it’s complicated.”
Of course, as adults, we have a lot going on. We are pulled a million directions. We have responsibilities. We have commitments. We have important personal, political, and workplace decisions to make. It is true - life, and all that comes with it is complex. Our issues and decisions are often complex because as adults we are plugged into a bigger world than one kindergarten classroom. But it is important to remember that complex decisions and issues are faced most successfully by breaking the decisions into smaller, simpler choices. Remember Rule #11, Clichés become clichés because they’re true? Well, remember the cliché, “How do you eat an elephant? - One bite at a time”? It is true. We don’t complete complex tasks or implement complex change by doing it all at once. We have to break it down into manageable steps and simplify - like those wise kindergartners.
When breaking down the issues and decisions you are facing, Robert Fulgham’s list is a great place to go to get your mind right when deciding where and how to take that first “bite."
My challenge, this week, is for everyone that is reading this blog, to dig into your box of childhood memories (literally), if you are a parent of a young child go to the bookshelf in his/her room, do what you need to do to find a children’s book. Maybe it is a book you have saved from your childhood because it is a favorite. Pick it up. Sit down. Read it - not to a child, but to yourself. Read it with the open mind and open heart of your childhood combined with the wisdom and life experiences you have developed as an adult. Think about how you can apply the lesson of that children’s book over the next week, month, and year as you tackle this big and complex world - and tackle eating all of those elephants!
Perhaps, as you read your selected children’s book, it will inspire you toward a personal goal, direction, or commitment for 2020.
I would love to hear what book you chose. Email me, or better yet, take a picture of yourself with your book, or just your book - and Tweet or Instagram it to me at @LCSCSuper (Don’t forget to tag #thisislcsc when you post!)
In closing, as we face the new year, we need to remember there is a lot of “traffic” out there - Let’s remember to follow Robert Fulgham’s kindergarten rule:
“When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together."
We have amazing and exciting things ahead for, us - together, in 2020.
Have a great weekend!
Rule #16: Money is a short term motivator. Doing what you love is more important than how much you make.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 12/20/2019
It is okay to make money. It is okay to make lots of money.
Rule #16 is not an indictment on people who have worked hard, taken risks, made smart decisions, surrounded themselves with people who elevate them, and attained levels of education and training resulting in lucrative positions.
Rule #16 is not an indictment on those who wish to make more money. Money is necessary to provide opportunities for ourselves and our families. It is OK to want a comfortable lifestyle for our families, the ability to save for eventual retirement, and the satisfaction of being able to assist those in need.
Being successful is not a bad thing. What is most important is the path to that success.
Too often, we equate success to wealth, popularity, or public status. Even though we see examples of wealthy individuals who are miserable, or we see examples of those we have held up as role models being exposed as unethical, we continuously and unfairly compare ourselves to celebrities, professional athletes, or people we see on a daily basis who we assume are living “successful” lives.
We also see examples of those who were born into “success” and falsely believe they somehow are better than others because of their stature or position. The former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys football coach Barry Switzer described them this way:
“Some people were born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.” - Barry Switzer
Rule #16 is a reminder to me that it is more important to seek significance than to seek success. If we are significant to others, we will be successful. It does not work the other way - successful (in the popular context of the word) does not mean significant. But significant always means successful. Being a significant figure in another’s life is success.
When I was in high school, every year my band director (now close friend and mentor) took us to a Leadership Workshop conducted by Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser. When I became a band director, I took my students every year. I highly encourage everyone to read one of Dr. Tim’s short books. He continues to influence my decisions. In this short 1:20 video clip, Dr. Tim explains to students the important difference between significance and success. Tim reminds us:
"If you are a good leader, people will admire and respect you. If you are a great leader people will admire and respect themselves.”
Being significant does not mean we have to take a vow of poverty. But, to help my perspective, whenever I considered a new job, or a new position I purposefully put the salary and benefits associated with the position last on the Pro/Con T-Chart. I wanted it to be the last consideration. One of my mentors would always ask me - “Why are you interested in this job?” or “Why do you want this job?” If my first answers were not discussing how I could make a difference in a new way, or how I could influence greatness in others in a new way, he would say:
“Be careful my friend. It sounds like you may be doing this because it pays more. Money is a short-term motivator. Significance is fuel for the soul - and our souls aren’t for sale. Remember, you have to love it."
I hope, as we are now on Rule #16, readers see the thread running through all 25 Rules and Observations of Life - Add Value.
To be significant in someone’s life, you need to add value. In order to add value, you have to value yourself.
We add value to ourselves by merely seeking to be significant. When we are adding value to others, we are in what author Carol Dweck calls the Growth Mindset. When we are creating meaningful relationships, celebrating the achievements of others, building teams based on shared accountability, continuously setting new goals for ourselves and our teams - we will be significant. And as Dr. Tim reminds us - if we are significant, we are successful.
It is easier, during the holiday season to buy in to Rule #16. We are in a giving mood. We take great satisfaction in giving our time and money to the less fortunate. We love to see the expressions on the faces of our loved ones when they open gifts that we chose just for them.
My challenge this week, and over Winter Break, is to celebrate those around us who are significant. Take some time to realize and take pride in the fact that we are significant to others as well. Rest your minds, rest your bodies and get ready for the second half of a school year filled with opportunities for even more significance. Take a look at the jar of black and gold beads on your desk or your shelves. It is not half empty, it is half full. Every Moment. Matters. And, every moment is significant for someone. That is a long term motivator!
Thank you for making my family’s first semester in LCSC so special. We have some amazing things on the horizon, and I can’t wait for the journey ahead.
Have a WONDERFUL Winter Break!
Rule #15: Do something nice for someone every day, but don’t tell anyone.Posted by Dr. Jon Milleman on 12/13/2019
In the words of Luke Bryan, “I believe most people are good.”
I believe he is right. I truly believe that most of us, on some level, practice Rule #15 daily through our normal interactions. When we perform acts of kindness or show gratitude or appreciation for our colleagues, friends, or even strangers, we typically do not run shouting our good deeds from the mountain tops!
Rule #15 though is not talking about our routine benevolent attitudes and actions. Rule #15 is about seeing an opportunity to do something nice for someone, and, with no expectation of recognition, making a conscious decision to follow through.
The importance of Rule #15 is dependent on three things:
- The act of kindness being discussed here is one that is intentional and requires a cost or sacrifice on the part of the giver: a cost of time, or a small tangible gift.
- The act of kindness needs to be given in a true spirit of humility. It is fine if the person knows that you provided the gift of kindness, it need not be anonymous to the person receiving (I have found, however, that I often gain more by remaining anonymous). What is important in Rule #15 is that we avoid seeking affirmation or accolades from others for our act of kindness. We are doing it to fill a need or void that we see in the moment, not for some extrinsic reward.
- Rule #15 is a habit. It is not a “sometimes thing.” It is an “all the time thing.”
Taking from Rule #5 (Everything in life falls into two categories, worth it, or not worth it), remember the first two parts of our decision:
- Does it add value to me?
- Does it add value to others?
Research supports that performing repeated acts of kindness positively influences our mental and physical wellbeing. In this article from the Cedars Sinai Blog, researchers share that acts of kindness releases levels of oxytocin (the love hormone), the pain-relieving chemical “Substance P,” as well as dopamine, which can give us a feeling of euphoria or what is known as the “helper’s high.”
When we are healthier in our mental state, we attach to feelings of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy.
When we have a higher self-image, we stand taller, sit taller, and have more energy to exercise, and make healthier choices.
We add value to ourselves.
When we add value to ourselves, we are able to add value to other because we have something to give.
We give, we get [repeat].
Sounds “worth it” to me.
So, my challenge for the upcoming week is to follow through on our natural tendency for good.
Buy the meal for the car behind you in the drive through. Leave a note on a colleague’s desk. Make the phone call you have been meaning to make. Take a little extra time out of your busy day to ask about a friend or colleague’s life or family - show genuine interest. Write a thank you note or a “thinking of you” note.
The possibilities are endless. The rewards are infinite.
The students, as we approach the last week of the semester and prepare for final exams, need our kindness. We need the energy that acts of kindness will provide - it’s a win/win.
Spend your last five gold and black beads of the semester from your jar wisely.
Stay strong to the finish line.
- Rule #24: You always take your own weather with you.
- Rule #23: Sit silently for at least ten minutes every day--no phone, no Facebook, no Twitter, no email--silence.
- Rule #22: It’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can learn a lot about someone by the way she/he shakes your hand.
- Rule #21: Mistakes happen, but your eraser shouldn’t run out before your pencil. Fail, but fail forward.