“This Might Not Work…”

I was listening to a podcast with Seth Godin as the guest and the discussion covered many topics, eventually landing around the ideas of “saying no” and “learning how to fail.” Seth goes on to share that as a teenager he started to employ the phrase “This Might Not Work” as he was introducing a new idea or strategy for action. And what emerged for me was inspiring.

In this time of accountability and school ratings (accompanied by the lack of patience), I think we can agree that mistakes have too often been stigmatized. Consequently, we shy away from trying something new or taking that bold step forward.

I learned that the power of the phrase – This Might Not Work – lies in how it sets expectations. Consider the two approaches below.

The former sets the responsibility at the feet of the person that originated the idea with the operational assumption that it will work. The latter makes clear that this may very well fail, and that we only move forward if the team wants to do it. One places the pressure, and possible joy, on a single person while the other permits the joy to be shared regardless of whether it works. Thus the fear of failure is minimized (if not removed). This is important if we want to be a part of creating anything original.

Think about it – we’ve all hatched an idea or shared in the development of a plan that we “never thought would actually work.” Or maybe the response was something along the lines of, “this might be just crazy enough to work.” Those memories usually include smiles and a nostalgic look back on the entire process. That’s the joy I am referencing.

I know that I’m going to try this out in my next planning meeting and I hope you’ll do the same. Let me know how it goes.

Reminder Outside Rockefeller Center

Service is black & white….hospitality is color. Getting the right dish to the right person (delivering the curriculum) is providing the service. When a connection is made, when a person feels heard and seen, then you are sharing hospitality. Add color and life and movement to the interaction & that’s what will be remembered.

In this episode of the A Bit of Optimism Podcast with Simon Sinek, his guest, Will Guidara, shares the story of a group of foodies that visited his 5 STAR restaurant in NYC. They gushed over all the wonderful meals they had enjoyed at the best restaurants in the city (and in the world). One of them then remarked that the only thing they had not had in NYC was a “dirty water” hot dog. Specifically, for anyone that has not enjoyed this delicacy, a “dirty water” hot dog is bought from a vendor on a street corner in Manhattan. So Will overheard this comment, rushed out to the corner vendor, and purchased a hot dog. He then had it served in an elegant fashion, and the table of foodies was amazed. Their experience escalated to unforgettable and they now had a story to tell friends for years.

The big takeaway for me from the episode was that when unreasonable hospitality is experienced, either personally or as a witness, the release of oxytocin and other “feel good” chemicals is the same for both the recipient AND those that witness it. In essence, it is the brain teaching us that being kind to others, whether hearing a story of kindness or witnessing generosity, makes us feel better. I mean, think about the TikTok videos or reels that touch your heart – and we are merely a witness to them. Small moments can inspire big notions to perform something similar for another.

It makes no difference whether we are in the restaurant business or the education profession, we always have the chance to add color to someone’s life. Often we merely need to slow down, listen, and then leap. And while our attempt/success rate may not be as high as we wish, there is never a shortage of opportunity. Strive to be deliberate. Moments matter.

Saying Hello (Again) Isn’t So Hard

As you leave your office and head down the main hallway, a laundry list of thoughts crosses your mind.  The parent conference you just left, the teacher you need to see now, the district deadline that is quickly approaching, and the big basketball game tonight versus your rival.  All of this consumes your mind and then you see a young man walking down the same hallway toward you.  He looks to be on his way somewhere, he has a pass in his hand, and he is looking down.  You have a decision to make – one that I think is so crucial for any adult on campus.  Empowered to shape the culture and climate of your school at every moment, what decision will you make right now that reinforces what you believe is important?    

Just over twenty years ago, I was finishing my first semester in grad school on my way to Principal certification.  Sitting in a training with my cohort, I was introduced to the idea of 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents.  The Search Institute had sent team members to speak with us about these different assets and how they can influence the possible outcomes for young people in middle school or high school.  And since those were the only levels I had taught, and thus likely to be the levels at which I served as a campus leader, I was definitely interested.  As the speaker took us through research and findings, I remember hoping that he would offer some examples.  He finally did and I can say that one example, in particular, has remained a hallmark of what I believe should happen every single day.

Now retired, I can recall making my way around campus each morning, afternoon, and evening, and I would see students in the hallway.  Maybe they were returning from their locker, visiting their counselor, completing an errand, or merely running late.  And what I realized was that often adults walk toward them, heads down, and pass them without saying a word.  I mean, I understand, I guess, as we are busy.  We have things to do.  However, I am of the belief that when we choose (and it is a decision we make) to NOT speak to that young person, then we are missing a chance to acknowledge that they exist and that they matter.  Sadly, for some, these same young people get that feedback (or lack thereof) every day at home, on the bus, in the car, and throughout the school.  And when I chose not to greet them then I was just as guilty of not helping build assets within them.

So I changed my practices.  I committed to making eye contact with each of them and saying “Good morning”, “How’s it going?”, or “Good afternoon.”  It’s not an extensive conversation yet it is acknowledgment.  To be honest, most merely smile and echo back the sentiment.  Some don’t reply at all and I learned to roll with that.  However I am of the firm belief that it matters, and the shy smiles that were offered in return were what made me certain.  Thus it became a staple for me for nearly two decades as a campus leader.

So when you are cruising down the hallway tomorrow, with lots on your mind, don’t miss the opportunity to remind a young person that they are significant, that they are worth your time, and that you share this world with them. Perhaps you’ll become as well known as this young boy from England during the lockdown in 2020.

@thesun

Friendly toddler says hello to everyone he meets (🎥 : PA) #toddler #friendly #hello #greet #toddlersoftiktok #cute #friends

♬ Summer Time (Cute) – モイモイ