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Kick Up Some Dirt

February 2, 2011

 

As a life-long dancer the first thing I picture when I hear the words “Kick up some dirt” is a person dancing wildly, no holds barred, on the beach, or at a backyard hoedown. Yet this month (and everyday, really) it can hold another meaning, one that signifies resilience, persistence and laser focus (kinda sounds like a dancer’s life as well!).

With still so much energy behind this new year–2011–and all of the ideas, excitement and light with which we christened it still tangible, I am questioning what it truly takes to get to where we want to go… to light up and deliver results.

What does it take and why don’t we always follow through?

In coaching with others about Energy Leadership we talk quite a bit about our default tendencies–those thoughts, beliefs, actions (and non-actions!) that we have either learned over time, or created to protect ourselves, which over the years have become entrenched into our psyche. Many times, unless we really look for them we don’t know they exist and that they hold us back. However, if we are the  introspective kind and have a good idea as to what and why we do the things we do, I would dare to claim that we have the high likelihood of really creating a breakthrough if we are truly committed to making it happen.

So, how do we build this commitment?

Yes, it is true that less than half of all individuals who create a new year’s resolution break them by month six, but I’m more interested in studying the smaller percentage who are “Fireworks,”  as Katy Perry would describe them, because not only do they NOT break their resolutions, they reach them, BIG TIME!  I love it in Katie Perry’s song, Firework, when she sings “Make them go Ah, Ah, Ah as you shoot across the sky!”

When others marvel at what you’ve accomplished (Ahhh!),

and even better,when YOU marvel at what you’ve accomplished,

you’ve done something not many do often.

Perhaps a quick poll can help shed some more light.

What would you say you hear more often from yourself and others?

  1. “Gosh, I just haven’t had the time or energy to work on my goal. Maybe tomorrow!”  – OR-

  2. “You’re never going to believe what I accomplished today! It took all the energy I could find, but I’ve got a fire in my belly!”

I’d love to get your feedback on this… a quick pulse of what you’re seeing out there. Please check in.

So, back to finding that commitment, as well as resiliency, persistence and laser focus.

What does it take to master them?

Consider this 5 step plan of action to get you on your way:

  1. Dig Deep.
    If you haven’t spent much time looking within start now. Try it for one week. Simply keep a journal to track your actions or non-actions and the possible reasons behind them. What are your thoughts, beliefs, and fears related to them? What fires you up or waters you down and why? I guarantee you’ll know yourself better than you did 7 days prior.  

    Jack Canfield uses a great visual to signify all of those “default tendencies” we tend not to see. Imagine the tip of an iceberg above the ocean, now go below the ocean in your mind to uncover the larger part of the iceberg…the part we don’t see that’s at least 5 times the size of the tip. This part underwater, what we don’t see, is likened to our subconscious. Let’s begin chipping away at that massive obstruction and start living more consciously!

     

  2. Identify ONE Breakthrough Goal.
    A Breakthrough goal is something that you normally would avoid committing to. It doesn’t have to be BIG or complicated, but something that will require you to get out of your box. Pick only one; this is key. Don’t set out to change your entire life. All Breakthrough goals are made up of many smaller goals, so consider creating a mind map of your Breakthrough goal. Pick that first small step to focus on and simply keep the larger goal where you can see it daily, off in the distance.
  3. Create a NEW Default. We evolve just as time evolves. Yes, habits are hard to break, but PLEASE break them if they are not doing you any good! You have the power to create a new habit…a new default tendency, one that will move you forward and will not define you. How do you create a new habit or routine? Bring it up from your subconscious to your conscious. Acknowledge it. Speak to it. Thank it for its service. Tell it it’s time to go bye, bye! Define your NEW habit, and bring it to life by giving it your undivided attention. LOVE on it!

    My quote for the day from my Ask and it is Given card deck applies nicely to this: “Like learning to understand the basics of mathematics and then having the successful experience of understanding the results of their applications, once you have a formula for understanding your world that is always consistent, it will yield consistent results for you.
     

     

  4. Kick up some dirt! Yes, this is the hard part. You know where you want to go, you’ve dug out the unwanted from deep down and placed lots of conscious energy around your new normal. Now the work begins. Kick up some dirt every day. Would you go today without brushing your teeth or taking a shower (Ok…maybe you shouldn’t answer this. LOL!)? Your new normal needs to become a priority, just like your other routine activities. Define a way to hold yourself accountable.

    Stephen Covey helps to lead the way in this thought via Habit 3 of this 7 Habits of Highly Effective People…Put First Things First! Make this a FIRST in your life to watch it truly become a new default tendency. This new habit will take you from dependence to independence, or self-mastery.

  5. Kick up the celebration! Revel in your accomplishments daily. Share your success, even if it’s only with your pet, the best of listeners! No goal achieved is too small. Creating an environment of excitement and joy helps to expand your energy field, therefore attracting back to you more of what you want and need.

Revel in the newness. The new year, new default tendencies, new successes.

Have fun with the process,

Monique

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My daughter taking a Strategic Pause

I chose this title for my final post about The Leader in Me, because this statement reflects what the students feel at these various schools where the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have been implemented (all over the world, I might add!). Regardless of how they went about it, the feedback seems to be same. The students recognize and appreciate that these principles, courses and events are about helping them have amazing lives; about identifying how spectacular and unique they are, and about dreaming and achieving.

I’ve referred mostly to A.B. Combs Elementary, the first school to take on The Leader in Me. Their success was so profound that in 2006 they were named the number one magnet school in the U.S. Amazing. However, they are not the only school to achieve success. The second half of the book details how middle and high schools implement the principles differently than do elementary schools, but have also found significant success. Covey highly suggests that each school doit “Their Own Way.” The important part of implementation is not necessarily how it is done, but how the children and teachers feel. Here is a list of a few other schools highlighted in the book with a snapshot of how they infused the Habits:

  • Singapore – Chua Chu Kang Primary School: Habits 1-3 are taught to the 10 year olds; Habits 4-7 are taught to 11 year olds, and all of the Habits are taught to the 12 year olds, who were preparing for their national exam.
  • Chicago – Noble Street Charter School in Chicago: The 7 Habits are taught as part of the year-long freshman literature class. Students read the 7 Habits for Teens as well as a series of “personal journey” books that promote taking charge of one’s life and overcoming opposition.
  • California – Mar Vista High School: The 7 Habits are taught as part of a stand-alone course called Crossroads. It entails a potpourri of life and career skills and uses the Habits as foundation for the course, which is taught to freshman. They also read the 7 Habits for Teens, and use the matching Student Activity Guide.
  • Singapore – Clementi Town Secondary School: Created a program called HEY (Highly Effective Youth) to help first-year students transition from lower level to upper secondary level. They focus on one Habit per week and infuse the Habit into all coursework and via events.
  • Guatemala – Across all High Schools: The Minister of Education wanted to address the “hopelessness” that most youth felt in the country. She wanted to teach the kids to dream of a better country and a better life. She created the Path of Dreams program to give youth the tools to learn how to dream again and help them create a Life Plan. Students also are required to develop action plans to help remedy a social problem (in teams), like AIDS, or child abuse.

One common thread across all schools listed in the book is that all teachers are taught the 7 Habits prior to implementation.

In beginning this journey my goal was not to set out to prepare my children to be CEOs, but to be able to lead their own lives; to give them timeless principles that can serve as road maps for them daily. As children, their issues may not seem as complex as ours, but certainly they seem BIG to them. Whether it is sharing a cherished toy (for my 5-year-old), or dealing with peer pressure (for my 11-year-old). I feel confident that 7 Habits will help them make the best choices for them in the moment. And, if they happen not to make the choice I would have liked for them to make, well, it will provide another opportunity for us all to reflect and learn.

The final chapter of the book guides parents, like me, to implement these principles at home. Covey recommends using  The Power of Modeling, which includes these important components:

  1. Inspire Trust: The best way for your children to learn the Habits is to see you modeling them.
  2. Clarify Purpose: Be clear on what you want your children to learn/accomplish. What is your family’s mission? If you don’t have one, create one. Identify milestones.
  3. Align Systems: How will you get buy-in? How will you teach the principles (books, activities, etc.). How will your children be held accountable and rewarded?
  4. Unleash Talent: How will you nurture your children’s gifts. How will your children be involved in planning and goal setting? Will they be empowered or micro-managed?

Finally, Covey suggests incorporating a tradition that A.B. Combs created, called the “strategic pause.” He calls it “recompassing.” I loved this idea and will be teaching it to my children for sure!

It involves having students/your children pause for a few minutes, take a drink of water, stretch their bodies, look toward the light, and think of something hopeful. It is a way of re-energizing and refocusing them.

In closing, I will share a beautiful quote found in the book by Helen Keller, whose own challenges led her to be a mentor to many children:

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore…and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without a compass…and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. ‘Light! give me light!’ was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour. – Helen Keller

May all of our children be shown the way, with love, light, and leadership.

Have a great week!

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

My Lil' Golfer

My review and implementation (at home) of The Leader in Me continues.

He stumped me! Yes, my son, Jacob. During our first 7 Habits discussion at I-Hop (I figured it would be easier over chocolate chip pancakes!), Jacob claimed he was already perfectly proactive. Part of me (the proud Mom) said, “You go, boy! Be proud of all you do!” And another part of me said, “You must be kidding me! Look at your room!!!” So, strategically, I decided I would keep the conversation very positive, focus on what is working well, and get him to Begin with the End in Mind first (Habit 2). I asked him, “What’s one thing you would absolutely love to achieve this year?” He answered, “Mom, I want to win first place in a golf competition.” Great! We have our first goal. My second question (back to Habit 1: Be Proactive) to him was, “What do you feel you need to do to achieve this goal?” He quickly answered, “Practice more.” Bingo.

In The Leader in Me, A.B. Combs uses a few techniques to keep the Habits ever-present for the children. First, all the children have a leadership role (mail carrier, greeter, safety patrol, critter keeper, etc.), and second, they keep a Data Notebook (3-ring binder) to track their goals and successes and share with students, teachers and parents. Although I am not adopting all of the exact strategies used in the book, I am using the same concepts. Both Nia and Jake picked their first Leadership Roles for home. Of course, I have plenty of roles I could assign to them, but that would defeat the purpose. I let them choose their roles, and I am committed to helping them feel successful and track their successes within their chosen roles.

Nia wants to be the leader of her new tortoise, Coney.  So, daily, we’ll coach her on what it means to be a leader for her pet. Jake decided he wants to be the leader of his room. Secretly, I think this means he wants to keep his little sister out of his room (LOL!), but we also will coach him around the power around this role. In fact, I had him observe one area of his room (that drives me crazy…see photo below), and I asked him, “What purpose does this area of your room hold for you?” His smart alec answer… “It holds my stuff.” Yeah…that’s obvious! So, I countered that answer by asking, “Okay, how could it better hold your stuff?” He responds, “Mom, this area of my room doesn’t bother me!” Gosh, he stumped me again! But, I didn’t let him win. Once again I focused on Habit 2 (this one seems to work well for Jake) by asking, “What do you think about making this your Golf Goal Space?” His eyes opened wide and he enthusiastically said, “Yes, Mom, I can already see it!” Okay….I pat myself on the back.

Yikes! Help me!

Instead of Data Books, we liked the idea of having a cork board for each of them in their rooms, where they could read the Habits daily, we (parents) could re-direct them to the Habits as necessary, and they also could post a photo reflecting one or more of their goals as if achieved. So, while Jacob wants to win a competition, Nia decided she wanted a dolphin on her board to reminder her of wanting to scuba dive (like father like daughter!). We’ll be working on those boards over the next week as well as getting Jake’s Golf Goal Space off to a good start.

Nia and I also read a beautiful new book, which nicely reflects Habits 1 and 2 as well as the 8th Habit, which is all about finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. The book, titled The Curious Garden, is a simple and beautiful story about a little boy who lives in a big, cold city with lots of big buildings. He finds some weeds growing up through an old, long train track, and decides he will help the plants flourish. Soon, the entire track is filled with beautiful gardens. His work later inspired others in the city to grow gardens, changing the energy of the city altogether. When I asked Nia how the boy was proactive, she said to me “Mom, he helped the garden grow and then other people grew gardens too!” I actually couldn’t believe she got it! I guess you CAN teach a 5-year-old how to be proactive! She loves the new word and is beginning to use it often. Bingo. Next week we will tackle Habits 3 and 4… Put First Things First, and Think Win-Win, while continuing to strengthen the first two.

So, Week 1 of infusing the 7 Habits into our world is feeling positive. In The Leader in Me it is clear that one of the reasons A.B. Combs was so successful is because the teaching of the Habits was ubiquitous. They didn’t teach one habit per month (referred to as character education) or just pick a few activities to initiate during the year. No. The Habits are built into EVERYTHING the school does. It has become the foundation for the school’s culture.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a simple song developed by an A.B. Combs kindergarten teacher to help her students remember Habit 1 (to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star):

Be Proactive Every Day,

Be Proactive, Stop and Think.

Even Though it’s hard to do,

I think you should try it too.

Be Proactive Every Day,

Be Proactive, Stop and Think.

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

by Jay Morrison

We can all thank Muriel Thomas Summers, the principal of A.B. Combs Elementary in Raleigh, North Carolina, for being the first person to take the timeless 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and develop a formal process for teaching them to the students and teachers at A.B. Combs, beginning with students, age 5.

She comments about a session with Stephen Covey she attended as a student of leadership:

“Everyone was hanging on to every word being said. I believe they were sensing the very same thing that I was sensing, that what Dr. Covey was sharing was a set of timeless, universal principles.” She continued, “I found myself listening with the head of an administrator and the heart of a parent. And the more I listened, and the more I looked into the eyes of the people around me, the more I kept thinking, ‘Muriel, if you could teach this to young children, they would not have to wait until they were adults to learn these principles. If they looked through that lens for the rest of their lives, how different not only their lives might be, but how different our world might be.’ “

I couldn’t agree more with Muriel. What’s interesting about what happened next is that the parents and community members surrounding the school, when surveyed, didn’t even mention improving the academics of the school (failing at the time!) as something that critically needed to change. What they wanted to experience was a group of students who were responsible, caring, creative, compassionate, and who respected diversity and knew how to do the right thing when faced with a difficult decision. Wow!

A.B. Combs, which was about to close its doors, was transformed into a Leadership Magnet Elementary School, and the results were astounding. In fact, what all schools that implemented The Leader in Me program (reported in near unison) experienced within the first year included:

  • Improved student achievement
  • Significantly enhanced self-confidence and esteem in students
  • Dramatic increases in teachers’ and administrators’ job satisfaction and commitment
  • Greatly improved school cultures
  • Parents who are delighted and engaged in the process, and
  • Business and community leaders who want to lend support.

In fact, A.B. Combs’ enrollment doubled and now has a waiting list!

In the book it is clear, and recommended, that parents implement these same principles in the home. As I mentioned in my last post, that’s what I’m now embarking on. Anyone joining me out there? 🙂

So, my first assignment is to ensure that the 7 Habits are visible in our home so we can easily refer to them. For those of you who have not had the awesome opportunity of reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or taken a course, here they are:

1. Habit 1: Be Proactive

2. Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

3. Habit 2: Put first things first

4. Habit 4: Think win-win

5. Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

6. Habit 6: Synergize

7. Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

I’m not going to go over them in great detail at this time, but I will as we move ahead in blogging about this book and our activities at home. This week coming up, my plans are to do the following:

  • Have the kids help me to create some visual representation of the Habits throughout our home
  • Discuss the very basic concepts of each Habit
  • Brainstorm about ways each of us can make small steps to improve upon the first two Habits
  • Read books (age appropriate) that express the proper use of the principles (as recommended in the Parent’s Guide)

In thinking how this may work for us, I’m going to ask the kids to journal (I will help Nia with hers, since she is only 5!) about how they feel they are doing and what positive changes they are experiencing through using the Habits. My intentions, truly, are to have simple discussions, short weekly activities, and refer back to the principles as needed during our daily doings to reinforce their positive use. After all, we are very busy professionals and parents, and I want to ensure my children are able to grasp these concepts and make them theirs. At the same time, this is an opportunity for my husband and I to also reinforce these principles for our own good. I’m looking forward to taking action.

I hope you will join me for a nice discussion next week, as I hope to have some juicy nuggets of what’s working and what needs to work better!

On the leadership trail…

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

No More Mommy Guilt!

April 5, 2010

There has been a theme to my life this past month, and although I was enthralled by Seth Godin’s Linchpin, which really makes us think about being indispensable in our work lives, in the back of my mind I couldn’t stop thinking about being indispensable for my children. And, it’s not so much that I want them to see me as something they can’t live without (yes, I’ll take that too!) as much as I want to believe…know in my gut…that I’ve done what is within my power to help them develop as Linchpins themselves.

I was invited in March to attend an event where Stephen Covey was speaking about how the 7 Habits are now being taught to children as young as 5 years old in schools across the U.S.. I was not able to make the engagement, but coincidentally, I received an invitation to a webinar about this new movement and the book that describes it– The Leader in Me. Well, I was positively floored with what I heard and saw. And, happy that so many schools are now making it a priority to teach children how to take personal responsibility for their thoughts, actions, feelings, and see themselves as leaders beginning at a young age. Mostly, though, I became motivated to begin this process at home with my children.

My family and close friends know that I have a sign in my bedroom that reads “No More Mommy Guilt!” Mommies out there…you know what I mean! I’ve been able to wipe away the good majority of this guilt from my life, but it does creep in during stressful times. So I decided to take action after I received this email that sounded too close to home this month:

From Raising Small Souls:
If a recording were to be made of the interaction between a parent and her child on a typical day, studies show that it would sound something like this:

“Take your shoes off the couch.”
“Get your shoes on already.”
“Hurry up!”
“Don’t yell.”
“We’re late, hurry!”
“Food belongs in the kitchen.”
“Oh! Look at the mess you made!”
“What do you mean, you can’t find your shoes?”
“Did you brush your teeth?”
“Where was the other shoe?”
“Finish up, we’ve gotta go!”
“I SAID DON’T YELL!”
etc.

How do we stop this tape from continuously running in our homes? I now have a thesis I hope to prove that implementing the 7 Habits at home will dramatically help us all to shift out of this type of one-way chatter and into a self-led proactive communication and action model. Cross your fingers (along with me!). I’m going for it.

So, for you Mommies (and Daddies!) who want to join me in implementing the 7 Habits at home, this is my Relaxed Book Club topic of the month (maybe not so relaxed this time!).

You can find The Leader in Me in book stores, and you can download the Parent’s Guide for less than $5.

Here’s to creating the most adorable bunch of Linchpins at home!

I hope you will become inspired as well and join me!

In the spirit of leadership,

Monique… the “no more mommy guilt” Mommy!

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.