Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's stopped rainin', everybody's in a play and, don't you know, it's a beautiful new day (Electric Light Orchestra)

Decisions decisions.

Recently, I wrote about my daily decision making. Sometimes decisions can come back to bite me, but I can't travel back in time via Rapid Roy (Skoda Rapid), my version of a DeLorean, and do over. Gotta live with a bad decision and endeavour to learn from it.

I like to continually remind myself of Buddhism's eightfold components to the path (which it itself is the fourth noble truth). 

Right Mindfulness is one of the eight.

Right mindfulness means being aware, mindful and attentive to three things: the activities of the body; sensations/ feelings; thoughts/ideas.

The head and the heart are clearly key components to Right Mindfulness.

Earlier this year, The Leadership Freak (a.k.a. Dan Rockwell) weighed up some of the head and heart-based questions that lead to decisions. I bookmarked the post and (like the noble eightfold path) return to it from time to time.

His judgement is that heart-based questions like:

  • What does integrity/honesty/openness tell you to do?
  • What does respect for others tell you to do?
  • What does compassion/kindness tell you to do?
  • What does courage/confidence tell you to do?
should rule the day.

He's really talking about Right Mindfulness, and asking some brilliant questions.

The way is clear.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Knock me down get back up again (Tom Cochrane)

I would say that I'm an optimist. My lovely wife of 34 years, the present Mrs Purdy, however, is not!

We balance each other.

I'm not sure if we inherited those traits. Thinking about our parents, I don't think so. 

Instead, we grew into them over time via our experiences. 

According to an article in Edutopia by Marcus Conyers and Donna Wilson, research has demonstrated that optimism, traditionally considered to be an unchangeable trait, is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced. 

Which is a good thing because people with a positive viewpoint have less stress, better creative problem-solving skills, and better health outcomes than less optimistic people. 

This all has a spin off for education because, as Conyers and Wilson point out, 'optimistic learners are more likely to persist in the sometimes-hard work of learning, motivated by the belief that they can accomplish their learning goals'. 

Good stuff, right! As students get more optimistic  they are motivated to progress through learning difficulties and to attain higher levels of achievement. More optimistic students also have greater resistance to depression and the negative effects of stress.

Okay, so, how do we grow the optimism trait. Positive reinforcement.

Conyer and Wilson again: 
Emphasizing positive emotions helps students become more resilient and more likely to persevere with learning tasks. Their persistence is fueled by the belief that they will triumph over difficulty, learn from their mistakes, overcome plateaus in their performance, and progress. The mantra "I think I can! I think I can!" from an all-time favorite story, The Little Engine That Could, illustrates practical optimistic thinking.
The emphasis we have at school on positive relationships, restorative practices and a Not Achieved grade being a Not Yet grade are all part of emphasising optimism.

I've been working on the present Mrs Purdy's natural inclination towards pessimism for 34 years. Some things take time.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

There's a time a for joy, a time for tears, a time we'll treasure through the years - we'll remember always Graduation day (The Beach Boys)

Schools are incredible places.

Great meeting places and melting pots for so much creative energy. 

I've spent a few days watching, with great pride, some talented students pull together a Graduation ceremony for last year's Year 13 students. 

[Why do we do that in July? Don't ask. But we do (or, we did - this is its last year - instead we'll be combining graduation with prizegiving in December from now on)]

Anyway - young people are constantly amazing. With a minimum of adult supervision, our Year 12's and 13's have pulled together, pooled their considerable talents, and transformed our gym into a worthy theatre of celebration.

No mean feat, let me tell you.

I am blown away by their skills and abilities. Whether it be performing (guitarists, singers, choreographers, drummers) or a support role (riggers, sound tech, stage design, painters, set decorators, electrical tech and so on). Pretty much everything has been done by our amazing students.

Great real world learning as they problem solve, communicate, collaborate, visualise, and do.

I take my hat off to them!!!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Silver people on the shoreline, let us be (Crosby Stills Nash)

Google published some meta-analysis results recently from within their own organisation about what makes a great Google manager. 

Here they are in ranked order (first to last):

  • Be a good coach;
  • Empower your team and don't micromanage;
  • Express interest in employee's success and well-being;
  • Be productive and results-oriented;
  • Be a good communicator and listen to your team;
  • Help your employees with career development;
  • Have a clear vision and strategy for the team; and
  • Have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team.
I like this list.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Yeoo, standin' at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride (Robert Johnson)

This is apposite to my last posting about binary decision making. Who else but the wonderful Seth Godin. He just gets it.
No judgment, no responsibility.
No responsibility, no risk. 
There's a fork in the road. If you seek out roles without responsibility, you might just find a sinecure.

This is the hot job for undifferentiated job seekers at the placement office, the job where a famous company will tell you what to do all day. 
Alas, those are the jobs that will be deleted first. The jobs that come with little in the way of respect or stability. These are the jobs that big companies automate whenever they can, or create enough rules to avoid any variation if they can't. 
The other choice is a job loaded with judgment calls. One where it's extremely likely you'll make a decision you regret, and get blamed for it. One where you take responsibility instead of waiting for authority 
It turns out that those are the best jobs of all.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Yawn 'asal wa yawn basal * (Arabic proverb)

* means - One day honey, one day onions.

My version of it - you have to take the crunchy with the smooth!
My job is often largely done inside my head - millions of thoughts and mulling over of decisions - gazillions of synapses - trying to sort out my world. On a daily basis.

That's why I'm so often exhausted at the end of the day, and why I struggle to communicate with my wife on Saturdays. All that accumulation means I am like Jason Bourne in the car listening silently to the Franka Potente character.

I'm sorry, I can't remember where I got this next bit from but it resonated!

Anyway, it turns out that the mental load of management is primarily around experiencing failure.
Actual failure, sure, but mostly potential failure. Imagining failure in advance. All the current things that could go wrong. And more important, the things you're not doing that will be obvious oversights later. Our brains work overtime to cycle through these, to learn to see around corners, to have the guts to delegate without doing the work ourselves (even though that creates more imagined points of failure). Scan, touch, consider, analyze, repeat.
This is so on the money it's scarey!

I guess that's the binary aspect to the filter process on every thought/potential action during my day - will this work/will this do more harm/is there a better way and so on - imagining failure in advance.

Most times I find the filter works. But not always. And that's okay. None of us are perfect.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

As the fire grows we can warm ourselves, watching rainbows in the coals (Michael Murphey)

Fieldays, Fieldays, dear old golden rule daze.

Meet Terry.

Terry is in his seventies, he's an old retired farmer, from Gore (that's somewhere in the bottom of the vastness of the South Island I believe). Dressed in a flat cap, double hearing aids and tweed jacket.

We got chatting while I was supervising my Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) students in the Innovation Tent at Fieldays.

I asked him when he'd flown up, oh no, he said - I drove.

Okay. That's a long way to drive! Who was with him? Oh no, he said - I'm on my own.

Then I asked him my big question with my usual casual √©lan- Why? Why do that? Why are you here?

And he smiled and gave me THE BEST ANSWER EVER!!

Because I might learn something.