Recently, I was able to lead a conversation with a group in Massachusettes, and a particular discussion with an administrator had resonated. She shared some of the strategies that she was sharing to best help her staff move forward, and she had felt that she was overly positive. I asked her about some of the things that she had shared, and although I wasn’t privy to her conversation, many of the things she discussed were problems that her staff was facing, and she had some possible strategies to best help in the situation.
As I listened to what she was sharing, it wasn’t that she was oblivious to the negatives of the situation, but she was trying to figure out a path forward.
From what she had shared, I gave her the following analogy.
If your house were burning down, being overly positive would be saying, “I appreciate this heat!” whereas she was sharing solutions on how to put the fire out. I am not sure that makes sense, but it was a way to contextualize it in my head.
Personally, I have had some health issues I have been dealing with, and I have put a massive focus on improving my own physical well-being. I have ignored it for years, but I feel I am starting to make some headway because I have actually put in some strategies to get better. But it took acknowledging the severity of the situation before I could find a way forward. Ignoring it didn’t help, but acknowledging it and doing nothing wasn’t going to help either.
At the beginning of the year, I was part of a professional learning opportunity where a school district used a Padlet and asked people to address some of their biggest concerns to start the year. It seemed overwhelming at first, but the next part of the activity asked for ways that the administrators could help ease their minds or support them. I really appreciated the activity because you could feel the group’s apprehension at the start of the day, but they felt they were heard and that they would be supported. I have followed up with the group, and many of the strategies that the staff had suggested are things that they are doing. It is not enough to ask for solutions but then not act on them.
Simply put, they did the following:
- Acknowledged the negative.
- Asked for possible ideas and strategies to help move forward.
- Acted upon those strategies.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but I think it is a good starting point.
I discussed this in a recent podcast and shared the following thought: