How to Build Trust in Hostile Environments

Building Trust in Hostile Environments

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A friend of mine, who works in a factory-type workplace, took it upon herself to be a little innovative. She realized that the 2-component job she was doing was inefficient. Everytime she attached the fabric to the frame of a piece of furniture she was making, she was losing time picking up and putting down different tools. So, she decided to batch her work. She’d build 10 items, then switch tools and continue the second component of the job. She shaved minutes off the process and felt very successful. Except, a company like this values automation, rule-following, and process over innovation and creativity. The floor supervisor walked by her station and immediately lost his mind on her. What was she thinking going outside of the confines of the pre-determined process? He went straight to his supervisor, who then reprimanded my friend. Finally, after lunch, the issue was brought up once more in front of the other employees, stating weakly that they didn’t want to “single anybody out.” Right…My friend felt the eyes of her disapproving coworkers watching her throughout the meeting and felt flushed with shame.

When we think of the way we deal with students and the manner in which they often deviate from the processes we establish in our classrooms, how do we respond? Does that response contribute to or sabotage an environment of trust and creativity?

Dr. Darryl Stickel is a consultant who works with world-renowned organizations to develop trust. In fact, his favourite work is building trust in hostile environments.

He outlined some key rules that any leader can use to foster a sense of trust and three key qualities that foster trustworthiness.

Every leader has three levers at their disposal that enable trust within the organization. Here are the qualities and the questions you can ask to evaluate whether you are using these qualities as effectively as possible:

  1. Ability – Are you capable in your job? Do people trust in your abilities to get the job done?
  2. Benevolence – Do you have people’s best interests in mind and do they believe it? Do you think about the needs of the people you serve or do you think first of advancing your own mission and goals?
  3. Integrity – Does your behaviour reflect the values you hold dear? Are your actions consistent with your beliefs? Do you follow through on your promises?

Trust is the willingness to make yourself vulnerable to another party when you could choose to do otherwise and when you cannot be certain that they will act in your best interests.

People often base trust off of the balance between perceived uncertainty (How likely am I to be harmed?) and perceived vulnerability (How badly will it hurt?). If you can decrease the risk in both of these areas for the people you serve, the higher the trust will be in your organization, school, or classroom.

When I think about my friend, her trust in the organization for which she works is rock bottom. How can you increase the trust people have in you? Start asking some of those important questions.

 

E 62 How to Build Award Winning School Culture (With Hans Appel)

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https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

How do you build a culture at school that truly reflects values rooted in belonging, kindness, and celebrating the innovative capabilities and individualism of each student?

In this episode, we talk about going beyond the limits of the 21-century model of education to create school cultures that value the individual and celebrate kindness. You’ll learn specific strategies that can positively shift your school culture and actionable tips for encouraging excellence.

Hans Appel is a counselor at Enterprise Middle School in Washington State, which just recently won the 2018 Whole Child Award for Washington State, the 2018 Global Class Act Award for Kindness, and is now a finalist for the PBIS Film Festival for a video on their award winning culture. Hans is also a blogger, supervises a student-led podcast and loves all things kindness in creating positive school culture.

You’ll learn the three questions every staff should be asking themselves to align themselves to their culture.

You can find Hans on awardwinningculture.com or by seeking him out on social media.

How to Recalibrate After a Crash

 

How to Recalibrate After a Crash.

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What do you do when you’ve hit rock bottom? Everyone goes through transformative, life-altering events that have the power to change the trajectory of your life forever. How you respond to the hardships is what determines your character. Whether you’ve suffered a loss, received a devastating diagnosis, experienced divorce, or gone through challenges that have pushed you to the brink of your sanity, we all need a roadmap to help us find our footing after a big crash.

I recently spoke to the amazing ultra-marathoner and pro-athlete, Janelle Morrison about her journey recovering from a car crash that left her body broken. By the way, she recovered to race again. She now has a newfound sense of self-compassion and a rejuvenated appreciation for life. She offered a simple approach that anyone can take when faced with difficult times and I wanted to share it with you.

Here are three questions to ask yourself that will transform your journey and help you to bounce forward, embracing the new you!

  1. What’s the opportunity within the challenge? Within every hardship is the opportunity for growth, self-learning, and transformation. The faster you are able to lean into the gifts of the experience, the less pain and resistance you’ll feel during the experience. Easy to say? Sure. Although it’s hard to practice this thinking, it truly is the key to freedom.
  2. So what, now what? What are you going to do now? What (micro) action can you take to propel yourself forward?
  3. Finally, ask yourself: Who am I? What do I need right now? You heart always knows. When you can quiet your thoughts and the “shoulds,” clarity comes more readily.

My hope is that you incorporate it within your work as an educator for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of your students.

 

 

Three Steps to Resilience

The Three Keys to Resilience

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I’ve often wondered what the difference is between those who are able to bounce forward from adversity versus those who get bogged down by their challenges. I recently stumbled upon the work of Martin Seligman, the “grandfather” of positive psychology. He states that there are three keys to resilience (that can be taught) that contribute to a more positive outlook on life.

  1. Personalization “It’s all my fault” – Someone who encounters difficult times may tell themselves the story that they are to blame for the hardships they endure. Resilient individuals tend to recognize that challenges are part of life and not their fault. Do you often find that you blame yourself for the hard knocks? What if you depersonalized your struggle?
  2. Permanence “I will always feel this way. Things will never change”- Despair is the belief that things will always be the way they are. Hope is the belief that there will be a better tomorrow. When you believe that your circumstances can change, you develop a more resilient mindset. Tell yourself: “This is temporary. This will not last forever. I can get through this tough period.”
  3. Pervasiveness “Bad luck always happens to me” – Pervasiveness in the context of resilience is the belief that bad luck will permeate every corner of your life and that you are predestined to be a victim to it. What if you challenged the notion that challenges permeate every aspect of your existence by seeking out the good. Gratitude practice is a great way to counter the negative effects of adversity. What’s good right now?

 

When You Lose Your Work…

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I’d like to wager that

every.

single.

person.

has likely experienced the bone-chill that accompanies the realization that the one thing into which you’ve been diligently pouring your blood, sweat, and tears…has vanished.

Forever.

Sometimes, all it takes is a single, fateful moment to undo hours, days, weeks, months, or even years of work, to delete precious and irreplaceable memories, or for achingly important items to go missing.

For example:

  • The near-complete set of report card comments you spend days crafting…poof.
  • Your computer crashes and important documents…gone.
  • The passport you need to board the plane back home… still sitting on the small round coffee table adjacent to the room service menu.
  • The one-of-a-kind baby photos you’ve been meaning to transfer from your phone to your computer…only a distant memory after a clumsy juggling act at your front door.

You get the picture…well, actually not any more.

Too soon?

In moments like those, my breath catches and my chest tightens, skin bristling with kinetic potential fueled by adrenaline. Frozen in time, I can sense the ever-quickening shallowness of my inhalations.

Have you ever mindfully noticed how your body reacts when it’s in panic mode?

It’s fascinatingly similar in likeness to your body being remotely occupied like a desktop computer by some tech assistant from a faraway land, who speaks an unrecognizable language, and keeps instructing you to do things you feel incapable of doing.

In other words, it’s easy to feel completely out of control.

In rapid succession, within the space of one week, three fairly-devastating events took place, delivering me to the very brink of my patience, and if I’m really honest, my sanity.

1. Just yesterday, while in the process of attempting to relocate and move my classroom resources after an extended parenthood leave, it dawned on me that due to a communication error more than 75% of my boxes had completely disappeared. Permanently. (Deep, deep freakin’ breath.)

2. Last week, after having had one of the most incredibly rewarding, gold-mine podcast interviews with a very VIP guest, my computer glitched, the software we were using to stage and record the call crashed unexpectedly and with it went the full hour-and-a-half interview. (Cue panicked hyperventilation.)

3. And, finally, yesterday morning, no sooner had the coffee touched my sleep-deprived lips, did I hear: “Moooooommmmmmyyy!”  To my horror, I discovered one of my blessed angels with ball-point-pen in hand and devious grin on face. There, laying face-up on our couch was the defaced page of Daniel Pink’s freshly-minted library-edition book I had meaning to dig into. (ARGH!!! Seriously, people?) The irony was not lost on me when upon closer inspection, the joyous scribbling had been contained to the opening page of the book, a quote:

 “Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” -Miles Davis

 

Was it a sign? Perhaps. With the intention of purchasing the book, I ripped the page out with purpose, and taped the quote to my fridge. Thank you, Miles Davis for the timely reminder of what truly matters in this world.

Although I may have lost some really important, seemingly irreplaceable items in short succession, the really important things in life will always remain intact.

These moments provide opportunities for deep practice in patience, letting go of our attachment to things, forgiveness (of self and others), adaptability, or at the very least, resisting the temptation to unleash unrelenting fury on the world.

Nestled within the struggle of ‘opportunities’ is the ability to rebuild a foundation that is even stronger than before.

Epilogue:

  1. Due to the generous nature of my podcast guest (and some reconfiguring of technical equipment), I was able to reschedule and rerecord the interview. I’d like to say that it was even better than the first.
  2. Those lost boxes enable me to enter a more minimalist approach to teaching, one I had always been meaning to adopt, anyway. No day like the present, I guess.
  3. In a way, I’m grateful for the quote. It was worth the $30 to be reminded to stay present in the now. It’s all we really ever have.

 

Power of Moments

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What makes for a powerful, memorable moment, in school or otherwise? Naturally, we all seek to be memorable. Nobody dreams of living an unremarkable life. We all want to be special to somebody. Some of us seek accolades from the masses, while others seek to be important to just a select few. That’s part of what makes us all so unique. We can all agree that there are magic moments that permeate our lives, but the tricky thing is creating magic, memorable moments for those we seek to serve. How do we make ourselves and the experiences we offer those around us, remarkable enough to make an indelible mark on our souls?

I recently read the incredible book The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, which outlined an easy-to-follow framework for creating remarkable memories.

Here’s the framework:

E: Elevate – Rise above the every day

Rise above the every day by marking transitions in special ways (100th day of school, 50th book read), building peaks, sensory appeal, raising the stake, and creating an element of surprise for the people you seek to serve.

P: Pride – Build in a sense of buy-in and pride

Celebrate those who have worked hard to achieve their goals! Help them to see their growth. Help them to develop affiliations with you and your tribe. The #1 reasons people leave their jobs is a lack of recognition. Break tasks into small and measurable goals…celebrate every milestone. Always be appreciating and noticing people…but know whether they want the recognition to be quiet or public (that’s important to note, especially with kids). The tribe’s win is everybody’s win!

I: Insight – Help people to learn about themselves in a supportive environment 

We tend to want to protect people from risk, but discomfort is where growth lies.

High standards + Assurance + Direction + Support = Insight

C: Connection

When we share our positive and negative moments together, lifting one another up and celebrating one another’s successes, it solidifies the bonds we have in a group. We feel tied to one another on a neuro-chemical level.

 

How might you apply these four pillars to create powerful moments for those you serve?

#26: What you Can Say to Help Someone Living with Cancer (Hint #1: Say Something…Don’t Avoid the Topic) (with Genevieve Stonebridge)

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Cancer is a far-reaching, often-devastating illness that touches everyone either directly or indirectly. Oftentimes, navigating grief and loss can be complicated and confusing, especially for children. In this surprisingly uplifting episode, you’ll hear from a very special guest about her personal experience living through Cancer at the age of 18, how the experience enabled her to gain a unique perspective on the effects of cancer on families, and actionable ways teachers can support children affected by the disease.

Through her positive storytelling approach, you’ll learn the 7 specific needs that well-children (specifically siblings) require in order to develop resilience in the face of familial cancer. This is such an important conversation; I hope you learn as much as I did!

Genevieve Stonebridge is a clinical counsellor (RCC) at InspireHealth (www.inspirehealth.ca) supportive cancer care, as well as at Rise Health (www.risehealth.ca).

She is devoted to creating safe and inspiring places for people to explore their experiences. This includes holding space for both the suffering and joys of life. With compassion, creativity and openness she believes in meeting patients wherever they are at. She is passionate about helping people explore their relationships with themselves, their loved ones and their bodies.

Her research thesis entitled, You Matter: Retrospectively Exploring the Needs of Adolescents who had a Sibling with Cancer developed into a short film called [You Matter][1]. You Matter succinctly summarizes her research in a digestible way for the general public and was accepted to premiere at the 2015 Boston International Kids Film Festival. For more information check out (https://siblingsyoumatter.squarespace.com/)
Genevieve lives in Victoria with her husband. She loves good quotes, gardening, dinner parties, random acts of kindness and pondering the meaning of life on the bluffs of Dallas road.

The seven needs are:
1. Familial social connection
2. Acknowledgement and attention
3. Clear communication and information
4. Validating difficult emotions
5. Emotional support for the well-sibling (coaches/teachers)
6. The need to be a kid (help with the losses of childhood)
7. The opportunity for Humour and lightheartedness
For more information about [Genevieve’s Video and the 7 needs][2] she identified visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com][3] and search for episode #26.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNHt54zUtAU
[2]: https://www.childhoodcancer.ca/sibling-support
[3]: http://smallactbigimpact.com

E 35: But, I’m Not Indigenous: How to Explore Indigenous Ways of Learning, Authentically (with Adrienne Gear)

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With the advent of more ethically-conscious curricula that challenge the outdated colonialist outlook on history, educators are more responsible than ever for carefully and accurately talking about cultures and ways of knowing that may not be personally familiar to us. In light of the Canadian government’s reconciliation efforts with indigenous people, the way we teach has to reflect a more culturally conscious approach.

“But, I’m not indigenous,” many people say. “How do I teach about indigenous culture?”

In this conversation, you’ll learn specific lessons, books, and approaches to teaching indigenous ways of knowing in an authentic, integrated way. Hope you enjoy this short, illuminating mini-episode with my esteemed guest, Adrienne Gear. Be sure to check out her full-length treasure trove interviews (E #9 and #10)AdrienneGear_600x480-300x240

Adrienne Gear has been a teacher in the Vancouver School district in Canada for over 18 years working as a classroom teacher, ESL teacher, teacher librarian and District Literacy Mentor. Adrienne developed Reading Power almost 10 years ago and has been since working with teachers in many districts throughout the province presenting workshops, giving demonstration lessons and facilitating Reading Power leadership teams. She has also presented workshops in the United States.

She is the author of six bestselling books including, Reading Power and Writing Power, and has just completed her sixth book Powerful Understanding : Helping Students Explore, Question, and Transform Their Thinking about Themselves, Others, and the World. Find her online on her website  or on social media by searching Adrienne Gear.
For more information about her books, book lists, blog, resources and workshops visit her blog.

Storytelling is Leadership: 6 Sentences to Help your Story

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These days, I find myself observing and mentally noting with fervour the magical elements that conspire to empower great leaders. There is a universality about great leadership that makes it easy for those to assume that one either has it or one doesn’t. However, in this growth mindset culture, we know that to be a fallacy. Leadership is a cultivated skill not a role we’re simply born into.

Sure, it helps to be competent at the work you do because competence surely goes a long distance in helping to create trust. But, I’d argue that true leadership goes beyond being the best at your job. Leadership is about enabling those around you to be their best, do their best work, and doing so in a way that helps them to feel autonomous, valued, and empowered. From what I’ve seen, read, listened to, and from the people with whom I’ve personally spoken on the KindSight 101 Podcast (and within my own life), leadership is rooted in storytelling. A solid story can do more to convince people to believe you, join your ranks, or sell you ideas than any coercive, strategic approaches can. Show me a good storyteller and I’ll show you a good leader.

So, how to tell a good story? I recently read the book To Sell is Human by the amazing Dan Pink (Seriously, if you haven’t heard him on a podcast, read or listened to one of his books/speeches, you’re missing out! He’s a guru in motivation and sales…and he’s funny, too!). He introduced me to Emma Coat’s Pixar Pitch framework, which uses the Hero’s Journey to formulate your ideas/story/pitch into a palatable pitch. You want to pique curiosity, solve someone’s problem, create value, and be specific enough that someone can see themselves benefitting from the solution you offer.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Set the tone for the way things are currently: Who is in the story, where do they live, what is the context? – Once upon a time…
  2. Talk about the routine of life-the status quo- Every day…
  3. Create tension and a disruption from the status quo- One day…
  4. What are the consequences of that event or disruption? – Because of that…
  5. What are the further consequences? – Because of that…
  6. Arrive at the conclusion, where things have returned to stasis, but things are better than they were- Until finally…

Take the Finding Nemo Plot, for instance:

  1. Once upon a time there was a fish named Marlin who lost his wife and was protective of his forgetful son, Nemo.
  2. Every day, Nemo would be warned by his Dad not to venture beyond the dangers of their coral reef.
  3. One day, Nemo ignores the warnings and swims beyond the cozy comforts of his home, to the open ocean.
  4. Because of that, he winds up being captured and winds up in a fish tank in someone’s home.
  5. Because of that, Marlin begins a tireless journey to find his son with the help of a few kind creatures at his side.
  6. Until finally, Marlin and Nemo reunite and understand that love is dependent on a sense of trust.

Here’s the Small Act Big Impact story in six sentences:

  1. Once upon a time, there was an education crisis in our schools and communities across North America and the World-at-large.
  2. Everyday, more than 25% of our students were mired in hopelessness, stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, to the point where it made it hard for them to learn, connect with one another, and feel deep and authentic happiness and life satisfaction. This was affecting their learning and well-being, making it hard for them to be their best expressions of themselves.
  3. One day, neuroscientists discovered that happiness and fulfilment could be derived from generosity and kindness on a chemical level in the brain. We learned we could learn to develop kindness habits that would release continuous happiness hormones not only to those demonstrating generosity and receiving kindness, but to even those who witnessed it.
  4. Because of that, Small Act Big Impact developed a 21-Day Kindness Challenge to encourage students, teachers, parents, businesses, communities, and educational leaders to develop meaningful habits of kindness that would ripple out into the community, inspiring people to adopt the habits, themselves.
  5. Because of that, students, teachers, and leaders began feeling happier and more hopeful, bringing levels of hopelessness, stress, anxiety, and depression down.
  6. Until finally, everyone knew that the path to living happy lives resides in our ability to help one another through deep and intentional kindness.

How will storytelling help you to become the leader you want to be?

Analysis Paralysis: Just Leap!

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I call them “jump-off-the-cliff-moments.”

Those moments that cause your stomach to lurch as you launch yourself off the safe confines of the rich earth that support your shaky legs.

It’s the difference between dreamers and doers.

Jumping off the cliff requires you to abandon the all-too-common narrative of self-doubt and boldly replace it with the belief (even-just-for-an-instant) that you have the capacity to do better, that you have the worthiness to deserve it, and the unwavering knowledge that somehow, through magical cocktail of faith and persistence, you’ll be resourceful enough to build yourself a parachute as you plummet through the air.

So, about paralysis. Is it really that you can’t choose? Or, is it truly about the fact that you’re scared to do so?

Paralysis is a form of hiding. It’s a mechanism that our ancient mammalian brain uses to signal to us that we’re about to step into a dangerous place.

“Retreat!” it shouts at us with frantic urgency. Obediently, most of us freeze. Quit dreaming. Quit trying to step outside of our comfort zones. Just before things get interesting.

Because interesting means you might be wrong. You might fail. You might leap before others and get judged for it. You might departure from the status quo. You might not be accepted by the tribe.

Then, what?

Analysis paralysis will stop your forward momentum to express yourself fully.

Instead, choose to dream. Choose to take the first step. I urge you to leap off the cliff.

action= change=growth=wisdom and learning=trust=leadership