Storytelling is Leadership: 6 Sentences to Help your Story

IMG_4411

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?

Back to School~Tips for Success

IMG_1280

Whether you’re a well-seasoned teacher or fresh in the field, it’s always great to gain insight into tried, tested, and true tips for success in the classroom. In this episode, you’ll come away with some great ways to prepare yourself and your classroom environment for a successful year, before the kids even set foot in the classroom. Hope you enjoy part one of this back-to-school series.

I am so excited to launch these new episodes because they are loaded with back to school strategies that you can implement right away to ensure you have a successful year with your students. I put a call out to some of my colleagues and was overwhelmed by the wealth of experience, creativity, and generosity.

This first episode focuses on preparing yourself and your learning environment in such a way that you not only optimize learning, but that you feel calm and happy as you prepare for the upcoming year.

  • You’ll hear from 4 experienced teachers about 4 strategies that’ll help you show up authentically for your students
  • the hidden curriculum every teacher should be focusing on this year
  • a proven tactic for increasing self-regulation on Monday mornings
  • key questions to ask yourself as you set up your physical space.

I have already planned to incorporate these tips within my own practice, I hope you find it useful for you, too!

Thanks for listening! If you liked the episode, please feel free to leave a review on iTunes!

The Magic Ratio you Should Employ to Ensure Success in your Relationships at Work, School, and Home

 

hearthands

The Magic Ratio you Should Employ to Ensure Success in your Relationships at Work, School, and Home

When we think about the little people in our lives who are already faced with fighting larger battles than we will ever know, empathy and compassion kick in, urging us to be diligent with our word, lean in closer with our hearts, and to listen carefully with our ears. Even so, we find ourselves, especially as parents, employers, teachers, and educators having to give feedback, on a regular basis, about behaviour, performance, and effort.

I’ve always struggled with this. How do we hold space for and build up children and individuals who struggle with their identities, home lives, and mental health, while upholding our responsibilities as educators to hold them to high expectations?

I remember a particularly challenging student I had who must have experienced nothing but negative interactions throughout his day. He would literally arrive at school buzzing and had such a difficult time settling into any routine. He was disruptive. He struggled academically. He could be very rude. He had a soft heart with rock hard armour and he would launch into fight-mode so as to preemptively ward off perceived threats at the drop of a hat.

The cumulative daily burden of the chastising by his parents and family, thwarted peer-to-peer connections, and the negative comments coming from teachers and principals must have been a heavy load to bear by the time this boy went to sleep at night. It often weighed heavily on me that I could be contributing to his negative self-concept with my own demands on his behavior. I couldn’t help but think about the compounding negative effects of his mostly negative exchanges day-over-day, week-over-week, month-over-month, and year-over- year. No wonder so many of our struggling, at-risk students lose their curious spark and love of life by the time they leave us in Grade 12. So many of them have received consistent messages telling them that no matter how hard they try, they will never be good enough, never measure up, never amount to anything.

So, like many dedicated educators I know, I tried my very best to maintain positive interactions with him frequently throughout the day, no matter the kind of day he was having. Sure, I had no choice but to correct him often, but it was my mission in life to ambush him with love and respect during our time together. And, I always accepted and celebrated approximations of desired behaviour! As a result, 8 years later, he still visits my classroom, lamenting that our time together had to come to an end.

Whenever I think of this student, or many like him who have followed in his footsteps, I wonder how to offset the negative feedback we have no choice to provide from time to time. Boundaries have to be set and reinforced, even in a loving environment.

I recently stumbled upon a study done by relationship researcher Dr. John Gottham which really got me thinking. I guess I had never thought of my interactions in such a data-oriented way, but it made me wonder if perhaps I had adhered to a proven ratio without even knowing it.

According to Gottham, there is a scientifically proven 5:1 ratio of authentic positive to negative interactions that exist within effective, healthy relationships. This means that for every one negative feeling or interaction between individuals, there must be five positive feelings or interactions. In other words, “unless positive interactions outnumber negative interactions by five to one, odds are that the relationship will fail.”

What if it was this easy? What if we could be a little more aware of our positive to negative interactions, keeping Gottam’s rule in our head as we do so? How might our classrooms cultures be different?  How might we feel knowing that most of our interactions were positive?

We all know that successful educators are effective because of the relationships they build. So, I would argue that if we want to be successful as parents, teachers, employers, and even spouses, this ratio should stay at the forefront of our minds.

#smallactbigimpact21days

IMG_0110

https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-magic-relationship-ratio-according-science/