Want to become more effective as a school leader? Read this.

Much of your success as a leader will depend on the quality of your mindset.

It is a muscle that many leaders take for granted.

And it is the skill that separates the most effective leaders from all the rest.

You either invest in your mindset or you don’t.

If I asked you right now, “What are you doing to build a stronger, more resilient, and more useful mindset?” How would you answer?

Today’s article focuses on three aspects of your mindset that you can address today to become more effective immediately.

Be open to what is happening. Stop fighting the universe.

My current business coach told me to read It’s Not Your Money by Tosha Silver.

I have an aspirational business goal over the next 12–18 months and my coach and I have been talking a lot about the mindset required to attained my goal.

My biggest takeaway from It’s Not Your Money is the importance of taking an open versus a closed stance in all aspects of your life.

Often the metaphor of a hand is used to illustrate the point.

A closed fist isn’t very good at giving and expressing generosity. At the same time, it is literally closed to receiving as well.

If you are looking to get to the next level, you must be open to receiving.

Some ways to take an open stance:

  • Keep your space tidy. A cluttered space repels good things from coming your way.
  • Prayers of openness and releasing control (e.g. “Let everything that needs to go, go. Let everything that needs to come, come.”). Putting your trust in a higher power and relinquishing your control can have a profound effect. That’s why in Alcoholics Anonymous the second step is to “Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
  • Forgiveness. It is impossible to make real progress without forgiveness.
  • Abundance mentality. Being generous and trusting that there is enough to go around.

Is it good? Maybe. Is it bad? Maybe. The power of non-judgement.

The other night I shared the ancient story of a Chinese farmer in the mastermind.

Here is the gist …

There once was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away.

When the farmer’s neighbors heard they said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is so unfortunate.”

The farmer replied, “Maybe.”

The next day the horse returned, and with it brought along seven wild horses!

Again the neighbors offered their commentary, “What luck! What a great turn of events! You now have eight horses!”

The farmer replied, “Maybe.”

The following day his son attempted to break in the wild horses, one of which threw him to the ground and broke his legs.

The neighbors then said, “Oh no, what a disaster!”

The farmer responded, “Maybe.”

The next day the military arrived at the farmer’s land. They came on official business, their country was at war and they needed to enlist men to fight. Seeing that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they rejected him and the son did not have to serve in the military.

Again all the neighbors came around and said, “Isn’t that great!”

Again, the farmer said, “Maybe.”

I love this story because it illustrates the folly of evaluating every event in the moment, when perspective and time really gives the clear picture of the fortune or misfortune of an event.

This story reminds me of Marcus Aurelius’ observation in his journal, “To be like the rock that the waves keep crashing over. It stands unmoved and the raging of the sea falls still around it.”

It does not serve you to meet the highs and lows of each day with emotion.

There is great power in withholding judgement. It will serve you well.

Learn to see your challenges, obstacles, and critics as opportunities and gifts.

I am currently reading Murakami’s, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Two pages into the foreword, I already got my money’s worth of wisdom. Murakami was discussing if he had a running mantra or what he thinks about when running.

Murakami’s mantra: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

I often do not like challenges. At least, that is my gut reaction or natural default. When hard things come my way, I look for the nearest exit.

But I have trained myself to stay put and not run away from hard things.

Because I have learned that hard things, challenges, obstacles, and so on are all gifts in my life.

They are my teachers and mentors.

Problems push me to grow.

One of my best clients, Chris Jones, lives out this reality daily.

He even has learned to turn his chief critics into his most outspoken evangelists at his school.

How did he do it?

Instead of running away (or attempting to silence his critics), he engaged them in dialogue. He deeply listened to their concerns.

And he uses that data to improve his initiatives and to build better training for his staff.

You see, Chris believes if he can address the concerns of his critics, then the rest of the staff will come along for the ride.

And he is right.


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Daniel Bauer

Host of the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast with over one million downloads 🚀