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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

One Degree Makes A Significant Difference - The Educators Winning Edge

In the days when I was working full time coaching high performance gymsports and outdoor education I was exposed to a philosophy of success. At the time it felt a little airy fairy as it did not give specific details on the 'how' to be successful but it did help guide my goal to be a great educator.

It was known as the winners edge - based on the idea that the slightest edge creates remarkable rewards! For example, a horse that wins a race by a nose is a split second faster than the horse that is placed second yet the winning horse receives considerably more. Though I am not a gambling man, we saw this in the 2011 Melbourne Cup when Dunaden won $3.6 million the second place getter Red Cadeaux earned $900000. Similarly, small improvement or changes in what we do can make a significant impact on our lives and the lives of our students.

Let's be straight: the definition of insanity is doing the same things we have always done expecting a different result. Unfortunately, without change there is no improvement. Without improvement we are risking our future and the future capacity of our students.  

Change is a broad term which can be applied to many things. Perhaps it is changing grades, embedding a new technology or working towards a new goal. These adjustments to the norm, even when they are positive cause stress because we never know exactly what we are going to get and this is what frightens us. Adapting to change requires a willingness to allow our outlook to focus on the positive and not getting stuck looking over our shoulder concentrating on the past.

Ultimately, if we don't change, change will happen to us and the things we didn't want to happen will be imposed upon us. Reading the trends, innovation and holding on to the routines that are productive help us to discover the importance of proactivity. It helps us unearth the small changes to practice that gain the greatest traction. 

Let's use the analogy of heating water. If we heated water to 99° C, a great cup of tea could be made but by heating it one more degree to 100° C, it will boil. As the water boils it creates steam and if there is enough of this it can power a steamship or a train. One degree makes a significant difference. Now for each one of us this one degree is going to be different, which takes me back to my first statement in this post. 

The bottom line is we get to decide what success is for each of us. In doing so we can align our thought patterns and actions towards achieving this goal ensuring it is congruent with our purpose and values. 

Our values define what is the most important this to us and give us purpose and direction. To be living out our purpose we need an existence that is in accordance with our values. Purpose calls forth passion which is the driving force behind accomplishment. 

As we work towards a goal, we need to monitor our effort and the results they produce to discover if the life changes have created the desired outcome. This feedback alerts us of necessary course corrections. Ken Blanchard describes this type of feedback as "the breakfast of champions" as it lets us know what we should and should not be doing. 

With the new year almost upon us, take the time to think about what your winner's edge is going to be. Decide how this action is going to support your professional goals as an educator and your personal passions, values and purpose. Move beyond just writing lists and making new year's resolutions. Face the challenge of change and try something out of the box by becoming the lifelong learners we often talk about. As we step out on this path we move beyond our perfectionist mindset by embracing a willingness to FAIL (First Attempt In Learning) to allow SAIL (Second Attempt in Learning) and reinvent ourselves as educators willing to lead the innovative education revolution essential for the students of the 21st century.
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