21st Century, Innovation, Inspiration, Leadership

We All Need A Little Resistance

You know you work with a pretty switched on group of parents when not only do you get flowers and a thank you speech penned by your students at the conclusion of an eight week marathon journey of work, but you also get two books: Seth Godin’s “Linchpin” and Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why”.   Way cool.  I had previously read Linchpin, the one book Seth Godin says of:

If I could have every administrator, teacher and parent read just one of my books…it would be this one.

I was excited to read it over again (skim it and this time start highlighting as it is my own copy!) and I was reminded of how important his idea of the need for resistance was.


What?  Need resistance?  Yes!  If you are throwing out new ideas, suggesting different tactics, implementing innovative programs and basically making a ruckus – CONGRATULATIONS! Unlike so many others who listen to that tiny voice, that ‘lizard brain’ in the back of their head telling them to sit down, maintain order, follow along, make it through ’till Friday and dutifully maintain the status quo, you have heard the voice, the lizard brain, and have acted in spite of it. Truth be told, that voice might even have spurred you on to making a bigger ruckus, a bolder move, a more passionate statement!


If you felt the resistance and went for it anyway (whatever “it” might be) then most likely, you are leader.  It is not a comfortable, safe, cushioned place to be.  In fact, it should feel more like you are on the front line, blazing a path, running the gauntlet and dodging enemy fire. If  your new ideas are not insisting on change, making people a little uncomfortable because for a while they may look incompetent and arousing thought and debate, are they really “new”?

Think of all the ideas that have made people get up and do something – protest, occupy, picket – these are the result of ideas worth getting excited about!  Does your leader inspire you in this way?  Do you inspire others in this way?


When encouraging you to make a ruckus, I must point out the difference between doing so fearlessly and recklessly.

To be fearless…

is to act with the best intentions at the time in order to make a change that you believe is needed, of benefit and will ultimately result in a forward momentum.  To be fearless is to be informed of the consequences of your actions and to act anyway.  To be fearless is to embrace the probability that you may fail or be wrong and to press ahead anyway.  To be fearless is to act in good faith, with good intentions.

To be reckless…

is to take action without information.  To make rash decisions with little forethought.  To be reckless is to endanger, to risk without care for the impact and to pretend that you can not or will not fail.  To be reckless is to make decisions based on your own personal needs and wants rather than considering what is best for the group or the company.  To be reckless is to think of the immediate results and have little care for the long-term consequences.


  • resist your lizard brain

  • make a ruckus

  • be fearless

Think about your role as a leader or the people who lead in your school or organization.

Do they make a ruckus?

Do they do so fearlessly, inspiring others to follow them?  Do they do so recklessly, leaving behind them a wake of distrust and chaos? Does the work they do mean enough that people would miss them if they were gone? This was something Seth said at the event in NYC.  I think I recall correctly that it was a response to a question about “should I blog?” to which he replied, “Yes, but then ask yourself if people would miss your posts if they were gone”. My thinking is that he was giving us reminder to make sure that while we all will probably hear the lizard brain that tells us that it is too much, too new, too big, too bold, too ‘out there’ of an idea to work, we shouldn’t let that voice overpower our own, stronger voice that says, “I hear you and fearlessly, I proceed.”

Who are the ‘ruckus makers’ in your school?

How do they perfect their artistry?

Organization, PYP

Learn How to ShipIt


Today I was given a thin book – or, as described on the front cover “a little pamphlet for people who can”. The book/pamphlet is by Seth Godin as a follow-on for those inspired by his book, “Linchpin”. The parent who gave it to me, knows we are in the process of beginning our PYP Exhibition – the culminating project in fifth grade in which the students showcase their understandings from their elementary school career.

What does it mean to ‘ship it’ and what is this all about? Here is what Seth says:

When you ship…things change. Your project interacts with the world and the market changes. You change. Your relationship with your team changes. There is a mark in the calendar–there were days before you shipped and then there are the days afteryou shipped. Drawing a line like this is frightening, because it’s not always obvious what happens after you draw the line and after you cross the line. This line is empowering. It demonstrates your ability to make things happen. This booklet gives you the power to draw that line, step by step, day by day – and then cross it. Write in the book. Draw the line. Commit. The project will ship.

I like the pithy, seqential layout of the book and the astute way it guides you over those hurdles that may typically prevent you from ‘shipping it’. I liked it so much, that as soon as I finished, I tried to buy 30 copies for my kids. Sadly, it is out of print. Not one to give up, I have since been given permission to copy it for my kids so they can experience recording their project in preparation for ‘shipping it’. I am excited to share this with them tomorrow.

Here are a few of my favorite pages:




We often talk about telling kids that it is ok to fail but that must sound like suddenly turning around and saying “It’s ok to run with scissors” or “It’s ok to skip your homework”. We keep repeating it though and we are starting to see that truth sink in. What I like about ShipIt is that it acknowledges failure, it acknowledges fear, shame, road blockers and people who will try and stop you. And then it says, ‘but you can do it anyway’ in a really beautiful way.

The last word on the back cover sums it all up:

You have brilliance in you, your contribution is valuable, and the art you preate is precious. Only you can do it, and you must. I’m hoping you’ll stand up and choose to make a difference.

Thanks to Seth, our fifth graders are going to be people who can.

Creativity, Design, Innovation

Seth Godin

I did think about changing the title of this post to “My Man, Seth Godin” but that may have come across as strange and awkward, plus, he really needs no further embellishment to his name to make you want to keep reading.

Three things I want to share about Seth – this is going to be short and sweet!

1. Most important!  Read his education manifesto.  Seriously.  He has lovingly prepared in in pretty much any format you could possibly desire.  I would like him to read it aloud to me (not an option at this point) but you can have an onscreen version, html version, printable edition, plus multiple e-reader editions and a few other goodies thrown in for good measure!  His work is good.  Understatement. Awesome.  Really thought provoking in so many different areas.  I found it so easy to read that I read it twice in the same day!

2. When you finish reading that, read his book Linchpin.  The thing that got me reading Linchpin was a plea from Seth himself on his website after you scroll down a bit from Stop Stealing Dreams.  He said:

If I could have every administrator, teacher and parent read just one of my books…it would be this one.

Lucky for me, I happen to have a parent at school who owns the book and loaned it to me that same afternoon.  I threw it in my bag on the last day of Snow School to read in the bus on the way to and from the mountain and that was almost enough time to finish it.  Later that night, when I had finished it, I wrote to Seth to thank him for his work.  Cool thing – he wrote back!  I know!  Awesome!   What I love about this book is that it really challenges you to ask questions like “What do I believe in?”, “What do I want to be doing?”, “How can doing what I want to do also help others?”.  It is great.  Read it.

3. Transforming speech or text to graphics is hugely popular these days.  I experienced it first hand as a participant at the NAIS Annual Conference.  Whilst people were giving their address, artists were off to the side transforming their words and ideas into works of art the size of a bed sheet!  This trend continued at the SXSW conference via Ogilvy Notes.  They went a step further and printed out copies for participants to pick up the next day.  A Facebook group about Stop Stealing Dreams was started and one of the members posted the visual summary (above) as a graphic summary of the manifesto.  That person was Lynne Cazaly  – a creative from Melbourne, Australia who does this for a living.

Here is a video of how the live transformation of verbal to visual works via Image Think who were hard at work during SXSW:

This whole new ‘craze’ of drawing what we are saying and thinking in pictures makes me realize why I love the new app Draw Something.  A word guessing game, players pick a level one, two or three word and take their turn to draw it for their partner.  Gold coins are your reward if they are able to guess it. Aside from the spoil sports who simply write the word instead of drawing it, it is actually very cool to see how different people’s brains visualize different things.  Give it a go – I am always up for a game!