Tag Archives: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

…planning – take-a-way 1 from #21stedu – part 2…

So, I’ve had two full weeks to consider my key thoughts & learning from this year’s #21stedu Vancouver Symposium for Christian Education. I am now confident to publish my #1 take-a-way. I know it is my #1 because of how many times this topic – by example and non-example – has surfaced this month both in reality and memory…

This year’s conference confirmed in my mind the amount of change that a school, organization, and individual must undergo in order to remain ‘current’, ‘with-it’, and ‘educated’. Certainly there exists an option to remain ‘dated’, ‘staunchy’, and ‘ignorant’, but that is not an option I am interested in. Rather, I must commit my school and myself to learning & speaking this new language, exchanging & producing this new currency, writing & performing this new music genre. As a fellow servant-leader at my school, I must re-double my efforts to learn all that is available for education & vocation for the staff & students in my care so I am able to help train & mentor those willing to join me on this great sinusoidal journey.

Because change is happening at such a growing rate and because our technologies are creating a space & expectation of instant access, now more than ever I must communicate and model vision & leadership for my school. But, in order to do this, I must commit myself to the time and effort of planning these items to best help them take shape. Therefore, my first key take-a-way from #21stedu for 2012 is PLANNING.

John is a principal who I have had the pleasure of getting to know these past two years. This year he shared with me that his school had just finished producing a Strategic Plan. Their school now has a 1-3-5-10 year detailed plan according to specific goals. I gasped and asked, “How was that for you?” He replied with the answer I absolutely did not expect, “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to our school. I now know exactly where we are and exactly where we are going. Now I just need to stay the course and do it.”

Wow, what a document they have. What a great communication, vision, and purpose tool at their fingertips. I am envious of that school…and I look forward to getting a face-to-face update at next year’s Symposium. No doubt that took months and months to prepare – weeks and weeks of prayer and meetings and debates – edits and revisions and re-dos…but what a document on the back-end. Wow… Planning
IMHO, planning is the ingredient necessary to communicate vision. Planning is vision worked into a step-by-step experience.
I am a terrible planner. Terrible. Terrible. I have a wake of destruction in my past with regards to planning. Here are a few horrifically embarrassing professional & personal examples…from the near past:
  • Two weekends ago I spend 20+ hours at school getting ready for our external evaluation that happens every 2nd year. Now, I try very hard to not work evenings and weekends unless I have to. But, the sour part of this weekend was that I did a month’s worth of work in two days (isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish with no distractions, no interruptions, no pressing situations). At the same time, isn’t it sad that I left this work until the weekend before it was due rather than doing it when I had originally assigned it to my staff? (past students/current staff…are you reading this??? #ouch) 20+ hours now, or 20+ hours in Sept/Oct…it’s the same time either way. But, I caused so much collateral damage this way – to my family, to some of my staff, and to myself as well. This time-intensity & pressure could have been avoided. Planning
  • June 2011’s quarter 4 report card process & high school awards night might have been the near-end of a few of our office ladies. Bless them. Fortunately for me, this was our current Lead Secretary’s first month…so…so…so…so she didn’t know any better. Why did I leave so many of the tasks I knew about ahead of time until the last day? Why did I plan to and still decide to drive the bus for our Grad’s photos that day? Why did I not delegate some of the data-driven tasks to others who were willing to help earlier in the week? I have bad answers to these questions. All the overtime, the stress, the last-hour heroics – really, the collateral damage that effected so many involved – it was honestly just really immature. And, this could have been avoided. Planning
  • On my way home from #21stedu I was issued a very, very, very expensive ticket for failing to produce a valid driver’s license. ‘What?’ you may be asking. ‘What?’ was exactly what I was asking… But, yes, my birthday had come two weeks prior and, although I had been reminded both by ICBC and by my lovely, beautiful, and brilliant wife, I failed to change over my license. Not speeding…just camera scanned and flagged…because I don’t have a driver’s license…awesome… And, this could have been avoided. Planning
  • In this year’s high school schedule I had to make a difficult decision for our staff and students in this last hours before the start of the semester. I had known about this problem issue since August…but I had also assumed that I could arrange an acceptable solution. As it currently sits, it did not end up in a way I am happy with and proud about. And, yes, this too could have been avoided. Planning

‘I promise to lead’. Nice picture – take from a wall in this Men’s salon in Victoria, BC. Speaking doesn’t scare me…neither do hard conversations – these are skill areas for me that have come naturally for me and that I have worked at in previous jobs and experiences. What does worry me is sitting down and planning – looking ahead – putting what is in my head down onto paper in a way I can hand it off to someone. I’m great in the moment, but I lack the communication of systematic detail work of orchestrating and building a future vision.

Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People had a great time management table:

This photo has caused me much reflection. I must work harder to find make time for quadrant 2 activities. Not urgent…but very, very, very important. Planning

An area of thinking I haven’t explored yet is how closely linked planning is to organization. In the mean time, this might be a great chance to share the book I’m currently reading, Getting Things Done by David Allen. A good friend, Richard, who has a budding career full of creativity, leadership, and God-given potential, recommended this to me. He also has three young children…so his time is perhaps being stretched more now than at any other period of his life. This book helped him. So, I too am giving it a listen. I’m three-quarters the way through…and yes…it is quite good…

Another book I have just ordered is ‘First Things First’. I loved the 7 Habits…and I hope to get as much from this one as I did from the original.

Action plan: Well, for schools and administrators, I explain May and June like a Jack-In-The-Box: just keep winding until it pops. There are many small things and three major things that are on my schedule for the next month. To take a cue from this post in either a ‘put your money where your mouth is’ or a ‘like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly’ kind of way, I have committed myself to Tuesday and Thursday nights in May and June for extra planning and detail work. It is my hope that these extra dedicated work times will help provide school-time to be available for in the moment issues and staff, and so that I am ready and prepared for all the these two ‘Jack-In-The-Box’ months will bring.

What are some of your planning tips & secrets? I’m all ears 😉


…#21stedu…year 2 of 3…

I drove in late last night with Steve Cox, my better half in the office at Heritage.  We chatted the whole drive – just us, the heavy rain, and two mobiles charging & blasting 3G most of the 4 hour trip. Driving late…but worth being here for year two of Symposium.

We were in bed well after 1a.m. – far too late for this Daddy of two young girls.  Yet, this a.m. I was up with gusto at 5:30…just waiting for the day…waiting for the next three days…waiting to update this resource – an organic GoogleDoc inviting this:

  1. A Christian Teacher Network – #XNED
  2. A Book List for #21stedu
  3. A Moblie App List for #21stedu

Gearing up for Symposium this past week and being up early this am makes me think of the goals I have for the next three days.  Having just finished a re-read of The 7 Habits, I am seeing Habits 1-2-3 (Be Proactive, Begin With The End in Mind, Put First Things First) in action daily.  Building these goals on the front-end will hopefully help see them come to realization on the back-end.

So, as I see them right now, here are a few goals for the next three weeks…that will continue to be worked out over the next year:

  1. To continue to network with fellow #xned teachers/admin/thinkers – in person, new people to follow on Twitter, and new blogs to begin following
  2. To glean as many new people, books, and apps on this GoogleDoc – my PLN for the next year
  3. Last but not least, to begin shaping my own answer to the question, “What is the role of the Christian School, and specifically, Heritage Christian School, in the lives of families & students in our community?”

What are your goals for #21stedu?

Edit at the end of Day 2: To quote Pippa Davies on the dialogue & info shared today, “My head hurts…in a good way!”