Flaws

I have flaws. I have lots of them.

Peter DeWitt

The first time we met, we hugged as if we’d been friends for years. It was at EdCamp Upstate New York in 2015. Before that day, Peter and I had only connected through email. Most of our emails had to do with pieces that I wrote for his blog Finding Common Ground that he publishes for Education Week.

Peter gave me the opportunity to publish pieces for his blog on numerous occasions. In fact, looking back now I can’t help but think that he was the one that gave me the boost I needed to take writing seriously. Well, not too seriously. But you know what I mean. It all began one day in 2015, when I decided to email him out of the blue to ask if he was looking for guest bloggers. I remember how excited I was when he emailed me back. And I remember how honored I was the first time I published a piece on his blog.

I would send Peter a piece and he would respond with suggestions and ways in which I could possibly make it better. Not in a red-ink sort of way. It was more like we were having a conversation and he was simply saying, here’s something to think about. I was getting free advice from someone who had been publishing for years. More importantly, I was getting advice from someone who cared.

Peter and I have stayed in touch through Voxer, and lucky for me he tolerates my stream of consciousness thinking that usually goes round and round and often ends up nowhere. Squirrel! I do know that he listens my voxes because he always has something humorous to say about my lack of clarity or time spent talking about absolutely nothing. But the fact that he listens matters. It matters a lot!

So, when I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to have a podcast on Bam Radio Network, having Peter as one of my first guests was a no-brainer. Despite his hectic travel schedule, which takes him all round the world, we were able to quickly find a time to record an episode. And while Peter’s transparency and willingness to be vulnerable were wonderful, it was the logistics surrounding the interview that we still talk about to this day.

The interview, conducted via Skype, began with me locking myself in an isolated upstairs bedroom, away from any distractions. Well, within the first few minutes of connecting it was apparent that my cellular signal was too weak to continue in my preferred location. I began walking around my house trying to find just the right spot. All the while trying not to disturb my wife and kids who were each engaged in some sort of activity. But I was unsuccessful. Not one single nook could be found that was conducive for recording.

So, I decided I had no other option than to walk outside and try to find some place where this was going to work. The only problem now was that I was no longer in control of the environment. After a minute or two of searching I found just the right spot. Sitting on top of a rectangular green electrical box. The kind that you try to avoid touching at all costs because you’re not quite sure what it really does or more importantly, what it could potentially do.

Since it didn’t shock within the first few minutes I decided that it was safe to continue. At this point we were finally able to begin the interview. The patience shown by Peter throughout this entire ordeal was wonderful. Truth be told, I think he was getting a kick out of the whole thing. I did have to stop several times because of geese calling overhead and the loud engine of what sounded like a monster truck. We were able to conduct the entire interview while I was in my front yard trying to navigate electricity, pick-up trucks and migrating geese. How the interview turned out as well as it did is due to the editing skills of the team at Bam Radio.

I think I can speak for the three of us (Peter, Errol and myself) when I say that we had so much fun recording the interview that we really weren’t too concerned about how the interviewed turned out.

But we got lucky. Or did we? Sometimes serendipity has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. And that is exactly what happened in this interview. Peter and I were having so much fun laughing about my unique recording environment that by the time we had to get serious, we had a flow state going that allowed for a very comfortable and open back and forth.

Peter is a prolific author who has published several books. His blog Finding Common Ground het hundreds of thousands of views. And Peter graduated from high school ranked 262 out of 266. One of these things is not like the other. Or…

I mention Peter’s high school ranking because Peter mentioned it. I mention it because I think it is important for others to know. Most importantly, I mention it because Peter is no longer ashamed to share this. But Peter admits, he wasn’t always so willing to share his struggles. In the interview, Peter discusses how he was insecure because he had failed so often when he was younger.      

It took years for Peter to get over feeling insecure about his mistakes, and even to this day Peter still has days when he feels as if he is not good enough or he hasn’t’ spoken well enough. But with the help of a supportive college coach and unexpected responses to a blog piece titled The Benefits of Failure, Peter said that:

“It made me realize that there really is a benefit of failure. Not only what you learn from the process if you’re open to it. But also, how sharing that story can be really helpful to other people.”

Peter was also very aware of the fact that it is much easier for someone like himself, with experience and degrees under his belt, to come out and openly share his mistakes. He realizes that mistakes can be much more difficult to deal with for kids. Therefore, he believes it is our responsibility to share with them what failure and what learning from failure look like. Peter stressed that if we can do this they will be better off because they won’t feel so alone.

I could not agree more with Peter on this. It is my belief that the sooner we start sharing our imperfections with the people we serve and the people we love, the sooner they will stop expecting to be perfect. And if I could play some small role in helping others make this mindset shift, well then that would be a good start.

Having the opportunity to speak and learn from someone as reflective and as honest as Peter was time well spent. Yes, his blogs and books have been read by hundreds of thousands of people. But that’s not why I invited him to be a guest on My Bad. I wanted Peter to come on because he is good and he leads, writes and speaks from the heart.

While I don’t know when I will see Peter again, I can’t help but think about our most recent connection. Peter had been hired for a one-day consulting gig in a town about twenty minutes from my home. We planned to meet for dinner at Panera. He informed me that he had to moderate a chat at 8 PM but that left us plenty of time to catch up and connect. I had an interview scheduled for 6:15 PM, but I knew that if I left once the interview was done I could be there by about 7 PM.

What made this meeting even more exciting was the fact that my wife and kids were able to come too. Since Peter was a guest, in my “neck of the woods” I was going to make it a point to pay for his dinner. I thought I had it all planned. But at the last second Peter snuck up like a ninja and swiped his credit card. I’ll be ready next time.

I should have seen it coming. From featuring countless guest bloggers on Finding Common Ground to helping others publish books through his Connected Educators Series, Peter is always thinking of others before himself. And in his quest to champion for others I believe he himself has become one.

* This is the 6th in a series of 10 pieces I’ll be publishing weekly in which I highlight a past My Bad guest(s). I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please pass them on.

Here is the link to the Peter’s episode:

Learning to Accept My Past and Present Shortcomings

He Was In The Room

At that moment, there was nowhere else on the entire planet and nothing that was more important than sitting on that dirty disgusting bathroom floor.

When she shared that her dad was in the room with us at that very moment I couldn’t believe my ears. Her photo, her story, the moment became so much more powerful than it already was. The fact that she was able to retrieve such an old photograph was amazing. It must have been at least twenty years old. How could she possibly have that so readily at her disposal?

Let me backtrack a little bit to give some context. I got a little bit ahead of myself. To be quite honest, I wanted to pique your interest without giving away too much. But you’ve read this far, so I guess it’s time you know.

Oftentimes, when I present on blogging, I ask participants to email me photographs that are meaningful to them. Then I put the photos up on the screen and have them go into more detail. By the end of the exercise, participants have usually spoken somewhere between four hundred to a thousand words. In other words, enough to generate a blog piece.

In June 2015 I was presenting at the first annual Tomorrows Classrooms Today Conference. I had the honor of getting to hear numerous folks tell their stories. Each and every one of them was meaningful and it was an honor to share that time and space with such wonderful people. But one story in particular, I never forgot. And that was the one told by Bonnie Curran.

As I mentioned previously, the photo that she shared had to have been at least twenty years old. And it was a photo of she and her father around a campfire. There were other children in the photo and there were other adults present that night. But those of us in the room could tell, by the tone of her voice and the look in her eye, that being able to spend moments like that with her father meant the world to her then and they mean the world to her now.                                                  

When she was finished telling her story, the room was quiet. Bonnie made us feel as if we had all been there. I don’t remember what I said next, but I’m sure it had something to do with the strong bond she had with her dad and what a special person he must be. Then she surprised myself and many others in the room by sharing with us that her dad was in the room with us at that very moment. Talk about being blown away!         

It turned out that her dad, Dr. Michael Curran Jr., was a local professor at Rider University and they had attended the conference together. How lucky was I that they chose to attend my session?

And how lucky was I to have them appear on My Bad almost two years later? The episode featuring Bonnie and Michael Curran was the first time I had ever interviewed more than one guest, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. In the end, it couldn’t have worked out any better. They complemented each other quite well. While Michael went first, he made it a point to allow Bonnie to shine. And shine she did. The story she shared was one that I think listeners will remember for a long time to come.

Michael began the interview by admitting that early in his teaching career he chose to emphasize hard skills and neglected to teach soft skills. He was charged with having his students master hard skills such as keyboarding, accounting and computer applications. Michael knew that his students needed these skills to be successful in their next stage of Life. It wasn’t as if he didn’t model soft skills such as kindness, caring and empathy. Anyone that has ever spent a minute with Michael knows that he models these skills daily.

But there came a point in his career when he realized that modeling wasn’t enough. He knew that if he wanted to be certain that his students left his class possessing the soft skills necessary to be successful in the work place or in college, then he was going to have to do more than model them. He was going to have to teach them.

Fast forward roughly twenty years to when Bonnie began teaching seventh and eighth graders. Like her father, it took her some time to realize that what she was being paid to teach sometimes had to take a backseat to who she was being paid to teach. Bonnie made it a point in the interview to mention that she is “still learning how to slow down, take a step back …and seek out the teachable life-skills moments.” Furthermore, she pointed out that it is okay to take the time to do this. I know this point resonated with at least one of the listeners because of the following tweet that I received the week that the Curran’s episode was released:

Lia’s tweet made me smile. I am aware of the fact that more and more people each month are listening to My Bad. I attribute this to the amazing guests that I have been so fortunate to have on the show. And I’d be lying if I said that I don’t look at the numbers. But messages like the one above are what motivate me to continue to help people tell their stories.

You’re probably still wondering about the quote that opened the chapter. And if you’re not then you should be. It’s bizarre. Why would someone choose to sit on a dirty-disgusting bathroom floor and why would was that Bonnie’s location of choice?

I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with Bonnie capturing one of those teachable life-skills moments that she talks about in the interview. I am certain it is a moment that each of us can relate to. Those moments where we think to ourselves, “screw reason, I’m doin’ it anyway!” I could attempt to retell the moment, but hearing Bonnie tell it is much more powerful. The link the episode is as the end of this piece.

Having the opportunity to interview a father and his daughter was an honor. The fact that the father and daughter that I interviewed were Bonnie and Michael Curran made it even more special. It was no surprise that they shared a microphone for the interview. I can picture the two of them huddled together around the phone lovingly giving each other space when it was their time to talk.

As I start to close this chapter I can’t help but think of one of the words Bonnie used in the interview. At one point, after her dad had completed his thought, Bonnie said, “I’d like to piggyback on what my father just said.”

It takes me back to the moment my connection with the Curran’s all began. A father, his daughter and a special moment that was rekindled because of a photo. The two of them looked as if they were having so much fun that night. And I could be wrong about this. But I’d bet money that that night involved at least one daddy-daughter piggyback ride.

 

* This is the fifth in a series of 10 pieces I’ll be publishing weekly in which I highlight a past My Bad guest(s). I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please pass them on.

Here is the link to the Currans’ episode:

Currans’ Episode

Here’s To The Crazy Ones

Even if we can’t carry the load all the way, we’re going to take our crack at picking up the heavy end.

Ryan Holiday

Sean was one of the first people I interviewed for My Bad. At the time, I barely knew him. We had shared a few voxes and I had read a few of his blog pieces. Right about the time that I was interviewing him he was invited to blog for Edwords, the blogging platform on the Bam Radio Network. And so, I asked him, because I truly wanted to know. “Now that you’ve got a larger platform and you’re going to have more readers, are you going to be as transparent as you have been with past pieces?”

Without hesitation, he replied, “Honestly. I don’t think I’m going to be as transparent as I was before. I think I’m going to be even more transparent.” And true to his word, he has been. Sean does not shy away from the tough issues. I’m sure that he wouldn’t mind me sharing that since the recent election, he has been livid. Then again, if you read any of his pieces immediately following the election, you already know this.

Sean is one of those rare beasts that competes in Spartan Races. If you’re not sure what these are just Google them and be prepared to be amazed. I knew going into this interview that Sean was/is a bad-ass. What I also knew was that Sean had many self-doubts. In the interview, he admitted that he failed to share with his staff his own struggles with self-doubt and second guessing. And he knew that that was a mistake.

Sean’s admission surprised me at first. I mean here’s a guy who became a principal before he was thirty, jumps over fire in competitions and has like zero percent body fat. What does he have to doubt? I am a gray-bearded forty-six-year-old assistant principal who couldn’t run a mile without having to check himself into the Emergency Room immediately afterwards.

But herein lies the gift that has been bestowed upon me since the very first episode of My Bad. I have been fortunate to have amazing educators come on and openly and honestly, share their mistakes with me as if we were just having a private conversation. All the while, knowing that thousands of people are going to be listening to what it is they have to say. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to get to share this sacred space with such amazing individuals.

During the interview, Sean shared that one of his biggest weaknesses was that he felt as if he always had to handle his mistakes on his own. He realized that when he did this it became much easier to second guess and beat himself up over the results. After much reflection and soul-searching, he came to realize that the way to handle mistakes is to involve others. And he did. And he does.

Since we conducted the interview, Sean has taken on a new role that has him passionately attacking each day much like he would any Spartan Race Course that is put before him. Presently Sean is in the classroom in a new school district. And not a week goes by when Sean doesn’t tell, no brag, to me about how amazing his students are.

The same person who once was reluctant to share his mistakes and concerns with his staff, now openly and honestly shares them with his students. Lucky for the rest of us that he often blogs about these conversations. And they are just that. Conversations. Because Sean wants to hear from his students. He’ll often tell me that the lesson that he had planned for the day just didn’t get taught because his students had so much to say. And Sean is always there to listen.

Here are the titles of some of Sean’s most recent pieces; The Grumpy Teacher, Get Up! Stand Up!, I Choose Love, Breaking the Silence and Skin Deep. Do you see what I mean by passionate? If you have a few minutes, take the time to read just one of these pieces. I promise you, you’ll read a second and third and…

Back to the mistake that Sean shared in his interview. Do I think he still has self-doubts? Absolutely! I think we all do. It’s human nature. But now the difference is that he shares them. With his colleagues, with his students and with us. And in doing so he inspires those around him to do the same.

What Sean is creating in his classroom is a virtual safe-haven. Just recently Sean shared with me how he took on the taboo topic of suicide with his students. He told me that it was one of the most powerful days of his life. His students finally felt as if they had a place where they could share their concerns. Sean went on to tell me how, on this day, he felt the need to invite his students to eat lunch with him in his classroom. To keep the conversation going. He didn’t have enough chairs in his room to fit those that took him up on his offer! He also shared with me that he plans on doing this several times a week. Chairs or not.

I can’t tell you what Sean’s going to take on next because I am quite certain he doesn’t even know. Actually, I have an idea but that is his news to share. What I know for certain is that he will take it on with passion and intensity, like he does all things in life. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who wakes up before 4 AM each morning, just so he can work out. How do I know this? Because he tells me. He posts it. And I hate it when he does this because it makes me feel like a lazy bum. But deep down, if I am being honest. He also inspires me. Just like he does his students.

Some might read his posts or see workout photos that he posts and think that Sean is an overzealous lunatic. Maybe they’re right. I haven’t quite figured Sean out yet. And I hope that I never do. Where would the fun be in that? While I’m a bit worried that his head will swell up a bit when he reads the following paragraph, I feel compelled to write it.

Like Steve Jobs, Sean has a fire inside him that can not be extinguished. It was reported that Jobs ran on little sleep and I know for a fact that Sean does too. Heck, while most of us are asleep in our beds, Sean is putting his body and mind through some Hellish workout that I can’t even imagine. And like Jobs, Sean can fly off at the handle. Not at me and not at his students. Let’s just say that what he voxes me in the morning on his commute to work wouldn’t be suitable for children’s ears.

Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to close with my favorite Steve Jobs quote of all time. One that not only epitomizes the former CEO of Apple but also does a pretty good job of describing Sean.

 

Hopefully students everywhere, of all ages, will begin sharing their mistakes without fear and without repercussions. Together we can do this. I am and will be speaking with kids and adults all over the country to show them that we will make this happen. It has become my personal mission.

Because…

“The sooner we begin to share our mistakes with the people we serve and the people we love, the sooner they will stop thinking that they have to be perfect.”

In case I’ve peeked your interest and you’d like to give the episode a listen, I’ve included the link below.

Sean Thom

 

* This is the fourth in a series of 10 pieces I’ll be publishing weekly in which I highlight a past My Bad guest. I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please pass them on.

I Never Got A Technical After That

Ironically if you look up my bad in the dictionary there’s a picture of me waving.

Todd Whitaker

I considered myself a grown adult. Or as Cedric the Entertainer said in Kings of Comedy, “I’m a grown-ass man.” At 42 years old there was no way I was going to be on social media the way I knew many of my friends were. I was way too mature for that. I read books, attended conferences and had even presented at a few.

But join Facebook? No chance!

Open a Twitter account? Never!

But then something happened that has forever changed my life.

Almost three years to the day that I am writing this, I attended the NAESP Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. It was amazing! I had never seen anything like it! I heard speakers upon speakers with the same enthusiasm and zest for teaching that I had. I was in a state of nirvana. And while they were each incredible, there was one in particular, that while I’m certain he didn’t know it, would alter my life forever.

If you’ve never heard Todd Whitaker speak in person, you need to. Most likely you have come across one of his books and have enjoyed them as much as I have. But there is something about hearing him speak in person that is a whole different experience. Yes, he knows a lot about education and what it takes to be a great educator and a great leader. And those were the reasons I joined thousands of other people to hear him speak that day. Yet, it wasn’t his wisdom that blew me away that day. It was his humor. The man is funny! He has a way of making you laugh and learn at the same time. And I did plenty of both for the hour he spoke. I hung on every word that came out of his mouth as if were the gospel.

But then he said something that I could not believe. It went against everything I had believed up until that point. He told us that if we weren’t on Twitter then we needed to open an account as soon as possible. I was sitting towards the back of the auditorium but I am certain those were the words that came out of his mouth. I was incredulous, but it was freakin’ Todd Whitaker.

So, there was only one thing to do.

It only took me about a minute to understand what Todd was talking about. To this day, I look back and wonder how my professional career would be different if I hadn’t attended that conference. If I hadn’t heeded Todd Whitaker’s advice. Lucky for me I will never know.

Oh, and by the way, the photo below is a screenshot that shows my first two followers on Twitter, courtesy of Tworiginal Todd is not just some talking head that writes books, speaks and front of large audiences and then disappears. Oh no, he interacts with his followers. I swear he must have a team of tweeters that enable help him meaningfully respond to the thousands of people that contact him yearly, if not monthly.

Fast forward two and half years from that prophetic day when my journey as a connected educator began. I was getting ready to launch a radio show titled My Bad. I was going to ask amazing educators to come on my show and share a big mistake that they had made during their career. In the time since Todd had convinced me to join Twitter, I had had the good fortune of connecting with amazing educators from all over the world that have not only become part of my PLN, but they had become my good friends.

So, I was confident that I would be able to secure guests to come on the show and open up to me. But when the producers from Bam Radio told me that they had contacted Todd and he was willing to come on the show. To be my first guest! I was floored and excited beyond belief. The person that inspired me to become connected was going to the same person that would help me launch my very first radio show.

I had read his books, listened to his keynote address and had quoted him countless times in the past. I was a bit nervous before the interview. My nerves disappeared once I heard Todd’s voice on the other end of the line. He immediately made me feel at ease and it was if we had known each other for years. I simply added this to the long list of things that Todd has taught me.

If I had to pick one lesson that I have learned from Todd that I carry with me wherever I go, it would be to treat people well every single day and every single time. He stresses the fact that all you have to do is treat someone poorly once and you have damaged your relationship with that person. Todd mentions that you can treat someone well 29 times out of 30 but that is not good enough. It’s not because people don’t remember the 29 times you treated them well. They do. But what sticks with them, and anyone else who witnessed the event, is the one time out of 30 that they were treated poorly.

So, you can imagine how powerful it was for me to hear Todd share, on the very first episode of My Bad, about a time when he lost his temper. He talked about how the first year that he coached basketball he would yell at his team. Todd then went on to discuss one game in particular in which he yelled at the referee and received a technical. And what he did next;

After the game I walked into their locker room. And I’m not kidding. I thought they were gonna to have to change their underwear. What’s he doing walking in the locker room. And I said I was wrong to treat you like that. I should have never talked to you like that.(…) I’m embarrassed I did it in front of my team. And I will not do it again with you in the future. And I never got a technical after that.

Todd Whitaker

For Todd to share this with me, with everyone, was so powerful. To admit to losing his temper, and essentially, providing a concrete example of his own personal one time out of thirty was exactly what I was looking for. Hopefully everyone that either heard the episode or reads this piece will feel a little less guilty about making the same mistake themselves.

Todd did go on to discuss how to recover from making such a mistake. He couldn’t emphasize enough how important it is to work to repair a relationship once you realize you have damaged it. More than anything though, he stressed the fact that once we make these mistakes, we must learn from them. We must learn from them so that we do not repeat them in the future. Otherwise our apologies ring hollow.

Kicking off my show My Bad with Todd Whitaker was more than I could have ever hoped for. Because while Todd is one of the most sought after speakers in education and someone whose calendar I’m certain is quite full, he never once gave the impression that he was in a hurry or was too busy. Even after the interview had finished, he was more than willing to expand on answers he had given.

Truth be told, because Todd is such a busy person and someone who travels all the time, he had planned on conducting the interview over the phone while driving. This seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I am certain he had the Skye app on his phone and this arrangement would have been fine. But we did not want to take any chances with the sound quality and so we asked if it would be possible for him to conduct the interview differently.

But he was more than willing to accommodate this request. It required him rearranging his schedule and it required him to stop and find a location from which to conduct the interview. And I will be forever grateful to him for making this gesture of kindness.

Yes, Todd Whitaker has written over forty books. Yes, Todd Whitaker is one of the most sought after speakers in the country. And yes, Todd Whitaker always commands a large audience. But on that day in which I conducted my very first My Bad interview, Todd was real. Todd was transparent. And Todd was kind. That is what I will remember most.

Thank you Todd.

In case I’ve peeked your interest and you’d like to give the episode a listen, I’ve included the link below

Todd Whitaker Episode

* This is the first in a series of 10 pieces I’ll be publishing weekly in which I highlight a former My Bad guest. I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please pass them on.

Grins & Giggles

When I saw her walk in I quickly scanned the room for some age-appropriate toys that I hoped might have a shot at entertaining her for the hour or so she would have to wait. I didn’t see anything that even remotely resembled something that a three year old would want to play with. I was just guessing that she was three. Maybe a little older or a little younger.

I’ve sat in meetings before in which children were unable to sit still or keep quiet for longer than a minute. It is very distracting and it can be difficult to stay focused. I don’t blame the children or their parents. It have a hard time myself.

Once we all had our seats at the table, it just so happened that she was she seated directly to my left. As we began to introduce ourselves, her mother took out a notebook, turned to a clean page and handed her daughter a pen. She had come prepared. I had not. To be quite honest, I am usually the person in meetings that has the hardest time focusing and keeping still. I fidget. I doodle. I lean forward. I lean backward. And, I too, make sure I have a notebook, a clean page and something to write with. I guess I’m a lot like a three year old.

The meeting began. I couldn’t help but notice that this little girl knew how to hold a pen. Something that is not common for someone her age.

Oooh! This was going to be fun!

She made a mark in her notebook. I made a mark in mine. And so it went. For the next hour. There were times when I varied my marks. Which basically means, I would draw a scribbly dooble and she would try to do the same.

At one point during the meeting I had to leave the room to assist with some other business. When I returned, I noticed that she had crayons. That’s when we began to have some real fun. She would hand me one and I would make a mark. She would hand me another. And I would make another mark, slightly different than the one before.

And her giggle.

Adorable beyond words. Each time she did, her eyes would light up and everyone in the room would turn to her and smile. I promise, I was paying attention to what the adults were saying. A little bit.

Usually I am happy when meetings are over, simply for the fact that I have a hard time keeping still. Not this time. Well, I guess I didn’t keep still. But I was fully engaged. That is, with the beautiful spirit that was seated next to me. She waved good bye when she left. I don’t know when I will see her again or if she’ll even remember me.

As I look back on that magical hour I try to think what it taught me. To be more specific, I try to think about mistakes I may have made going on or coming out. And at first, nothing came to mind. But then it hit me.

Too often in life we think we can plan beautiful moments. We go to great lengths in hopes that these moments will bring us the joy and happiness that we so desperately crave. And then something unexpected happens. Our trips don’t go as planned. Someone gets sick or what seemed like such a great idea ends up bombing.

But what I learned last week was that, if we just sit back and allow ourselves to be open. Beautiful moments come to us. For me, it came in the form of a giggling-scribbling three-year old princess. I will never stop trying to plan for or make beautiful moments. But from now on I will try to leave a little more room for the unexpected.

As I travel on this journey called Life, I continue to learn from the mistakes I make along the way. That’s okay. I’m doing the best I can. And that’s good enough for me.

 

The sooner we start sharing our imperfections with the people we serve and the people we love, the sooner they will stop expecting to be perfect.

 

Click the link below to listen to some absolutely horrible mistakes made by absolutely wonderful people.

MY BAD

7 am

ghojonesWhy on Earth would anyone do a Google Hangout with students at 7 am? Well, before you begin jumping on my case about the fact that students need more sleep and that their optimal thinking times are later in the morning, let me explain.  First, know that the class I did the Google Hangout with was in a different time zone than me. Second, I was the one in the 7 am time zone. Not them. It was 9 am where they were.

The class I had the honor of speaking with, not to, was none other than Mrs. Jones’ 5th grade Merton Elementary students. Thank you Principal Jay Posick for allowing me the opportunity to interact with such an amazing group of youngsters. We had a blast!

I got to share with them the motivation behind my My Bad radio program. While it is a story that I have told many times, it is one that I always enjoy telling. And it is one that I hope I have the opportunity to tell many more times.

After Mrs. Jones’ class politely listened to me tell my story and talk about the power of sharing mistakes, something quite wonderful took place. One by one. Her students came to the front of the room, introduced themselves and shared a mistake of their own. What was most powerful was the fact that the mistakes that were shared were ones that many others in the room had made too.

As the sharing continued it became obvious to me that not only was this an amazing group of kids, but they were/are led by an amazing teacher. Creating an environment in which children feel safe sharing their mistakes with their peers is not easy. Bravo Heidi Jones!

I would have loved to have spent more time with her class. Maybe someday I will. But, they had to move on with their day and I had an 8 am conference session to attend. We said our goodbyes and then Heidi had her kids do something I had never seen before. Each kid came to the front of the room, and one by one, they each gave me a high-five or a fist bump. That made my day! Heck it made my week!

As I am on a flight now heading back to the east coast I can’t help but think about how important it is that we work to create a culture in which it is okay to share mistakes. I was able to witness firsthand just how powerful this can be. It is important for students and it is important for adults to know that they are not alone. To know that they it is okay to make mistakes. And to know that we all bounce back.

That was the most fun I have had at 7 am in a long time.

Thank you Mrs. Jones’ class.

 

The sooner we start sharing our imperfections with the people we serve and the people we love, the sooner they will stop expecting to be perfect.

 

Click the link below to listen to mistakes made by an amazing group of people.

MY BAD

I Worry Less

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I do this every time. I wake up three hours before school, but somehow spend the last fifteen minutes scrambling like a madman. Most days I am rushing to get dressed or make some semblance of a healthy lunch. But on this day I was already dressed and my lunch was all set.

But where were my car keys!!!

I am such an idiot! I don’t think a day goes by in which I don’t misplace something.

5 minutes before I need to walk out the door.

I looked in my closet. Maybe I dropped them when I was changing clothes from the previous day.

No such luck! Why don’t I just leave them in the same place every day? Then I would never have this problem again! I am so stupid!

4 minutes until I have to go!

I decided to make another sweep through my bedroom. It is not uncommon for me to lie down as soon as I get home. Just to unwind from the day’s events.

Nada! Starting today I am going to become more organized. This can’t keep happening.

3 minutes and counting!

One last sweep through the entire house with new eyes. Maneuvering around toddler toys and my tween’s clothes is enough to make me almost lose it. And that’s when I see my winter jacket in my daughter’s bedroom. I hadn’t put it there. I was certain. She must have decided to wear it when she was cold. She is at the age where she loves to wear my t-shirts, sweatshirts and now my jackets, around the house. I reached in the pocket and felt my keys. It was almost as if they were mocking me.

With a minute to spare, I bolt out of the house and into my car. Just barely making it to work on time.

Later that evening, when I had a moment to reflect. I realized something very important. It hit me that way too often we get down on ourselves, or we hang our heads, for things that are either out of our control or not our fault.

Just that morning I was beating myself up over missing keys. First, let’s get some perspective. I couldn’t find the keys to my car. It wasn’t as if I had committed a major crime. And second, when all was said and done, there was nothing I could have done about it. My daughter simply borrowed my jacket and had left it in her room. Kinda cute really.

But the important thing is, how often to do this to ourselves? I mean, if it is mistakes we are looking for, then they shouldn’t be hard to find. We all make them. It’s a part of life. Let’s start giving ourselves some slack. Just a little bit of grace.

And then I begin to think. If I was quick to jump all over myself for misplacing car keys, what must our students and our children be putting themselves through each and everyday? More importantly, what can we do to stop them from doing this?

I probably sound like a broken record. But what we need to do is start sharing our mistakes with the people we serve and the people we love so that they stop feeling as if they have to be perfect. This is something that I am very passionate about.

We’re human.

We’re going to make mistakes.

End of story.

 

It’s time to stop beating ourselves up over our mistakes. We forget that this is our first time playing this game called Life. And if it’s not, well then what are we worried about anyway?

For almost a year now I have had the incredible honor of speaking with many amazing educators and leaders. They have come on my show and shared mistakes that heretofore very few knew that they had made. So, I am certain that, like me, listeners have learned much from hearing these epic mistakes. 

And that is good.

But it is not enough.

What I want is for listeners to be inspired by my guests’ courage. And then. When they are ready and when the moment present itself. I want them to start sharing their mistakes. It will take some time getting used to because it is not easy. But in the end we will be better off. We will start holding our heads a bit higher because we will realize that we are not alone.

I started this journey almost one year ago. My very first guest was Todd Whitaker. Someone who I hold in the highest regard. He came on My Bad and shared a big mistake If Todd can do it then so can the rest of us. To date I have released 30 episodes and there are at least 10 more waiting patiently on deck.

Being given the opportunity to host this show has been one of the greatest honors of my life. It has forced me to reflect in ways I never had before. I have learned much from my reflections and I have learned much from the reflections of others. But work is far from done.

In fact, I believe I am just warming up. Over the next year I am looking to share what I have learned with students, educators, parents … basically anyone who wants to listen. I have seen firsthand how my life has changed for the better and hopefully I can do the same for others.

I worry less.

And I live more.

The world appears quite different when you no longer fear making mistakes.

If you don’t believe me, just check out an episode or two of My Bad and see for yourself. I promise you within one or two you will feel better. And if you do, please share that feeling with others. Better yet, share a mistake.

MY BAD