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Like in comedy, timing is everything

I regularly listen to the School Leadership Series and today's episode, "Slump or Spark?", made me think about initiatives, goals, and how we often get stuck in the middle.

Danny encourages us to think about the middle, the "often overlooked time." He encourages us to think about midpoints, the lull, and how we can transform them into sparks instead of slumps. He encourages us to be aware of them, use them to "wake up," and to imagine that we are behind rather than ahead in order to motivate us out of "coast" mode.

He also mentions Dan Pink's When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing in the episode. In this book, Pink gives advice for the varied levels of commitment during the middle: "... when team commitment to achieving a goal is high, it's best to emphasize the work that remains. But when team commitment is low, it's wiser to emphasize the progress that has already been made even if it is not massive" (p. 139).

Being aware of the attitudes of the team and organization is important. Just having a relentless drive on progress, on accomplishing more, can actually hurt the team's motivation. This is why it is important for leaders to know their team, to be able to "read the room," "take the temperature," or any other way you say it, and to celebrate the small successes along the way, especially when your team may need that celebration.

Along a similar tune, Seth Godin introduces "the dip" in The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick). He defines the dip as "the long slog between starting and mastery" (p. 17). I love this definition because of the word "slog." To slog is to "work hard," and we should work hard on the things that matter, not necessarily on those that don't. But it also goes without saying that the things that matter are going to be difficult and time-consuming, and we will surely encounter setbacks and challenges. Although not specifically written for educators, this point continues to stand out to me: "The reason we're here is to solve the hard problems" (p. 27). If we think about that every day--our purpose of solving hard problems that can positively impact the lives of youth--we can muster a little more motivation and avoid a slump.

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