We all try out new recipes and approaches, we test assumptions, we experiment with new concepts and ideas, we look at data and outcomes and we constantly search for the magic ingredient that can lead to a breakthrough and help us make even more of a difference to the lives of our children and young people. In our constant search for brilliant; brilliant food, brilliant systems, briliant provision and brilliant outcomes, we must be creative, methodical, pragmatic and demanding and our personal standards have to be focused, relentless and uncompromising. Only our brilliant best is good enough for the children and young people, the families and the communities we serve. It is important that we all remember that achieving the outstanding, the brilliant, the magical comes from putting your heart and soul into your work. It is about being passionate and loving what you are doing to bring out your absolute incredible potential. The words 'passion' and 'love' are there because they are the secret to brilliant. If you don't love what you are doing with a real passion, you are wasting your life and you should take your magic and your potential and go and do something else!
It has been an incredibly difficult week full of meetings, challenge and frustration but interspersed as always with little interludes of real magic. I visited South Leeds High School as part of the Corporate Assessment tour we arranged for the city's inspectors and auditors. We celebrated the achievements of yet another cohort of fantastic Higher Level Teaching Assistants. I attended the beginning of the RM/Education Leeds 'Demonstrating Transformation Conference where Professor Tim Brighouse gave the keynote address. I visited East Ardsley and Kirkstall St Stephen's CE Primary Schools. I had breakfast with some of the Templenewsam Halton Family of Schools headteachers and lunch with the Seacroft and Manston Family of Schools headteachers.
I have to admit that I have struggled over the last three weeks and I am sorry to say that on occasions I have lost the plot. I have become very tired, depressed and negative and I recognise that I have started to undermine the very special culture, values and relationships we have all worked so hard to nurture and develop here at Education Leeds. However, thanks to some friends and colleagues, I am pleased to say that at the end of the week and over the weekend I have readjusted the volume and the balance. I have managed to relax, unwind, refocus and re-read Dale Carnegie’s "How to Win Friends and Influence People". It’s a great book, first published in 1937, and things don’t get any clearer than this:
- Don’t criticise, condemn or complain;
- Give honest and sincere feedback;
- Be genuinely interested;
- Smile and laugh;
- Remember colleagues names;
- Be a good listener;
- Make colleagues feel valued;
- Avoid arguments;
- Respect colleagues opinions;
- Admit it when you are wrong;
- Be friendly and supportive;
- Get colleagues to agree with you;
- Let colleagues do the talking;
- Let others feel that ideas are theirs;
- See things from colleagues’s viewpoints;
- Be sympathetic to other ideas;
- Appeal to the moral purpose;
- Tell powerful stories;
- Set colleagues challenges;
- Begin with praise and appreciation;
- Identify mistakes indirectly;
- Talk about your own mistakes;
- Ask questions;
- Help colleagues save face;
- Praise every little thing;
- Talk colleagues up;
- Use encouragement;
- Encourage people to be happy at work;
- Keep it simple.
'Whatever you do, keep it simple' should be etched on the wall in every staff room, every office and every room at Education Leeds. Complexity is the curse of the digital age. It is a type of intellectual pollution that drives out clarity of purpose, smothers thinking and common sense and impacts negatively and destructively on colleagues happiness, productivity and engagement. We all know that achieving absolute simplicity is something none of us will ever achieve but if we don't make some real effort, if we don't train ourselves to look for ways to simplify, we can guarantee our lives will become more complex, busier, less efficient and even more stressful and destructive.
Keep the faith.