"My success isn't all about what I do. It's also about what I don't do."
Hanes, C. R. (2022). Endure: How to Work Hard, Outlast, and Keep Hammering. St. Martin's Press.
THE MEAT (The Main Idea)
Success is not solely determined by our actions, but also by our restraint.
It's tempting to blame distractions and negative behaviors for our lack of success, but the sneaky assassin of progress is often the over-doer, the one who appears busy but lacks true leadership. Believe it or not, avoidance is a huge part of success. Success often hinges on our ability to avoid certain actions, distractions, and negative behaviors that may hinder our progress. It's in the restraint of a leader to choose the most impactful actions that true success is achieved. It's about prioritizing quality over quantity, significance over busyness. Successful leaders are not the ones who appear to be juggling the most tasks but those who strategically allocate their time and energy to what truly moves the needle.
THE CHEESE (Added Depth)
Time is a precious resource, one that educators, in particular, would love much, much more of. Universally true, we all have the same amount of time, but not all of us use our time wisely. In my role as a coach, I invest time in observing the current state of affairs, asking questions, and gaining a clear understanding before I provide recommendations for change. Regardless of the school district, a common scene unfolds during these observations. Teachers invest significant time in orchestrating multiple activities for one lesson, stations, and choices, each requiring substantial effort to find, create, prepare, teach, and implement.
But it raises two essential questions:
1) Do all these activities align with what students need?
2) What's their real impact?
The wisdom of Cameron Hanes' quote becomes crystal clear. Teachers, use your time wisely by prioritizing impactful activities over doing more.
One approach to this is by placing your activities on an impact/ease matrix. I adapted the matrix by changing the x-axis, having teachers evaluate the impact and What Students Need on a scale of 0-10. They then plot these activities on the matrix using the numbers as coordinates.
Activities falling into the bottom left corner represent low impact and low need—busy work to be avoided. In the upper left-hand corner, high impact and low need, teachers must critically evaluate the necessity of such activities for students. Activities in the bottom right corner, low impact and high need, are potential distractions that can be discarded. However, activities in the upper right-hand corner, signifying high impact and alignment with students' needs, receive a resounding "yes."
This matrix streamlines teachers' efforts and underscores the importance of restraint. It empowers them to focus on what genuinely matters, eliminate the rest, and make a meaningful difference in students' lives. It's a concise but impactful approach to time management and success.
THE OLIVES (A Surprising Element)
The art of restraint and making selective, high-impact choices is not confined to the classroom—it extends into our daily existence. Think about those extraordinary restaurants that offer tasting menus. At first, you might wonder if these small, artfully presented portions will leave you hungry or unsatisfied. But, as you take each bite, you discover that the flavors are so concentrated and exquisite that you not only enjoy every morsel but also appreciate the artistry in the presentation.
It's a bit like the perfect charcuterie board. At first glance, it may seem like a simple collection of meats, cheeses, and accompaniments. However, every item on that board is chosen with care and intention. Each element contributes to a harmonious whole, and every bite is a delightful journey through flavor and texture. Just as all the elements on the charcuterie board are carefully chosen for their impact, the person enjoying them can mix and match as they like. Each individual relishes the curated ingredients in their unique way.
This twist invites us to consider that just as those tasting menus surprise and delight us with their minimalist approach, the choices we make in our daily lives can benefit from the same principle of restraint. Success is often about selecting what truly matters and eliminating the rest, just as a charcuterie board curates each ingredient to perfection. It's about savoring the olives, the unexpected extras of this charcuterie experience, and letting them remind us that, whether in the classroom, a dining experience, or in life, choosing wisely is the path to true fulfillment and success.