Sunday, March 30, 2008

Play from Your Strengths

Over the last year, I have become quite a fan of John Maxwell's writings. His positive message wrapped in beautiful prose make reading his books a delight. The point I focus on today is from Maxwell's The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.

At one point in the book, John Maxwell discusses strengths versus weaknesses. In the book, he suggests:
  • Focus 70% of your time and energy on strengths
  • Focus 25 % on new things
  • Focus 5% on weaknesses
Maxwell suggestion is simple: Play from your strengths. Furthermore, if echoes the message of virtually every leadership and management book I have read lately. As just one example, in The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker talks of making strengths productive, and doing so in such a way that it makes weaknesses irrelevant.

Playing from one's strengths is opposite from what we are often encouraged to do...especially in education. Our typical evaluation system is designed to identify our weaknesses and lead us through the formation of a plan to shore up those weaknesses.

Certainly I am not in favor of overlooking flaws which significantly hinder performance. Ignoring strengths while continuously focusing on weaknesses, however, is a formula for mediocrity.

What about the weaknesses? Can they be delegated to someone else who has some strengths in that area? Can you "swap out" and handle for someone else an are where you are strong and he/she is weak while the other person does the same for you? Does the weakness necessarily need to be addressed at all? If the impact is not terribly negative, ignoring it may be the best alternative. Generally, the areas where we are strong are also the areas where we like to spend time. The reverse of this point is also true. Playing from your strengths is not only more productive, but more enjoyable.

I think Maxwell is correct. We should spend the majority of our time honing those areas which are strong.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Presentation at ASCD

If you are coming here as a result of attending the session at ASCD, welcome! I hope you will come back often. As I mentioned, in addition to the book and the material here on my blog, I have a set of approximately a dozen essays that follow-up or expand on the material from the workshop. If you would like for me to add you to the list of people who receive these monthly essays, simply e-mail me by clicking here and let me know you would like to receive them.

If you would like to talk with me about professional development for your teachers or administrators, simply e-mail me. I would enjoy the opportunity to make a difference in your school system.

Thanks to Jan Borelli for the kind words she posted. Jan is blogging about her experiences at ASCD on their blog. Her post is here.

Other comments from one of the attendees are posted here on a blog entitled "Human Voices Wake Us."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

RSS in Plain English

Thanks for visiting this blog. I hope you will visit often. If you are like me, you probably have at least several blogs you like to read on a regular basis. One that number grows, the amount of time it takes to visit each one grows as well. Often, you find there is no new content since the last time you visited.

Wouldn't it be great if the e-mails came directly to your e-mail? That capability is here now, and it's called "RSS" or "Really Simple Syndication." I talked about the program that use to do this in this post. Here is video that explains the concept of RSS:

Thanks to Lee and Sachi LeFever for producing this video and making it available through the Common Craft Show.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Extended Daylight Saving Time Once Again

About this time a year ago, I first wrote about the challenges posed by Extended Daylight Saving Time. That post is here, and dealt primarily with the need for those who have smartphones with any age on them at all to download a patch. Without the patch, the time would "spring forward" several weeks late.

Yes, the starting time for DST changed a year ago. It used to change on the first Sunday of April. Now, DST kicks in the second Sunday of March.

We all need to think in terms of two elements:
  1. What clocks and other devices are we going to need to "spring forward" this Saturday night?
  2. What clocks and other devices are programmed to "spring forward" on their own, but won't be doing so until the first Sunday of April?
The second question is the one for focus. We are going to have to manually set those devices. That's only half the battle. We are then going to have to come back in several weeks and set them back an hour when they automatically jump ahead.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Source for Graph Paper, Flags, Calendars, Staff Paper, Storyboards

You probably don't need polar coordinate graph paper, the flag of Lithuania, or SSATB staff paper very often. When you do, however, it would be nice to know where you can get it.

PDF Pad is a free site which allows you to print calendars, flags of every country in the world, graph paper, staff paper, story boards, and even Sudoku puzzles.

That's a bookmark I am adding to my (and "" is another post for another day).