Happy New Year to you all.
If you've read some of my recent posts you may recall how I've used my big, hairy goal of running 100 miles at the Tarawera Ultra Marathon in February as a metaphor for school transformation. I have written about setting a truly aspirational goal, one that has some chance of not being able to be achieved and the importance of sharing it which gives some impetus to really trying to achieve it.
In settling on the aspirational goal it is vital to be very clear on your 'why' - a step that is often overlooked. This can be focused on by asking yourself, "Why might I [choose to run 100 miles]" - insert own big, hairy goal. In my case my 'why' is to test what I am truly capable of as I make the journey through my 60s.
I then had to ask myself, "How might I [run 100 miles]?" I had to think about all of the aspects of training for such an event, seek out expert advice, consider how I've responded to similar challenges and adopt an open-to-learning, optimistic and responsive mindset. By combining those guidelines for action I developed a plan which became the answer to "What might I do [to successfully complete a 100 mile race]?
And, of course, as for all major enterprises things go wrong. Life commitments impact on the plan and injuries come along. In my case, I experienced a niggling and potentially major overuse injury to my foot. At first, I tried to press on through the discomfort, then I "did some research" and tried to manage it myself, and I finally sought expert help. To make sure I could heal I was forced, at the very time in my programme that I should have been at peak mileage, to radically adjust my plan (which involved 2 weeks of walking rather than running).
Now 6 weeks out from the even I am free of pain and I can feel myself building strength (physical and mental) to give me the best chance of being successful. However, as I get closer to the event, the realisation of what I have set out to achieve often overwhelms me and I am still feeling that completing the event in the required time is still only 50/50.
I do know, though, that whatever the outcome the journey, the exploring my 'why', determining my guidelines for action, developing a plan and then adapting it as the hurdles appear in front of me will all contribute to my learning for a future "How might I ....?"
It is a bit similar to a school transformation journey. It involves a big, hairy goal which is shared in the public space. It also involves a deep exploration of the 'why', the 'how' and the 'what' and requires responsiveness, resilience and adaptability when you fall into the Learning Pit as the inevitable hurdles present themselves. There is also a sense of comfort in knowing that if things don't pan out how you expect then there will be still some cool experiences and learning on the way.
An unexpected cool experience for me is that my daughter has jumped at the chance to be my companion/pacer over the last 50k. This is including training together on the trails (lots of neat bonding and talk) and preparing, together, the equipment and resources we will need. This in itself will be valued by me irrespective of the outcome.
If you are wanting to set out on a school transformation journey or are on one but have become a bit stuck you should check out this exciting 20 week programme Derek Wenmouth and I will be facilitating. It starts in March with a 2 day retreat in Hanmer Springs then includes 20 weeks of remote mentoring and a final 1 day of celebration. We'll help you explore your 'why', settle on your 'how' and support you in your 'what'. And you'll do this while being part of a network of other like-minded leaders.
There are a small number of places left with final sign update being 4th February. Check it out.
And if you are a DP or HOF with school leadership aspirations get in contact with us as we plan something similar but appropriate for those of you at that stage in your leadership journey.