Sunday, December 16, 2018

Courageous Leadership is not bravado. It’s leading from the heart, and aligning one’s actions with beliefs. It’s doing the hard stuff because it has to be done, and being truthful through the process. I believe it’s one of the most important qualities of a leader.
~ Jennifer Hogan

Below is a collaborative post from Dennis Griffin and me. Dennis reached out to me on Voxer after reading my e-book, and after a few conversations, we knew that we wanted to create an opportunity to collaborate with others around the action of facing our fears as we lean into courage in the new year. We hope you will join us!

I (Jennifer) used to think that courageous leadership meant being willing to make decisions that people wouldn’t like. Also, in my naivety, I thought that courage was something that had to be summoned up… called for, if you will, before doing the things that others didn’t want to do. Now, as I have grown in my leadership experience because of my connection with others via my online PLN, I realize that courage is not the opposite of fear. We all have fears, and we can all be courageous. As I have explored the concept of being a courageous leader, I had to research fear and how fear drives many of the decisions we make as humans and social beings. Being able to share what I have learned through my writings and empower others through coaching to name, claim, and face their fears have been some of the most rewarding experiences of which I have been a part.

What is Courageous Leadership?

I (Dennis) have to admit the media had greatly influenced what I thought Courageous Leadership was. Courageous Leadership had been depicted as the protagonist looking fear square in the eye and overcoming conflict that had a definitive right and wrong. Of course, in the movies, the protagonist was always on the side of righteousness. Our world has taught us that righteousness is not always the determining factor in what many deem as leadership. Power, privilege, and personal perspective have often dictated decisions that have not necessarily served the greater good.

On my leadership journey I have questioned, how was it possible for so many individuals to take the same leadership classes, read the same leadership books, and turn around and allow so many injustices to go unaddressed and empower the status quo? Gus Lee, the author of Courage: The Backbone Of Leadership, may have summarized what stops courageous leadership when he stated, “being isolated in a relational society feels like death.” We live in a society where people want to belong to something. I can remember as a student there were times when I acted differently to be accepted by my peers. I am glad that I experienced that for now I truly appreciate being the authentic version of myself.

Along with Jennifer and the book study group, I hope to answer this question: Is it possible that our ability to empower others (which I believe is the highest level of leadership) to make change is directly connected with our fears of how we think society will judge us?

We are cordially inviting you to come and learn with us during the month of January for the Courageous Leadership Book Study at the following times:

7:30 - 8:00pm, CST
Week 1: Chapters 1-2  January 6
Week 2: Chapters 3-5  January 13
Week 3: Chapters 6-7   January 20
Week 4: Chapters 8-9  January 27

We have three primary goals for The Courageous Leadership Book Study:
  1. To create a space to learn and share about Courageous Leadership.
  2. To build our capacity to be Courageous Leaders.
  3. Develop a #PLN of Courageous Leaders to counter the effects of isolation.

One way or another, your leadership will make a difference by creating change or by reinforcing the systems that are currently operating and defining our world. Fear, doubt, and conflict will always be present as you begin to venture into the unknown; however, your Courageous Leadership is not just for you. Your Courageous Leadership can potentially create a life-altering difference in the lives of those you serve on our journey to a better tomorrow.

We hope you will join us as we kick off the new year facing our fears!


Lee, G., & Elliott-Lee, D. (2006). Courage: the backbone of leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hogan, J. (2016). Handbook for Courageous Leadership. Birmingham, AL:

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Real Life Monopoly: A Discussion On Equity
Hello Friends,

As always, I want to thank you for taking the time to read the Chronicles of Griffin. On Tuesday, October 9th I held and #OnTheTableMKE discussion at Prairie Elementary School in partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The attendees from left to right included: Joe'Mar Hooper (CommonBond Communities Market Leader), Tahereh DeLeon (Elementary School Principal in Waukesha), Jen Townsend (Director of the SEE-KS Program), Aaron Perry (Alderman for the 12th Aldermanic District in Waukesha, and has two scholars that attend Prairie Elementary), and Naryan Leazer (Edward Jones Financial Advisor, My Former Marquette University Advisor, and Mentor). This blog is special to me as two of the participants were willing to allow me to share their experiences from the #OnTheTableMKE discussion. I hope you enjoy. 
                                                   Aaron Perry's Reflection

I recently had the honor to be invited to a roundtable to discuss equity with other parents, friends, and leaders. We all knew the topic and after introducing ourselves to each other, we did what kids do. We played a board game. It was fitting because we were meeting in an elementary school classroom and we played monopoly which of course deals with equity. Or sometimes not. 

The 6 of us made it to just 3 turns total and the realization was evident. Our meeting had nothing to do with playing a game. It was about having a discussion. An important one. A vital one. Mr. Griffin set the table (literally) for us to talk. Get to know each other and break down any walls we might have walked in with. We didn’t only discuss equity, we talked about equality, opportunity and action. What have we done to make our communities better for everyone? And what can we still do by communicating and working together? 

I was particularly happy to take a tour of the school with Mr. Griffin with the group. We very well could have met at a restaurant or coffee shop. Instead we were front and center viewing education, inclusion and educator collaboration. And they got to see us! I’m not a “look at me” kind of person but I am an advocate for exposing the good and showing a good example. Scholars need to see adults working together. Having thoughtful discussions and sharing ideas. 
Lastly, I won the monopoly game by the way. But only because of a roll of the dice. We all won by making the time to meet at Prairie Elementary School and due to Mr. Griffin’s leadership. But that “roll of the dice” is about more than just a board game. It represents equity. We all understand some will inherit a better roll of the dice than others. With that recognition we need to take action to help our neighbor. Take their hand and help them, befriend them and teach out kids we should always treat others as we would like to be treated. God has called on us to do so, regardless of your faith. 

Aaron Perry

Jen Townsend's Experience

There’s something that happens when a person decides to truly be seen...other who want to notice will see you for who you are rather than see you based on their own perception bias. What do I mean by perception bias? I mean your social status persona, race, gender, body type, wardrobe, transportation, position title … the list goes on and on and on; it causes a judgement about someone else and at times may be an unconscious act that changes your actions towards and about someone else based on these factors. I often ask myself “how will I be seen”, “do I want to be seen” and will I emit the transparency of myself to be vulnerable, to be noticed?

I had the opportunity to play a game of Monopoly with four other adults who had one common denominator, a gentleman who invited us all to the table. He presented a traditional game only it was anything but traditional; he had changed the rules. We were not all equal at the start rather, we were given our ‘place’ in the game by a simple roll of the dice; a three could mean you start with two-hundred dollars and no property where a six could mean you start with two-thousand dollars and three properties. Fate, destiny or just plain chance, I’m not sure but it felt a lot like the society in which we live, where at times we are presented with an opportunity and yet we may not have enough resources to capitalize on it. We were playing Real World Monopoly.  

Why can’t someone capitalize on a opportunity? In the past I may have consider a response to this question that directly related to a person’s willingness to do something with it and now I  have reconsidered my response which will be twofold, is the person willing to do something AND does the person possess, at least the minimal amount, resources to carpe the diem (resources defined as a stock or supply of money, materials, people, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person in order to function effectively). I am confident that prior to playing this Real World Monopoly I would never have considered access to resources to be a barrier to a presented opportunity. Now, that I have this awareness I am not quite sure how to process my thoughts, so I will start with a reconsideration of my own perception bias.

Given Real World Monopoly’s predetermined start (based on a roll of the die) I realized we were no longer just playing a favorite childhood game rather we were playing with factors of reality, life; by creating societal injustices that cause prejudice between classes of people I came to a realization that I may have never seen before. It’s not about a person’s unwillingness to do better, to be better for oneself, rather it might just be about the opportunities that are limited by resources. If I truly want to do more than make a difference and to be the difference I must continue to move forward with open eyes to how and why opportunities have limits and consider how and what I can do to make a positive impact, to notice what is; within society, within others and most importantly within myself. I am eternally grateful to the gentleman who invited me to the table and will continue in my journey to learn, support and advocate for equity with access for all.

Regards Jen Townsend

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Why I #Tribe?

I began blogging due to the support and encouragement that came from Patreece Terrell (@LiteracyLoverPT), Jodie Pierpoint (@jodiepierpoint), and Marlena Gross-Taylor (@mgrosstaylor). On numerous occasions, they said that I should share my story with others. Like many others, I had to fight the doubt in my mind that I had something worth sharing. I am not sure if it is the doubt of having something to say, the fear that the writing will not be received well, or the possibility of conflict that stops many of us from sharing our thoughts through writing.

When I joined the #CompelledTribe, I was stuck in writing my dissertation. I had a conversation with Jodie and Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan), and they believed that blogging could help me with my dissertation writing. It has. The funny thing is, Dr. Janice Stone one of my doctoral professors, encouraged our cohort to blog as well (I was hesitant even to back then). The #CompelledTribe adds an additional level of support to share my thoughts. I have grown as a writer, thinker, reader, and leader with each of them. Allow me to share a few additional reasons why I blog.

I Am A Practitioner
This summer I participated in a Sunday Morning Facebook Live Session by Principal Kafele (@PrincipalKafele), and he commented that leaders need to be readers and writers. I commented with the 🤔🤔🤔emoji regarding being a writer, and Principal Kafele responded to me by saying (the gist of the response was), "Yes Dennis, You must become a writer. You must become a writer because you are a practitioner." I highly doubt that he will remember that statement, but it resonated with me. As a practitioner, you have the ability and the responsibility to share your experiences with other educators in your field. Practitioners are valuable as they test various theories and hypotheses while engaging in research. You never know what you may discover let alone how your learning will impact others.
Share My Story And Reflect

Writing has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my journey. It has allowed reflection not to be a culminating event rather a part of the day-to-day process that enhances my ability to learn and lead. Blogging allows you to clear your mind, organize your thoughts, plan your next course of action, and eliminate stress. When we remain silent about our experiences, we allow others to create the narrative. By sharing your story, you provide an experience or a perspective that might have only served as an afterthought to most people. The National Center for Education Statistics indicated that less than 2% of America's three million teachers are African American males (as cited in Echols, 2009). In 2011 - 2012 the NCES reported that only 10.6% of 90,470 principals identified as African American. I have heard Principal Kafale advocate for more educators of color to share their thoughts through writing. I have spoken with Dr. Rosa Perez-Isiah (@RosaIsiah) and Jessica Johnson (@PrincipalJ) about articulating my thoughts due to the disproportionate numbers that I shared from the NCES report.  My voice and perspectives do not speak for everyone, but they have the power to add a diverse perspective to the conversation. 

Patrick Lencioni in the Five Dysfunctions Of A Team stated that "it is the conflict that engages the audience at a movie." The audience waits in anticipation to see how the protagonist overcomes the conflict whether it is internal, with another person, or a worldly entity. Blogging allows me to share my successes and failures. I can only hope that my story can encourage someone to keep moving forward on their journey. Jason Bretzmann (@jbretzmnan) encouraged me to share one of my stories in the book, Stories In Edu. The story began as a blog, however, I was able to go into much more detail. Jason shared with me that he shared my story and it changed the conversation for a group of educators during their professional development. If my story helps one person or creates a new thought that helps to shift one paradigm, then I would consider that a success. To create change in our world, someone had to share their thoughts on an opinion that went against the current times or the status quo. It is important to know that when you make that decision, you are not alone.

I am an avid learner. I genuinely enjoy the opportunity to learn through the connections that I make with others. One of the pillars of Education ReImagined that validated my thinking was that all learning is social. Twitter, Voxer, reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and watching the webinars of many of my colleagues has enhanced my ability to learn and shift paradigms. Reading has enhanced my abilities as a leader. Writing about my thoughts allows me to capture the moment and reflect on my journey.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. I look forward to writing more and sharing my experiences with you. I can only hope that you will consider doing the same.


Echols, C. (2009). Challenges facing African American principals: A conversation about coping. Retrieved from the Connexions website:

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2011). Digest of education statistics 2010. Washington, DC: Author.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

If I Can't Be Batman, Then Who Can I BE???

Last week, I was talking to a 5th grade young man in front of my office door when he said to me, "Mr. Griffin everyone calls you Batman here at school. I do not want to sound racist (as he begins to loose eye contact with me, I encourage him to keep going), but... Batman is white in all of the movies, and well um, you are kinda not white, you're black!"

I smiled at the young man and shared with him that first and foremost, you are not a racist. You did not do anything to harm me, you did nothing to degrade me, or make me feel bad about who I am as a person. You are not racist, you just made an observation. Here is my question for you, what does Batman stand for as a symbol?

The young man stated that, "Batman stands for doing what is right. Batman protects others."

I said, "Exactly, and as a symbol, I do the same thing for each and every student and teacher in this building when it comes to education."

He stated that, "I guess you're right!"

There were many questions that entered my mind when I reflected on this conversation that included but were not limited too:

How many of my other students think this way (Honestly, I am surprised I have only had two conversations around this topic with students)?

What impact did my alter ego of Batman have on the way this young man viewed the world?

How do we continue to shift the paradigm of heroes in our world when kids aspire to be who they see through the media?

If I can't be Batman, then who can I be?


The topic of colorblindness always baffled me for as long as I could remember. I am a huge comic book fan and an avid Saturday Morning Cartoon enthusiast. Growing up, I played with superhero toys and games and was always enamored with them. Around the second and third grade I realized that the characters did not look like me. On the occasion when I would see someone that looked like me they had a limited role or they played the villian. I recall asking my parents why didn't any of the superheroes look like me? To this day I can not remember their exact answer to that question, however, I remember them always telling me that I can be whatever I choose to be and that the color of my skin will not limit what I am destined to achieve. They definitely supported my aspirations and guided me with their wisdom, that included the fact that I will have to be two to three times better than my peers on my journey. This was because they knew there would be times when I would have to prove to others that I am more than the pigmentation of my skin.

At a young age, I was able to see the depictions of color through the media and of those around me. Guess what? My student did not use the barometer of occupation, wealth, status, political connections, or family to question my ability to serve as Batman. He did not even challenge the fact that Batman is a fictional character. He used the color of my skin. As adults we can no longer claim that we do not see the color of our students, our colleagues, or members of our community. The decision to not acknowledge the cultural differences of our community, is a decision that for far too long has cast fear and doubt into the hearts, minds, and spirits of our society. The lack of understanding has given life to stereotypes that live without substance due to an inability to become vulnerable and learn from one another.


I am proud of the fact that I have established the relationship with this young man that he felt comfortable sharing his thoughts with me. A few of my colleagues shared with me the significance of my role as an African-American principal. Dennis, you have to understand there are many individuals that have never truly interacted with a person of color. The only thing that they have to go off of is the perception and stereotypes that the media portrays of people of color. Each and every day you prove that those stereotypes are not true. Not only are you challenging and shifting paradigms, you serve as an advocate for all students, especially your students of color. Dennis, you serve as a symbol of what students will aspire to become in the future.

I can only hope that I can live up to such an expectation as an #EduHero. I choose to wear the mask on this journey and that decision has often led me to be the only person in the room that looks like me. June 9th, 2017 I became Batman to more than 400 students. I can only hope that when the symbol of Batman is mentioned on their journey they will envision Bruce Wayne and Mr. Griffin; their African-American principal. In turn, my aspiration is that they will heed Dr. King's words, and look at the content of a person's character and not the color of their skin. This is how we pass the mantel of leadership to the next generation.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Belief In Your Heart WILL EMPOWER Your Students

I strive to empower students in order to change the trajectory of their future outcomes. In order to empower anyone you must believe in them. Empowerment without belief is the equivalent of swinging at a baseball with an imaginary bat, you will never get a hit. This year will culminate with the graduation of the last class of students I served as an educator. I had the opportunity to serve these students for two consecutive years. My classroom was very diverse and was often lacking in confidence. My students came to me at various levels and with different abilities. This never mattered to me because my moral imperative aligned with the belief that education was about my students ability to overcome obstacles and participate in a democratic society thus proving the skeptics wrong in regard to their predetermined outcomes.

This blog is about one young lady that would come to my class and say that she hated math. She would tell me that she was never going to be good in math and therefore she would never do any of the math work or participate in class. She even told me that, "she was not scared of me like these other kids." I shared with this particular student that, "she had no reason to be afraid of me, I care about you as a person and our classroom is built upon respect for one another." I saw the potential inside of her but rather than unleash her talent, she would attempt to have outbursts and disrupt the class in hopes that I would have her removed from class. She shared with me that I was not like her other teachers, because the other teachers would have kicked her out of class by now. I smiled and shared, "I never kick kids out of my class. It is my job to make sure you learn and I can not do that if you are not here. You are a part of my school community and I am responsible for your future. I have to make sure you are ready for college. I will never give up!" She replied, Mr. Griffin, I do not like school now, I will never go to college. I smiled and said we will see.

After the first month of school we came to an understanding and I started to see the changes within her. She would often tell me that I was doing too much by having high expectations for her and the quality of her work. I emphasized that there are no shortcuts. There was one occasion she voiced this phrase the week prior to to Spring Break by saying, "Mr. Griffin, you know you are like the only teacher in the building teaching, right? Everyone else is watching movies and having fun." Now, I know she did not literally mean this but you get the point. I shared with her, "remember I am preparing you for your future and I do not have a second to waste." After two years together, she made sure that I was the first person she took a picture with at the 8th Grade Celebration.

Fast Forward Four Years

My former student tracks me down three different ways (social media, email, and via phone). My secretary delivered a message from her and said she sounded very professional over the phone. It is important for me to note that I have not interacted with her in four years. I have not communicated with this particular student since the 8th Grade Celebration, and I am beginning to think that something is wrong. I call back and she says to me, "Mr. Griffin, I want to say thank you for never giving up on me. I wanted to let you know that I am graduating from high school this year and I am going to college. I have been accepted into three different colleges." Not only did she get accepted to college, she even received a scholarship. I heard her mom saying thank you in the background. I told her, "I promised you back then that we will always be connected and that we are on this journey together. Thank you for entrusting your daughter's education to me." My former student than said, "Mr. Griffin, my graduation is a big moment in my life, and I wanted to invite you to attend because you played a major role in my life. I wanted you to share this moment with me." 

Belief Plants The Seed

This is a special school year for me as it will culminate with the graduation of the last class that I had the honor to teach. I can not believe how fast time has past by. Every year, I take the time to reflect  about my former students and contemplate how they are progressing. I reflect on the lessons they taught me that made me the educator I am today. The number one lesson that my students taught me was to have an unwavering belief in their potential and more importantly, their futures. In our world, we have become so obsessed with immediate gratification that we have associated delayed gratification with a lack of progress. In the world of education, the fruits of our labor may not manifest for 10 - 15 years in the future. In the interim, as EDUCATORS, we must believe that our actions will empower our students to persevere in the face of adversity as they strive to become productive members of our democratic society. The task that we are charged with is not easy nor is it for the faint of heart. I believe with all of my heart serving our students is worth it.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"Life's Most Persistent and Urgent Question Is: What Are You Doing For Others?" ~ Dr. King

"What are YOU doing for others?" Don't rush, take a couple of seconds to really reflect? Now that you have given it a little more thought, was your answer tied to your occupation? Was it tied to your vision of tomorrow? Please allow me to frame the question differently, "what are you sacrificing for others?" Do your answers still align? One element that is often overlooked in the conversation regarding servant leadership is that in order to serve others, you have to make a sacrifice in some capacity. The sacrifice may come in the form of resources, relationships, time with loved ones, criticism, imprisonment, and in some cases the ultimate sacrifice, your life. Dr. King endured each of these sacrifices. Have you ever thought about the toll that took on him? His family? What Dr. King did for others aligned with his sacrifices and enhanced his determination to walk in his purpose. The world has never and will never become a better place without the sacrifices of members of the human populace that look to facilitate change. What do you think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be doing for others today or should I say, What would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sacrifice for others today? Would you follow him? If you were going to follow him, what sacrifices would you have to make?  

When I became an administrator four years ago, I had an epiphany in regards to doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is really hard for many people. If you do not believe me think about the conversations that are currently occurring in the world of education around student achievement, especially for students of color. Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954. Brown v. Board II took place in 1955 because there was not a major shift towards desegregating schools. The Civil Rights Act of 1965 saw a shift in the desegregation of schools due to legislation that would have costs schools financially for failing to integrate. I say that to say this, without including the obstacles in educational attainment prior to 1954, sixty-four years have passed since the doctrine of separate but equal was struck down, yet and still the academic gaps have continued to grow in America despite our deeper understanding of researched-based pedagogy, influx of technology, and financial increases for students (in comparison to 1954). I wonder what Dr. King would think of the achievement gap? What would his message be to the nation? What would he be willing to sacrifice to ensure equity in education? More importantly, what is our message and what are we willing to sacrifice?

When the time comes for adults to make a sacrifice we ask; is it safe, politic, or popular versus if it is right. Humans do not have a desire to live in solitude. Due to this many, individuals will often follow the crowd rather than stand alone. We need to understand that our students are not just paying attention to our words, they are assessing if our words align with our actions. We encourage them to make a sacrifice for what is right at the possibility of losing a close friend. We tell them if they are really your friends they will support you. We tell them to stand alone for a just cause, because they will feel better in the morning. The way that we conceptualize making the sacrifice for righteousness is easy. On the contrary, making the decision to stand for righteousness is often met with a series of questions coupled with fear of isolation and ridicule. I think we encourage our students to sacrifice for righteousness because we often lack the courage to live by that creed. What role does sacrificing for righteousness play in the achievement gap, the Civil War of the 21st Century?

Now I am not here to say that I am perfect in regards to what is right, but I try my best to be guided by my moral imperative. I can honestly say that F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) has halted me in the past I came to regret my inaction. Along the journey, I have made concerted efforts to Face Everything And Rise. Initially, I was unaware of the sacrifices that I would have to make in my service and advocacy of others. I have lost a few friends. There were times when I had to stand alone on an issue or topic in a meeting. In complete transparency, there were a few times a bull's eye was painted on my back for doing what I believed was right. I was not expecting this. The bull's eye was not placed on my back because I was disrespectful, it was because I dissented from what was the popular opinion. I remember the first few times that I did this my colleagues would come into my room and share their frustrations with me. It was validating to hear them say; I am glad that you said that. I support you. In a conversation with my father, he shared with me, "anyone can support you behind closed doors, but I will ask you is that support?" As I continued to see my colleagues remain silent regarding their beliefs and watch what was happening to me, it dawned on me, if my colleagues truly supported me why did they support me after the meeting? They had the same opportunity to share their thoughts, yet they remained silent. The pain that I felt initially from being ostracized made me understand why they remained silent. They did not want to endure the criticism and isolation that came with taking a stand. Despite not liking the feeling of isolation, my resolve and moral imperative was strengthened to advocate for all students in and outside of the school edifice. 

In the Dark Knight, I recall Batman telling Commissioner Gordon that if the hero lives long enough, he will eventually become the villain. With pride we talk about how Dr. King helped to fight injustice in the name of nonviolence through boycotts, speeches, and organizing the masses. However, we do not spend extensive time discussing the duration of the struggle, the criticisms, unwarranted assaults, and unlawful imprisonments he sacrificed to end racial injustices in America. I would say that in Dr. Martin Luther King's case, one could make the argument that in some factions in society he was deemed the villain and is now immortalized as the hero and the epitome of servant leadership.

On January 15th, we paid homage to The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of the most perplexing questions that have always been on my mind is why does it take time to bring about change when we know that something is a moral injustice? Yes, I agree. We do not create a world of enhanced chaos by not heeding strategic thinking, a magnitude of the change, and what are some of the intended and unintended consequences of the change. Far too often we do not quantify the amount of time the adaptive change necessitates, nor do we discuss the loss and sacrifice that the change will call for. We often substitute these intensive and critical conversations for quick solutions to appease the populace that change is occurring. We are  willing to use a technical change as a band-aid to the deep rooted ideologies that reside in the minds and sometimes the hearts of others. Time has concluded that technical changes do not solve adaptive problems. Is this the reason Dr. King stated, "the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically? Is this why he emphasized that intelligence plus character is the goal of true education? Thinking intensively and critically helps us to decipher our truth. It also helps us to have empathy and understand how our actions may impact our fellow man from various perspectives. I have found courage from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he found it in his moral imperative that "The time is always right to do what is right." 

Dr. King stated that in the end, we would remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. This has resonated with me because I do not want to every question if I advocated for the futures of my students. When you decide to disrupt the status quo, you must expect resistance will ensue. Dr. King tried to prepare future advocates of truth for this when he stated, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." This statement brings us back to focusing on the most difficult question that we have to answer, is it right? The moment we answer this question we are called to action. If and when, we determine that an action is not right we have to overcome cowardice, expediency, and vanity as they will create fear that will lead us to accept the status quo. There will never be another Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With that being said, he left an example of service, advocacy, and leadership principles for us to follow to continue walking in his footsteps, a legacy personified by servant leadership due to his willingness to ask, "life's most persistent question: what are you doing (sacrificing) for others?"

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

#OneWord: #FEAR

Fear. Yes, FEAR!!! Fear is the one word that we all have in common. Fear keeps us from accomplishing our goals. Fear keeps us from fighting the effects of the status quo. Fear causes us to hesitate. Fear causes us not to take action. Fear causes us to see the worst in a situation and doubt our human capacity before we even take a risk. Fear makes us see the version of ourselves that is not our best. Fear makes us think what will my family, friends, and people that do not even know me think of my decision. Truly, it is not the actual thought of FEAR that stifles humans; it is what the fear is connected to that chains our leadership and allows the status quo to disenfranchise our world when we decide not to take action. 

This blog stems from my reflection moderating the first #PLN365 #TwitterChat at the request of my good friend and fellow #EduGladiator #CoreWarrior Paul O'Neill entitled #FirstSteps. I have to let you know that Paul was relentless in making sure that I moderated this chat. Why did Paul have to be relentless you may ask, you said it, because of FEAR. After I accepted I began to say, "what have I gotten myself into?"

 (Tweets to Q2 Created the Themes for this Blog)


                                                                  Fear Of Capacity

When we begin our journey down a new path various questions enter our mind which include but are not limited too:

Am I good enough? 
Will I succeed?
What happens if I fail? 
How do I compare? 
Will I be alone? 
What other factors (race, gender, creed, etc.) will allow people to judge and/or stereotype me? 

Honestly, many of the same fears tried to manifest inside of me as the #PLN365 chat was approaching. Focusing on my fears had the potential to dilute the learning process of the journey. Understanding my purpose and the support of members of my #PLN reinforced that the only true barrier that can ever stop me, is me. More importantly, you never know who you may encourage and inspire to take their #FirstStep by walking in your purpose as you travel through the forest of fear. Your journey is not just about you. Your journey is about your service and ability to impact the lives of those around you. Too often, we feel that we do not have a voice that others will listen to when the reality is others are eager to learn and grow from our unique perspectives and experiences. 

Fear of Failure:

Patrick Newsome (@pn6609) shared a great point in regards to failure. When we fail at something, we do not feel good on the inside. We are concerned with how we are viewed, and let's be honest, we do not want to disappoint ourselves. If we are truly going to live the mantra of life-long learners, we must come to embrace dissonance and the correlation between learning and failure. I tell my students all of the time that if they knew how to do everything, there would be no reason for me to be here. We may not have enjoyed the process of failure but what we learned helped us become who we are today. 

Fear of Perception:

Kristin Jenkins (@PreK33) discussed the fear of perception that exists deep within our minds. We are often more concerned with how others are going to perceive us, and that halts our ability to act. This has happened to me on several occasions, and I hope to limit this in the future. The question that I posed to Kristin is, what if everyone was waiting for your leadership? When new teachers join our staff, I make it a point to tell them I do not want them to try to figure out the culture and acclimate to it. I want them to be engaged and let their talents show immediately. You are here to enhance our culture not adapt to it. 

Fear of Misunderstanding

Have you ever had a vision that was often misunderstood? This happens more often then what most people are willing to admit. The pain of misunderstanding has the ability to stop us on our journey. The pain comes from the criticism taking the form of personal attacks on the journey. The backlash that comes without having all of the facts has always been difficult for me. Too often we do not seek to understand and react without all of the facts. The reality is every leadership action will require you to overcome this fear as there will always be a percentage of the populace that will not agree with your vision. The good news is that it is YOUR VISION and you are obligated to see it through and to have great friends will empower you to, "GO FOR IT!"

Fear of Success

Jeffrey Lahey (@MrJeffLahey) spoke to the fear of success. People may begin to look at you differently, depend on you, and expect more from you. More importantly, you begin to expect more from yourself. When you experience success, it does add to your plate as expectations are enhanced. The question becomes how do we create balance and what are we willing to let go of as we continue to evolve?

Fear of the First Step

The most powerful moments that were brought to life for me after the chat came in the form of the first steps of others that I had the opportunity to be part of. Laura Busch (@llbusch) (My First Step) and Jessica Stephens (@DrJStephens) (Love Works- Every Single Time) gave me the privilege of sharing their first blogs with me. It was an honor to read their stories. Jess' blog resonated with me when she stated, "This work is about the human condition, thus human connection." The passion in their writing helped ignite the fire to create and share this blog. I look forward to reading more of their work and the work of others in my #PLN. We have a unique opportunity to share our stories and empower each other with rich discourse, critical thinking, and feedback. Who else is better equipped to share your story than you? 

The Good News

Failure is not permanent, and fear is often a hallucination of your mind. Conquering your fear gives you the power to be limitless. The first step to conquering your fear is to acknowledge that you have them. 

When you acknowledge that you have fears, you can begin to strategically learn how to overcome the barriers that are in your way. When was the last time you learned something new? Were you an expert the moment you began? According to the research, it takes 10,000 hours of intentional practice to become an expert or a master of your craft. That is approximately 417 days, and unless you are a prodigy, you will experience failure. Jay explained that when we burst through a barrier, the joy of moving forward is invigorating. Think about the last time you overcame an obstacle. How did you feel afterward? Was it worth the endeavor? I guarantee you it was, and more importantly it prepared you for the next obstacle that you would face. The problem with the journey is not the destination it is the challenges that are present along the way. This would be a problem if you live in an isolated world, but I have news for you:






This is why my #PLN is My Justice League. If you do not have a #PLN, you can join mine. I can not think of a single reason why anyone should be restricted to the artificial barriers that create isolation, foster division, and devalues diversity. I am not encouraging anyone to choose FEAR for their one word.  However, I hope that your one word will help you Face Everything And Rise.

As always, thank you for reading this post. You can read more about the ability to Face Everything And Rise here: Green Lantern Corps: WillPower.

Courageous Leadership is not bravado. It’s leading from the heart, and aligning one’s actions with beliefs. It’s doing the hard stuff becaus...