There’s a better way than numbers and goals to energize your school and teachers. All it takes is just One Word!
Every August principals and teachers gather to discuss their plans and goals for the upcoming year. Expectations and goals are passionately shared by principals and written down by educators with anticipation and excitement. It’s an experience filled with energy, hope and optimism.
The problem is that by October the positive energy and optimism felt in August has given way to the tests and challenges of reality. And the goals and expectations that were shared and written down with such passion and enthusiasm are likely in the garbage can, in a binder on the shelf, or ignored on the laptop.
Three years ago I discovered a better way to refocus and energize educators. My friends Dan Britton and Jimmy Page told me how each year for the past fifteen years they chose a word that would be a driving force in their lives and work. No goals. No Resolutions. Just One Word.
I was inspired and chose purpose as my word for the year. I knew that by focusing on my purpose each day I would have the energy and strength to overcome the challenges and stress of traveling around the country. My wife chose intentional for her word and it helped her tune out distractions and focus on her priorities. My twelve year old son chose focus as his word and it helped him focus more in school and on the tennis court. My fourteen year old daughter chose the word motivation which was a great thing because she needed it.
Putting One Word into Action
After seeing the impact these words had on my family I started sharing this concept with my clients who include companies, professional sports teams, hospitals and schools. During my talks with schools I explained the concept and power of One Word and asked each principal and teacher to reflect upon and identify a word that would serve as a driving force in their life and work. I suggested they take some time to discover the word that is meant for them this year. Then I encouraged principals to gather their staff and have each person share their word and why they chose it. The reason and meaning behind a chosen word is what gives the word purpose and power.
The stories and results from schools that have implemented this simple, powerful idea have been extraordinary.
Teachers from the Mahany Elementary school in the Alief School District came up with their words for school year and the Principal, Renee Greve Canales, made this t-shirt for them to wear. What a great reminder to teach with more compassion, passion, focus and purpose.
The staff at Park Glen Elementary in the Keller ISD came up with their words as well, made t-shirts and took this picture with each person holding a painting they made with their word on it.
The staff at Youens Elementary School made a vision board of their words and placed this board in the teacher lounge so teachers would see their word and their colleagues words each day.
I’ve also heard from many educators who had their students choose their word for the year and post them on the walls of the classroom. Each day the students walked into class with a powerful reminder to focus on and live their word. I’ve found that One Word helps both educators and students to generate clarity, focus, power and passion. While goals are easily forgotten, One Word sticks and inspires everyone to perform at a higher level.
Does this mean we shouldn’t share goals and test scores and expectations anymore? Of course not. Principals should continue to share goals and numbers to start the year. You do need to measure progress because that which you can measure you can grow. But you must do so knowing that numbers don’t motivate people. Motivated people produce great numbers.
Real motivation is driven by a passion and purpose to do great work, grow and make a difference. Principals can help motivate and inspire their staffs to excel by helping them discover the one word that will remind them of their purpose, maintain daily focus and keep their passion alive throughout the year.
So this year, at your school kick-off meeting, do what everyone does and share your goals but also do something different. Encourage your staff and colleagues to discover their word that will drive them to work harder, care deeper, focus more, and surpass your goals and expectations.
Get Started Today! Here’s How:
1. Purchase Copies of One Word. – Amazon | BN | BAM | iBooks
2. Download a Free One Word Action Plan. – Details Here
3. Watch the One Word Video. – Watch Here
4. Listen to the One Word Teleseminar Replay. – Listen Here
5. Share Your One Word – Share Here
6. Create a Custom One Word Poster – Create Here
7. Tell Us Your One Word – Tell Here
8. Download, Print and Share One Word Posters. – Download Here
About Jon Gordon
Jon Gordon is the author of The Wall Street Journal bestseller The Energy Bus, Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture, The No Complaining Rule, The Positive Dog and The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work. Jon and his training/consulting company are passionate about developing positive leaders, organizations and teams.
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