Start with WHY

Happy New Year to Everyone!  Over the Christmas holidays, I had an opportunity to read Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why ~ How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action.  Although there were no direction connections to education, as I wore my administrator’s hat, I was able to glean many strong similarities between inspiring a successful organization, such as Apple and Wal-Mart and inspiring a dedicated group of educators.

The basic premise of his book is theGolden Circle~ three circles with “why” in the center “how” on the next largest one and then “what” surrounding the other two.

 When I reflect on those three questions in regards to education, the first two are easy to answer.

What do we do?   We educate children. 

How do we do it?   We teach them and then we assess what they have learned. If they have mastered what we’ve taught them, then we move on to the next concept. We model appropriate behaviour and provide support and guidance for students.

 Why do we do it?  Ah ~ not as simple an answer.

It would be interesting to ask 100 teachers why they do what they do.  What inspires them each morning to arrive to a classroom full of 20 – 30 students, not knowing what the day will bring?  What inspires them to improve their own practice and collaborate with their colleagues? Is there a collective sense of  “WHY” in their school or within their board of education?

 As leaders in our buildings, we need to ensure that everyone knows the WHY of what we do.  It’s more personal than a school improvement plan, it’s more deep-rooted than improving Provincial test scores and if conveyed properly, it can change the culture in a school.

“It is not just WHAT or HOW you do things that matters; what matters more is that WHAT and HOW you do things in consistent with your WHY.

Sinek goes on to say that as long as you know your WHY, then the WHAT and HOW are easy.   You can filter all of your decisions based on your WHY. 

Education is a powerful organization. It is responsible for ensuring that today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders, parents, doctors, electricians, teachers…

We better know WHY we are in this business, if we want to improve it, if we want to ensure that our students are receiving the best possible education and if we want to create cultures in schools where we inspire not only our students but each other!

My question for you today is….

Do you know WHY you do what you do?

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