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The Three D's for Sustainable School Change

I have talked to a lot of school principals about how they do their work. I've figured out that it sustainable change that can be extended over years comes down to three things:

  • Data
  • Documentation
  • Demonstrations

With these three things, we get the what (the data), the hos (documentation), and the why (demonstrations or stories). The data is what we get from doing this work. The documentation allows us to onboard new people, and the stories motivate us to keep going, even when it is hard.


We all know that stories compell people to action and make us want to be part of something bigger. When we can find ways to demonstrate how lives are changed, it makes people willing to do the work needed.

The stories are the best, and we all love them.


This is certainly not a sexy part of the process, but if we want people to continue the work, we need to show the new people how to do it, and we need to remind ourselves of the right way to do it.


Unfortunately, in education, this is usually where we start. The data tells us what we are impacting. Most of us in schools use only quantitaitve data, but there is plenty of qualitative data we could use, too. Most importantly, this shows that what we are doing is actually working.


This may have been the most relaxing winter break I’ve ever had. I totally turned off work, and only did the things I wanted to do.

I played lots of card games with my family, and enjoyed every minute of it.

I’m excited for a good 2019 and feel recharged and ready to tackle the second half of the school year.

Filling the time

As any other normal human being, I am often plagued with self-doubt.

It's super annoying.

But, we all struggle with it. In a recent podcast interview, Seth Godin shared that he also struggles with this. I figure if he can admit it, so can I.

One of my goals this year is to build a thriving side hustle in just 2 hours per day (with a couple sprints for big projects). I work on my Transformative Principal Podcast, Transformative Leadership Summit, Transformative Mastermind, speaking engagements, and my forthcoming book.

In my self-doubt, as I often do, I considered abandoning a bunch of projects.

A text from a listener made me realize that I am making an impact.

I steal most, if not all, strategies, from guys like you! Never underestimate your impact. You and others like you are part of mental wellness for administrators!

That's very kind.

One of my constant thoughts is, what if I do stop doing all this, what would I fill the time with?

Knowing myself, I would take on some other project. Would I have the impact I desire through some other project? Why throw away all my hard work over the last five years for something entirely different? Would that be worth it? Is my 5 years of work really that meaningful?

So, here's what I am going to do: I'm going to tell my self-doubt to shut up! And I'm going to keep making awesome content for principals who want to do things differently.

I want you to join me. How do you join me?

You can schedule a short call with me and tell me how I can serve you better.

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

The joy of reading

I got a Kindle for my birthday last October. It reminded me how much I enjoy reading.

It’s interesting because I have always been a reader, but the last few years my reading has been online articles mostly.

I’ve read books but haven’t kept track of them very well.

Well, I read 48 books in 2018, that I kept track of, and most of those were in the last couple months of the year.

One thing that helped is being able to check out ebooks from my library. It only gives me 7 days to read them, so I can go through books pretty quickly.

Perhaps the best part is watching my kids learn to love reading as well.

Asking questions

Asking questions means that you care.

When kids ask questions, it means that they are invested.

The other day we had a small grease fire, nothing serious, but a good learning opportunity. It was very contained and we slowly talked about the best thing to do and how to deal with it.

We talked about how we shouldn’t throw water on it because that could cause it to spread. Then my son asked about a hundred other questions about how to put out different kinds of fires.

“What would we do if it was grease and food?”

“What would we do if it was grease and wood?”

“What would we do if is was just wood?”

And many, many, more.

Good learning opportunities come from questions.

On Not Achieving Goals

I set six major goals in 2018.

I achieved half of them.

In the past, I would be pretty bummed about not achieving them, but with one exception, I did better than I would have otherwise.

One of them was just not a good goal, because I didn't have a real reason for doing it, and I abandoned it in March.

Overall, if I could measure myself from last year to this year, I would be pretty happy with how I did, even if my goals were not all accomplished.

Having perspective really helps me to feel OK about where I landed.

The other thing that really helps is recognizing that it is all my fault that I didn't achieve my goals.

I can't blame that on anyone but me. And I can shoulder that responsibility.

Limiting beliefs

I don’t have enough time to exercise.

I’m not good enough to meet my goals.

I’m not good enough for X.

It’s natural to feel not good enough. The power comes in changing your limiting beliefs to Liberating Truths.

I have all the time I need to be healthy.

I’m good enough to meet the goals that are important to me.

I’m good enough.