10 Reasons I haven’t blogged in 475 days… and why all of these excuses are true, yet terrible.

The last time I posted on this blog was 475 days ago (August 29, 2014). Why did I stop? Why haven’t I kept going? I have no idea, but in order for me to move forward, I need to list them, own them, and move on. Here are 10 reasons I came up with.

 

1. I’ve been posting once a week on The ‘Stang (our school’s blog), so I don’t need to post on my blog.

Each Friday I email our faculty and staff, and while it is true that my Friday Thoughts are posted to the school’s blog each week, it’s certainly not a valid reason for me to not post on my personal blog. In fact, I should use the same discipline and dedication (I haven’t missed a week yet!) to post on my blog.

 

2. I am no longer teaching in the classroom.

As a classroom teacher, I experimented often with educational technology. I read about it, researched constantly and looked for ways to improve how I taught. As a principal, I haven’t stopped learning and looking for ways to improve and that should be a reason for me to have kept writing and sharing ideas.

 

3. I’m new at being a principal and I don’t know how much I have to offer/share.

This is a bad excuse. If nothing else, I certainly have a lot of “not-to-do” ideas to share. I doubt I’ll ever have this principal gig figured out, so why should I wait until then to start writing? In fact, wouldn’t it make more sense for me to write to share ideas and get feedback from people much smarter?

 

4. Life got busy.

While this is true, how terrible of an excuse is this?! Of course life got busy. I’ve never met anyone whose life got less busy. Using this excuse is evidence of my lack of discipline and commitment.

 

5. I ran out of things to write about.

Including faculty, staff, and students, I interact with over 500 people every day– so there’s always something I could write about. Our teachers and students do amazing things every single day, so content should never be an issue. I still read like crazy, I still listen to podcasts daily, and I still learn something new every day. There’s always content.

6. I wonder if anyone even reads what I write.

It’s evident that someone will read my blog because you’re reading it. So that excuse is dead in the water.

 

7. I was going to write later.

Ah, the good ol’ procrastination excuse– later. I’ve been using this one since I can remember. The thing with later is that it’s open-ended. When does later happen? I started writing my Friday Thoughts email in November of 2013. Every Friday since then (well, every Friday during the school year), I’ve written a post and published it. It’s my own personal goal to not miss a week, and I’ve hit that goal every single time. My goal for those posts isn’t to write them later– it’s to write and share them each Friday. (And to be honest, I have no idea how many of our faculty or staff or blog visitors even read the posts which goes back to excuse #6.

 

8. I worry that if I write about an experience from school, I might offend someone or share more information than I should.

If this were the case, no one would ever blog anywhere about anything. This is a weak excuse I’ve made up to justify not writing. It’s time I call it what it is.

 

9. WordPress wouldn’t update.

Nope, this excuse won’t work either. My issues aren’t with WordPress or with my Mac or even with Evernote. I have all the resources necessary to write– I’ve simply chosen not to.

 

10. I couldn’t come up with the perfect post to help me “get back in the game.”

This actually may be my best and worst excuse. Even as write now, there’s a sense of embarrassment of the reaction when this shows up in a subscriber’s inbox. I picture the thoughts now.


Whoa, what’s this? An email from Jordan Collier? Who is that? I don’t remember signing up for that blog. Oh wait, I kind of remember now. Wow, that like 2 years ago. I wonder why something is just now showing up…

As if the “perfect post” will fix that. Nope. This isn’t the perfect post and I don’t even know what “get back in the game” really means. I just know I’m posting something after 475 days off. And I’m glad I didn’t wait until day 476.

Those are my excuses. If you’re in the same boat I’ve been in, what are some of your excuses? Feel free to add those to the comments below.

Six Ways to Be a Lifelong Learner

Anyone-who-isnt

I cringe when I hear an adults joke about not having read a book since high school. I especially cringe if the person who says that has any regular interaction with young people. It’s not so much the lack of reading that bothers me most; it’s more the pride that often accompanies the comment.

Parents, educators, youth ministers, and anyone else who works with kids should be the very model of what it means to be a lifelong learner. We should set the standard for both personal and professional growth and those around us— especially young people— should want to follow our example.

But sometimes we get busy or complacent or apathetic. We allow life to happen to us, and before we know it, we find ourselves in a rut, not growing.

To help anyone who feels stagnate or, as Alain de Botton puts it in the quote above, “not embarrassed of who they were a year ago,” here are six suggestions for personal improvement.

  • Read daily. There’s a difference in loving to read and loving to have read. Regular reading is a discipline and for many, it does not come naturally. However, loving to have read provides a feeling of personal accomplishment. I once heard Tim Sanders say that the average American businessman reads .7 professional books every five years. However, Dave Ramsey likes to say that the average millionaire reads one profession-related nonfiction book every month. If you want to be successful, then do what successful people do. Make it a habit to read daily, and like any discipline, it will become easier.
  • Seek out experts. Attend conferences and develop relationships through social media or even email. You’d be amazed how far an offer to buy lunch for someone you consider to be an expert will take you. I had that experience this past spring when I emailed Eric Sheninger, author of Digital Leadership, and asked him if he’d like to get lunch while he was in Little Rock keynoting a conference. We were able to meet the day prior to the conference, and I learned so much and developed a friendship simply by sending an email and extending an invitation.
  • Make connections. Just because something is labeled for one audience does not mean another audience can’t adapt the same principles to a different setting. Being an educator and being an entrepreneur have many similarities, so books on leadership and business are great resources to consider and their ideas have easy carry-over to the classroom.
  • Turn off the TV. According to this Neilson report, the average American watches 5 hours of TV a day. Don’t do that. If you feel you have to watch something, substitute TV shows with TED videos or YouTube videos of experts in your field.
  • Find the time. In his book Show Your Work!author/artist Austin Kleon says that when he is asked how he finds the time to get so much done, he responds by saying, “I look for it.” If you want to grow, find the time. Schedule it. Make it a priority. Turn off the TV. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts instead of listening to music. You’ll find the time you need if you look for it.
  • Invest in yourself. Career expert Dan Miller suggests budgeting 3% of your annual income for purchasing books and attending conferences. Conference registration expenses can be expensive, but budgeting a set amount each month will allow for bigger expenses.

Lifelong learning is a lifelong adventure— enjoy the ride. Remember to share your experiences with those around you— especially the young people who see you as a role model. And if you haven’t read a book since high school, let’s work on that.

If someone told you he or she hasn’t read a book since high school, what book would you suggest that person begin with? Leave your recommendation in the comments below.

Love What You Do

Love what you do graphic

Love What You Do by Hugh MacLeod

Last Thursday, my five-year-old son Carson fell off a ladder while playing on a playground. As you might expect, we were concerned about any serious injuries, so we took him to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. I was very impressed by how nice and helpful all of the nurses, doctors, and other hospital personnel were. I was especially impressed with Mr. Scot, Chief Prosthetist/Orthotist. Mr. Scot had to take 24 measurements to create a custom-fit back brace for Carson, and the way he interacted with Carson while taking measurements was fun to watch. The two counted together, talked about each measurement, and Mr. Scot answered every single one of Carson’s questions.

After he finished with all of his measurements, we began talking about our options — white, camo, red… and black. I asked Carson if he wanted a black one so he could be like Batman. It didn’t take long for Carson to envision himself looking like Batman when he wore his black back brace with a giant yellow bat symbol on his chest. The decision was made and Mr. Scot said it would be ready in the morning.

As promised, Mr. Scot stopped by our room early that next morning, and just as he did the day before, Mr. Scot visited with Carson and answered all of his questions. Mr. Scot handed me the brace and I noticed the order sticker inside with the printed patient’s name — Carson “Batman” Collier. We joked about that and we thanked him for doing that. Then Mr. Scot worked on Carson’s brace making adjustments, trimming certain parts, and making it fit perfectly. The neurologist came in to make sure the brace was a perfect fit and thanked Mr. Scot for his great work.

As Mr. Scot was packing up to leave, he said, “Oh, one more thing. The folks back at the office made this for you,” and he pulled a batman logo printed on paper from his front shirt pocket (and he even brought tape to attach it). He centered it on Carson’s brace and made it an official batman brace. It was awesome! We thanked Mr. Scot and he headed out.

Carson CollierIt was obvious to me that Mr. Scot loves what he does. Every step along the way he showed us that he cared and wanted the best for us. He didn’t do anything extravagant — he just paid attention and his small actions made a huge difference for us.

Often that’s all it takes. It’s not about doing really cool things in our classrooms, using the most up-to-date technology or teaching tools, or planning out-of-this-world activities for students. Sure, those things are great and helpful for student learning, but what really shows students we love what we do is when we pay attention and look for small ways to make a huge difference in their lives.

I want to be like Mr. Scot. I hope we all do.