Dare to Create Culture

I absolutely love Hugh MacLeod‘s work, so much so that a few months ago I emailed him and asked him if he’d consider doing a piece for my classroom. I sent him two book excerpts that were really resonating with me at the time:

“I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it’s because we don’t dare them, not because we don’t entertain them.” (from The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne)

“We have no great war, no epic struggle to embrace, no cause to call out the best in us. So what do we do instead? We play. Did you know the average age of a gamer is thirty-two? Now, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with diversion and games, but that is certainly telling about our culture, isn’t it? Instead of raising families or creating culture, we are sitting in our living rooms with our eyes glued to the television, simulating life. We are escapists, cowards, and thieves.” (from Wrecked by Jeff Goins)

When the two ideas are combined, the message is this: Dare to Create Culture.

When I emailed Hugh and his CEO Jason Korman about the commissioned piece, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Hugh put together three pieces for me, and I picked my favorite which Hugh absolutely nailed! The team at Gaping Void printed it up and shipped it to me just in time for the new school year.

The irony of the story is that when we discussed the print, the plan was to hang it in my classroom as a reminder to both me and my students of the task at hand. However, late in the summer I was asked to serve as assistant principal at my high school with the duty of leading our school as we work to integrate technology into our classrooms and push students to become 21st century learners– students who are prosumers (both producers and consumers of content).

In a sense, I’ve been asked to help create a new school culture. And that takes guts. Because things won’t work right the first time (or the second– or the third for that matter). Because (hopefully) I’ll fail often. Because what seems like a great idea isn’t. Because I’m inexperienced. Because I’m young (although that’s debatable). Because for some the old way was working, so why do we need to change? Because, because, because… the list goes forever.

If as a leader I’m unwilling to take risks, I can’t expect anyone else to either. And if failure isn’t an option, then it’s not really a risk, is it? So my job is to take risks, be vulnerable, discover things that work, discover things that don’t, and press on.

Creating culture certainly isn’t easy, but I’m having a blast!

So here’s my new office with my custom art thanks to Hugh and his team at Gaping Void.


If you’re looking for a great book to read on creativity, check out Hugh’s first book Ignore Everybody. If you’re looking for some artwork for your office or classroom, you can start browsing here. If nothing else, you might want to subscribe to Hugh’s newsletter.