A Firehose of Leadership

I remember my entrance into the Twitter world during an LIASCD workshop titled “Accelerated Learning” which was led by Bill Brennan and Tony Sinanis.  In speaking about the power of being connected and developing a network on Twitter, Bill or Tony commented, “There is so much to learn.  It is a firehose of information and you just need to know what to swallow.”  I always think back to this comment as it is so on point and real.  The connections I have made and the learning that has saturated my daily life is invaluable to my craft.  In fact, the time I spend learning heightens my enthusiasm for educational and instructional leadership.  I let my excitement drive my decision making.  But…

I woke up this morning and immediately grabbed my phone as I do every Tuesday morning.  Like a kid rushing out of bed to find where the elf has been strategically placed by his/her parents (we go crazy to inspire compliance), I look forward to seeing if my fantasy football team has won.  I didn’t catch the end of Monday night’s game and I wound up losing.  I shouldn’t have started Wentz.  That is another story. Back to the blog. So, I grabbed the phone and opened the Twitter app instead of CBS Sports.  I guess I do this unconsciously now.  I see a tweet from Don Gately as part of last night’s #nyedchat and it opened my eyes!  Don tweeted, “I have to be careful–my enthusiasm can drown out dissent/other voices that need to be heard.”  WOW!  This comment is the mark of an amazing leader.  I agree with Don.  We have to be cognizant of allowing all voices to be heard so our leadership matches our audience’s needs.  I couldn’t stop thinking about my last post on evaluation.  Do I allow others to freely comment and speak their minds?  Do I provide a safe space so dissent can have power?  At my last meeting with my librarians, I used Andy Greene’s commandment, “No parking lot conversations.”  Are my enthusiasm, passion, and learning providing a spark for these parking lot conversations that have no power and no true impact? Am I allowing the supposed Debbie Downers, Negative Nellies, and Raincloud Johnnies to speak?  How many times do I hear, “I hate to play Devil’s Advocate, but….”  Why should an apology preface an opinion or perspective?

I have been asked the following question on ninety percent of all interviews for various jobs for which I applied: “What is your biggest weakness?”  When I ask this question of potential candidates, I always get the planned answers.  The answers that weaken a candidate’s position.  How many of you have heard one of the following–I am a perfectionist, or I work too many hours, or some similarly contrived response?  My answer is going to be that I sometimes swallow too much water.  Of course, I will explain it.  But, maybe I do.  Am I so saturated with networked enthusiasm that I am drowning out the voices that need to be heard?  Is that even a bad thing? The firehose that fuels my learning is growing…each minute.

I kept this post short to hopefully get honest reactions.  Gulp.

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