Byron's Babbles

Values In Action: Viva VIA!

Posted in Coaching, Education, Education Reform, Educational Leadership, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 6, 2014

IMG_0606.JPG Yesterday at Harvard University I had the opportunity to learn from and work with Jerry Murphy, former Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is doing exciting work around the idea of ‘Dancing In The Rain.’ His idea is he wants us to flourish as a leader. The ‘Dancing In The Rain’ metaphor comes from wanting us, as leaders, to have an upbeat and realistic way of living in stressful times. I have actually played in the rain and I can tell you it is an upbeat experience. Jerry is currently writing a book on this and I cannot wait till it is published. Trust me, it will be a must read!

IMG_0607.JPG Jerry Murphy has developed a framework called ‘MY DANCE.’ Without going into much detail in this post, I would like to just share the framework.

Step 1: M – Do what MATTERS
Step 2: Y – Say YES to here and now
Step 3: D – DISENTANGLE from upsets
Step 4: A – ALLOW the pain life brings
Step 5: N – NOURISH myself
Step 6: C – Practice Self-COMPASSION
Step 7: E – EXPRESS feelings wisely

This post is really about Step 1: M – Do what MATTERS. It is the idea that what really matters are your core values. We cannot let our circumstances or discomforts that are thrown our way hijack us from what is important to us. During our time with Jerry Murphy he had us do an exercise called, ‘The Retirement Party.’ For this exercise you first imagine yourself retiring and you are attending your retirement party. Secondly, you spend a few minutes writing down four or five things that you like for people to say about your values as a trustworthy leader.

As you can imagine this exercise caused a great deal of reflection for me. I would like to share my points that I would want people to be able to say about me. Here are the four I cam up with:
1. Byron is just the kind of guy you are glad he is your friend and he has added value to your life because he has helped you grow.
2. Byron pulled me and enabled me to get to the places in my life I wanted to be. He has helped me be all I can be.
3. Byron certainly ‘Walked the Talk.’
4. Byron was able to bend in the breeze and navigate difficulties.
5. Byron was a lifelong learner.
This is not an easy exercise because sometimes you have to discover your values instead of just pulling them out of the air.

Then came the most powerful part of the exercise. He had us pick one of the statements that we wrote and think about if we were really doing and acting on that value. Then, we were to develop and action plan to truly carry out that value for everyone I serve as a leader and translate the value into action. Jerry call this Viva VIA! VIA – Values In Action. In fact he created buttons that he gave each of us. I have included a picture of the button here in this post.

My action step was for value number two: Make sure I do all I can for every staff member I serve according to their goals and professional growth plan. Sometimes it is easy to work with just a few, particularly those who are most aggressive with their own personal professional growth plans. I need to make sure and collaboratively identify those areas where the faculty I serve need to be pulled up to reach the goals they desire. This exercise really reminded me to lead my life shaped by what matters most to me. In other words what make me come alive and inspires me to lift those up which I serve.

We must remember that our values give meaning, purpose, and resolve to everything we do. As leaders, we must have a commitment to take action, even when it hurts. No matter how big the storm, the sky is big enough to handle it. Much like our storms as a leader, we must be big enough to handle them.

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