Posts Tagged 'Roland Barth'

“It begins when we are always afraid”

I wonder how many children’s lives might be saved if we educators disclosed what we know to each other. —Roland Barth

Resilient people are often called upon by circumstances to act courageously, and it’s a challenge they are likely to accept, although sometimes reluctantly.

Last week on the eve of Donald Trump’s promised announcement regarding foreign hacking I posted two back-to-back tweets:

“Couldn’t sleep last night because of excitement about Trump telling us what only he knows about hacking. Hope I don’t have to wait.”


“Hope I don’t have to wait until tomorrow to find out what only Trump knows about hacking. Or forever. Can’t stand the excitement.”

Moments later a line from a a 1960s-era song ran through my head: “It begins when we are always afraid.”

I realized that in some part of my brain I was fearful of the kind of vicious attack suffered by others, even lowly sorts like myself, who dared criticize some aspect of the new political order.

Here are some of the lyrics from that song, “Stop, Hey What’s That Sound”:

“Paranoia strikes deep

into your life it will creep

it starts when you’re always afraid

step out of line the man come and take you away.”

We know who “the man” is. And we know who (and what) he has promised to take away.

And we have seen what has happened to those who dare criticize “the man” or his minions.

As the old saying goes, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

But this isn’t a story about my courage, or my paranoia. I wasn’t acting courageously because I only thought about the risks after I posted the tweets.

It’s a story about the role that courage can play in our lives.

Each of us, many times a week, decides whether we will speak or act in the face of fear about known or unknown consequences.

Sometimes the consequences are real. The thing we fear may happen when we speak or act in accordance with our conscience.

It is also true that bad things do happen to people when we withhold “our truth” from others.

As Edmund Burke said more than two centuries ago:  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

How do you decide if and when to speak and act?

Leadership 180: Why leaders without integrity fail

Dennis Sparks

Only one thing is more toxic and destructive then a promise made and not kept: a pattern of promises made and not kept.  – Roland Barth

Leaders’ integrity is their most important leadership attribute. Leaders display integrity when they align their actions with their values, match their actions with their words, and keep their promises. Leaders’ integrity is also measured by their honesty in forthrightly expressing their views on important issues. Such integrity enables members of the school community to trust their leaders, which, in turn, affects the level of trust felt throughout the community.

Today I will carefully consider whether my words and actions match my values, whether I fulfill my promises, and/or whether I speak with candor on important subjects.

[This “meditation” is one of 180 (one for every day of the traditional school year) provided in Leadership 180: Daily Meditations on School Leadership. It is my most recent and I think best book, available as a Kindle book for $14.39, which is just 8 cents per day as a source of professional learning and encouragement in developing valuable new habits.]

When principals and teacher leaders speak their truths

Dennis SparksI wonder how many children’s lives might be saved if we educators disclosed what we know to each other. —Roland Barth

What would happen if principals and teacher leaders were given a truth serum so that they had no choice but to tell their truths in the way that Roland Barth meant it?

And what would happen if their example infected the school community so that everyone consistently said what they really thought about issues pertaining to children?

Here are a few things I’ve learned about truth-telling in schools:

1. My truth is not the same as “The Truth.” All that any of us can do is describe our portion of what seems true, how things appear to us at the moment.

2. Our truth is more influential and is more likely to strengthen relationships when it is spoken with respect and compassion.

3. Telling our truth sometimes requires courage. I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” Knowing that you are speaking on behalf of children helps us find our courage.

4. Courageous conversations sometimes benefit from preparation and rehearsal. When we know in advance that we are likely to have an opportunity to speak our truth we can clarify our views by writing them and practicing saying them out loud. Sometimes it even helps to role play the situation with a trusted colleague or friend.

Question: What do you do to motivate and prepare yourself for candid conversations?

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