Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Makes You So Awesome?

What makes you so awesome? This is not a sarcastic question, and it is not "tongue in cheek." I am choosing to assume that you are awesome.  (Clearly, you are committed to getting better at what you do because you are taking time to read this in the middle of your summer. That's a little bit of awesomeness right there!)  What we choose to assume about people matters.

What if you asked your colleagues what makes them so awesome?  When you ask this in all sincerity, what would your question communicate to them? What might their answer communicate to you? What might it communicate to any staff members who were listening?

Many organizations approach the improvement process by identifying weaknesses or areas of need and then working on those.  I remember learning about another theory in graduate school.  It's called "appreciative inquiry", and it represents a very different approach to the process. With this model, the strategy is to identify areas of strength and then work to capitalize on them.  Celebrate what is already awesome, and figure out how to replicate it. I think this approach always resonated with me because it taps into what motivates people: PRIDE.  When people feel good about who they are and what they do, they are much more likely to work harder.  Increased job satisfaction usually translates into increased job performance.

You have colleagues who are awesome, but they are reserved, and they go below the radar. They certainly don't walk around tooting their own horn.  We need to create opportunities for these folks to share their talents and passion.  You have other colleagues who don't have much confidence, and they don't view themselves as awesome.  We need to build them up. If we validate them relentlessly, over time, they will begin to view themselves differently -- and act differently.  Moreover, I've learned that when you assume good things about your colleagues, it serves to strengthen relationships.  It reinforces a culture of trust and cultivates mutual respect.  It characterizes the type of staff of which I want to be a part.

Try embracing this mindset as you are interacting with others on a daily basis.  Each staff member adds value; each staff member has something to offer; and each staff member makes the organization stronger because of their contribution.

Michael Jordan was a great basketball player in the 80's -- even winning an MVP award. But his team didn't start winning championships until the 90's.  That is when he started making the players around him better.  As we work each day to make a difference in our organization, we remind ourselves that the adults in the building are our most important resource.  We identify what makes those adults awesome; we validate that "awesomeness" at every turn... and we let them shine.  We're not interested in individual MVP awards; we're interested in team championships!

And if I run into you at a conference, I would love to hear what makes you awesome.


  1. Great post, Danny. When we assume the best in others, we lift everyone as they rise to our expectations. I know your teachers feel a lift from you!

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I appreciate you reading and sharing. And of course I'm grateful for your commitment to bringing out the best in others.

  2. So Danny, I must ask you the same question you're asking us to ponder - what makes you awesome? I look forward to hearing your response. ��

    1. I love kids and I love our teachers. I'm passionate about coming to work every day to make a difference, and I always try to bring positive energy. Thanks for asking! :-)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, dude! I appreciate you taking time to read and share!

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  5. I’m a retired elementary teacher (1st, 2nd,3rd, and one year in 5th) . I worked under 10 different principals in 25 years in Athens, Decatur, and Birmingham or Shelby County. Even though I was passionate about teaching , loved my students,
    tried to “follow the rules”and worked MANY hours more than I was “paid for”, I felt appreciated and
    valued by only 2! Looking back, I realize that most of my principals were only trying to “check off” the boxes required of them as they were evaluated AND as they evaluated teachers! My evaluations were always very good but they still failed to recognize the most important values and teaching skills that made me successful...relationships with each student as an individual, motivational skills, building a loving, safe, respectful class climate, and positive parental relationships.
    Thank you for your blog Dr. Steele! I’m sure you make your teachers feel valued!!!

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  7. Danny, you did an excellent job. When people exceed our expectations, we lift everyone up because we believe the best in them. I'm sure your teachers appreciate you! P lease keep up your great work on your website I will keep visiting your site because I have added your site to my favorites list today. Anyhow, I want to suggest you use the help with my law essay
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