Leading a school has plenty of ups and downs. We have enjoyed some very positive developments the past few weeks. Our grade level collaboration time is maturing every week, our ELAC parents had an energetic and productive meeting last week, and our Instructional Leadership Team has expertly laid out our first SMART goal for the 2009-10 school year. So, why am I hesitant to pump my fists and jump for joy at these mounting victories? Well, that's because the dip is coming. Seth Godin described The Dip in his book by the same name. It's the natural trough that any organization will face on the way to becoming the best in their field. The key to coming out the other side is not very dramatic or heroic. It's simple perseverance. Malcolm Gladwell says we need 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. Dave Ramsay says that we can develop unstoppable momentum through focused intensity, and persistence, reminding us of the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.
I was reminded of this when I came across some references to the research of Heyman and Dweck on the traits of the helpless learner versus the mastery learner. In terms of school leadership, we need to foster mastery learners, especially since we know that the Dip is inevitable. Our staff need to believe that their efforts will produce results, even though it may take more time than we are comfortable to admit.
Seth Godin summarizes his call to action in his Manifesto: Being average is for losers. The only way to not be a loser is to stop doing anything that is keeping you from achieving your primary goal, put your head down and outwork everyone else until you break through the dip to the other side.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/loswl/2904243745/sizes/m/