Pete Hall is a capacity-builder. Driven to impact others’ lives in a profoundly positive way, he channels his experiences as a school principal, life coach, and small-business owner into manageable lessons for continuous growth, personal improvement, and positive mindset. Tenacious, courageous, and incorruptible, Pete shares his optimism, joy, and practical application of strategies for getting the most out of yourself.

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Show Highlights

Understanding your mission and the moment you identified it.
Explore 13 life lessons organized around 4 tenets to help you strive to be a better and live an extraordinary life.
“Seek out your antelopes” and look for “Purple Cows” in your life in leadership.
A powerful reframe to “Embrace Disequilibrium.”
The explicit connection between controllables and uncontrollables with the “A Yikes Week” resource.
A model to promote your priorities and understand time management.

Take an intentional step towards awakening and unlocking what’s going on inside our own heads.

Reflective personal development that comes from going through toil and hardship.
“The most important thing for us to remember is that we’re dealing with human beings. The one thing that is so difficult to define, which is who we are as human beings. If we remember our job is to build capacity in kids and grownups, in communities, societies, parents, families and ourselves, we’ll be really, really successful no matter what we take on and no matter what initiatives we have on our plates. There’s a lot of initiatives on our plates in education.”
- Pete Hall

Madeline Mortimore

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Read the Transcript here.

Always Strive To Be A Better You


Daniel: Are you floating through life or are you living? I think it’s very easy and it’s not uncommon and it’s no fault of your own if you find yourself as a school leader. Right. Just going through the automatic and from task to task, meeting to meeting, putting out fires like that makes sense. But if you don’t pause, if you don’t slow down and intentionally design a life that you want to live before, you’re going to blink your eyes and it’s actually going to be over. It’s tough. It’s true. If you can intentionally carve out time to really wrestle with the deep questions like what does it mean to live an extraordinary life? I think that actually makes you a better leader. Why? That gives you great clarity, a compass for how you show up every single day. But if you accept a challenge I’m about to challenge you with and you communicate your view of what living an excellent life, a life well lived looks like. If you communicate that to staff, to students, to your community at large, I think you’ll inspire them. You’ll encourage them. You’ll help them get to that next level as well. Lucky for you, Pete Hall is joining us for the third time on the podcast. We’re here to talk about another book that he wrote called Always Strive to Be a Better You: How Ordinary People Can Live Extraordinary Lives. This is a resource that can help you wrestle with life’s big questions. I’m happy you’re here to listen. Hey, I’m Danny, Chief Ruckus Maker over at Better Leaders, Better Schools. Welcome to the show. The BLBS podcast is a podcast for Ruckus Makers , just like you, those out-of-the-box leaders making change happen in education. We’ll be right back after these short messages from our show.


Daniel: Sponsors Establish Your Legacy with Harvard’s Certificate in School Management and Leadership. Learn from Harvard Business and Education School faculty. As you develop the frameworks, skills and knowledge you need to drive change and improvement in your learning community.


Daniel: School leaders know that productive student talk drives student learning, but the average teacher talks 75% of class time. Give your students more opportunities to learn in class by monitoring the talk. Time for teachers and students. Check out Teach FX for yourself and learn about our special partnership options for Ruckus Makers at Teachfx.com/BLBS. All students have an opportunity to succeed with Organized Binder, which equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning, whether that’s in a distance, hybrid or traditional educational setting. Learn more at OrganizeBinder.COM.


Daniel: Pete, I think you’re tied now with the top person on the podcast for three times on the show.


Pete: Just like Steve Martin hosting Saturday Night Live, I’m going to get some kind of jacket at some point when I get to five.


Daniel: You might get a jacket. Honestly, what I’m into is just like weird little toys. So maybe you’ll get like an official weird little toy or potentially a Ruckus Maker water bottle like that, actually.


Pete: I’d like to come collect in person.


Daniel: We’ll make that happen. Let me introduce you to the listeners, especially if it’s their first time to the Earliest Bird Schools podcast. Pete Hall is a capacity builder driven to impact others lives in a profoundly positive way. He channels his experiences as a school principal, life coach and small business owner into manageable lessons for continuous growth, personal improvement and positive mindset. Tenacious, courageous and incorruptible. Pete shares his optimism, joy and practical application of strategies for getting the most out of yourself. Welcome back again, Pete, to the show.


Pete: Thanks, Danny. I appreciate that. It’s always good to be back and chat with you.


Daniel: You have another book in. That’s impressive because I consider myself a content machine and you are pumping out content in books and quality stuff as well at an incredible rate. Kudos to you for consistently creating value for Ruckus Maker Nation for people that follow your work and that kind of thing. You’re here to talk about the latest book now. I highly recommend that people listen and pick it up. It’s called Always strive to be a better you. How ordinary people can live extraordinary lives by mistake. It’s a great topic in alignment with who you are as an individual. This is going to be really fun to dig into. Before we get to the book, I have a personal question that connects to mission, life lessons and the bigger questions that we should all be reflecting on pondering. How would you define your mission? Will you take us to the moment where you think you really figured that out?


Pete: Yeah, that’s such a great question. First of all, I appreciate that you consider yourself a content machine. I had a glimpse into your schedule earlier today. As a matter of fact, here you’re booked back to back to back. Of course, you’re a content machine. You’re always doing stuff, man. You’re moving and shaking. I’m just trying to keep up, my friend. I’m just trying to keep up. I appreciate that you have me on the show talking about the new book, and I’m excited about that. The funny thing is, you kind of hit it when you read my little intro that I’m a capacity builder. That’s kind of my mission is to build capacity in others and to help unlock the capacity that other folks have. I know that’s a metaphor that you appreciate the idea that we all have greatness within us that needs to somehow be surfaced and needs to somehow be shared is something that totally intrigues me and excites me. So when I’m having conversations with folks, when I’m interacting with people, I kind of get this lens that I’m looking through that says, “What’s great about this person and what can you uncover about this person to allow this person to even just see and notice and acknowledge their own greatness?” The moment that became really clear. I’ve been in education for a long time. I’ve coached personal coaching, I’ve done athletic coaching, I’ve worked in education as a teacher, as an administrator, etc.. It was the year 2011 and that is the year that I turned 40. I had this moment of 40 is kind of a big number, right? I remember when I was a kid, my dad turned 40 and we had a big party and we made t-shirts for him. Is this a big celebratory event? The year that I turned 40, I thought, I am going to journal all year, my 40th year and just and just write about life and what I’ve picked up along the way with the intent to then share it with my children. As I journaled, these lessons kept popping up that I was experiencing or that I was recalling. It became more than just a handful of things that I want to share with my children. It became this big, big idea of are there universal truths we might be able to share with the masses to help folks live happier, more joyous, more fulfilled, more successful lives? So that was kind of the moment that I thought, “It’s more than just passing it along. It’s broadcast, it’s spread, it makes a big difference.’


Daniel: How often do you go back to the journal? Is journaling still a part of your leadership and personal practice? With the milestone, right. Do you go back to the journal(s) you have?


Pete: I have. I’ve kind of dug into that journal off and on, especially as I was working on this new book. I always strive to be a better you. The interesting thing is the original journal in 2011 had 52 lessons and that was too much. As I formatted and structured and decided on exactly how this was going to be put together, we were able to whittle it down to 13, really key ideas. I do journal all the time. I journal in a variety of different ways, some online, some handwritten and some through correspondence with others I consider journaling. I think that’s a big part of awakening and unlocking what’s going on inside our own heads.


Daniel: Absolutely. One more nerdy journal question, because I’m fascinated on that topic. Do you have a process? Is it more like open and you just let the thoughts flow and get captured? Or are there prompts or like a format that you seem to follow?


Pete: It depends on whether I have a clear outcome that I’m searching for, if I just need to process something or if I just need to write. Interestingly, you were talking about being a content machine. We actually co-published a reflective journal for educators. It’s called the Teachers Reflective Impact Journal. It actually does follow a weekly structure of engaging in some reflection that is semi open ended, but it’s structured enough to really orient the journal or towards some kind of identifiable outcome or goal or learning or growth or something at the end of each week. So I kind of default to that process as much as possible.


Daniel: Yeah, cool. I’ll look up a link for you in the teacher’s reflective impact journal.


Pete: Published by McCarroll. MCRel.org. Can you find that journal or Danny?


Daniel: Is that a daily, a morning and evening process? The morning one, it’s like a lot of gratitude and intention for my life, that kind of thing. The Evening Journal I learned from this guy that coaches executives at Google, his name is David Peterson, and he does a lot of work with the World Business Executive Coach and summit, too. If you’ve come across his work at all, but he has a format for the end of the day routine and it just takes 5 minutes. It’s incredibly powerful. Let me just share it, if you don’t mind really quick with the speaker listening. Basically, ask yourself each evening what’s something new. We always want to be growing and experimenting and that kind of stuff. Similarly, what is something that I learned today? Because especially as a Ruckus Maker in a learning organization, you better be learning something every single day. What worked for me today? What didn’t work for me today? So that’s the third and fourth question. The last one is, if I didn’t like some result that happened, what am I going to do differently tomorrow because we have ownership. There’s a lot of things that are in our control, a lot of things that aren’t. But the more you’re going to, you’re going to start to see trends, right? What I’ll see is if I’ve committed to meditation or running or whatever that is and I see I’ve been lazy for a few days, it’s like tomorrow you better believe I’m getting my lazy butt out there and making it happen. The larger thing is I actually scored myself the next day on my big three. What are my big three things that I’m going to accomplish tomorrow aligned to my goals for the quarter? I either get a0-3,1-3, 2-4, etc. and that’s my process.


Pete: Nice, let me invite you to consider a way to even augment that process.


Daniel: Absolutely.


Pete: Let’s take one thing, some that did not go well that you’d like to change and fix for next time. There’s actually a weekly theme in that teacher’s reflective impact journal called “A Yikes Week” where if something doesn’t go well you could take it outside the classroom, of course, or outside the office, it could be in any element of your life, something that did not go the way you wanted it to go. The first question is “what didn’t go the way you wanted it to go? Explain the situation, be clear on what’s going on.” And journaling is the great synthesizer. When you write something down, you’re synthesizing your thoughts. It’s transferring all the way into whether you’re typing or writing. As your journal and just jotting down the notes about the story of the situation, it’s become clear. You’re in your head exactly what happened. The next question is, what do you want? What do you want? Or What are you willing to do? Or How are you going to address making that happen? The question really that you want to be asking is what? What decisions did I make? What behaviors did I engage in? What strategies did I employ that were unsuccessful and why were they unsuccessful? And that really unpacking the explicit connection between what you decided, what you did, and then what happened as a result. Because so often in our lives, like you’re mentioning, controllables, none, controllables. The interesting thing is so many things happen in our lives that we just say, oh, that happened. We don’t really connect with whether or not our choices, our behaviors, our actions directly caused or impacted that outcome. If we can make that causative connection, that’s the only time we can make an intentional step towards impacting and changing the outcomes, because otherwise it’s just something that happened. It didn’t have anything to do with us. So there’s nothing we could do about it in the future. But if we do realize that, well, I said this or I did this or I did it in this order, and that’s why this happened. As soon as you realize that, then you can make a change to affect the outcomes next go round.


Daniel: What is a simple example? Use the running example and I’m back on track. But there was a period Where you were climbing through caves. I think it’s because of the warm weather. It’s warmer back in the upstate. The lazy time happened when it was super cold and there’s just too much snow, but it really doesn’t have to be an excuse. Using your model, would it be like the decision that I prioritize work or you saw my schedule like my run today is at the end of the day like 430 or when I’m logging off and that’s when me and you see the pup elbow, we’re going to go for a three, at least a three mile run. But one of the decisions and like the causal thing that you’re talking about would just be that, hey, prioritize work back to back to back and didn’t fit it in or, you know, does that make sense or is it something else?


Pete: Time management is really just an exercise in priority management. That’s all it really is. One of the things that can really sting is when you can ask yourself this question.Instead of saying, “oh, I didn’t have time to run today. Yeah, you just look yourself in the mirror and say, I did not make running a priority today. And it could really sting if you said I did not make my own physical health a priority today. And when you say something like that you got to feel that for a moment. And then you realize, okay, so tomorrow, so help me. Like you said, I’m getting back on that train. I’m going to run again. I’m going to climb in those caves. I’m going to get on my bike. I’m going to do those things that I know are good for me and I’m truly committed to it. It’s okay to take a day off. It’s okay to screw up and make a mistake as long as you’re willing to feel that mistake and then rededicate yourself towards moving forward.


Daniel: You definitely you need to recover, recuperate. That’s important, especially for top performers. And last thing I’ll say, to be vulnerable. Let’s talk about the book. I realized that I was prioritizing and really. Excelling in business or better leaders, better schools. And I wasn’t bringing that same kind of energy to my relationship with my wife, to be honest. One of the things that we co-authored and agreed on is let’s just have, maybe it seems weird, but we’re going to literally put on the calendar every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, a 9:00 family meeting where we just check in with each other, talk about things that need to happen because it was almost like we were two ships passing in the night, as they say. I was really disappointed. That was a mirror moment that I didn’t bring the same kind of energy. But then the change was the family meeting and it’s really helped course, correct for sure.


Pete: That’s really, really healthy. It’s not a surprise either because so often we tend to have our established relationships and then we take them for granted. We say, okay, well that’s good. Moving on. Whereas your work is tenuous. It’s in your face about if you don’t get something done, Danny, there’s no check coming. Kudos to you for doing that. And I hope that’s going well. I imagine it probably is.


Daniel: Thank you. You are right. It is. Always strive to be a better you: How ordinary people can live extraordinary lives. What’s cool about this book is that it has stories of regular human beings, not as they might do superhero type stuff, but they’re not like LeBron James. We can relate. I could see myself in those people. What does it mean to you to live an extraordinary life? How do you define that?


Pete: We look at two, three things, and it’s based on Plato’s big question, which is how do we live a happy, good, virtuous life? We’re looking at happiness, goodness and virtuosity.By the way, when we’re talking about ordinary people, I intentionally selected these seven folks because they are just regular folks with regular DNA, and they are living happy, good, virtuous lives by pretty much all measures. As we look at those things, happiness is something that is defined at a personal level. And that’s something that’s really important. That’s a theme that comes up throughout the book is that happiness is your own. To determine goodness and the goodness of your life and the quality of your life is also yours to define. And then virtue is interesting because it’s a term that has changed over the centuries and we kind of now equate it to morality and there is no universal set of right and wrong or good and bad. What Plato was referring to when he talked about virtue or asked about virtue is really the idea of excellence, of learning and getting better at things. You’re being vulnerable a minute ago, getting better at your relationship, getting better at your, curating your physical vessel that you’ve got and making sure that you’re exercising, getting better at producing content, getting better at having a great sense of humor, getting better at whatever it might be. When we’re talking about happiness, goodness and virtue, that virtue part is really that pursuit of betterment, the pursuit of excellence. I refer to it in the book as the pursuit of better, faster, stronger, humbler, whatever, whatever it might be that has that little erg at the end of it, which is what all seven of the subjects that I profile in the book pursue vigorously is just improvement, continuous improvement.


Daniel: You talk about the seven subjects. Where did you find these people?


Pete: I read a book by Stephen King. It’s called On Writing. One of the big lessons that he kind of shared is we write about what we know. So these seven people are people that I have known them for a combined I think it’s 138 years and that doesn’t mean I’m 138 years old then it just means that combined that’s so some of them I’ve known for over 40 years and some of them I’ve known for, I think Matt, Chelsea, Derek are all around the 11 year mark. They’re just people I’ve encountered. And just like you, I encounter hundreds and thousands of people a year and interact with a lot of different people. So I have the opportunity to kind of meet them, get to know them, gauge how they’re doing, have conversations with them, and find out what drives them. And these seven just stood out. I could have picked any of dozens, if not hundreds of other people that have very similar characteristics, very, very similar qualities. These seven just stood out as folks who have taken certain situations in their life, whatever their life might have been, and made it and created and built this successful, happy, virtuous life, it’s really kind of cool.


Daniel: And then to be featured in the book, was it like, Hey, a text, a call, an email, like, I’d love to tell your story, tell us that. Like, how did your relationship affect the people but yeah, how did they get involved?


Pete: Each one kind of came up in its own little way. As you can imagine, all relationships are unique. I just continued to interact with folks and I mentioned a little bit ago that idea of my journaling of my 40th year and kind of this idea. And then I started to think about the people in my life who are truly exceptional that I might be able to learn from. And these seven kinds rose to the top. One by one I just either ask them in person or on the phone or I don’t. I don’t think any of them were texts. It was on the phone or in person, just said, Hey, I’m working on this project. I would love for you to be one of the people in all seven, jumped on board and not because they just felt like, oh, I’ve got so much to offer. It’s more of a, you know, this way of I would love to learn from the other sticks as well. And that’s part of this pursuit of her, is that none of the seven believes that they’re these amazing people. All of them said, are you sure you want to include me? I mean, I’d love to learn from the other six, and I’m honored to be a part of it. But I don’t know what I have to offer? And that’s part of just what makes these seven people so incredible.


Daniel: You have educators. You have nine educators, maybe just for the Ruckus Maker listening. Could you highlight one of those educators and tell a bit of their story and then maybe one of the non educators, too, that made it into the book?


Pete: Sure. One of the educators is Tammy. Tammy grew up very poor in Louisiana and was basically told what she could or could not do in her life as she was growing up. And she looked at herself in the mirror and went to school and had teachers who said, you know, “Tammy, you could really be something.” And between her experience with educators and her own belief in herself and her ability to do amazing, incredible things, she has been able to rise all the way through her career and recently retired from the school. Superintendency is the state of Washington, one of the top superintendents in the state of Washington. She’s been absolutely incredible. One of the key lessons that she shares is about selective amnesia. So in her role as an educator, you’re going to make mistakes. As a superintendent, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to be attacked. And she said, you can’t take those personally. You can’t live with them and take them home with you every night. You have to identify which one you’re going to reflect on and improve and which ones you have to just dismiss and move on. And that is a really, really healthy way to go through life in which we all make mistakes. Tammy is one of our two educators in the crew of the let’s see, of the other five. I think I would highlight Jennifer then. Jennifer is a head women’s basketball coach at a college in California at UC Davis. And she’s somebody who has just lived a life that is completely in alignment with her core values. She’s made her way. She was a basketball player in college, and she now is the head coach of the women’s basketball team. And she has such an amazing approach at how her mission is not to win games. That’s a byproduct of what she does. Her mission is to develop the young women on her basketball team and to create this sense of community and to impact the way those young women are then going to go out into the world and be employees and be partners and be community members and be neighbors and bosses and whatever it is that they go and do and do incredible work. She considers her legacy as the coach, what incredible things her players did, it’s just so neat to explore their stories and be able to extract their lessons and share their lessons with folks. There’s 13 big lessons in there that come from the seven people.


Daniel: We’re going to get to those 13 lessons. Pete, I think this is a good spot. We’ll pause here just for a quick message from our sponsors when we get back we will talk about the 13 lessons that are organized around four tenets. Let’s talk about those. We’ll highlight at least two of the 13 lessons for the Ruckus Maker. Listen. Learn the framework, skills and knowledge you need to drive change improvement in your learning community. With Harvard’s online certificate in School Management and Leadership, a joint collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Business School, connect and collaborate with fellow school leaders as you address your problems of practice in our online professional development program. Apply today betterleadersbetterschools.com/Harvard. Hey Ruckus maker Teach Fx has been an incredible sponsor over the years and they do great work helping educators be mindful. Or reflective about how they’re talking and how much talk they have in a classroom impacts student learning. Now, don’t just take it from me that Teach FX is awesome and it surely is. But check out what some real educators have to say about using teacher effects in the classroom.


Pete: What I love about Teach FX is it lets me see how myself and my students are interacting. Who’s doing all the talking? Is it me or are they interacting with each other? It lets me see a snapshot of what’s happening in my classroom so that I can improve what I’m doing. When you have the ability to see the question you asked and hear the responses, and it’s that immediate feedback right there from Teach FX, it allows for teachers to really dive into their instruction.


Daniel: Today’s show is brought to you by Organized Binder. Organized binder develops the skills and habits all students need for success during these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings, organized binder equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed, whether at home or in the classroom. Learn more at organizedbinder.com.


Daniel: And we’re back with Pete Hall, who has another book out. It’s called Always Strive to Be a Better You How Ordinary People Can Live Extraordinary Lives. Before the break, we talked a lot about the process. We talked about living an extraordinary life, Pete’s mission and in all of this. I promise that we would dig into the four tenets of the book because the 13 lessons are organized into those four tenants. And then we’ll highlight at least two of those life lessons that you write about in your book. Can you give us a quick preview of those four tenants, please?


Pete: The first one is know thyself, so know yourself. Everything about our lives starts from the examination of, who are we as human beings? What do we believe in? What are our core values? And that’s where everything starts. The second one is about work, love. Whether we’re working on our relationships, whether we’re working, going to our job, whether we’re working on improving ourselves in one way or another, connect that somehow to love and joy and passion around what we do. The third is bringing your own energy, and so often we wait for someone else to bring the energy, or we enter a room and there’s low energy and we’re like, “Oh, okay, this is a low energy room.” And it just continues to be a low energy room, even though you’re in there and we have to bring that ourselves. And then the fourth is to rule the day. You’ve heard of Carpe Diem, Seize the day. This is Emperor Diem, which is Rule the day, which really just kind of gives you that boost of confidence, that little pep talk to go and do it, because that’s the hardest part of the journey, is taking the next step doesn’t matter if it’s it’s not necessarily the first step. It’s the next whatever the next step is. We explore those concepts and we leave the 13 lessons throughout. And then the seven characters, the seven subjects in the book make appearances in multiple chapters. When we have a particular life lesson, I know you want to explore a couple of those. We may have two, three or four different subjects sharing their approach and their philosophy and their stories in each one. So that’s kind of the overview of what we’re looking at.


Daniel: Cool. Let’s look at one of the life lessons. I picked this one because it reminds me of at least the phrasing. The phrasing purple cow inspires curiosity. In intrigue. And you have a chapter that’s called Seek Out Your Antelopes. I know nothing about antelopes. This is very interesting to me. And so what’s seeking out your hands is all about.


Pete: Most people don’t know much about purple cows. I’ve never, ever seen a purple cow and never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than be one.


Daniel: That’s true. No, I think you’d want to be one too, to be honest. To be honest, I think you would. The quick story comes from Seth Godin, but I lived in Chicago. I went to school down at U of I drive in two and a half hours south I 57. It goes from the sprawling urban landscape of Chicago to very rural. So lots of farms, soybeans, wheat, corn and cows. Cows, cows, brown and white, black and white. That’s what they all are. You never see a purple cow. But if I saw one the second I got on campus at U of I, I’d pick. I tell all my friends and pick up the phone. I call my mom, call my sister. I’d say, Can you believe I saw a purple cow? So that just illustrates. Like if you can create things that are purple cow ish, then it becomes remarkable. Right. And that spreads by word of mouth. So that’s what that one’s all about. But tell us about the antelopes.


Pete: What you’re talking about I was kind of like when Robin Williams jumped up on the desk and that kind of thing gets your attention and it’s different. It’s novel and it’s exciting.You’re all in your senses are heightened and you’re paying good attention. Seeking out your antelopes had to do. It’s a story that was shared by Matt. And Matt is one of the seven subjects in our story. And he talks about how important it is to travel this journey with others, that life is hard by yourself and antelopes crossing the Serengeti with all the other animals, all the other wildlife in their annual trek. That’s a treacherous trek for a lot of different reasons. When you are with your herd, when you are together, you can be safe. You can be pulled back on track when you start to stray and you’re much more likely to survive and thrive in that journey when you’re together. And that was a lead into the idea of being really clear about your inner circle. So who are the people that have the greatest influence on your life, or were the people that you trust and listen to and seek advice from? And you’re you’re herd of antelopes. And it’s kind of an interesting metaphor because if you think about it, you kind of get lost in a herd. The herd is so large and that’s why you’re safe. But it’s led into that idea of who are who’s your team or who are your cheerleader, who are your people. Right. And it’s usually going to be a really small inner circle. And what has also come up from this idea is, is the notion that you can’t just allow your inner circle to be created just by happenstance. So whoever you happen to be around, whoever you happen to work most closely with or whoever happens to be your next door neighbor, this is something that we’re going to want to curate. We want to be intentional about who we allow in. Who we’re when those big life moments come up, who do we call? And when those not so big life moments, who do we call? Because if you’re seeking good advice for your life and you want feedback and you need a shoulder to cry on or whatever it is, you want it to be the right person that’s providing that for you. You know someone who’s truly in it for you to support and encourage and motivate you. So that lesson, I think, was really, really tough. I know something that you’ve worked on as well in your projects is curating that inner circle, that, that really tight team. And that’s not a brand new idea by any means. It’s just really interesting to think about how intentional we have to be about it. I mean, I could ask you about your inner circle and how intentionally you curate and tend to that inner circle.


Daniel: Absolutely. That’s a big reason for my success is because you don’t, you don’t see that, right. That inner circle is not here on the call with us recording the podcast. But they are because we are consistently communicating and connecting and everything that’s going on in my life right there, that’s a filter, in terms of making decisions and trying to maximize and and live a powerful life like this book is all about. So, yeah, that’s super important. Let’s get to one more lesson before we end here. I’m all about powerful refrains. So this title certainly caught my interest, too. So you have a chapter, embrace this equilibrium and then reframe it like a tool. Because what I find in this last thing I’ll say, you know, you have a coin. Heads and tails. And usually you might have some experience in life, you might find it very scary or like, Ooh, I really don’t want to do this and that kind of thing. And that’s one way to view it. But if you just flip that coin actually, and you find the courage within yourself to go for it and go on the adventure or take the leap, so to speak, that’s a core value of mine. It’s actually the same thing you’re looking at the same event, but you can have fear or excitement. You know this and that’s a reframe. Embracing this equilibrium. Tell us about that reframing.


Pete: We all experience disequilibrium in our lives. We’re all at a place where we’re unsettled by something that’s happening and a situation we find ourselves in that maybe is unpleasant or it’s exactly the opposite of what we wanted it to be or whatever it might be. And the big idea here is to embrace that feeling of being unsettled, that this is not what I wanted. This doesn’t feel good. It’s uncomfortable. I’m really nervous, whatever it might be, and sit with that feeling and acknowledge that feeling and understand emotionally what that means for you and when you’re ready. The idea about flipping the coin. You can’t just flip the coin immediately and you know this. You have to be at a point where you’re ready and intentionally flip the coin. When you’re ready and emotionally ready, that’s when you flip the coin and say, “Okay, so what could I learn from this? Or What are my opportunities here? What is the lesson I’m learning from this? Or “How might this be a test for me that I can somehow move forward as a result?” And I have several different stories in the book from our subjects about this idea. So one had to do with Andre, who was doing physical labor toiling in the fields as a young man and just unbearable heat and unbearable work. And at some point, his uncle asked him, “What’s the reward for this?” And it really caused him to stop and think about what am I getting from this? Because all he had been focused on is how much this sucks. And he hates this. And I don’t want to be out here doing this work and this hot in this heat. And I’m not getting it. I’m not getting paid for this. And it turns out there’s a lesson in your personal development that comes from going through toil and hardship. Right. And now there is a story and it’s a really dramatic story about Derrick, who is one of the seven subjects in the book, who’s a professional athlete. Now, he’s in real estate, and he has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. And that’s one that you hear that word. And all of a sudden everything in your life goes blurry and it takes a while for it to come back into focus. And at some point when he was ready with that disequilibrium, he said, all right. And he said he metaphorically walked up to cancer and said,” Hello, cancer, I’m Derrick and I’m here to kick your ass.” And he was able to just flip that disequilibrium. And it’s not like we can all conquer every single demon that we face. But he was willing to try. He was willing to take it head on. So it’s just an interesting, interesting idea of those moments. And it could be a big moment like it was for Derrick. It could be a smaller moment like it was for Andre. It could be the moment where you’re sitting in your car and you’re late for a meeting and you’re thinking, I’m going to miss the meeting or the job interview. I’m not going to make it. And how are you going to do that? How are you going to respond to that? You have some options. Emotionally you have some options. Then pragmatically you have some options as far as how you’re going to handle that. And those are controllable. Those are up to us, which is really kind of cool.


Daniel: A really important skill set to have as a school leader because you’re going to hit these moments a lot, right? And so, yeah, that’s definitely a chapter check out. Again, I highly recommend you pick up the book. Always Strive to be a Better You How Ordinary People Can Live Extraordinary Lives. And as always, Pete, we’ve covered a lot of ground. So at the end of the show here, what’s the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker listening to?


Pete: Remember, I think that the most important thing for us to remember is that we’re dealing with human beings. We get stuck in compartmentalizing our thoughts, our emotions, putting people into boxes and then start thinking about our kids, our staff, our community in terms of quantities, in terms of metrics, as opposed to the one thing that is so difficult to define, which is who are we as human beings? And if we remember that our job is to build capacity in kids and grownups, in communities and societies and parents and families and ourselves, then I think we’ll be really, really successful no matter what we take on and no matter what initiatives we have on our plates. I know there’s a lot of initiatives on our plates in education. And just remember, the human element would be my one takeaway, one big piece of advice.


Daniel: Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @alienearbud. If the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway from the episode. Extra credit for tagging me on Twitter at @AlienEarbud and using the hashtag #BLBS. Level up your leadership at betterleadersbetterschools.com and talk to you next time. Until then, “class dismissed.”




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