I’m working on a new idea that I’m excited to share for the first time.

After coaching and mentoring 100+ school leaders since 2015, I started wondering if they share some of the same traits that help them be successful.

Turns out, they do.

And while they definitely do many things uniquely, all the BEST Ruckus Makers have mastered four distinct domains of leadership.

I am calling these four qualities, The Principal Success Formula™.

It takes years of practice to master these four domains, but now that you are aware of their existence, consider what it would look like to focus on each aspect each day.

Success Criteria #1: Mindset

“It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.”

-Sara Blakely


It’s the number one thing that holds back a school leader.

  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of what others will think of you.
  • Fear of keeping great books in your library (and what your parents will think of that).
  • Fear of standing up for equity.
  • Fear of suspending a kid (or not).
  • Fear of failing a kid (or not).
  • Fear of standing up to a toxic teacher.
  • Fear of your supervisor who is a bully.
  • Fear of being featured in the news for all the wrong reasons.
  • Fear of prioritizing yourself.
  • Fear of trying new things in education when you know things need to change.
  • Fear to become the leader you were meant to be.

There is only one solution to fear.


When you develop your mindset something beautiful happens …

You realize fear is just an opportunity.

Fear is an invitation to be remarkable.

Success Criteria #2: Design

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”

-Jim Rohn

When I think about design, I think about making things with purpose.

The BEST school leaders I know don’t let things happen by chance. They plan and design EVERYTHING to get their desired results.

While it’s true you cannot control any outcome, you can control what is referred to as lead indicators.

I signed up for a half marathon in Lake Placid this October. I’ve run half and full marathons before.

If I want to finish strong the lead indicators in my control are:

  • Diet
  • Sleep
  • Stretching
  • Cardio
  • Strength Training
  • Rest Days
  • Proper Equipment
  • Hydration
  • And so on …

School leadership is similar to running in that you can run the race and hope for the best …

Or you can properly train and do all the things within your control to set yourself up for success.

Some call me “lucky.”

  • They see Harvard sponsor my podcast, the 1.5+ million downloads, and the fact that Better Leaders Better Schools podcast is ranked in the TOP 0.5% of all global shows.
  • They note the 80+ leaders enrolled in our leadership development community — the mastermind.
  • They comment on the best selling book, Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader.
  • They observe that I coach the “mentor coaches” at NAESP.
  • They admire the fact that BLBS is working with the State of Delaware to train new principals.

Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

In other words, you design for it.

Success Criteria #3: Culture

“People make choices. Choices make culture.”

-John Amaechi

Culture is everyone’s responsibility.

In The Promises of Giants, John Amaechi uses a story to illustrate this point.

He describes a common area shared by residents of an apartment building.

Some residents smoke. When they are done, they flick their cigarette butts onto the ground.

“Someone else will pick them up.”

Then people leave sandwich wrappers, water bottles, paper and plastic bags. Next come the cardboard boxes. Finally, a mattress is abandoned.

The garbage continues to pile up, yet no one does anything about it.

The smokers continue to smoke, and flick the used cigarette butts onto the ground, until one day …

The dying embers light the cardboard which sets fire to the rest of the litter.

What was once a problem that no one took responsibility for is now everyone’s problem.

As a leader you have a choice.

And choices make culture.

Do you sweat the small stuff that can lead to the dumpster fire?

Do you ignore poor choices until you can’t ignore them anymore?

My friend Fran McGreevy says a school’s performance can be directly measured by the quality of the relationships between the faculty.

That’s culture.

Obsess about relationships over test scores. Obsess over choices.

Do that and everything else you want will follow.

Success Criteria #4: Results

“Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.”

-John Doerr

It’s very difficult to create results if you don’t have the other three parts of The Principal Success Formula™ working for you.

Talking more …

Learning more …

Reading more …

Do not produce results.

The only thing that matters is action.

To be honest, I didn’t feel like writing this post today. I didn’t sleep that well last night and there are other things more important on my plate today.

But I committed to ship a blog every Monday for six weeks, leading up to the launch of my new challenge I’m calling “The Back to School Boot Camp.”

This blog wasn’t going to write itself.

The only way it got done is because I consider myself a professional.

I decided to show up and do the work despite how I felt.

Feelings get in order after you take action.

I rarely feel like running. I am always happy I ran when I’m done.

I never feel like cleaning. I always enjoy a tidy space.

I don’t always feel inspired to meditate. I always enjoy the peace, calm, and focus after doing so.

This is an important point. Successful leaders don’t consistently feel like doing everything they do in a given day.

They do it anyway.

And they’re always glad they did afterward.

If you wait to feel like doing something, you’ll be waiting a long time.

Act first. The feelings will follow.

Ready to level up?

I’m starting a brand NEW 5-day challenge that you might be interested in …

It’s called the “Back to School Boot Camp.” Over 5-days I’ll send you a video with an action step. By the end of the challenge you’ll have your 90-day entry plan for next year done.

It’s free to join >>> betterleadersbetterschools.com/bootcamp

(Visited 308 times, 1 visits today)