Jay McTighe, one of the gurus behind Understanding by Design, has posted this video on his recent encounter with failure. It speaks to the issue of leaders who are often marked by age that is associated with their experience. Even Jay is showing his age despite the fact that he is only 7 years my senior. (This fact caused me to go peak in my mirror. Yikes!)
At the AAIE conference, this was apparent as I looked across a “wise” crowd of international school leaders. The focus of the weekend was technology and the overall content of the conference fell short of accessing the robust technology available today. That doesn’t mean it was a bad conference – just bereft of the tools we were discussing. I would suggest that it drove home the point of the separation between digital natives, digital immigrants, and digital dinosaurs. While Jay is talking mostly about learning (and learners), I’m suggesting that his insights also provide a unique focus on leaders who are desperate to remain open to innovation, but are challenged by their own fear of failure when addressing a complex and constantly changing context.
Marc Prensky helped us to understand through his keynote that our issue is about the difference between nouns and verbs. We need to be less focused on the nouns which constitute the latest fads of technology tools (e.g. – Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc.) and focus instead on the skills (verbs) of the 21st century. While we need to embrace the nouns as they emerge and are adopted, the process skills of problem solving, collaboration, and communication remain static and highly adaptive to the new context. A powerful connection when considering Jay’s insight into how we address our fear of failure. As Jay notes:
- Don’t give in to negative self-talk
- Don’t let an initial failure keep you from trying again
- Be strategic – practice, details, visualize success
Surfing at 60 is possible for even our most experienced leaders. And I’m not talking about the ocean kind of surfing.