I must have driven guidance counselors in school crazy. I had no dream job in mind. Professionally, I slid into education a bit of a rebel. I didn’t remember too many great teachers or principals —just the opposite.
* There was the red-headed teacher who screamed as she threw a pair of loafers out the second story window of the 5th grade class room because my friend had slipped them off and they were under her desk.
* Then there was the teacher who thought his motivation system was brilliant. He set up his classroom intentionally arranging us in rows by grade point average so the last row by the wall was full of middle school students who couldn’t read well or sit still for very long.
* Even at the top of a school hierarchy, I was stunned by adult behavior. A principal, who was a nun dressed in habit and all, told me to hang out with the more popular students so I could get on the student council.
Hard to believe even today. UGH All!
I had a sort of a —“I’ll get even” attitude. There had to be better ways to run a school, (or any other organization). In college, I ignored the education major and preferred to think deep thoughts in philosophy. All good, but 4 years later, no job prospects. So eventually my old dreams of the perfect school led me to graduate school for some skills I surely lacked.
As a teacher, I was okay, not great, but okay. I was always thinking beyond my class to the whole school and imagining what needed doing. The Leo trait in me—wanting to be the boss—refused to die quietly.
So hurrah! Early on I got the chance to be an administrator and funnel all of that energy and those ideas into something productive, or at least different. And did I ever learn along the way by watching what to do and what not to do as a leader.
At a certain point in my career, I realized that I needed more education in order to consult and lead and decided to go back to graduate school. Here I dove into all kinds of leadership studies. In the dreaded doctoral dissertation, I focused on what makes an organization move from an idea to the real thing in the early stages—important because the failure
rate in start-ups, profit or nonprofit, is high.
In my research, I discovered that 9 things are necessary for an idea to become a reality in the early stages of an organization:
All this because as a child, I saw things that were not working in schools— and knew I could do a better job as an adult. I wanted to create and sustain schools, and other organizations, honoring individuals while staying committed to excellence.
Do these 9 assets for start-ups ring true to you? Are there others I missed? Is there something that is bothering you to the core, like the school experiences that I could not ignore, which could move you, or is moving you forward?