Making curriculum decisions for 2020-2021 due to COVID-19 is on every educator's mind—both addressing immediate learning concerns and prioritizing learning for the future. To discuss either, contact Janet to schedule a virtual meeting.

National Groundhog Day: In 3 Steps – How K-12 Education Leaders can use Their Past Mistakes to Their Advantage

Same goal, different day? You can achieve the success you’re seeking. Here’s how you can use past mistakes to your advantage.

Making mistakes is not inherently bad. In fact, if you are not making mistakes, then there is a good chance you are not growing. Calculated risk-taking demands comfort with both success and failure—and is a part of developing a Growth Mindset.

Mistakes are a natural outcome of trying something new. Adults become more risk-averse with age. Proper facilitation of leadership development naturally requires growth, and if mistakes are a natural part of growth, then learning how to positively deal with what you can learn from your mistakes is essential to meaningful leadership development.

You might know what is not working, but you might still be struggling to pinpoint exactly what is preventing you from reaching your goal. Bad habits are most often the result of simply repeating the same mistakes. Good or bad – habits rule actions when under stress.

Foresight, objective analysis and judgment, and sensitivity to others’ perceptions are key competencies of effective leaders. Unfortunately, one’s mind abandons these competencies and reverts to fight-or-flight responses when overly taxed – and what teacher or administrator do you know who does not live this reality every day! Therefore, to identify bad habits you must first recognize the mistakes you (or those you lead) keep repeating by taking these three steps:


1. ACKNOWLEDGE – Identify or clarify what you’ve been avoiding.

Actually, trying and risking failure is more troubling for some than not trying at all. Not trying is a way of keeping the hope alive that you can achieve your goal if you did actually try.

What are you (or those you lead) getting out of repeating this mistake? We don’t do things randomly. You’re getting something out of your bad habit. Unconscious feelings and motivations influence your actions. How can you get that same reward differently? Focus on figuring out how to replace the bad habit with a good habit that serves a similar reward.


2. ACCEPT – Abandon perfection.

Growth requires that your leadership development be continuous. Learning is a journey, not a destination. Therefore, thoughtfully consider (and accept)…

  • What worked for you to achieve success in the past may no longer be effective (or your proven strategy or solution may no longer be the optimal solution).
  • The reality that there are aspects beyond your control. There will always be external factors that can hinder your success but that is true for everyone.
  • Your weaknesses. We all have them! Focus on enhancing your strengths, and finding a colleague who can help you with your weaknesses. If your success toward a particular goal involves a particular weakness – reach out for help. Explore options for job coaching or staff development. Collaborating with someone who has skill sets that aid your weakness, is oftentimes a win-win because his or her weakness will be your strength!


3. ACT – Take action by gaining outside perspectives and assistance.

Leveraging others’ creativity or learning how they have dealt with similar problems can be advantageous, as long as you do not relinquish responsibility. For example, getting a personal trainer is a great idea, but it is not the personal trainer’s responsibility to get you in shape – you still have to own the process.

Through this reflective practice remember to – Be kind to yourself. Be patient. Be persistent.

Use your own creativity to innovate new solutions, new habits. Select three of the best solutions and make a plan to try them out over time. Testing different solutions will not only help you to develop a habit of creativity and innovation, but also will help you feel more comfortable with success – and failure.


Given today is Groundhog Day, it is not a day where you – once again – want to feel like it is going to be the same old day…the same old way.

logo ©
Designed by CS Design Studios