“Failure is not a crime. Failure to learn from failure is.” – Walter Wriston
Before beginning my career in education as a teacher and administrator, I spent my first 3 years out of college working for a sports ministry. A main part of my job was to travel across a five-county area in northwest Mississippi and develop relationships with coaches and administrators. Over those three years, I gained a wealth of insight from the people I visited with. One conversation led me to begin my career as a teacher, but if there’s one meeting that sticks out among all the rest, it would have to be the time I visited Coach Wright. At the time, Coach Wright had the highest winning percentage of any football coach in the state who had coached at least 200 games. Coach Wright had won multiple state championships and was then serving as an assistant on a team that was in the middle of a dynasty. So, on a muggy Mississippi day, I sat down with Coach Wright and asked, “Coach, how’d you get so good?” Without missing a beat, one of the most successful people I’d ever met looked at me and said, “From being so bad.”
Coach Wright went on to tell me how early in his career he’d witnessed leadership styles and methods that just didn’t work. He told me he made mental notes on these shortcomings and vowed to do things differently when he got his chance to be a head coach. When he became a head coach, he continued this process of improvement by tracking the factors that were inhibiting his team and making changes in these areas. He coupled this with celebrating the factors that led to success and in doing so, created a culture of continuous improvement and excellence. This concept of success from shortcomings is what led to Coach Wright’s many accolades, and it was a major part of my development as an educator. As a teacher I failed many times with ideas, activities, and procedures, but I learned from this and grew. I also took note of the failures and successes of my leaders and employed what I learned when I moved out of the classroom and into the office. As an administrator, I valued the honest feedback I received from staff, students, and supervisors and acted upon this to become a better leader for my school.
In my current role as Vice President of Education at Performance Scoring, I’ve worked with our developers to create an application that allows school district personnel to employ these same strategies at every level of their organization. Addressing inhibiting factors and celebrating those that lead to success results in legitimate continuous improvement and provides every staff member the tools they need to grow and be promotable no matter where they are in their career. Being real about your organization’s success and failure leads to authentic conversations with your staff and creates a culture of mutual accountability where employees feel challenged to grow yet supported along the way. If you’d like to know more about how Performance Scoring can be implemented in your district or campus to promote genuine continuous improvement and reduce failure contact us today!