Milestones and Memories – Runstreak Day 1800

1800 Days of Running

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This past Saturday marked 1,800 straight days of running. Wilbur and I celebrated the milestone with a 6.2 mile early morning run. As we finished, I could hear the dribbling of a basketball up the street, and I knew right away that it was my 8-year old daughter getting ready for her game. I thought this run would be significant because it was a milestone day, but the sound of a girl and her basketball practicing before the sun comes up will be what I remember most.

After 257 weeks of running, it’s easy for the days to run together, so milestone days provide an opportunity to look back over the last 3+ months. Some of my most memorable runs involve…

  • Running at 3:30 a.m. before catching a flight.
  • 37 laps around a parking garage in 0-degree weather in Winter Park, Colorado. The 2nd day I braved the icy roads and managed to stay on my feet.
  • Eight gorgeous morning miles in Phoenix, Arizona, during our National Sales Meeting.
  • And running alongside my 8-year old and 5-year old daughters as they rode their bikes through the neighborhood.

In almost 5 years of running daily, most of my runs are far from memorable. I’ve learned more about myself from running than anything else I’ve done. Almost all of my runs are solo and early. No one cares if I’m selfish with my time at 5 a.m.

Some days I run for clarity.

Some days I run to make a decision.

Some days are focused on getting faster.

Some days I plug into a podcast.

And some days I run because I’m afraid not to.

When I first started running, I set a goal of running every day for a week…then a month…then a year. Over the years, I’ve realized that a running streak is not a goal to accomplish, rather a milestone to celebrate.

I’m thankful that God has allowed me to stay relatively healthy and injury free. And I’m thankful for the quiet mornings when I can pray and listen while running.

The streak turns 5 years old in February, and I look forward to 2,000 days later this year. Too often I take it for granted, but I’m thankful to get to run each and every day.

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Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly…

 

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Woody Guthrie’s goals from 1943

 

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly…until you learn how to do it correctly. When I first started teaching a little over 10 years ago, I made mistakes, but I got better. In February 2013 I started running every day, I was a poor runner. While I’m still slow and lumbering, I’m more efficient and I’ve improved. When my first child was born 8 years ago, I was not the same parent that I am now. In all aspects of life, I’ve improved by investing time and being intentional.

That brings me to my neglected blog. In order to be a better writer, I have to be willing to create something that is not perfect. As with anything, the only way to get better is to practice, refine, edit, and learn.

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” I do know if I’ll ever be great, but I do know that I will get better than I am right now. And the only way to do that is to put in the time and do the difficult work.

Knowing that the only way to be a better writer is to write, one of my goals for 2018 is to publish a blog post each week. As I sit in a hotel in Denton, TX, I realize that publishing a post from each week from February through December will only happen if I have a plan in place. Without a framework, I’ll be in the same place this time next year. I realize now that I need to focus each week on a specific topic. In mapping this out, over the next 11 months, this blog will be a collection of posts on running, parenting/marriage, sales/leadership, and education.

It’s taken me the first 23 days of 2018 to put this together. While it may not always be pretty or refined, I will be a better writer/blogger by the end of 2018.

Stay tuned…

Two Words that Change Everything

Running ShoesLast week my life flashed before my eyes. After 1500 straight days of running, I almost had to stop because of an injury. I hurt my hip lifting weights, and I found myself struggling just to roll out of bed. For 3 long days, I slowly laced up my running shoes and headed out the door for the slowest of runs. Somewhere in the middle of my 11-minute miles, I realized that my outlook for the last 4+ years has been entirely wrong.

Most days, as I head out the door at 5 a.m. or 5 p.m., my wife hears me say, “I’ll be back in a bit – I have to go run.” It took an injury for me to realize that I don’t have to run, rather I get to run. I’ve been very fortunate to avoid injury over the last few years, with only minor aches and pains, and I’ve been guilty of a lack of gratitude for the opportunity to run each day.

Whether it’s exercise or life, the moment we replace “I have to” with “I get to“, we unlock gratitude and start to see challenges as opportunities.

There are many things that we dread doing. As I look at my office window, I know I need to mow the lawn, and it’s not something that excites me. But the moment I realize that I get to mow the lawn, I’m able to be thankful for the house where we live and the yard where my kids can play.

It’s exhausting to consider the demands of things we have to do. However, the moment I say, “I get to ______”, my outlook and attitude changes.

  • I get to make another sales call
  • I get to put together another report for my manager
  • I get to clean the house
  • I get to clean up after the kids (we may just leave this one in the “have to” category)

When we start to see things we have to do as things we get to do, our gratitude allows us to approach them with enthusiasm and excellence.

Thankfully, it only took a few days for my hip to recover. But my hope is that I remember what it was like to be injured so I appreciate every opportunity I get to run in the future.

By changing our words, we change our outlook, and only then can we change our lives.

 

3 Life Lessons from the Basketball Court

This weekend’s NCAA Final Four brings out the best that college athletics has to offer.

It’s been almost 15 years since my last college basketball game, and the lessons I learned in college sports have helped me in life and in sales.

In August of 1999, I stepped on campus with the goal of making a college basketball team. Leaving a small west Texas town, I came to a school hundreds of miles from home as a walk-on with only the promise from the head coach of a chance to tryout to make the team.

We started with 20 walk-ons, all with a single goal — making the team. We went through tryouts, practices, weight training, and conditioning sessions. In the end, there were 2 of us that made the roster.

msu-roster

Over the course of the next 3 years, I went from walk-on to scholarship athlete. But the lessons I learned playing have stuck with me and prepared me for new challenges. Looking back, the 3 reasons I made the team are the same qualities that lead to success in sales, in business, and in life.

  • Grit
  • Resilience
  • Coachability

GRIT

Grit involves staying determined and persisting when faced with rejection or lack of progress. As a walk-on college basketball player, you have to develop a sense of grit to believe that the time and energy your putting in will eventually lead to results. Ultimately, the sacrifice I made – putting in the work and staying focused on the goal of playing a college sport – paid off and I made the men’s basketball team at Midwestern State University.

In life and especially in sales, you have to know that you’ll face rejection and discomfort. The ability to stay determined and focus on the goal allows us to keep moving forward, even in the face of discouragement. It can be easy to get down and lose hope, however having experienced success because of grit in the past reminds us of what is possible, even when the odds are not in our favor.

Resilience

Resilience and grit go hand in hand. When you get knocked down, do you stay there, or do you scrape yourself off the floor and go at it again? Getting knocked down is inevitable, but getting back up is a choice. And getting up with the right attitude is even more important.

In sales, we face ups and downs. The market changes. Our product has technical issues. Potential customers show us the door. Resilience is getting up again each time we experience a setback and giving it another shot. When you fail and when you fall, can you regroup and bounce back with the same attitude and enthusiasm you had when you began?

Getting up when you get knocked down is possible. Regaining the courage and enthusiasm to go at it again is what takes resilience to the next level.

Coachability

As a walk-on, you have to be coachable – willing to listen, to learn, to adapt, and to do whatever is asked, without questioning or complaining. The ability to take positive and negative feedback and make the changes is one of the quickest ways to earn credibility and respect.

To be successful in your job, you have to be coachable. Listen to those who have been successful and emulate what they do. Whether it’s a manager, a leader, or a colleague, when you step into a role for the first time, you have to do so with gratitude and the willingness to learn.

When you combine coachability with gratitude and humility, you have the opportunity to improve and make a difference.

Developing the walk-on mindset

Trying to make a team by walking on is not an easy thing to do. You have got to show up early and stay late and improve every day. You have to do the little things while showing grit, perseverance, and resilience. Learn to lead up and influence those around you with your example and enthusiasm. Figure out how to add value to those around you by your actions and attitudes.

As we watch the Final Four this weekend, I hope we see the best that college athletics has to offer.  The games are fun to watch. The stories are captivating. And the lessons we learn last long after the final horn sounds.

Develop a sense of grit, bounce back when you fall, and be coachable. Use the mindset of a walk-on to make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.

 

The Power of Reflection

It was Monday, January 2nd, and my daughter in my office asking me to print off another coloring page. With it being the start of a new year, I wanted my 7-year-old to set her goals for a new year and think about what she wanted to accomplish. So before I printed off another Christmas Puppy coloring page, I did a quick Google search for “Kids Goals Worksheets”. She was not as excited as I was when I handed her the page, but she headed over to the table and started to write.

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Link

Of the 3 kids goal sheets that I printed off, one of them caught my attention. This page caught my attention. In the past, I simply move from Dec. 31st to Jan. 1st and start to think about the coming year without reflecting on the last 365 days. As I tried to help my daughter think through the questions, it hit me that I should be doing the same thing.

As we think about the year that just concluded, this exercise requires us to take inventory and assess where we’ve been before we think about where we want to go. I decided that if this is good enough for my 7-year-old, then it’s good enough for me.

OUT WITH THE OLD (2016)

2 Favorite Memories 

3 Things I’m Grateful For

1 Hard Lesson I Learned

1 Thing I Did This Year That I’m Proud Of

IN WITH THE NEW (2017)

3 Places I Want to Go

2 Ways I Can Help Others

1 Thing I Want to Get Better At

3 New Things I Want to Try

As we get older, the comes a day when we quit dreaming. We quit asking ourselves, “Where do we want to go?” or “What is something new I want to try?”. Goals are important, and looking back allows us to formulate a vision for the future. If we allow ourselves to dream, it gives our goals meaning and purpose.

So this January, as I start planning for 2017 and put my goals down in writing, I wanted to take a moment to reflect. By asking these simple questions, I’m able to reflect on the good, the bad, the challenges, the lessons, and the opportunities from the last year. We don’t drive looking out our rearview mirror, and in the same way, we shouldn’t all our energy dwelling on the past. However, the past gives us perspective and helps look ahead if we understand where we’ve been.

In the end, my daughter put down her answers and earned another coloring page. She may forget coloring another My Little Pony page, but I hope she sees the value of reflection and the power of goals.

I hope we all live intentionally with vision and purpose in 2017!

Milestones – Day 1400

Milestone days generally lead to blog posts. I’ve been absent from the blog for too long, and I’m getting a jump on 2017’s goals by writing today. img_3949

On Dec. 16th, 2016, my running streak hit day 1400. Some days are easier than others, and I’ve looked forward to this day for a long time. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that today’s run coincided with the 1-year anniversary of a new adventure.  and I’ve been blessed with good health and freedom from injuries. In addition, I’ve been blessed with a wife that allows me to continue a daily endeavor that could be diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive.

Over the last 1400 days I’ve been blessed with good health and freedom from injuries. In addition, I’ve been blessed with a wife that allows me to continue a daily endeavor that could be diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive.

Some runs are for learning and listening to podcasts to maximize my time. And some runs are just me and a lonely road at 5 a.m. In the silence, there is room for reflection and prayer. This milestone run was a time to look back at the journey over the last year and to see God’s guidance along the way.

As I look back on the past year, I’ve seen God work in my life in ways I could never imagine. From losing a job to starting over, the last 365 days have had their ups and downs. When I started this streak on Feb. 13th, 2013, I think God knew that this is what I’d need to help get me through a tough year. Friday’s 7 miles gave me the opportunity to look back at the last year and look forward to the future.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to documenting more and sharing the lessons I’ve learned from running and trying to be intentional in life. Watch for more posts on the blog, and I hope I can bring value, encouragement, and inspiration to all who reay. See you down the road…

 

E.P.I.C. Students – 7 Tips for Implementing Classroom Technology

It was 20 years ago that I first stepped foot onto a college campus. As I spend more time on college campuses, it’s amazing how much students and classrooms have changed over the last 2 decades. We had little access to technology, and if we wanted to call home, we had to wait in line at the one pay phone in the dorm.Technology Blog Pic

Contrast this experience with what students see today.  Almost all students step on campus with at least one connected device, and most have access to two or more. Classrooms and buildings have been updated with WiFi to keep students connected. Instructors plan and design lectures to be interactive as technology has allowed us to communicate and engage students.

Since becoming a teacher in 2004, I have seen various technologies come and go. Sometimes technology changes the way we do things for the better, and sometimes technology just changes how we do things. Our students today come with a different perspective and background even compared to those from just 10 years ago.

Dr. Tim Elmore has done a vast amount of research on today’s students (http://growingleaders.com/tim-elmore/). He describes today’s students as E.P.I.C.

Experiential – students prefer a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage.

Participatory – these students grew up with American Idol and are accustomed to having a “vote”.

Image Rich – “Screenagers” – this is the language of the 21st century.

Connected – they view technology as vital – comparable to air and water.

As we think about this EPIC generation, we can begin to plan new ways of instruction and engagement in our classes. One of the most powerful ways that I’ve used technology to impact students is by incorporating a student response system. In my time at i>clicker / REEF Polling, I have seen how students can participate and stay connected, while using technology in an intentional and purposeful way.

The rest of this blog will look at 7 ways to get the most out of your student response system.

Explain Why

Author Simon Sinek, discusses the importance of “Why” in his book Start with Why. When we explain the why, we plant the seeds for success and students begin to buy in to what we are trying to accomplish. As you share your goals with students, your “why” may include the following:

  • Promote participation and attendance
  • Provide and receive instant feedback
  • Foster community
  • Increase engagement
  • Assess comprehension
  • Generate discussions
  • Enhance conceptual understanding
  • Provide students with additional resources.

These are just a few ideas of why we would want to use a student response system with our EPIC students.

 

Set Expectations Early

To be clear is to be kind. By letting know students what to expect, we remove surprises and set ourselves up for success. Let students know what they need to bring – i>clicker, phone, or laptop – and let them know early on how to access. Use your syllabus and Blackboard to share useful tips and information as well as resources and support.

You might also consider dropping the lowest 5-10 scores. This encourages participation and allows for challenges that arise over the course of a semester (i.e. forgot their i>clicker or phone). This is also a great time to discuss academic integrity and cheating.

By setting expectations early on, we help set students up for success and lay a solid foundation for a successful semester.

 

Use for more than attendance

Use for more than just a replacement of a sign-in sheet. The SAMR model is a great illustration of the hierarchy and goal of technology. If we simply use technology as a substitute for an older way of doing things, then we fail to get the most out of technology.

As we move along the spectrum, from Augmentation, to Modification, and the ultimate goal of Redefinition, we have a chance to do things with technology that were not possible prior to that technology being available.

For example, in a class of 200 students, if we only use a clicker to take attendance, we’ve simply substituted what we used to do with pencil and paper. However, if we ask questions, allow time for discussion, and provide instant feedback for students, then we begin to redefine teaching and learning with technology.

If we leverage the technology available, we can help students learn and succeed, and we ultimately create more engaging classrooms.

 

Allow time for discussions

One of the best examples of discussions comes from an instructor using REEF Polling at the University of North Texas. She gives students a question about the best choices of breakfast foods. She then presents new information and allows students time for discussions. Finally she asks the same question again to students. She is able to see the shift in students’ thinking, and students are able to see their progress.

Breakfast pic question

Use for more than just multiple choice

While mobile technology sometimes allows for more types of questions (target and open-ended), physical clickers can also allow students to answer numeric and short answer questions. While may not ask students to type “War and Peace” with their a clicker, if we can have them answer different types of questions, we’re more likely for them to be engaged and participate.

Short answer question

 

Review/Recap or Exit Poll

As class ends, ask students a final question to assess whether or not they got the main point. You can also allow students to ask their own questions or provide feedback on what they’d like to see next class.

  • Did students get it?
  • Are we ready to move on?
  • Did the activity work?
  • How did I do?

 

Extend use beyond the classroom

Encourage students to access information and review after class. If you sync your scores to Blackboard, remind students to check to see how many points they received. If students are using REEF Polling, have them review sessions to see questions that were asked.

Student Review

 

Looking ahead to a new semester

Technology, when used effectively, increases the chances of making a difference with our students. As we look to a new semester, we have a new opportunity to reach students and impact future generations. Technology opens doors and allows us to do new things with our students.

Our students today are Experiential, Participatory, Image rich, and Connected. Knowing this will allow us to plan, prepare, and implement technology in a powerful way to engage our students and transform the landscape of education.

 

Note: The above article was modified from a webinar I recently hosted entitled 7 Strategies for a Successful Student Response Experience.

Webinar pic