Written by Jon Sheldahl, chief administrator at Great Prairie AEA
Photo from http://media.gq.com/photos/581b282f1d9350ec3ee3787f/3:2/w_880/cubsworldseriers.jpg

Only one other time have I used my blog space to share someone else’s thoughts and ideas. Jon Sheldahl, chief administrator at Great Prairie AEA, was the composer, and I see him as one of the best authors and writers in Iowa. This month’s blog is another example of Jon’s excellent work. As a lifelong Cubs fan, Jon put into words what I thought. Please enjoy his “lessons learned” from the now World Champion Cubs.

I would like to add one more lesson to his list: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! This “never-never-never-give-up” lesson was evident so many times during the National League Championship Series and the World Series. The fact that the Cubs’ teammates believed in each other and never gave up allowed them to win the coveted prize—one that they had not won in 108 years.

Enjoy Jon’s blog…

CUBS WIN! Lessons Learned From the 2016 World Champions

First of all to Cardinal fans in the area, I apologize for the title of this blog, but after 108 years of futility and a personal investment of nearly a half century in the team formerly known as the lovable losers, I just feel entitled to take advantage of this rare opportunity to extoll my team by pointing out some lessons I’ve learned about education and leadership from baseball’s world champions. I also need to apologize to Jennifer Woodley, our public relations coordinator, for causing her to get The Cornerstone out later than she would have liked this month, but I knew I needed to write something about the World Series win or lose. (Sorry Jen). I’ve had a couple days to reflect on some lessons learned now, so here goes! These are things that I think we can all learn from (say it with me….) THE WORLD CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS and apply to our professional lives as educators.

The first thing I learned this season is that positive outcomes come from positive culture. If you have followed this year’s Cubs or any successful organization for that matter, you will see that the people in the organization are loyal to one another first. Teammates never speak negatively about one another and they don’t talk outside of school. They trust and support one another. I’m sure no organization is ever conflict free, but successful organizations know how to resolve conflict and maintain trust at the same time.

The second thing I learned this year is there is a big difference between simply having a vision and having a belief in that vision. Joe Maddon said in his post game interview that “you have to believe to see.” That statement resonated with me right away. He was talking about getting everyone to see the same thing, but more importantly, getting everyone to believe in the same thing. Every organization has a vision statement, but the best organizations have visions that people believe will come true and they constantly remind one another of the successes that are building toward future positive outcomes. Problem solving is ongoing, but the culture is fueled by positive belief and recognition of success, not by problem identification or even problem solving.

This brings me to another lesson learned and that is positive leadership matters.Championship teams have leadership that constantly points out how people are succeeding in making their vision a reality. Anyone who has followed Joe Maddon’s press conferences this year will see that even after his team has performed poorly, he always points out everything that was done well during every game. He makes it part of his job to say good things about his team and his team follows suit by saying good things about one another. Good teachers at every level recognize the importance of building constructively on the success of every student. Success builds confidence and confidence builds success. It is a responsibility of the teacher and the leader to emphasize and recognize the good things that happen every day and to make sure that they stay intentional in doing so. I’m not sure anything is more important.

The last take away from this year’s champions is that data is important, but the most important things in life can’t be measured. I bet you never knew that Anthony Rizzo has a .327 batting average against left handed pitchers under six feet tall or that Javier Baez only makes contact with 27% of pitches with a spin rate over 2100 after the 3rd inning. If you don’t know what those things mean don’t worry. I just made them up anyway. I did so though to point out the limitless supply of data that we now have at our fingertips, both in baseball and education. Some of it’s critically important, some of it less so and there appears to be no limits to our desire to collect more. We need data to be strategic and to identify best practices. We just have to remember that there is no metric for confidence, or joy, or trust, or respect, or love. At the end of the day, those are the things that really move the needle on all things we are able to measure.

I could go on and on about the importance of preparation and hard work, or the importance of making the workplace a safe place to fail, or twenty other things we can learn from championship organizations, but I wanted to focus first on what I think are the most important lessons learned here and that’s people believing in each other, supporting one another, and celebrating one another. That’s what really matters. And besides, I have data that shows that only 11% of cardinal fans will read an essay longer than five paragraphs when the word “Cubs” appears in the title. Go Cubs Go!

As always, be sure to check out our blogs, which we hope will inform, inspire and guide your daily work:

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Educationally yours,

Dr. Tim Grieves
Chief Administrator