“How” and “Why” are More Powerful than “What”

One of the many things that I learned from Jim Ellsberry during my first semester in Butler’s EPPSP program was that process was AT LEAST as important as content. That was the fall of 1995, and that may have been the first conscious moment of my conviction that the path to anything is more important than the destination. Many will argue that as long as you get to the correct destination as quickly as you can, then you are going to be successful. That would be ok, if it weren’t for the fact that we work with people. People take time. To make any change effective, people must first BELIEVE that the change is valuable.

I ran across a quote from Joellen Killion the other day regarding coaching. She currently serves as senior advisor to Learning Forward and she said: “A good coaching relationship is one in which the coach and teacher are willing to talk less at the level of practice and more at the belief level. The coach is willing to have very courageous conversations, challenging conversations with teachers about their belief systems and how their beliefs impact their instructional decisions.”

So, BELIEFS impact DECISIONS. That’s powerful!

Not only is “how” we go about our work important, so is “why”. Understanding the purpose for our future action takes into account that when we work at the belief level with others, we have a greater chance to impact their actions. With purpose comes passion and with passion comes ownership. When we get others to own the initiative, we’ve led.

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