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Who to look up to.

I'm a habitual podcast listener.  I won't get into the details of all the podcasts that I listen to, but I have a group of podcasts in which I don't miss an episode.  I used to consider myself a reader, and I guess I still am, as proven by the books with pages marked by miscellaneous objects, strewn all over my house that I consider myself in the process of "reading".  Some of those books I've been reading for years.  Podcasts have largely replaced books in my life.  I almost cringe saying that.  They are just easier to digest and I've got a lot to digest at the moment.  I listen to podcasts when I'm doing yard work, house work, driving, and when I fall asleep at night.  I found myself in an unfortunate position a few weeks ago that sent me into a was time for bed and I didn't have any new podcasts episodes to listen to!  I know- woe is me.

Haha, I just did a google image search for "woe is me" expecting to find Cookie the Cook from The Bozo Show who would get upset about something and say, "woe is me!"  Instead I found this...

Whom I just found out is a band who plays music that I'm not into.  You may be into it, I won't judge.  Maybe a little.  

Anyways, here's Cookie the Clown.  I couldn't find any reference to him saying "woe is me" so maybe I'm making it up.  

I have to admit.  He's a little more scary as an adult than I remember him as a child.  Did anybody watch The Bozo Show?  Was it just something in the Chicagoland region?  

Ok, back to the point.  I ran out of podcasts to listen to so in my panic, I got on the iTunes top podcasts lists and recognized the name of a podcast.  Tim Ferriss.  He's the author of a few books I've read- The 4 Hour Body (which I obviously haven't learned much from even though it's a really good and interesting read), The 4 Hour Work Week, and others.  He's an interesting dude.  Always trying to figure out the best and most efficient way to do stuff.  The best and most efficient way to live.  Naturally, I was interested in what he may have to say on a podcast so I clicked on the icon.  I scrolled through the episodes and one stuck out to me so I gave it a listen.  I learned a lot of things in that podcast but one point has stuck with me and I've had it on my mind ever since.  I will link the episode below.  

The guests on the podcast were General Stan McChrystal and Chris Fussell.  From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal served as commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and is kind of a big deal.  Chris Fussell is a former Navy Seal who served as McChrystal's Aide-de-Camp and is also, kind of a big deal.  If my memory serves me correct, Ferriss asked Fussell what the best advice he ever received and Fussell says something along the lines of...

You should always have three people you pay attention to in your organization. 
  • Someone in a position you strive to be in one day.  Someone who you want to be like.  
  • A peer who holds the same or similar position you currently hold who you think does the job better than you.  
  • Somebody who holds the position you previously held who you believe is doing a better job than you did.
He said that if you constantly measure yourself off of and implicitly learn from those people you will be exponentially better than you are.  

Man, that stuck with me.  It's been tumbling in my brain ever since I first listened.  

I know I can think of three people who have made huge impacts on my life simply from my observations of them doing what they do on a day to day basis.  Getting over the innate vulnerability that you feel when you observe somebody doing something better than you is so important.  It's imperative to understand, that if you try your absolute hardest, you may never become as good as they are at the job you both do.  That thought reminds me of the quote, "Reach for the moon.  Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."  I work alongside plenty of stars.  

The importance of peering over the horizon, setting goals and standards for where you want to be- what you want to become, is so incredibly important.  It's life changing.  It's something that I preached to my students from the first day of school every year, to the last but never really understood.  My principal who I worked for at the time was able to put my leaving them in the middle of the year so much more eloquently than I ever could have, and he had a good point.  I wasn't "leaving" them.  I was simply fulfilling a goal I had set a long time ago and they helped me reach it.  It was a teachable moment that I hope those kids will remember - I know I will.  

The piece that stuck out to me the most, and maybe something I've done but can do better if I do it intentionally, are the other two parts.  There are unlimited possibilities of what I can learn from a peer who I know is better than I am at the same job (most everyone I know who is an AP).  

But this, the point he makes about learning from somebody who holds the position you previously held who you think does a better job than you did.  Wow!  I look at all of the teachers who I work for and I have so many people who can fill this role.  I'm lucky.  

I'd love to know your opinion.  Are there people you look up to?  Has it had an affect on your life?  Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.  

Here's the podcast I write of...


  1. I am envious of how naturally you can share your thoughts. Must come from all the books you have read (or podcasts you listen to). I have never really thought about the example you shared, but I most certainly hold someone in high regard for where I want to be one day, someone whom with I share the same position and I am also surrounded by teachers who are far better than I was. They inspire me daily!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thanks! It looks like a jumbled mess to me and I basically have to close my eyes, grimace and push the publish button but I'm glad it makes sense to you! I don't know if the example I shared is a Seal credo or just something he heard along the way that stuck with him. Either way, I hope he doesn't mind that I wrote about it here!


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