Leading with Purpose: What is your WHY? Keynote by Thomas Murray

Last week I attended and presented at the South Carolina Midlands Summit (@SCMSummit) hosted by the fabulous instructional technology team in Richland District Two.  I loved the sessions I attended (and probably need a separate post about them), but I think my best decision at the conference was to attend an extended 2 hour session with Tom Murray called “Leading with Purpose.”

6/12/19 with Tom Murray @SCMSummit

I met Tom in 2017 when he came to our school district as a part of Future Ready Schools (read more about Future Ready at https://futureready.org/).  After that visit, I also bought his book co-authored with Eric SheningerLearning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools Today. I already knew and loved Eric’s work from FETC.  Learning Transformed is an awesome read for any educator. I also love connecting with both of these educators on Twitter – @Thomascmurray  and @E_Sheninger .

But back to last week.  

Like many educators, I was tired and overwhelmed. Tired after a busy school year that ended the Friday before.  Overwhelmed thinking about all I need to do this summer to make sure my teachers, staff and students have a great 2019-20 school year. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of Tom’s session, but I knew I’d enjoy it.  And did I ever. It was JUST what this tired and overwhelmed educator needed the first week of summer break.

Tom started us with the most important question of all – WHY?  What drives you? What is your why?

He gave us time to think, reflect, and write about this.  As I sat writing for several minutes I found that I could feel some of the tension leave me.  Just spending time refocusing on my why helped me drown out some of the noise I often let overwhelm me when I think about my role in my school.

My stream of consciousness writing included:

  • Make a difference
  • Be a person who makes something (anything) better for someone else: easier, more meaningful, more engaging, more fun
  • Help people feel success and create new things
  • Help people be their best selves
  • Keep growing and challenging myself
  • Encourage others to grow
  • Reach new people

What a gift it was to have the time to stop and think.  Thank you, Tom.

The rest of his session was just as amazing.  Tom talked about leaders vs managers and how both are important.  He encouraged us to balance the time we spend working in each of these roles.  As someone who can immerse myself in the managerial part of my job, I needed the reminder.

Throughout the session, Tom built in intentional time for reflection and for talking to others.  I was able to meet and share with a few assistant principals and teachers attending from other districts.  

Tom also focused on relationships and how we build them in our schools.  He challenged us to reach out to someone in our school building and thank them for the work they do every day (PS – Tom – I sent my note today!).  Tom also talked about how every faculty meeting is an opportunity to model your expectations and build relationships. We did two brief get to know each other activities that I look forward to bringing back to my school.  

The last thing from Tom’s session that I want to mention here is Tom’s discussion about fear.  He reminded us that the best things in life are on the other side of fear. He shared a video of Will Smith telling a story about the fear he had leading up to the first time he went skydiving.  That story stuck with me. Why are we more afraid before the scary thing than we are after or during? What could we accomplish if we faced our fears? And no – no skydiving for me any time soon!

If we are clear in our WHY, we can Face Everything And Rise.

Thank you, Tom, for an inspiring morning that was just what this tired and overwhelmed educator needed!

2 thoughts on “Leading with Purpose: What is your WHY? Keynote by Thomas Murray

  1. Jessica Alderman November 18, 2019 / 2:37 am

    I like this post – I need to spend some time reflecting on the “why”. I think some of my purpose has changed in my 15 years of teaching, but a lot of it hasn’t. Thanks!


  2. SpedTeachLove June 22, 2019 / 6:07 pm

    Now I want to look up the Will Smith video. Also, I love the idea of using FEAR as an acronym- this might be something good to do with students at the beginning of the year.


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