Thoughts and Tools

Self-differentiated Leading

So, I’ve been reading and thinking about how to change myself as well as help others around me change.  Friedman’s “A Failure of Nerve” (2007) has many good things to say about being a leader, particularly a well-differentiated one.  While I’m not in a position of formal leadership, I am still in the position to influence myself and those around me!

There are several key factors that will be important for me to remember from Friedman’s thoughts as I move forward.  I thought I’d outline them here.


Key Factors for My Differentiation

Being decisive is more important than having all the right information.

It is important to read tech reviews.  It is good to read through studies of how BYOD classrooms can be run.  It is crucial that I learn the frameworks for putting together a good flipped lesson.  But there is a point at which more data will just overwhelm me and give me a ‘paralysis of analysis’.  If I actually want to change, I’ll need to visualize new things in my classroom.  I’ll need to feel it, dream about it, and have the nerve to just try things out!  I’ll never have enough information to know just how things will work, so I’ll need to remember that sometimes you just need to ACT and see what will happen.


Change is as much emotion as thinking.

The process of diving into change will need lots of emotional energy and effort!  I won’t be able to just ‘think’ change into existence.  Change is hard for everyone.  Resistance is natural.  It takes fortitude and courage to keep pushing for new experiences.  And ‘seeing’ where these new experiences come from will draw on my emotional and mental processes to a great degree.


Remember that the past experiences and habits of ALCS will exist within the new reforms being aimed at.

Creativity and change never happen in a vacuum.  We all have our past experiences that have formed us to be who we are in the present.  But this is also true of institutions.  I won’t be able to import someone else’s ‘new’ into my school because they don’t have the same past in their circumstances!  What I need to do is create something new that fits within the realities of who we are as a school now.  And who we are is very much tied to where we have been.  The past won’t go away because I want change…it will be with me in the change.  I need to remember this so that I’ll embrace it and let the past guide me into what will be.


Seek enduring change.

I don’t want this to be a quick ‘techno fling’.  I’m looking for an injection of some new DNA that will change how things are done at my school.  I want to be wise so that the new ‘implant’ doesn’t get rejected but instead gets welcomed into the toolboxes, minds, and hearts of our faculty.  This won’t be easy.  It won’t be fast.  But I pray that it will be good and that it will last.


Friedman, E. H. (2007). A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix. Church Publishing, Inc. ISBN B009VHSBYK


Curtis White, M.S., M.C.E.
High School Faculty
Math, Science, Bible & Computers
Abundant Life Christian School
A Madison Christian School