Choose Who You Want To Be

New Rule: Choose Who You Want To Be

The Learning Omnivores were pleased and honored to host Meg Wheatley for a day of learning Friday, August 2nd in Provo, UT. This workshop was based on the book, ‘Who Do You Choose To Be’ by Meg Wheatley.

We need leaders now more than ever. Unfortunately, many of the successful practices of leaders are not working as well as they have in the past. A new quality of leadership is required for navigating the rough seas we are currently in and of the challenges ahead.

One issue is, stop fighting the wrong battles. I used to think, as many leaders do, you have to fight every battle. As a physics major, I learned there is ‘conservation of energy.’ Fighting every battle drains energy and when a really important battle confronts us, we sometimes have nothing left. Each leader has to determine if it is the Right Fight. See a book titled by Jo Joni, S. & Beyer, D. (2010).

Leaders as warriors know that they may not win the fight AND it is the right things to do. Each leader has to make the call for him or herself based on what they believe is important and their own situation. I know when I was in my late 30s, with a spouse and two kids, I had to weigh the cost of fighting to myself and family.

I readily admit I didn’t always make the best choice. Leadership and speaking truth to power is a choice. It seems as though the choice has to be made more often now. Clarity of self-sacrifice and what may be lost is important to understand prior to making the call to action. At the same time, if we as leaders don’t stand up, who will. Especially for those who do not have a voice.

Meg had us tell a story to another person where you acted not in your own self-interest. Try this. I was amazed at what came out of my mouth, how I relived the experience, and that I would definitely do it again. (Hint – if was advocating for a student)

Another quote Meg shared with us is, “we protest in order to protect.” As I reflected on this I know I protest to prevent loss for me and/or others. Protests can reflect our values. I know I protest more strongly for the values I hold important. See the values exercise by Stan Slap (2010) in ‘Bury My Heart in conference room B.’

Meg shared that there were three things people wanted in life – EARN, LEARN, BELONG. I thought about that all week. It seems to fit for me. I want to earn enough to be comfortable, I want to get better so I keep learning by reading and workshops, and I want to belong. Most of us feel uncomfortable when we feel we don’t fit. Think of kids who don’t think they fit.

I keep coming back to Ted Dintersmith’s book (2018) ‘What School Could Be.’ He found schools in every state that were developed by teachers and leaders to help kids fit. Kudos to those heroes and sheroes who made a place for kids to belong, so they could learn, and earn in the future.

Chocolate Chip Cookies. I assume you like them. Meg used Chocolate Chip Cookies as a metaphor for organizations.
1. What are the ingredients in chocolate chip cookies?
2. Do you taste chocolate chip cookies by tasting the ingredients?
3. It is only when they are mixed in the right proportions that you get chocolate chip cookies.
4. You can’t re-separate or re-segregate the chocolate chip cookies back into the individual ingredients.
5. They taste good.

Maybe that is what Dintersmith found in every state. Teachers and leaders found the right mix to attract and retain students. They are better than being alone to fend for themselves. I think this was true for staff and students with the communities benefitting the most over the long-term.

Meg left us with a few questions to ponder. I offer these to you.
• Who are you serving? Yourself? Others?
• What calms you down? How often are you doing those things?
• What are you capable of? Are you using those talents?

Thank you, Meg, for a wonderful day of learning. Namaste’


Dintersmith, Ted. (2018). What School Could Be. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press.

Joni, S. & Beyer, D. (2010). The right fight. New York: HarperCollins

Slap, Stan. (2010). Bury My Heart at Conference Room B. New York: Penguin.

Wheatley, Margaret. (2017). Who Do We Choose To Be? San Francisco: Berrett Kohler


Shift Happens. If you don't adopt New Rules, drop the "f" in Shift!