A colleague and mentor recently called me a “path-finder”. This came in the middle of a discussion about my future career goals and aspirations. When I asked what else I could be doing to further my own leadership development in preparation for future roles, this person said to me, “I’m not worried about you. You are a path-finder. You will find your next role, or you will create it!”
This has stuck with me for a number of reasons, one of which is my rereading of The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, and my participation in this Season 3 of IMMOOC. When I reflect about the 8 characteristics of the innovator’s mindset (see graphic below), I believe that I have cultivated many of these as I have grown into my leadership.
I think the idea of me as a “path-finder” represents my ability to take risks (#3), to be networked (#4), to be observant (#5), to be a creator (#6), to be resilient (#7) and to be reflective (#8). I could probably make a case for characteristics #1 and #2, but I won’t do that… today!
When I began my journey to become a teacher over 24 years ago, I had no idea I would end up where I am (the location or the position!), nor did I have a plan for the path I took to get here. I think this is one of the joys of living a life driven by an innovator’s mindset! I have loved every job I’ve ever had. I have learned ways to improve as a teacher, a coach, a leader, and a learner. I have also learned things that I never want to do as an educator.
There have been times in my career when I decided that my path was going to diverge, because my ethics, my personal beliefs, and my core values, were driving me to make a change. Each time this happened, I really did become a “path-finder,” seeking out an opportunity that would align with my values and allow me the chance to positively impact student or adult learners. My current job was one that didn’t exist before me. I’ve had the honor to create the position and the work over the last two years and it’s been amazing!
I may not exhibit all 8 characteristics of the innovator’s mindset every day, but those characteristics live within me and drive me to make personal and professional decisions regularly. If I never listened to those characteristics whispering to me years ago (long before George labeled them for me!), I might still be in a very different place in my professional life. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have created for myself, as each new experience as helped me grow. My leadership is stronger because of the paths I found and took along my educational journey.
I am participating in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with hundreds of other educators across the globe, about The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. These are my reflections for Season 3, Week 2 of #IMMOOC.