Simon Sinek is known as, among other things, an unshakeable optimist. But what does optimism mean to this bestselling author? It’s an infinite mindset—one that uses the past as a means to improvement, not a deterrent to growth. It isn’t necessarily the absence of cynicism, fear, or negativity; it’s a determined focus on hope.
In this Facebook Live from the 2019 Model Schools Conference, Sinek sat down with HMH to discuss his career and his perspective on mindset—and how they tie into K–12 education.
Keep the WHY in Mind
Maintaining optimism can be difficult, particularly when we forget why we’re doing something, Sinek said. The best ways to keep that WHY in mind: share it with others and also remind yourself of your WHY. It’s important, Sinek said, to connect to the people who reap the benefits of your hard work. This makes teachers especially fortunate because they are constantly interacting with their students.
Practice Servant Leadership
When Sinek was asked where he first encountered the idea of servant leadership, where leaders forgo their own interests to take care of the people they are leading, he responded that it was during his work with the Marine Corps. Teachers often view themselves as servant leaders, but Sinek suggested that principals and other education leaders should adopt this mindset as well. “A leader’s job is to take care of the people who are responsible for the results,” Sinek told HMH, and the people responsible for results in schools are teachers. When teachers feel like their principals support them, they can channel their energy into their students instead of feeling like they must constantly advocate for themselves.
Choose an Infinite Mindset
In the Facebook Live, Sinek discussed his latest book, The Infinite Game, and how it applies to K–12 education. In it, Sinek delineates the concept of the infinite mindset, which to him is an attitude of constant improvement. It isn’t about becoming the best but continuously becoming better. In education, there’s no way to “win.” Even when a student receives a diploma or moves onto the next grade, his or her education doesn’t truly end. Infinite growth is both internal and external, and as such, educators must think beyond the bounds of their own classrooms. If you constantly seek improvement within your teaching methods but don’t learn from or teach other educators, you lose opportunities to promote infinite growth for your colleagues and your students.
Does your school have a must-tell turnaround story? Are you making strides in student achievement and meeting several of these criteria? Do you have an innovative solution to a widespread challenge? We want to hear from you. Apply to present as a Model School or an Innovative District at next year's conference.