Working hard in leadership is not something someone asks you to do. Once you begin your leadership role, you already know hard work is what you do.

As a leader, you fall in love with what you do and the people you serve. Then you discover people you serve love what they do and you. It is a glorious feeling when these align. There is no stress because everyone is working hard for and with love.

Enthusiastically our passion shines bright with opportunities. Optimistically we know the value of what we do, but most importantly, the value of who we are and who receives our work. Our example to others will not be forgotten as we give the gift of love each day as we lead the way.

Lead with L.O.V.E. In February and every month of the year! Love what you do, Do what you Love! Be the Solution Daily in a world that needs you!

Everyone in education knows Harry and Rosemary Wong. Their famous book, The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, is one of the books every practicing teacher has read or heard about in coursework. They believe the classroom's number one problem comes from procedures and routines.

It is a solid foundation for building an organized classroom where students know expectations, understand what is happening, and complete everything the same way each day.

Classrooms have changed. However, the need for this solid approach to procedures and routines is still the best approach to a solid foundation for an organized classroom focused on teaching and learning.

The changes we see in our classrooms are always a reflection of our society. Looking through history, we will see the influences from society in our schools. What are the discipline issues educators would say they face? I want to ask all of them to please share their number one discipline problem. Will you make a comment on the discipline issue which is the number one problem you face?

There are many ways to support our educational system—Locally, get involved actively. Many times schools will ask for engagement. “Please join us with a Family engagement night of reading.” “Please join us at Family Math night.” These are amazing and fun to be part of with your children, but being involved as a volunteer, member of a committee, holding an educational position like a school board member, or being involved with programs at the school has a more significant impact on the overall educational system. Schools, homes, and communities must collaborate with a focus on education and children. How can all of these resources work together to do what is best for the whole child? Many will provide their solutions, but it is up to the local community, parents, and school district to take a stand on what is best for the children involved with their system.

Lack of respect for authority, improving the social-emotional needs of students, understanding the purpose of education, and providing support to individual students are what I would like to provide solutions for home, school, and community. My Two-Rule philosophy helps to give a foundation to build what is needed to succeed not only in school but in life.

The foundation of the philosophy is about choices. Students learn about the importance of helping themselves and others to feel good and safe where they are. When you understand the thinking process in this way, solutions are seen first, and problems begin to shrink. It is in asking the right questions, providing the answer, and learning responsibility for our choices.


If you do not have trust in any relationship or environment, there is no chance it will last or work.

Have you ever worked in an environment where you did not trust those you worked with or worked for? If you have, you know exactly how it feels. While listening to an individual tell her story of the situation she had just been through, as tears formed in her eyes, my heart sank. No one needs to ever go through a time when they feel like this, making a choice over themselves or those they serve and deciding who they can trust.

It isn't easy in your work life when there is no trusting environment. You do not feel like you can take those risks to do extraordinary things for those you serve. Sometimes you are asked to do things you know are not right. What do you do when your boss tells you to do something you know is incorrect, does not follow legal guidelines, and is not in the best interest of those you serve? Do you do it to keep your job or not?

In the business world, education, and organizations, people work with us based on our reputations. It takes years to build up who we are, our beliefs, and our core values. Can an individual have enough influence to make others believe something untrue about you? I found an article that is not something I would typically select to read. However, it was fun to read, and the points below come from the article.

How do you know if your boss is working against you?

I have to say, I have had a boss with most of the above points. The article provides information on how to deal with these points. Excuse the language, especially in the title. It does get your attention.

Trust is an integral part of every relationship. As a boss or leader, you are gaining the trust of those you serve and it is the most crucial part of your work. Keeping that trust is what you work to do each day. When you are working in a high-stress level job or doing a job where knowing those above you and beside you will be there to support you is critical.

Everyone wants to feel good and safe while working to accomplish those two needs; trust has to be present. A friend shared the graphic below, and I think it represents leadership. What it should be and should not be.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14

One of my rules is about feeling safe. As a child, I was terrified of the dark. When the lights went out, I could not see, and what I could not see scared me. How I did not know in reality, even when the light is on, there are things we cannot see we should be terrified of.

We’ll leave the light on for you. Is it an excellent marketing hit for what hotel chain? It is the best phrase and the spokesman Tom Bodett has the perfect tone of voice to capture the emotion the advertisers want.

At this moment, there seems to be a spotlight being used to flash from this political talking point to the next. Some politicians change their points of view based on polling numbers and then personal attacks on each other. I know I have watched these things happen before in my decades of life, but today they seem to be a little more dangerous.

My heart broke as we flipped on the TV going through stations, and saw a report of several people killed. The shooter had been killed in the process, he was 15 years old. Then another story I read about police officers responding to an emergency call of domestic violence which could have been just a way to get them to come so they could be attacked. Why so much anger?

Another spotlight is shining brightly on education. It should be! I am a retired educator and I have always wanted more attention on education, someone to look at the equity of the funding for education and to look at how we support education overall.

Starting my career as a Teaching Assistant and ending as the Director of Educational Support Programs, I have been blessed to see through the lenses of many. I have been in rural schools, urban schools, high-poverty schools, and diverse schools, and I have worked with gifted students and special needs students. However, the spotlight is shining with a twist on education.

What is happening in education, to education, and with education?

Parents should be involved! Students should be concerned! The community should be involved! “Education is something we do with children, not to them.” My Two Rule philosophy includes partnerships of home-school-community. The center of the philosophy is the child. Children are developing and growing on a life-long journey. Our responsibility is to provide a strong foundation of skills to help them reach the highest possible levels and to provide a pathway to success.

Now that the light is on education, it is time to show what you need, what you are doing, and how you will build partnerships to achieve for the students you serve. Step into the light and make your voice heard to push back on the positives you are doing. It is time to let your light shine bright! Please let me know if I can help you. Education for all children is essential to all of us.

What is wrong with your arm?

“I fell outside on my elbow and was sent to the nurse. She looked at it and got me ice. Told me to go to class, but it hurts really bad.”

Why didn’t someone tell me? I am right here! MaryAnn can I go ahead and leave, I am taking her to the doctor.

“Yes, go right ahead. Not a problem.”

I got my things together and told Sarah not to move her arm; we went straight to see Doc. I saw the nurse as I was walking out of my room, heading for my car.

“I gave her some ice; I am sure it will be fine.” the nurse says as we are walking down the hallway.

“What, I am right down the hallway, and you did not think to get me. We are going to see the doctor straight now. I do not think she is fine. I am furious with you right now. It is best not to have a conversation.”

We were pulling up to the doctor’s office in town where I used to work, and they took us right back. The doctor took one look and said she needed to go to Champaign. Do not let her eat. She may need surgery, but we will not know until they exray it. We will call ahead to let them know you are on your way.

It was not fractured to needing surgery but was very close. The doctor stated it was broken, and they would need to put her in a cast. It was close to needing surgery, but she was a lucky girl.

My daughter is now a special education teacher with three children of her own, 14, 7, and 4 years of age. At the time of her injury, she was in third grade, and I was teaching right down the hallway in a Title I Resource Room. No one had to go out of their way to find me. So the “fracture” of communication with parents has been in place for some time.

I did not let it go or get by without something being done about it, and I stood up for not just my child but all children. I continue to do so. Parents have the right to know, need the ability to ask questions, and approve of the things going on in the schools. It is a collaboration together. Children spend a great deal of time at school. Parents and families need to be able to trust, respect, and feel good about all of those in the care of their children. Open communications, collaboration, and listening help to get things moving in the right direction.

If family engagement and involvement are not a priority for you, please make it one. This is how things will begin to change and improvements made.

Make it a great day or not; the choice is yours to make. Is it your choice? Did you choose for the guy in the pickup truck five cars ahead of you to have a flat tire blocking traffic? How about the lady at the drive-up who dropped your card while trying to pick up a quick coffee? Those were not the choices you made this morning to cause you to be running behind now.

When I hear the words in the paragraph, I am reminded of a book I have read to my child, grandchildren, and students called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

Alexander is introduced to us as a kid with an unruly crop of hair who gets out of bed to face a day that seems to grow increasingly worse with each passing minute. On the first page, Alexander wakes up to find his hair full of gum, trips on his skateboard, and then drops a sweater in a sink full of water. As the pages unfold, so does the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!

I started with a phrase I have used often in each day of my professional career. We are at times not in control of all of the actions which interfere with our day, but we are still in control of the choices we make in how we respond. In the case of a flat tire, our response can be to help out by assisting with changing the tire, calling for help, and reassuring others involved. When the card is dropped at the drive-up, let the individual know it is okay. Hopefully, she will get a coffee break soon, pay for the coffee behind you, and spread the message we all get rushed at times.

Earned Life

I received a message one day on my LinkedIn account from Marshall Goldsmith. He noticed we had something in common and thought I would like his new book, The Earned Life. I told him I would read it and provide a review. I am not finished, but I have found it intriguing. “We are living an earned life when the choices, risks, and effort we make in each moment align with an overarching purpose in our lives, regardless of the eventual outcome.”-The Earned Life, Marshall Goldsmith. He identifies four attributes that are essential factors for success: Motivation, Ability, Understanding, and Confidence. Each one of these attributes is important for your toolbox, and the absence of one can dramatically increase your probability of failure.

Goldsmith takes his inspiration from Buddhism. He offers guidance and examples and supports practices to promote habits to help move from what we want to achieve to what we do.

I plan to dig deeper into The Earned Life. The choice is a part of my philosophy of Education as we work to support feeling good and safe while building skills needed for a successful life journey. Goldsmith also talks about regret, which I have written about as well. Working together to achieve, live our purpose, and understand our who, what, how, and why, the strategies begin to connect as habits form.

Choice begins the process. We think about our potential, purpose, and passion. In our lives, we do not want to have regret; we want to take risks and time for things in life we love and enjoy. In a blink of an eye, life can pass by. One of the things in The Earned Life I have found to be powerful for me is this: “Before you can effectively earn the next phase of your life, you have to disengage from the old phase your claim to have left behind. You not only have to let go of past achievements (you are not the person who earned those achievements), but you also have to relinquish your old identity and way of doing things. It’s okay to learn from our past, but I don’t recommend going back to visit every day.”-Marshall Goldsmith.

Starting today to The Earned Life:

“I made a decision to write for my readers, not to try to find more readers for my writing.” - Seth Godin

A circle is a round-shaped figure that has no corners or edges. Have you heard circle used in different ways? When you think about a circle, you visualize the shape in your mind. A circle is a perfectly round shape—meaning any point around its curve is the same distance from its central point. “She is not part of that circle of friends.” “It is so important to have a circle of trust.” “The circle of life is part of the Lion King.” Many examples of the use of a circle as more than just a shape, but symbolic in the meaning of the words attached. The vision in our head may show us the shape, but the words in a phrase bring to our heart a different feeling or emotion.

Have you ever felt left out? I know I have before. People begin talking about something that happened; they start laughing and sharing information. Then here I sat watching them like I was watching a television show instead of sitting with co-workers. Circles of friendships are formed at work and it is great. It is when exclusion from these groups becomes more and more, causing those sitting outside the ring to feel isolated. When the circle of friends crosses over to the circle of safety and trust at work, a sense of belonging and validation is missed by others.

Leaders need to be watchful of these situations and try to resolve them quickly. We absolutely cannot tell others what they do outside of the workplace, and we want everyone to have fun and enjoy work; it is when those areas cross over that we find issues. I will point out leaders, especially if this came from you and modeled. Everyone wants to feel good and to feel safe in their environment. Two Rule philosophy has taught us to look at those two questions. It is applied to every aspect of life and at every stage of life. Establishing a Circle of Safety to include everyone in your organization is essential. Do not leave anyone off the list. Every person in the organization is part of the Circle of Safety.

I started the blog today with a quote from Seth Godin. I started my blog because I was working on writing a book. I need to clarify my efforts in writing, my reasons, and my purpose.

My intentions have only been to help someone. Maybe you are the one I am writing for, and if it is you, I am glad it is. I look at the names of all of those who choose to follow me and the direct messages sent to me. We all come from many different places and have other interests and careers but share many of the same thoughts, troubles, and, at times, tears. I am thankful for a new follower, a like, and an occasional comment, and I am encouraged to write for another day. I hope we create a circle of daily solution friends who can inspire, ask questions, add sparks to life, and share thoughts, ideas, and solutions to make today better than yesterday. Thank you for being part of my circle Janet, Valerie, @DavidCoker, @vivomentor, @togetr4success, @parentingfamiliesdpapa, @thechristiantechnerd, and I have others I will highlight as I continue to appreciate you.

Anytime you want to publish with a big publishing company, they want to know you have established a group of people who would purchase the book you write. I never thought about that part of the process, and I still do not as much as I should. I first began writing the book after my car accident and change in my career as a healing process.

My blog posts are written to help individuals working to serve others. I come from the educational world; I am a wife, mother, and grandmother, so you will find those stories in my writing. I am a faith-based leader, you will also see spiritual, inspirational, and motivational pieces. When you combine all of those pieces, you get: to be the solution daily. Leaders are not those sitting in offices but those doing the work guiding others, shaping and discovering solutions daily with the help of others.

I hope you continue to follow, share, join us and be part of the Circle of Solutions family. We are happy you are here and welcome your thoughts. I left out an important fact about myself. I have always been a Disney fan! This blog post is not complete without ending with the Circle of Life! Enjoy each day we have!

It is so easy to assign worth and value to external things. Watching commercials, television shows, and looking at magazines in the checkout line, you see all of the glamors on display. How many times a day do you compare yourself to others? Be honest with yourself. Do you look at another person, a car, a home, or pictures on Facebook and compare yourself?

When we begin to design our life around the “things” we believe the world identifies as having value and worth, we spend all of our time chasing after them. One day we may wake up with all of these things but realize we do not know who we are, what our purpose is, and feel the need for more.

Life is not about the things you have, the titles assigned to you, the awards given, and the number of followers you have on social media. It is about the value you bring to others and yourself. What is your purpose in life? Everyone has one, and your identity is tied to your defining purpose. I have written about Ken Blanchard, his story of Johnny the Bagger, and how adding value to others is worth the time. Johnny did good work!

Teaching Value, Identity and Purpose

The world of education continues to change daily. However, the core of its purpose, identity, and value do not. Education aims to provide all children with quality development in reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and learning the skills needed to grow in a democratic society. The value of education at the core of teaching consists of helping students gain perspective of life in a better way and lead a successful life as responsible citizens. The identity of education is defined and shaped by the culture. Education has a long history of responding to the actions of the culture, issues, and societal changes. Not to respond to accept the trends, but to help gain understanding of facts to address issues. The teaching goals are to help shape better citizens, gain the skills for better jobs and know the difference between bad and good. Education shows students the importance of hard work and helps students grow and develop. “Education is something we do with children, not to them.”-Brenda Yoho.

If education can form a foundation based on the solid value, purpose, and identity defined, we can shape a better society to live in by knowing and respecting rights, laws, and regulations.

Feeling Good and Feeling Safe

Teaching and learning does not happen when we do not feel good or safe in the place we are. In my previous post, safety was a focus to begin to take steps to get prepared. In preparing for feeling good, we need to have a foundation of our core values, what our purpose is, and how we will be identified as the leader; know our core values, identity, and purpose. You will want to formulate together as a team what this will be for your school. Mission and vision statements are great to have if they are easy to read and applied. I have been a fan of We believe statement pages, We will statement pages, and Assurances from leaders to staff to compliment mission and vision.

My granddaughter is a tiny girl. She is 14 years old, and her goal is to reach 5 feet tall. The doctor told her she would not make it and would fall short (no pun intended) by a few inches. She knew she was in for a genetic battle when all of her aunts were under 5 feet.

Her determination is impressive, so she makes up for it in other ways. After spending some time in the weight room preparing for volleyball tryouts, she was excited to share with us her accomplishments. “Everyone was impressed with me today. I can leg press….wait for it…390 lbs.” What? Are you kidding me? Wow! “That is not all; I did 20 pull-ups, but I was embarrassed by the crowd watching me.” Alright, little girl!

Strength can be deceiving! We never know our strength level until we are pushed to use it. Strength comes in many different forms and types. The pillars of strength are physical, mental, emotional , and spiritual.

We have many things to consider when thinking about how to measure strength, how to celebrate the strength, and how to admire others for the strengths they have. If you can get for point A to point B with very little work, is it the same as someone who traveled the same distance with many obstacles, challenges, and hardships?

Take an Inventory

When you have a little time, begin to take an inventory of the strengths you have as a leader. No need to hit the weight room for training like my granddaughter, but taking a look at what areas you have as strengths is an important inventory to take.

Are there areas in your completed inventory you would like to tune-up? Do you find any gaps? Are there areas you would like to improve? It is also important to ask others what they believe your areas of strengths are as you evaluate strengths. Others may recognize strengths in you that you did not realize you had, or they may point out that the strengths you think you have are a weakness.

How to build your strength:

  1. Focus on purpose
  2. Don’t be afraid to make changes
  3. Don't overthink what you are doing
  4. Stretch yourself and don’t be afraid of discomfort
  5. Set simple short-term goals daily
  6. Develop habits to nourish your mind, body and soul
  7. Exercise your willpower and self-discipline at least once a day
  8. Take care of yourself, positive self talk
  9. Think positively
  10. Meditation and yoga are tools you can add
  11. Look for deeper meanings in what you see, hear, and read
  12. Get out, walk, enjoy nature, travel
  13. Read, ask questions, time to think
  14. Get plenty of rest
  15. Listen deeply
  16. Watch carefully
  17. Engage with others
  18. Experience new things often

Do you have a childhood memory of something you did with your family? One of my memories is opening a box full of different shapes, colors, and a picture to follow as you put the pieces together. Putting jigsaw puzzles together was one of those memories from my childhood. We enjoyed many hours working together to fit the pieces together to finally see the pieces fit together to create the picture on the box.

My daughter was able to enjoy this with her grandparents and with us. Now it is passed down to my grandchildren. When working on fitting the pieces together, you can accomplish so much more!

Building together

In our “connected” world today, we forget how to make the connection with the people in our lives through face-to-face time. Building time together can be valuable, and we must prioritize this as a non-negotiable time. Sitting around a table together thinking, problem-solving, talking, laughing, and engaging in real-time conversations is essential in building trusting relationships.

The puzzle pieces are not just on the table in front of you, but in the makeup of the relationships, you are forming with those sharing the table with you. Inviting those to share a seat at your table is the first step in fitting the pieces into positive relationships.

Two Rule Philosophy

Two Rule Philosophy helps everyone to be safe and good. Two basic needs we all have, want and strive to achieve. It is my passion and purpose to provide everyone with the tools they need to incorporate this into their lives and most importantly into every school setting to ensure every child is safe. There are many tools, resources, steps, and approaches to take to make this happen, but it is as easy as one, two.

My first tool for you to utilize in your school, workplace, home, organization is one I carried with me from my childhood. I hope to work with Shutterfly to incorporate some additional ideas in my book to present to you to utilize, but currently I would like you to try this tool.

We all fit together!

Currently, you can utilize Shutterfly to upload a picture to create a puzzle. This is a fantastic opportunity to work on building relationships with your team, co-workers, and volunteers. In addition, this is a great way to help your family work to have a scheduled family time with purpose as you work together to put your family picture together. You can use this to discuss a family memory you had on a trip, celebration, or special event. I have done this for each of my grandchildren as a way to work on building up each one by talking about the strengths they have and what we enjoy about who they are as individuals.

Two Rules aim is to have everyone working together to help All feel safe and good. When we can build together, we can tear down the walls we have been building up over the many years and look through the many lenses to see solutions instead of problems.

Complete the puzzles in connecting with All in order to build a collaborative environment where everyone is welcomed, and feels safe and good.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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