Locus of control

Here’s a great quote from Jim Collins’ new book, How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In:

Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.

Do most educators believe this or are they instead inclined to point fingers at the world around them? 

[By the way, if you’re a school leader and you haven’t read Collins’ other books, Good to Great or Built to Last, you need to make an immediate trip to the bookstore!]

7 Responses to “Locus of control”

  1. Wow! That’s heavy! Did Mr. Collins read that on a pillow somewhere?

    Why do any educators read Collins’ books? Seriously.

    Schools are not businesses and Collins himself admits that social institutions are quite different. The focus on the bottom line harms children.

  2. Collins’ work in the books Scott is referring to is an excellent framework for school improvement and leadership training. Teachers in Shakopee, MN are indeed beginning to focus more on what we can control and less on what we cannot through a two + year journey using the language Collins give us. To read more, please visit my post from today at:

    Thank you for the challenge Scott!

  3. Gary, I appreciate your skepticism about corporate perspectives on education but I don’t share your belief that corporate leadership ideas and/or governance models can’t be informative to K-12 school organizations. It’s not that they have nothing to lend us, it’s just that we have to filter what they do/say/think through the appropriate lenses. Like Chris Lindholm, I and others think that Jim Collins’ work is actually pretty useful to K-12 school leaders, particularly when he intentionally tries to apply it to non-profit sectors (like he did in Good to Great and the Social Sectors).

  4. Aside from the fact that such books are really just “get rich quick” schemes not taken seriously by actually successful business leaders, surely our emphasis as educators should be on learning from peers and experts in our midst.

    I documented in that businessmen don’t waste their time reading most of these books. The same article makes the case that few of the popular business gurus have ever accomplished anything besides offer advice.

    I ASSURE YOU that there are no books written by educators being read in the corporate suite. Deborah Meier, Alfie Kohn, Herb Kohl, Ted Sizer, Seymour Papert, Lucy Calkins, Donald Graves, etc… don’t get invited to keynote linoleum installer conferences or to advise banks on monetary policy. Why do we grant such unrequited respect to psuedo-corporate folks?

  5. “When used right,” Collins writes in Good to Great, “technology becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.” So, if a school or district or state is already headed in the wrong direction, more technology/money/time will not cause it to change course.

    I’m writing a review of Good to Great through the education lens right now. I’ll post a link here when I’m finished. I regularly do that for our state board of education, with books that are obviously about education, and with some that are not:

  6. Gary, I learn from anyone who has value to offer me. often that comes from educators. Sometimes that comes from computer folks. Sometimes it comes from corporate folks. Sometimes it comes from mommy bloggers. And so on… Collins is someone that has value for me. If not for you, okay.

    Thanks for keeping us all thinking!

  7. I think we would all agree that leadership behaviors impact the climate and culture of the work place. To me, that is one of the basic points drawn from Collins’ work, thus it adds value to our work as educators. In addition, I liked the quote in this post because I tend to agree with Covey, Swindoll, and others that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond.

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