Inch and Miles – Book Recommendation


I was just out of high school when I read my first John Wooden book. His simple beginnings and the clarity he provides through his Pyramid of Success consistently stick with me more than any other definition of success.

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable”

-Coach John Wooden

His work continues to circle back into my life at important times and the latest instance was last week teaching third graders at Anderson Mill Elementary. The campus has an apprenticeship program where various professionals come in to work with the class while their teachers collaborate on upcoming lessons and assessments. Over the last four years, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing Wooden’s message through his children’s book Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success.

When Lincoln and Harrison were born we read the poems to them each evening before bed and each block on the pyramid serves as an effective benchmark to refer to when we are working on skills, like self-control, determination, or cooperation.

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I can’t recommend this book enough as a foundational bedrock to help our kids discover that success isn’t having trophies or toys, but rather trying to be the best you can be!

Mouse Books Just Make Me Feel Good

I like to think I’m someone who would rather read Oscar Wilde or Mark Train while waiting in line at Starbucks than mindlessly scrolling my Instagram feed. If given the choice between two pockets, which will I choose? My left back pocket contains a time-tested, classic work of literature. My right front pocket contains a Google Pixel where I can encounter new likes, notifications, follows, and a portal to the world.

I so badly want to think I’m someone who reaches for The Happy Prince or The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass rather than my phone. And that’s why I pulled out the debit card when I came across Mouse Books Kickstarter. I contributed $50 so that means I’ll get these little classics in the mail throughout the next year. I loved Mouse Books advertising campaign because they gave me an identity. I want to be someone who reads Mouse Books.

The folks behind Mouse Books created a vision of a version of myself I yearn to be. They tapped in. I’ve been carrying my book for a few weeks and wish I could say I’ve pulled it out more than my phone when idling about, but we are all a work in progress. Baby steps, I’ve read them. To inspire change, it is so important to give your people an ideal to live up to. Give them a beacon on a hill, a hero with whom to identify, and a better future.

Of course, my end goal is to be someone who connects with other people during idle times waiting in lines or for the train to arrive. I’m working on being better at going first and I’m working on taking the initiative to make those connections.

And as I’m working on “going first” I can report that I don’t get hypnotized into a Mouse Book the same way I get sucked into my phone. Other humans are more likely to initiate a conversation with me if I am reading something on paper than if I’m interacting with my device. Finally, they just make me feel good. The Mouse Book is the underdog in the war for our attention. But, it deserves our respect. Give it a shot

Modern Mentoring = Modern Learning

I’m always grateful my chosen profession requires me to be a reader. Working in public education we are always met with new research, blogs, books, Tweets, “innovative ideas”, and Ed Tech sales people. It’s a never-ending series of inputs that dominate our email inboxes and have required me to create a separate number to better weed through the cold calls from those who find my title on our organization’s web site and want “just a few moments” of my time to share something that is sure to change the face of public education. I love it all, but it get’s to be a lot.

The onslaught of information is all worth it though when you stumble upon something that feels like it was created just for you. I stumbled upon Modern Mentoring recently at the Round Rock Public library. A focus on organizational learning drives my work. While my job title has changed a few times over the last few years, that central focus must be the core value of any leader.

Randy Emelo connects modern mentoring with organizational learning as a whole. The word “mentoring” is so loaded and we make such a big deal out of it that it becomes intimidating. It reminds me of Drew Dudley’s TED talk about lollipop moments and how we have made leadership such a big and daunting proposition that many shy away from it. The same happens with mentoring. As Emelo points out, when we make mentoring into some “expert creates protege” relationship there is too much pressure on each participant. Look what happened with Obi-Won and Annakin.

Modern mentoring is about social learning and an egalitarian approach to communication. This thought resonated so much with my own that I unleashed my own mild Tweet storm on a Saturday morning.

As a firm believer of the 70/20/10 philosophy of professional learning, the importance of flattening communication barriers, a limiting reliance on workshop-based learning, and increasing agency for the individual in driving her or his own learning has never been more important. Some point to the learner who has changed – blame it on the millennials – but I disagree. It’s our work that drives this need for change. Our work requires flexibility where it used to require repetition. Our learning requires choice where it used to require compliance.

Emelo reminds of all of this through the lens of mentoring. All learning that lasts, learning that changes our behavior for the better, is mentoring. Pick up a copy of his book and think about your own learning – especially professionally. Where does it really happen? Do you learn from traditional hierarchical compliance-based systems – or in spite of them? Or do you learn through peer-to-peer networks, informal relationships, and by reflecting on your practice with trusted colleagues?

Are you from Round Rock ISD? Stay tuned for Moden Mentoring to be included in our upcoming organization-wide book clubs.