Whales & Collective Efficacy

Let’s be honest…it was just a matter of when and not if I would write about whales. I love whales. A lot.

My first whale experience was about 12 years ago when the redheads and I went to Sea World with my grandparents. I was in love from the very first moment I locked eyes with Shamu . Since then I have sought opportunities to see whales, watch whale movies, google whales…I think you can identify a pattern.

In 2016, on a trip to Seattle, my sweet husband took me on a tour to see whales in the wild. I fell in love all over again the first time I saw Gray Whale #56 breach the water.

Last year, before a conference started in San Diego-I booked a whale watching tour for myself. I just couldn’t pass up the chance to see the whales as they migrated north. It was a magical afternoon, truly, magical.

This week I was reminded of my magical, solo whale “watching” trip while learning with an elementary staff about the importance of “small wins” and building collective efficacy. We were connecting the concept of change management in corporations to the massive change effort our teachers undertake in their classrooms as they grow our students over the course of a year.

The article (Change management is a dolphin, not a whale — https://www.torbenrick.eu/t/r/ixe) contained this graphic:

And as we were discussing the connections and applications to our work in schools, I remembered that on my solo, magical, whale watching trip…I didn’t see a whale. Not one whale. Yet, even without the whale-it was one of the most beautiful, memorable, exciting days of my life. I saw more dolphins and sea lions and seals and birds than I could count or name!

Big wins are the goal-but I think sometimes we don’t take time to truly appreciate, much less, celebrate the small wins that get us closer to where we are going.

Next week, I will be back in San Diego, and I booked the same whale watching tour for a second time. Why? Because ultimately it was a successful trip, and you will never see a whale if you don’t get back on the boat!

I am learning to keep my eyes open for the “dolphins” in life, on my team, and in the work we do together for students. I am learning to find ways to help others spot their own dolphin-sized accomplishments. I am learning to honor progress, even in small increments. I am committed getting back on the boat-never giving up on the whale-sized goals-for me, for us, and for the students we serve.

Still learning,