Perfectly Imperfect

I have been waiting for the day that this message would be shared with the world. If you’re reading this right now, that means that my Keynote session for the Celebrate Your Story Conference has premiered. Some of you are here because you stopped by after watching, others are here because you’ve been following this blog for some time, and still others just clinked a link that somehow led them to this page. Regardless of how you arrived, I’m glad that you’re here!

Welcome to my perfectly imperfect world! I firmly believe that sharing our stories is how we learn and grow together. For generations upon generations, stories were shared by the Elders in tribes and villages across the globe. Stories are how we learn new things and make sense of the world around us. Stories have the ability to unite groups of people who ordinarily wouldn’t cross paths. I’m so excited that our paths have crossed. This blog is mostly used to share my stories, insight, experience, and perspectives as an Educational Technology leader. I make the distinction because so often when we hear and think about educational leadership it’s from the principal perspective. That is a very valuable experience and voice, but it’s not what you’ll get here. EdTech Leadership is a very unique space. We are tasked with serving & supporting students and staff, leading transformation & innovation, and sometimes even predicting the future (though I’m still learning that part, lol). This space is where I process all of the above. You’ll learn about my triumphs, my failures, and all of the lessons learned along the way. As we all walk through this season of change and transition, I’m available to help support and guide you along your journey as well. Check out the EdTech Queen Services page for more information about how I can meet your specific needs.

Again, thanks for being here! Feel free to take a look around. And don’t hesitate to contact me so that we can discuss ways that we can work together in the future. I’m looking forward to it!

Six Months In…

Six months in…it doesn’t seem like a very long time at all. In some respects, it went by in the blink of an eye, and in other ways it feels like an eternity has passed since July 1st. Either way, I survived! This transition has been filled with the stuff that most transitions are made of. The job is the job. The people are people. And I am figuring out to be me in this new environment.

As a leader that means several things. What do you address? What do you only make note of? How long do you observe? Those are all hard questions, and the truth is there is not a correct answer to any of them. So much of leadership is situational. The choices that we make are made with the best information that is available to us at the time. And in that respect, there is no such thing as a bad decision. (Except when there is, lol.)

Bitmoji image of Ashley with a thinking emoji in a thought bubble.

Decisions, whether they involve high or low stakes, are never simple…even when they are seemingly easy to make. Everything is a decision, even the decision to do nothing. And every decision has a consequence whether positive or negative. I’ve waited to address things that should’ve been addressed sooner. I’ve also inserted just enough accountability to have an accurate pulse on how my department supports campuses. I’ve initiated conversations with campus principals that were long overdue, and I’ve spoken up before I should have. I’ve stepped up and provided support to my colleagues, shouldering burdens that they didn’t have the bandwidth to handle in the moment. And I’ve continually reached out for support and guidance along the way. And guess what that amounts to??

HUMANITY! That’s right. It makes me human. I am usually unapologetically Ashley in every situation. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m learning how to be me in this new environment. I’ve been slowly allowing myself to be completely me. But being completely me in an unfamiliar setting is not always easy. And that causes me to second guess myself at the most inopportune times. But my confidence in who I am and what I am capable of remains. My track record and my resume speak for themselves. I know who I am, and I know Who’s I am. And that is enough for me.

A Bitmoji of Ashley with the word "me" above her head.

I’ve learned and grown from each decision, and in the process I’ve been transparent with my village and my circle. These are the people that I trust to hold me accountable and push me to be better. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they give advice, and sometimes they probably want to throw things, lol. But this week, they’ll celebrate with me. Six months down, and I’m just getting started!

Side Note: I read a great article about the sum of our decisions, and I’ve share a link here. There’s not any scientific research behind it. It’s simply another way to view the choices that we make throughout our lives. Enjoy. (Article Link: Why There’s No Such Thing as a Wrong Decision)

I’ll be sharing my journey to imperfection, and the long process of releasing the weight of perfectionism and learning to honor my own humanity at the Celebrate Your Story Conference, hosted by Todd Nesloney. You can read more about it and register at this link: Celebrate Your Story Eventbrite

Mentoring Matters

As I begin my 3rd month in my new position, I am reminded of just how important mentoring is in the development of all people, especially those in leadership.

Today, as I write this, I’m on day 2 of a 3-day weekend. I’m thankful for the extra day to rest and also to reflect. I began this weekend with my mind consumed with thoughts about work. I have soooo much to do. It feels like I’ll never catch up sometimes. But I know that’s just a feeling. So as I sat on my couch, thoughts racing, I had a moment when I realized exactly what was missing. I hadn’t spoken to my mentor about the work things that occupy my thoughts the most. Don’t get me wrong; we’ve talked. We’ve shared lunch and caught up on all things new. But we hadn’t talked the way I really needed to talk. I’m so thankful for the authenticity of our relationship. Saturday morning I didn’t send her a fluff message, and I didn’t ask for coaching session. My text literally said “I need your advice on how to handle some things at work. When can you talk?” She graciously replied with, “Call me now.” It was honestly the best 45 minutes of my professional week.

I’ve written on this blog before about the necessity of self-awareness (linked here and here ). I’ve written about mentorship, too (linked here). I still believe self-awareness is a critical skill everyone should develop. And I also believe that there comes a time when self-awareness isn’t enough. The problem is simply this: when we see ourselves, it’s always through our own lens. As humans, try as we may, it’s extremely difficult to have an objective opinion of our own situation(s). That’s where having a good mentor (or a few) comes in. It was so valuable to see things from another perspective. It was also insightful to see where I could modify my own behaviors to possibly yield different results.

This post is not meant to be a comparison between self-awareness & mentorship. It’s a testament to both. Self-awareness keeps you reflective and in a position to change. Mentorship, when experienced correctly, gets you out of your echo chamber. It prods you to reflect even more than you could do on your own. The connection with others who can see our lives and our actions from a neutral, objective place is an invaluable component of our growth. From the careful insertion of a different view point to the subtle suggestion to handle something slightly differently than our instinct may have told us, mentorship has the power to change our trajectory for the better.

My mentoring village continues to grow and change as I grow and change. But one constant remains, the village. I encourage you to surround yourself with others who will continue to push you outside of your comfort zone, support you while you’re there, encourage you, and hold you accountable. And a special thanks goes to the ladies and gentlemen in my village. I am who I am because you are who you are. Thank you for selflessly pouring into me. I promise to continue to pay it forward…