Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

April 25, 2016


I read Greg McKeon’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less over Christmas break. I held off writing about the book because I wanted to see how well the ideas would stick. Many times, I’ll read books like this and they will capture my interest and then fade from my memory after a week or two. I found the book tremendously engaging but wanted to see how lasting the effects would be.

I can say with certainty that the book has influenced my thinking and my practice this year perhaps greater than any book in recent memory. I was initially hooked by the book’s essential questions:

· Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin at home or at work?

· Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilized?

· Do you ever feel busy but not productive?

· Do you ever feel like you’re constantly in motion, but never getting anywhere?

Sold. Been there. Repeatedly. So I read with interest as the book guided me through the four sections entitled “essence” (the mindset of an essentialist), “explore” (How can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?), “eliminate” (How can we cut out the trivial many?), and “execute” (How can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?).

The book challenged me to find what is truly important and to utilize my time better so I can work and live better. I’ve never been a fan of working long hours for the sake of working hard but I’ve never found the guiding principles so well-articulated. McKeon challenged me to prioritize my time at work and at home to pursue the most important items in order to be more productive and more content. For example, I took a look at how we’re spending our resources in the office to be more strategic—eliminating paperwork, for example, for paperwork’s sake, trying to become more efficient.

I can’t write a book report summarizing the main points. I can only recommend the book as a summer read so that you can begin to look at how you spend your time in order to become more productive and more happy. Here are a few other related resources to spark your interest:

· Ted Bauer’s article on Greg McKeon’s Essentialist philosophy

· Ted Coine’s article on Essentialism

· Forbes article on Essentialism philosophy

· Greg McKeon’s short 5 minute video on YouTube

· Greg McKeon on YouTube (42 minutes)

· Short video on Essentialism

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: Our Lady of Lourdes visit & listening sessions (Great Falls)

Tuesday: Holy Spirit visit & listening sessions (Great Falls)

Wednesday: Missoula Catholic Schools visit & Advisory Council

Thursday: office (Helena)

Friday: personal day (family visit for First Communion weekend)

This week: 643

Last week: 880 miles

2015-16: 25,128 driving miles; 12,625 air miles

What I'm Reading in 2016

  1. Getting it Done: How to Lead When You're Not in Charge by Roger Fisher & Alan Sharp
  2. What College Trustees Need to Know (on deck)
  3. Motion Leadership in Action: More Skinny on Becoming Change Savvy by Michael Fullan (finished)
  4. HBR's 10 Must Reads "On Emotional Intelligence" (finished)
  5. A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne (finished)
  6. The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations by John P. Kotter (finished)
  7. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (finished)
  8. Motion Leadership by Michael Fullan (finished)
  9. The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda (finished)
  10. It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff (finished)
  11. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Greg Heath (finished)
  12. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeon (finished)
  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (finished)
  14. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (finished)
  15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (finished)
  16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (finished)
  17. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (finished)

Song of the week: Griffin House's "The Guy Who Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind"

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

For Principals

  1. Congratulations to St. Francis School (Billings) for their successful WCEA visit last week, the final visit of this year. The school also celebrated the groundbreaking for their new K-8 school!
  2. The Great Falls Task Force will begin holding listening sessions this week. Here is the schedule: April 25th, 6:00 pm at OLL; and April 26th, 6:00 pm at HS. All parents and staff members are welcome to come to any of the sessions. There will be a closed staff meeting each of those days to listen to parental concerns.
  3. The Principal/President Evaluation process is now underway. Principals & presidents filled out goal statements last fall and will be asked to evaluate themselves as part of the process. Here is the form that I will fill out, too. I have scheduled dates for these interviews when I will come and visit the school and observe the learning climate, share the perception data, and talk about the principal's performance this year. The dates: Sarah Zook, OLL (April 25th); Jim Wichman, Holy Spirit (April 26th); Jeremy Beck (April 27th); Don Peoples, Butte Central (May 9th); Lauren Smith, St. Matt's (May 11th); Br. Dale Mooney, DLSBS (May 12th); Julanne Gauger, St. Jude (TBD).
  4. The Annual Report template is now posted and ready for each principal. This Annual Report is due June 9th at the June Principal Meeting in Livingston.
  5. I have come across a great and affordable web designer to spice up the Montana Catholic Schools website. Lucy Ross of Hello Lucy Design is offering a 12 hour design package for approximately $700. If you need a spruce up for your website, I recommend contacting her.

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