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In Spite Of vs. Because Of

February 17, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to attend the AASA National Conference on Education in Nashville.  It was an excellent chance to learn from educational leaders from across the country.  One of the sessions that I attended focused on the need to screen new staff candidates based on their “disposition” vs. a specific set of skills or experiences.  This is not to say that skills and previous experiences are not important, however, skills can be taught and experiences gained.  The presentation focused on the need for the disposition first, without it the potential staff member will not be able to effectively use their skills.

This reinforces what the book, How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything by Dov Seidman discusses as a key to organizational success. The author highlights the need for “In spite of” vs. “Because of” employees.  Seeking employees that succeed “in spite of” challenges vs. those who struggle “because of” similar challenges can provide a great opportunity to model that disposition for our students.  Mr. Seidman states:

“What matters is not the obstacle, but how you think about obstacles, how you approach them, and how you behave in the face of them.  Leaders believe they will find a way in spite of the forces aligned against them.  They never walk away because of a problem.  Sometimes you won’t succeed in spite of your best efforts, but if you don’t start with an in spite of disposition, you will seldom win.”

The reminded me, that as a leader I need to model this attitude.  At times it is easy to bemoan the limitations of reduced funding and misguided education policy.  However, I need to guard against using these obstacles as barriers to success.  In addition, with spring around the corner, we are starting to review potential openings at the faculty level for the 2014-2015, I plan to use some of the disposition assessment tools I learned about at the conference when screening candidates.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 4, 2014 7:42 am

    I like it, and I like that your main point in your post is reminding yourself that you need to model this as well as look for it in potential employees. With the start of the school year approaching quickly, I need to remember this disposition in my role as the instructional tech coordinator. Glad I ran into this post. Here’s to a great year with an “in spite of” attitude!!

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