A word from Superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria ISD

Closing thoughts: Performance

A word from superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

An athlete knows we will have an off day occasionally. It is just part of the process of being an athlete. It is impossible to expect that the human body can always run at peak performance at all times. This is why all sports have an off-season where athletes rest and recover. Back in my ultra-marathon days, I kept a rigorous training regimen. During one long training stretch which lasted several months in duration, over time I started to notice my times per mile were increasing steadily (a bad thing), I was waking up very tired and unmotivated and, in some cases, the number of miles per week was dropping at a steady rate. Sub-optimal performance over time.

In retrospect, I needed a break. I needed to take a few days, or weeks, off to let my body heal, recover, and restore. I was unaware that I was facing a significant health concern as well and I literally ran myself down enough that I started facing some compounding health issues. Yet, the entire time I was just grinding away, putting in miles as I was able. Mentally, I was closed off. This is where I first embraced the phrase “closed and knowing”, a phrase many of you have heard me say many times. It is a natural stress response, or a reactive response to be closed-minded and knowing. Your brain does funny things if you aren’t paying attention to it and I did what all of us do in stressful situations: protect, cover, close, shut out. There was nothing anyone could have said to me that would have alerted me to my downward spiral because of the story I was telling myself in my head.

We all tell stories about ourselves in our heads. This is how we make sense of the world or justify our actions. I guarantee all of you who are reading this are currently running some narrative in your head about your work, your family, or your life. Here’s the important thing, it doesn’t really matter what story we are telling ourselves. What matters is what that story allows us to do, which could be normalizing sub-optimal performance.

Regardless of whether you are an athlete, part of a corporate organization, or an educational endeavor, normalizing sub-optimal performance is something we should take seriously. Most of us want to be in a steady state of continuous improvement in all that we do, but how many of us have worked with teams that have ineffective or inefficient meetings? Probably all of us at one point in our lives. The questions that should plague us are whether we are functioning at peak performance and if not, are there valid reasons, or are we normalizing it by lowering our expectations? When we say things like, everyone is stressed out, or we don’t have the resources to get this done, this is how it has always been, or just about any external factor we can think of, we are normalizing sub-optimal performance. We are telling ourselves a story to give us permission to lower our expectations. We are closed and knowing, and this is the time when we need to be open and
learning.

We are working hard at Victoria ISD to keep our expectations high. It is something we highlight on a regular basis. We are mindful that we are on a path of continuous improvement in all that we do and are making great progress. While we are not perfect and we are growing, we are also alert to closed and knowing thinking and sub-optimal performance, because it lurks around every corner.

By  Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.