Makers of Moments

by Beth Houf

I’ve had the opportunity to truly unwind over the days of our winter break. It’s been a time of rest, relaxation, reading and reflection on the events of the past year. I’ve had so much going on in my head, I’ve struggled to even attempt to blog, but after reading the book, The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, I’ve found focus. I’ve connected deeply to the book for many reasons, but mostly because it parallels so much that I know to be true about education and what Shelley and I wrote about in Lead Like a PIRATE. When we want to make impact on our school community, it’s about breaking the traditional script…it’s about creating moments that make a lifelong impression. It’s also about recognizing and encouraging those moments of compassion and spontaneity that happen naturally.  I needed this reminder. To be honest, I needed the reminder a lot.  

You see, the weeks before school paused for winter break left me exhausted. To the bone. That kind of tired that sleep doesn’t help. I pushed myself daily to keep creating those moments of motivation for everyone around me, but I definitely wasn’t feeling it myself. I was letting the negativity get me down and losing my focus. I slid into break on fumes. Timing is everything for sure. A good friend sent me a blog post on the first day of break by John Spencer about the value of truly resting over this time off. The words were powerful and rang so true to me. I needed to be unproductive.

I took the break to truly be that person. I went into power-saving mode and I am so glad that I did! When we take time to silent the noise in our lives, it’s amazing how energized we can become. I opened up The Power of Moments that I had started at Thanksgiving but had let get lost in the shuffle. And then, I couldn’t put it down. It was that jolt of energy that brought me back from that hitting that wall. It reminded me so much of that time I was feeling the same way in the summer of 2014 when I was introduced to Teach Like a PIRATE  by Dave Burgess. Through the pages of #TLAP, I had also reconnected with my WHY of education. As Dave says, it’s not about just about raising test scores, it’s about raising human potential. It’s about creating those experiences that make learning stick past the bell at the end of the day. YES!  I made a conscious promise to myself after finishing #TLAP that no more would I stand for the status quo of the way we’ve always done it in schools or leadership. I wouldn’t settle for mediocrity in myself, in my staff or in my students. Fast forward to the present. I let the noise and negativity stifle my mission. Through The Power of Moments and then re-reading Teach Like a PIRATE, I’m definitely revived and ready to go!

There have been challenges and roadblocks and I know there will be more as I continue to strive for greatness. There are others in the world that do not like tradition being broken. There are people that are close minded and just plain mean. There are people within our very profession that ridicule and make fun of many of the things I do to get students and staff excited about learning. There are some that solely seek to be understood instead of taking time to listen and understand the views of others.  As Shelley and I shared in Lead Like a PIRATE, there’s always room for constructive feedback. But destructive critics? No way! Spend the energy you are wasting making fun of my grass by spending more time watering yours. Here’s the deal…I’ve learned that when I’m creating those moments for students and staff that the words of critics don’t matter. I do what I do the way I do it to be a difference-maker for others.  I never expect other leaders to lead in the exact way I do. But I do expect others in our great profession to never settle for mediocrity.  As Jimmy Casas says in his outstanding new book Culturize, “Simply put, we can not allow average to become our standard. Our kids deserve more than the status quo, they deserve the very best.”  Our kids deserve better, our staff deserves better, our communities deserve better and, as leaders, WE deserve better. When we stay parked in our our comfort zones, we miss out on the amazing that we could be for sure. Our unique styles, when centered around creating exceptional learning experiences for students and staff, only enhances our collective work as educators.

I shared this quote with a dear friend this past week as she was dealing with some of those same critics. I have printed it and put it on my desk. Play your drum. Do great things. Turn off the noise. Keep doing what you are doing to make the world a better place. Be a Maker of Moments. No apologies.


Other Notes of Personal Inspiration from The Power of Moments

  • Responsiveness=Understanding+Validation+Caring
  • What Matters to YOU? (taking time to ask this question of those around us)
  • With the right moment, relationships can change in an instant.
  • If we want more moments of connection, we need to be more responsive to others.
  • Relationships don’t deepen naturally. In the absence of action, they will stall.
  • Our good intentions to create these moments are often frustrated by urgent-seeming problems and pressures. (i.e. STATE TESTS)
  • Our charge: to defy the forgettable flatness of everyday work and life by creating a few precious moments.

Is our school…


–>place for employees to work?

–>place for teachers to practice?

–>place for students to learn?

Is our school ultimately THE BEST school in the universe?

(Adapted from a hospital example in chapter 10)


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Makers of Moments

  1. Beth, thanks for sharing your post. I can certainly relate to the exhaustion felt prior to starting the Christmas break. You have me excited to read the Power of Moments by the Heath brothers. You might be interested in listening to Dan Pinks new 1-3-20 Podcast where he interviews Dan Heath. This is where I first heard of the book. Judging from your thoughts, this new book might be a real game changer for school leaders combined with Jimmy Casas’s new book Culturize and your Lead Like a Pirate. Leaders read and readers lead. Thanks for being a maker of moments Beth.

  2. Hi Beth,

    It has taken me a couple of days to finally put my thoughts into words about your post. In many ways, it is powerful, heartbreaking, soul searching and uplifting. I am sure it was a rollercoaster of emotions for you to write. This post had me right there with you feeling deeply what you were experiencing.

    I could feel your exhaustion…because I have been there in my own striving to be all I can be to everyone
    I could feel your sadness…because I have been there through difficult times
    I could feel your heartbreak…because critics can hurt our hearts where our passions lay

    And then…

    I loved that I could feel your fight…because that is our passion rising above the critics
    I loved that I could feel your spirit…because as educators and leaders, our spirit is what carries us
    I loved that you created a moment…because that is what we do when we lead

    Thank you for expressing what most of us feel in our roles in one way or another, every day. Keep Leading Like a Pirate. We are on one incredible journey!