The Invisible Elephant

Sometimes it seems the older I get, the less I’m sure of. But this much I know; the path to meaningful change is paved with trust. Trust can help us accomplish some pretty incredible things. It helps teams soar and it can bolster the confidence of individuals. And the absence of trust can be catastrophic. The problem is trust is sometimes the last thing we consider when we see somebody behaving in a manner that is less than their best. I’ve always loved math and problem-solving. When I was in middle school I joined an after-school math club that played this game called, “Krypto.” The object of the game was to add, subtract, multiple, or divide a set of five numbers in order to get to a pre-d

A Series of Small Decisions

I had the opportunity to work at a new restaurant chain for several years in high school and part of college. I don’t think there was a single job in that restaurant that I didn’t learn during my time there. I worked as a server, cashier, runner, cook, dishwasher, supervisor, and more. (I could write an entire blog post about the “more” that would probably be pretty entertaining, but that will have to wait.) Suffice it to say, the longer I worked there the more I learned. It’s not uncommon for me to think back on things and remember them for being greater than they were. But I swear, that restaurant was a big part of my life and I’ll never forget the memories and friendships I forged. But he

A Story About Change

One person can have a profound influence on the culture of a classroom. But that same person can also alter the trajectory of a team or school. In fact, one person is all it takes to start to change the culture of an entire organization. I’ve seen it happen, but not in the way you might expect. When I was a senior in high school I had a crush on the captain of the girls’ high school soccer team. She had a deep faith, strong spirit, and was beautiful on the inside and out. She still is. We went on to create a life together that’s been better than anything I could have ever imagined. Except for this one thing. Although we didn’t exactly discuss it in our wedding vows, we have always operated w

A Place Where Success Can Reside

Our family purchased a small fishing boat last year and had an absolute blast taking it out on the lake over the summer months. Once winter started to rear its head, we pulled the boat from the water and parked it outside. And because we live in Minnesota, this means the boat and trailer have been collecting snow ever since. Recently, my wife and I wanted to move the trailer, so we did what any novice boat owners would do. We called our three young kids outside to help us push the boat. But here’s the thing…we were trying to push it up a slight incline in icy conditions. After 45 minutes, the boat had moved less than two feet and we had learned a valuable lesson. The lesson is called "How to

The Inconvenient Truth about Your Team’s Culture

Most of us have encountered a person, team, or organizational culture that is not achieving to its fullest potential. I’m not only talking about people or teams commonly referred to as “toxic.” I’m also thinking about teams that could improve incrementally and even those teams awaiting their next big breakthrough together. Interestingly enough, whether we’re serving on a dream team or enduring a toxic situation, we’re all probably facing some of the same inconvenient truths (or half-truths) about our team’s culture. These inconvenient truths are often manifested by an incomplete understanding of culture. And how we think about culture influences our ability to change it. This doesn’t mean it

Dr. Brad Gustafson is an elementary principal, author, and speaker. He believes schools can be spaces where creativity and innovation thrive, but only when we prioritize relationships and a relevant, connected pedagogy. 


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