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A Pancake Parable

This weekend our family invited a couple of our kids’ friends up to our cabin to hang out. Over the course of the weekend, we played games like Uno, Mario Cart, darts, and two-hand touch football (outside)...just to name a few. The games were a blast, but some of the biggest laughs we had were during the meals we ate together.

One of our kids’ friends is a HUGE fan of the Minnesota Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Because of this, we decided to make a special breakfast for him. We served up all the pancakes in the shape of mini footballs and number eights (Kirk Cousins wears #8 on his jersey). We referred to the pancakes as "KirkCakes" and even though it was a long shot, we plotted ways to reach out to him on social media to see if he would say hi or respond.

As it turns out, I got a little carried away on the project because we had quite a few KirkCakes leftover after breakfast. We eventually bagged up the leftovers and proceeded to go about our day. The following morning, we made some muffins and I reheated the leftover KirkCakes in the oven.

As we gathered around the table things took a predictable turn. There were lots of laughs and plenty of planning for the day ahead. When we were nearing the end of breakfast my wife and I noticed a strange sound coming from one of our kids’ friends. We both paused and simultaneously tried to ascertain what he was eating. It sounded like a cross between croutons and ice, but since neither of those were on the breakfast menu we had to ask…

Almost in unison we said, “What is that?!”

When he conceded he was eating a leftover KirkCake, we both bursted out laughing. I couldn't believe it at first, but there was no denying I had reheated some of the pancakes so long they had dried out. I offered a profuse apology and then suggested he douse his plate with extra syrup to soften up the KirkCakes.

For somebody who writes a lot about leadership, school culture, and innovation, you were probably expecting a more elaborate post or lesson. Unfortunately, the pancake parable is anything but elaborate. It is a surprisingly simple snapshot of culture. The same kind of culture you can create in your office, classroom, hallways, and meeting spaces.

  • Culture is the crunchy pancake moments. It’s the excitement of making new plans. And it's taking long shots together.

  • Culture is partially spraining your knee when you’re twenty years past your prime while playing two-hand touch in the snow. It’s slowing down to break bread together. And it’s the degree to which you invite others in.

  • Culture is who we cheer for and how we spend our free time. It’s also how we respond to our mistakes. But most importantly, it’s the people.

If this blog post resonated, you might like my newest book, Reclaiming Our Calling: Hold on to the Heart, Mind, and Hope of Education. The book tackles a tension many educators are feeling using a combination of stories and practical strategies. If you’re interested in technology integration, Renegade Leadership: Creating Innovative Schools for Digital-Age Students is a best-seller with Corwin Press. Both books are built on the belief that everything we do in education starts with relationships and connectedness.



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