What is your Secret Sauce?

This image was sent to me courtesy of Gaping Void’s daily email service. Sign up for it for free here.

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It is one of many images they have created that I have liked over the years. What I really enjoy is reading about the story behind the image. Most of them are written in the context of the business world, but leadership concepts can be applied across many areas. My natural instinct is to adapt them to the world of education.

How will I use this in school?

I intend to tweak the original message, adapting it to ask students, teachers and leaders “What is your secret sauce?”.

How will students benefit?

I want students (particularly those with low self esteem or are particularly vulnerable) to reflect on what qualities they have, and be proud of who they are. If they struggle with identifying their secret sauce, staff can suggest ideas for them. Students could even suggest ideas for their peers. Class teachers may even give specific groups their own secret sauce.

How will staff benefit?

There is an opportunity for leaders to use this concept to identify and celebrate great things that their team members achieve. Perhaps departments will have their own collective secret sauce.

Here is the original write up for the image:

Your “secret sauce” is that one thing, often that one seemingly minor thing, that makes all the difference to your business.

The fact that you return phone calls an hour faster than the other guy. The fact that your street tacos come with WAY better salsa verde than the fancy place down the street. The fact that your sales reps smile more than your competition. The fact that your receptionist makes the meanest coffee in town. The fact that you’re a great storyteller.

The funny thing is, the secret sauce often happens by accident. The idea wasn’t conceived in a high-level brainstorming session. You did it one day, and it seemed to stick.

But what allowed that random occurrence that totally transformed your business beyond all recognition, was the fact that you noticed it, the fact that you kept your mind open, the fact that you allowed people to improvise.

Mindset is everything.

And here is an adapted version for colleagues at school…

Your “secret sauce” is that one thing, often that one seemingly minor thing, that makes all the difference to the impact you have on young peoples lives, the lives of those you lead or the lives of those you work alongside. It is unique to you. It is what makes you special.

Is it as a teacher:

The fact that you stand and welcome every student into your classroom whilst they settle into their learning

The fact that you always offer a fresh start to students, despite what has gone before

The fact that you use humour to engage your students

The fact that prioritise planning for SEN needs in every lesson

The fact that you have high aspirations for every child in your class, regardless of starting point

Is it as a leader:

The fact that you listen to your team

The fact that you notice your team members doing amazing things and celebrate them

The fact that you appear to stay calm and in control, even if inside you are stressed and anxious

The fact that you generate crazy ideas

The fact that you believe in team members and support them to take risks

Is it as a member of support staff:

The fact that people like to work alongside you

The fact that you respond to people’s requests with diligence and courtesy

The fact that you arrive on time every day

The fact that you leave once your days work is done, even if you run over your official hours

The fact that you support others when they need help

The funny thing is, the secret sauce often happens by accident. The idea wasn’t conceived in a high-level brainstorming session. You did it one day, and it seemed to stick.

But what allowed that random occurrence that totally transformed you as a teacher / leader / employee beyond all recognition, was the fact that you noticed it, the fact that you kept your mind open, the fact that you have the desire to be better today than you were the yesterday.

Mindset is everything.

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