Move Your Bus is divided into three parts~Part 1: Get on the Bus, Part II: How to Accelerate and Part III: How to Map the Route. Each #D100bloggerPD crew member will give you a peek into the parts represented in the book. Within each part are valuable take-aways to support your organization and to guide the *passengers* on the proverbial bus to move your organization forward. Because the take-aways can support such a wide range of organizations, such as schools, businesses or even your family, readers can easily apply them to their personal circumstances. The crew is hoping to spark thoughts on a plan of action that inspires and motivates you to support the various passengers on the bus in your organization.
I'm kicking off the study by saying Ron Clark is definitely one to be admired. He is considered a world class educator by many. Clark's devotion to the education profession and his accomplishments as a teacher and founder of the Ron Clark Academy (RCA), are astounding. RCA is known as a "model school with a vision to transform classrooms around the world by demonstrating transformative methods and techniques that are embraced and replicated everywhere." Because Clark is such an inspiration to so many, a film based on Clark's life was produced to share his story. Impressive.
Clark's approach to leadership centers on the parable of the bus and categorizes passengers on the bus as Runners, Joggers, Walkers, Riders and Drivers. For this post, I will be focusing on Runners, Joggers and Walkers.
The bus represents the goals you hope to achieve as an organization. Your bus has no *gas tank*, so the energy of each passenger is what fuels your bus. Readers are asked to think of the bus in terms of "Flinstones-style" transportation. :)
Readers are introduced to a Cast of Characters representing the different types of passengers aboard the bus. These characters are referenced throughout each chapter. Clark states, "I wanted to write this book using parables that will resonate with people across industries and job titles. Even though we may all be in different professions, the content of the story unites us." Notice the beginning of each character's name is the same as his/her role in the organization. :)
As I read through the book, I found myself snickering because, over my twenty years as a teacher, I've either been, encountered or directly worked with a Rufus, Joan, Wanda, Ridley and Drew. If you've already read the book, I bet you found these characters relatable as well. When Clark first started teaching, he became cognizant of the connection between teachers and students:
"And I gradually came to recognize that the success of the students in each class had a direct correlation to the characteristics of the teacher that they were spending their time with. Energetic teachers were inspiring energetic learners.... Surely, not only our students, but also our communities and the entire world would benefit if we could move at top speed to inspire our young people and get them tapped into their own potential."
It makes sense, yes? How do you view yourself as an educator? Would others define you as an "energetic teacher inspiring energetic learners?" Think about it while I get started on what exemplifies Runners, Joggers and Walkers.
Chapter 1: Runners Need Support
Runners are those who consistently go above and beyond what is required, simply for the good of the organization. They want to make their contributions to help refine the organization, not to seek praise or attention, just like Rufus the Runner.
"Rufus loves the momentum, the exhilaration of the wind on his face, and the thrill of passing every other bus on the road...Rufus longs to be part of something really special, something out of the ordinary- a bus that could fly, perhaps...Rufus can make things happen, and he has a way to get things done!"
Runners prove themselves when they are first starting out in their organization. No one is an *off the cuff* Runner. Instead, Runners observe their surroundings, then take the actionable steps to move up in their organization. Here are a few characteristics of Runners:
- Focused and dedicated
- Driven by the goal of professional excellence
- Supply the forward momentum
- Strong work ethic
- Superior attention to details
- Aspire for system-wide success
- Never makes excuses or complains
- Positive spirits
Needless to say, Runners are definitely devoted to their job and enhancing their organization. However, Runners are constantly running. They...never...stop! It's very difficult to keep up such a feverish pace. Something's got to give. Right?
Right! Even though Runners have commendable qualities, they tend to neglect their personal lives, which may hinder their relationships with family members at home. Often times, their health is affected...eating on the run, not getting enough sleep or exercise, missing doctor's appointments, etc. This is why Runners need support, especially if the organization depends on their fuel to keep the momentum of their bus going in the right direction. As Clark mentions,
"It is very tempting just to let Runners do their thing and pay very little attention to them. After all, they do the most for the organization, they seem to be heading in the right direction, and it's much more tempting to focus your energies on the problem areas, not the areas where you're seeing success already."
However, the leader of an organization must intervene when guidance is necessary, but they also need to critique Runners in a way that doesn't deplete their energy and enthusiasm. In other words, be careful not to *break the spirit* of a Runner! Clark raises the point that, once a Runner's spirit has been broken, he or she won't run as fast anymore, which, in turn, affects the whole organization.
Take-away: Let Runners keep running! To do this, leaders must guide Runners with a gentle hand, have an appreciation for them and truly realize what they are sacrificing for the greater good of the organization. If guidance and time to discuss their ideas are offered, Runners become even more driven.
Anyone out there consider themselves a Runner? Before you answer, let's learn about Joggers.
Chapter 2: Joggers Want Validation
Joggers desire to have validation from others and will rise to meet high expectations, but will not exceed expectations on a daily basis. They do not decelerate the bus, nor do they make it fly. Joggers value a work-life balance, so they will not neglect their personal lives for the good of the organization, unlike Runners. Clark voiced, they "aren't going to blow your mind, day in and day out." This is totally fine, though! We can't expect to have all Runners on the bus. It's hard being a Runner. However, Joggers desperately want to be recognized as Runners. Clark made it known that, at his book signings, many claim themselves as Runners. As they are claiming this, Clark thinks to himself, "Hmmm...Jogger." How does he knows this? Runners never *toot their own horn*. Ha! Let's meet Joan the Jogger.
"Joan has a great job on the bus, and she just knows that she does it very well...She pulls the bus along at a brisk yet carefully controlled pace; no one has to give her a boost!...she is okay with doing extra work...because she always receives praise for it and, hey, it makes her look good!"
Because Joggers contribute to the forward momentum of the organization, they are considered valuable passengers on the bus. They have the ability to switch gears when challenges arise. Here are a few characteristics of Joggers:
- Steady and dependable
- Successful at their jobs
- Contribute to the forward momentum
- Rise to meet high expectations
- Break into a sprint when necessary
- Meticulous about performing their set tasks
- Tend to lack confidence in their abilities to consistently go above and beyond
- Reluctant to let personal lives slide
- Usually claim themselves as Runners
To get a better idea of Joggers, Clark compares them to high school basketball or football coaches. They cruise along successfully doing their duties as coaches, but when it comes to game-time, they exert high amounts of energy~shouting from the sidelines, motivating the players with encouraging words and propelling the players towards a win. Once the game ends with a victory, coaches fall back into a more relaxed mode of coaching. Helpful comparison? I think so.
Clark notes that "Joggers have the ability to absorb the energy around them, speeding up when surrounded by Runners and slowing down when surrounded by Walkers." Because of this, it's better to keep Joggers near the Runners and not the Walkers. You'll find out why in the upcoming paragraphs. Nonetheless, Joggers may resent Runners because Runners don't need praise and validation like Joggers do. Allow Joggers the opportunity to productively collaborate with Runners to develop their skills and to cease the resentment they often have toward Runners. Remember, Joggers have the ability to sprint when necessary.
Take-away: Praise Joggers often for their efforts to keep them happy and to keep the bus moving forward!
Anyone out there consider themselves a Jogger? I think I may fall into this category. I work hard, do my job well and sprint when duty calls. Getting recognized for hard work is appreciated. I make time for my family and my health, but yes, only on certain occasions, get *the look* or comments like "Remember us?" from my hubby during my sprinting moments. I also tend to speed up when I'm in the company of Runners. Yep, you could say I fit nicely into the Joggers mold. To those of you out there who know me well, thoughts? ;)
Chapter 3: Walkers Lack Motivation
Walkers do not contribute to the forward momentum of the organization and enjoy pointing out anything and everything that is wrong. They tend to *drag their legs* and are the ones being pulled by the bus. Walkers often complain to others that "Runners are making them look bad, and that they shouldn't be expected to do things that aren't in their job descriptions." Let's meet Wanda to get a better idea of a true Walker.
"Wanda has been working on the bus for many years now, and has the amount of effort it takes to get through the day down to a science...Wanda doesn't like change and, oh boy, she lets the driver know that when he announces an inconvenient detour. It makes her very nervous when Rufus starts spouting ideas and plans for so-called improvements. She also doesn't understand why Rufus and Joan have to rush so much."
Walkers want everyone else to just slow the heck down! They're known to attach themselves to the newbies in the organization, so they can gain potential Walkers and, as Clark claims, grow their "posse of poison." Since Walkers want to make themselves seem helpful and kind to the newbies, they may even "make a bundt cake" for the newbies and offer them friendly advice. However, "Don't trust the Bundt cake."
Walkers have a plan. Their true motivation is to prevent other passengers from moving so quickly, so further demands aren't placed on them to speed up. If everyone is moving faster than the Walkers, their lack of effort is highlighted. Here are some characteristics of a Walker:
- Negative force
- Focused on themselves
- Do not contribute to the forward momentum
- Point out what they see is wrong in the organization
- Talk negatively about Runners and administration
- Deflect blame that could be placed on them
- Spread bad energy
- Seek to *slow down* any new hires in the organization
- Feel picked on
"Take our education system, for example. Teachers are paid based on how many years they have been in the system, rather than having their salaries based on their performance...Can you envision telling all of the corporate executives that they will get paid the same amount, with no hope for a promotion, as long as they hang around and manage not to get fired?"Great points, right?! With that being said, of course, the Walkers (in Education) don't want to do more work, if they're going to get the same pay as Runners and Joggers no matter what they do. Regardless, Walkers actually CAN be motivated to speed up and pull their weight. They will "often improve under a system that rewards performance." The reward may not be a larger salary or bonus, as is the case in the corporate world, but it may include being chosen to attend a special conference, getting new tables for the classroom or additional funds to buy a new classroom library. Hey, in the teacher world, I consider these definite perks!
Take-away: Provide mentoring opportunities for Walkers because their talents and abilities can be developed! You never know...you may have a Walker on your hands that wants to be a Runner, but thinks no one values their worth. However, heed this warning: "...don't let Walkers take over your job, because they will if you let them."
Anyone out there consider themselves a Walker? Even if you did, would you claim that role?
Below is a picture of the school bus I have sitting on my desk as a simple reminder to move my own bus, to pull my weight and to be my own inspiration.
I hope this post helped you better understand the differences between Runners, Joggers and Walkers. Next up is my #teachertwin, Kristin, from Reading and Owl of the Above. She will be discussing the other passengers on the bus by reflecting on Chapter4: Riders Are Dead Weight and Chapter 5: Drivers Steer the Organization. Check the schedule for more information on the upcoming reflections from the #D100bloggerPD crew. I will make sure to link all of their posts down below, so you will have access to the complete book study in one place.
Have a great week!
Part 1: Get on the Bus
Part 2: How to Accelerate
Chapter 22: Pay attention to details
Part 3: How to Map the Route
Part 3: How to Map the Route