One of my favourite stories to illustrate this courageous mindset is the story of Australian potato farmer Cliff Young.
In 1983, the 61-year-old potato farmer arrived at the start line of the Westfield to Melboune Ultra Marathon wearing rubber boots and overalls. The race itself is a gruelling test of endurance - spanning – a mere 875 kilometres/544 miles). A virtual unknown and probably mocked at the outset - Cliff Young won the race!
How did the 61 year old farmer, wearing rubber boots, competing against some of the finest runners, win the race?
The answer is simple yet profound.
Prior to Cliff Young running the race, ultra marathon “experts” and practioners had preconceived ideas of the most efficient manner to run the race – a combination of running, eating and sleeping.
Cliff Young never read the “expert’s” memo.
No one told Cliff that he had to sleep. He just ran! By denying himself sleep and running while the others slept, he won the race by landslide, breaking the previous record by two days!
Cliff’s courage to change the “rules” of what a ultra marathon runner should do, not only caused him to win the race, but also impact every Ultra Marathon since!
The Cliff Young story inspires us to move away from traditional practice and call into question our “it’s the way it has always been done” attitudes. He was courageous enough not to let conventional thinking stop him.
Here in BC there is a growing call to reform our education system. There has been a plea for urgency from various stakeholders in the system (teaching professionals, parents and students).
As we embark on this process I feel a tension. Any change to the system needs to embrace the well researched change management strategies that engage all stakeholders. Indeed, failure to manage this change properly will be disastrous (I am thinking about the Graduation Portfolio fiasco!)
However, as I commented in a recent post by Chris Kennedy (@chrkennedy), there comes a time in a change initiative that requires courageous decisions by those that can make the biggest impact on the system. At the school & district level I am witnessing (and reading) many positive changes and shifts.
My sense is that the time is coming for the next tier to, like Cliff Young, change the rules of the game!