The Courage to Listen to Your Team of Rivals

There has been a lot of talk this year about the concept of a Team of Rivals with the release of the movie, Lincoln. This phrase was attributed to the efforts of Abraham Lincoln to surround himself with many different points of view by Doris Kerns Goodwin in her book on Lincoln. Coca-Cola recently released a video concerning obesity in America. I placed it below for those of you haven’t seen it. They talk candidly about their role as it has contributed to this national obesity epidemic, and it moves away from place blaming on others (even there is plenty to go around), and goes directly to doing what Coca-Cola has done well for years, frame a solution through marketing and pictures.

They tell a story that can unify rivals through an emotional plea. They are choosing to be a part of the solution. As school leaders, we often shy away from folding rival voices into the mix as it is easier to make them the common enemy that holds our current team together. This is unfortunate as it keeps us from fresh perspective, new lens to view our work, and without a clear sense of the mental models of others. Who will be the leaders in education that can truly open the doors to a conversation with a team of rivals? Who will realize that no one has a monopoly on good ideas?

Personally, I want to hear from home school advocates and no-school advocates. I want to engage with our charter schools and our private schools. I need those voices along with the voices of many generations of learners to be at the table to craft our toughest solutions. Having Coca-Cola be willing to be a part of the solution on obesity should inspire innovative educators to go to the toughest places to sell our ideas and demand a seat at the table. We should call upon the wisdom of Lincoln to assemble a team of rivals, and move our ideas to state houses and departments of education. We should take our message, our story, our inspiration, and our zeal for true, deep, substantive learning to a much larger audience, so our kids and our communities have a chance of real success.

to shine again.