How Leading with Your Values Can Turn Your Job into a Calling with Dr. Richard ShellRead Now
Lindsay: Today, you'll hear from Dr. Richard Shell. This conversation was recorded on July 8th of 2021. G. Richard Shell is a global thought leader and senior faculty member at one of the world's leading business schools, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He served as chair of Wharton's legal studies and business ethics department, the largest department of its kind in the world. His book, The Conscious Code: Lead With Your Values. Advance Your Career, addresses an increasingly urgent problem in today's workplace, standing up for core values such as honesty, fairness, personal dignity and justice, when the pressure is on to look the other way. Shell is a skilled communicator across many diverse audiences. His students have included everyone from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 CEOs to FBI hostage negotiators, Navy seals, and the United Nations Peacekeepers. In addition, he has worked extensively with public school teachers, labor unions, nurses and hospital administrators to help them become more effective professionals. Can't wait for you to hear from Dr Richard Shell.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities,
take brave action to make those dreams a reality, and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you are a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, If you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in.
Dr. Richard Schell. Welcome to the Time for Teacher Ship podcasts.
Dr. Richard: My pleasure Lindsay. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Lindsay: Of course. I think there's so much alignment between what we do that this will be really relevant for leaders, for teachers, for family members of kids in the education system today. So I'm excited to dive in. I just read your professional bio. So I was wondering is there anything else you wanted to add to that professional bio about yourself or anything that feels relevant to share?
Dr. Richard: Sure, thank you. I think the only thing is to realize this guy was coming on to your show how deeply embedded in teaching I am. I've taught in a daycare center. I've taught in elementary school and then, I, you know, late in life when I was 37, I became a professor teaching undergrads, MBAs and executives. But you know, it just reminded me of how important teaching is to me personally and what, how much I've learned essentially from being a teacher.
Lindsay: That's amazing. I love that I just learned that about you, right, when we hopped on the call and so important for our conversation today. So the big question that I always start the show with is, you know, what your dream for education is. And I like to ground that in Bettina Love's words around the idea of freedom dreaming. She says that it's dreams grounded in the critique of injustice. And so, knowing what we know about the education system, even about workplaces more broadly, I'm curious to know, you know, what your dream is there?
Dr. Richard: Well, you know, I'm social justice warrior from time was because my generation, the big pushes were the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam, which had effects on people of color and minorities and people who are poverty in a much bigger way than it did on people who were in college and elites.
But I was a conscientious objector actually in the Vietnam war, became a pacifist and peace work was a very important part of my early sort of life. That's when I actually was working. I was working at a daycare center in the ghettos of Washington D. C. I mean, sometimes the adults who were supposed to pick up their kids didn't show up at the end of the day. They were prostitutes or they were you know, they were involved in something that made it impossible for them to show up. And so I got my introduction to sort of the social conflicts of American society right there at the very beginning. And then I became a social worker in D. C. as part of my pacifist work during the Vietnam era. So all that is very sort of formative to my approach to what I do now, which is of course teaching people in the business school.
But it's interesting how much concern there is for issues of social justice and inequality in the generation of people now going into business.
Lindsay: Yeah. And I think that's really interesting to think about. As you're saying, it's kind of a generational thing that's really important. I know you talk about this a lot in the forward or the introduction to your book and I think when we're thinking about like the mindset shift for people who have been in workplaces and education settings for a while and now seeing people come in who are new to the field, new to the workplace and having these set of values and this set of, you know principles that lead them to want to advance justice in their work settings. I'm wondering what mindset shifts, the people who are entrenched in the systems have been working for a long time. I really need to take on or adopt to be able to transform workplaces and workplace cultures to help people coming in who are passionate about justice and wanting to advance it.
Dr. Richard: Yeah, I think that's a great question. you know, I think a lot depends on what you think your work is as well as who you think you are. But in general across all domains of work, including education, there are three ways to think about work. One is, it's a job, the other is, it's a career and the third is, it's a calling, and I've always approached my work and education as a calling. If it's just a job, then values are kind of things you try to keep at arm's length because they complicate it. You're just there to earn money to support your family, to get through the day. And there are plenty of teachers who have jobs. There are plenty of ministers who have jobs and doctors who have jobs. This is not anything unique to any particular field. So it's really hard to convert someone who thinks of their work only as a job to someone who's going to think about it deeply in a different way.
That doesn't mean they can't be brought to it. It just means that they have to have something happen in their lives that flips the switch to see that what they're doing actually has a profound opportunity embedded in it to bring something else that they are, which could be leaders in their spiritual community or leaders in their local communities that do all kinds of interesting things that they can bring all that to work and then the work becomes something different than it was before. So that's the job. The career person has a little more commitment to some of the norms that are embedded in their workplace because in order to succeed as a career that get advancement and so on, they're going to have to play by some set of rules that are broadly understood to be the way you get ahead.
And so, you know, it's funny though, I've met a lot of people who are teachers. I've done workshops for public schools and for principals and superintendents of school districts.
And um what I've heard from them is that for many of them who are in administration, um they took the career approach and they regret it because what they loved about teaching was teaching, what they found they were good at in addition to teaching with administration. And so they allowed themselves to get promoted to get more money and to get more status than to have more insulin. But then pretty soon they were never even close to the thing that they actually were passionate about and they become um distressed, they actually can get a little depressed because they've lost touch with the core meaning that was going on. So the people who approached work as a calling another term for this is meaningful work. Um and it doesn't have to, you can have meaningful work and it doesn't have to be for money, meaningful work is what you do that's meaningful, that is work.
Uh but it generally combines uh your values and opportunities to express their values every day, not just once a year at a corporate retreat, it involves some reward system. So you're, you feel appreciate it and there's some currency, whether it's money or, or influence or something that allows you to feel that sort of, I'm a player in this space. Uh It involves your talents that say you're doing something that actually utilizes your native abilities and it allows you to grow and improve those abilities and then finally your passions. So what is it that when you wake up in the morning, you feel excited about what you're gonna do instead of, oh no, I gotta do that again. So, so when you put all those little, these little things together, you can advance from a career to a calling by having more wisdom about what promotions you take, you know, a promotion may not be a good idea.
Uh And also um you, you feel like a good test, I find the people who are bringing it all in their everyday life is that when you engage in whatever it is you do after engaging in it for a period of time during the day, you feel more energy than you did at the beginning of the activity. And and when it's the reverse, when you feel depleted, it's generally the case that there's something, some element of those four items I ticked off is missing. It may not be your talent. So you're stretching something, you're not that good at it and you're never going to be that good at it, or it may be that it's um the rewards have disappeared, and so you're not getting the validation that you need in order to kind of be energized, There are a lot of different parts of it, but I think a good test is like from when I teach a class at Wharton, um I love it and I feel energized at the end of it in a way that I didn't feel at the beginning and that that's a good class.
I know that I'm doing what I should be doing. So I think educators, that's a test, you know, are you in a job career or calling? And and what parts of what you do? Can you elevate to the to the context of sort of being called to it? I love how as you were describing that I was thinking not just of of adults and, you know, teachers and people in those professional roles, but also of how we connect with students and and the questions we ask students write, what job do you want when you grow up, what do you know, what career do you want to have? But like what is your calling? And can we create the conditions to have? You know, the ability to express your values every day in the class? Um your your passions, is there a reward system that, you know, is not um P. B. I. S. Or some of the things that are kind of happening now that are almost divorced from values right? Or divorced from that calling peace and have that growth potential for the talents that they have and can build on their strengths. So I think there's so much value in that framing not just for adults but for how we educate our Children. Well I I teach a whole class at warden for undergraduates that is nothing but that I we spent a whole semester while they think about those factors and how they can implement them in a career, you know, in a work in their work.
I had a, you know, typical story for me is no warden is a pretty high potential place, it's hard to get into. Uh and they're pretty, it's driven people. Um But the but I you know, I tend to maybe attract that the students who are on journeys as opposed to already think they know what they are. So I had this one student who is um in our health care program as an undergrad, very bright. She graduated from Wharton and went to work for consulting firm in healthcare, but two years after she graduated, she got back in touch with me and said, you know, Professor Shell, I wonder if I could ask you for a letter of recommendation, I've sort of come to the conclusion that I want to be a nurse and she had written about wanting to be a nurse in her final paper for my class and I said of course leah I kind of wondered what that might look like when you got into consulting. So she got into another to N.
Y. U. S. Has got a great nursing school. Uh spent an extra year did undergrad again which is you know not all of it just to you know enough of it to do nursing and then got one year extra for masters degree in nursing. And now she's a nurse. And um and she is of course a really high potential leader. Uh huh. And um and and you know she had the courage to understand what her calling was and she realized she really needed to touch people to have her hands to help heal people. And uh and that that just that insight was critical And you know I think people can redo a lot of things that look like Oh dear I've already gotten this degree that's the end you know I have to stay on this path. I don't think so I didn't I didn't start teaching in this business school until I was in my late 30s and I and and I was forever thinking about what do I want to do what I want to do, who am I who am I what am I going to do?
And at one point I actually made a list Of you know when I was about 30 of all the things I could do and all the things I could never do. So on the list of things I could do was I could teach english um because I've been an undergrad english major, you know, I could be a carpenter because I kind of like to work with wood at the top of the list of the things I could never do was teaching a business school and here I am, I'm a senior professor, chairman department at the best school, one of the best schools in the world in business. So there you go, you know, uh follow your talents. Sometimes they lead you to unexpected places, wow, that's such a great group of stories and I think inspiring for people both coming into education because I was part of a teacher prep program that was alternative certification. So similar to um, it was called new york city teaching Fellows. Similar to like teach for America where sometimes you have people coming in that were, You know, 20 years into a career and something else and now they're in education because they are trying to find that calling.
And then also for people that are like career minded educators who are just not loving it anymore, you know, and who who maybe need a shift. And so I love those as, as those stories are potential I think and they give potential for people who maybe are feeling stuck in whatever they're doing now to to find that calling. Yeah, it was funny and the first time I ever taught this class that I just mentioned, um it's called success. That's what the class is called, sort of, what is it, you know? Uh but the first time I taught it, Angela Duckworth's was a PhD student in, in at the positive psychology center pen and she took it uh which meant that really she taught it, I mean, you know, she's brilliant person, um and she's actually written a blurb for the conscience code and I'm a friend of hers now and uh but her passion is education um you know, she she's really deeply when she was a senior college, she set up a program up in Cambridge massachusetts. That was just sort of a head start kind of program for kids to, you know, give them disadvantaged kids to get them, you know, a jumpstart on, on certain skills like math and her whole grit thing is about uh you know, trying to give kids a sense of resilience so they can, you know, sort of take on whatever it is that that the society is dealing them, which is a lot, but then find the inner resources to pick themselves up and keep going towards their goals and you know, so so you know, there's I've I really feel that the education environment, you know, is where you can have the highest impact on helping people to discover who they are and what ways they can be of greatest use to others.
Yeah, I love I love that your book offers so much in these stories you're telling offers so much in so many different dimensions. Both, you know, the student lens, but also the the educator lens. And I want to talk a little bit more about your book. It's called the conscious code and you talk about the ethics refugee phenomena. And I think this is really interesting, um for a variety of reasons, but a lot of what people have been asking me as educators and as leaders in education lately, um particularly as we have this kind of awakening of social justice kind of nationally, globally. You know, we want to be anti racist. We want to be inclusive of various identities in the education space and in some cultural context, in some environments of particular school district communities, there are rules or in some cases laws for particular states that are banning conversations about anti racism, where, you know, there are these um kind of places that are or things being put in place that are confining their ability to live out who they are in the workplace and, you know, advanced justice and teach the way that they know they got into education to teach and lead for leaders.
And so the question I keep hearing again and again from teachers and leaders is how can I teach and lead for justice while also keeping my job or does it mean I give up my job, And I think your book just kind of addresses that question in great detail. The subtitle is the conscience code. Leave with your values, advance your career. So, uh there is there is a there is a needle that we're trying to thread here, which is not lead with your values, lose your career. That although sometimes that is the cost of having values. Uh, you know, I think, you know, that the ethnic, the ethics refugee is that inspired this book, are the people I've met in my M. B. A classroom, and there are people who uh come to warden, come to grad school, pivoting out of not some sort of dissatisfaction with the work they were doing, but dissatisfaction with the values of their workplaces. They were victims of sexual harassment, sometimes sexual assault. Uh, they're victims of racism, there are victims of um of being ordered to do what they knew to be immoral or unethical things and what they didn't have, the reason they they quit was because they didn't have the tools to stand and fight and they did have the option to cut and run.
And so there they are sitting in my classroom and I'm thinking to myself, well, this is great. It's kind of an expensive way to pivot off of a job. You know, NBA education is not cheap. Uh and they're never going to get a chance to play that card again because next time this happens and it will happen, it's not whether, what are they going to do, they're going to just quit again. Uh, so, uh, you know, they've got to have some tools. So I, the conscience code really is kind of, I actually think of it as like a manual for guerilla warfare from the bottom up to stand up for your values, rally coalitions to um, spread the word about what your values are and to effectively become agents for change now. And, and, and that means keep your career and advance your career now. If you're, if you're in a legal system that makes your value illegal.
And let's say you're in Saudi Arabia and you're a female and you want to drive a car. Well, it's illegal in Saudi Arabia to drive a car. So, uh, so if you're um, trying to be effective as an agent of change in Saudi Arabia and your woman, um, you know, just driving a car is not going to actually do the trick because they'll just put you in jail and that, you know, that's, that's really not a, that's not always the best place to be, we know from history that, it's sometimes a really good place to be if you're nelson Mandela or uh, you know, some other person who's able to transform their prison experience into movement, but most of us don't have that gift. Uh, so I think there are times when exiting is the right way and then you become an agent for change from the outside in um, in a, in a state that's passing progressive legislation.
I think it it's um, you know, you run for office, you turn your turn your or you or you become politically active in whatever way that it's appropriate to actually work on the system. Because the hardest I there there are five pressures I talked about in the book that push against our values. One is peer pressure. So everybody does it. It's hard to stand and say, well, I don't do it. Um, Authority pressure, which is people in positions of power order you to do it. And that's a pretty strong push, especially if the boss controls your paycheck. But even if they don't where humans are wired to obey authority, it's not, it's not a kind of distortion of human perception that we think people in authority have some influence over us. It's a way of coordinating society. So, um, we can push back when they think when we know they're giving us bad orders. And so, but authority pressure is number two.
Um, then you get incentive pressures and that is the pressure of the paycheck. The pressure of the deadline, The pressure of the, um, uh, the client demand or the investment demand or the school board's demands or the parents demands, uh, and uh, so those can push you in the wrong direction. Um Then you've got rolls and rolls pressure can mean, well you're just a soldier. So you you know, you don't have the you don't have the place, it's not your place to stand up and say wait a minute. We're torturing prisoners. Uh, this is wrong and I'm going to call the new york times to tell them about it. So you just have this self inflicted wound of limiting your effectiveness by embracing your role as powerless. And then the final and this is the one that education is facing in the examples you gave is what I call systemic pressure. So P. A. I. R. S. Spells pairs and Pierre authority, incentives, roles and systems and the systems pressure is the hardest one because systems like racism, systems like sexism, systems like um intolerance or bigotry are are really embedded in the culture.
And so when you're when you're up against system pressure, you're going to have to use political tools. There's no other way individually. You don't stand a chance against system pressure. Um and that's why I kind of think of this book as sort of a manual for guerilla warfare because um you're the first thing you need to do is find the like minded people and rally and gain confidence and power from the group that have similar values. Then you have to be smart and figure out strategies that will advance the ball incrementally. Um, but I I take some heart from gay marriage as a system systemic revolution. Um, one of my sons is gay and you know, when he was born gay marriage was like something close to Pluto as a imaginary state of social life. But enough people in small ways started with massachusetts and I was a court case in massachusetts, then another court case, then another legislative initiative.
And then, and then pretty soon people got stronger and could declare who they were. And it turned out that gay people were living next door and we're our Children and we're uh, you know, just people we knew respected and had nothing to quarrel about with. And that turned out to be non political. In other words, it turned out that conservatives, you know, have gay Children in the same percentage as liberals too. And so then all of a sudden this social agreement which had been thoroughly oriented one way, which is this the systemic cultural pressure, It just went boom, boom, boom boom. And when it flipped it flipped all the way to the other side. Just And uh, now we're still plenty of people in America who think that uh, you know, that, that uh, that there's something evil about uh, you know, people's, you know, way of living, but they, but that, you know, you never get 100%.
So, but what we have is the society by virtue of these systemic incremental activities, same way, water sort of works, you know, on a hillside just gradually erodes things and creates channels to create channels, create, you know, wider riverbeds and then and it takes time, but it's relentless and I think that's where um, you know, someone who has a conscience, they know their values, they know that injustice is in front of them. Okay, okay, now, what do we do? And um that's what the book's about. And I love that you lay out kind of the 10, the 10 pieces to that to that framework. And I just wanted to say my favorite, I think I love the idea of committing to your values early on just knowing what they are and committing to them is a huge piece. Um you talked about the power of two, which I think, you know, you were just speaking about even like I was thinking about kind of multiple scenarios, there one being, you know, when you're saying like find your people and and connect with people who who share those values for a teacher who might be pre service right now and is going to now go look for a job being able to interview the people who are interviewing you and seeing, you know, that I think is something I didn't realize I could do as an early career teacher um and became really important to me as I switched schools.
Um but also if you do find yourself in a school and you're listening to this as an employee in a current school district to be able to find someone else and just have a conversation with someone else in your organization who may agree. I loved your examples in the book and that chapter that we're just about, you know, finding having the conversations, finding someone who can be either a person who echoes you or you echo them that you're standing up together and it's a lot easier to stand up against injustice. I mean, the research on these pressures that I just mentioned is really telling because both Pierre and authority pressure are are well researched and an astonishing really the experiments that demonstrated them show just how how malleable humans are. But in the famous experiments dealing with peer pressure and authority pressure, standing Milgram's experiments on, you know, they have these fake electrocution devices that they got people to actually induced, they induced people to give lethal doses of an electric charge who are just people off the streets in New Haven.
Uh and peer pressure. Uh Solomon ash got people to agree that two lines of different lengths are the same length by having everyone else in the room say they were the same length. And then the poor person who was the subject kind of got pushed along into saying, well, okay, everybody says so, so it must be the same length. But in both cases all they had to do, the experimenters had to do to change the dynamics of those conformity ease was introduced one other person who told the truth, all you needed was one person in the room and said the lines of different lengths. And then the subject went, of course they're different lengths. And the peer pressure even though there was still 10 to 1 or 10 to 2. Now the 10 to 2 made it possible for it to be too uh and in the authority condition these experiments, you know, with these fake electric shocks friggin. They put one person in the room with the subject who said after a couple of rounds, this is immoral, this is unethical. I quit, I'm getting out of here. And then the subjects went, hey, that's exactly what I was thinking. I'm out of here too.
And so so this this this this um, there's a concept in psychology called pluralistic ignorance. Have you ever heard of pluralistic ignorance, pluralist? It's a, it's something you should definitely wiki look up pluralistic ignorance is the um the the phenomenon That you're in a room with six people and someone tells a sexist joke and everybody in the room thinks that it's a sexist joke and they're offended by it. But nobody says anything and they all think that the other people think that it's funny and so they're ignorant about what is actually going on in other people's minds and they're all fearful of being the one who stands up and makes themselves an issue. But in fact, if one of them speaks up and says, that's an offensive joke, all the other ones will go, that's exactly what I think too. And now the person who's the sexist joke teller is been told where they stand and they probably won't be doing that again.
But pluralistic ignorance is what keeps us in silence. We were afraid that everybody else thinks something that they don't think and all. That's what leadership is. The leader is, the one who says sorry, but not funny and they take a risk. Maybe everybody's going to disapprove, but you'd be amazed at how often, if not all of them, at least one or two, the rest of them are going to say Me too. And and that's when the values change, that's when the organizational culture starts to change. That's when people find courage, uh, and ability to speak up. It's, you know, but but it takes it takes the one to break the pluralistic ignorance, uh, and break it open. I love the example that that you just shared. And I, and I'm I'm wondering if you can, my third favorite chapter was the ask for questions and I don't want to give too much of your book away, but I'm just curious if you could, if you could share a little bit about those four questions that someone would ask as they're determining, you know, what do I do in this situation, like the sexist jokes scenario you just gave or or you know something else.
Like my administrator just told me I can't teach uh you know the 16 19 project about slavery in the United States or something. Um Yeah. Um So yeah the chapter I asked four questions and it's really just a way to check list of the factors that um that you ought to be thinking through when you decide how to take action on on a values conflict problem. And um so you take the 16 19 teaching project problem. Uh Alright first um consequences. So this I'm big on acronyms. So we have the five pairs pressures and now we have the four clip questions C. L. I. P. Um I worked with a student when I wrote this book and every time I sent him a chapter he come back and say where's the momentum I wanted alone and I can remember this. Uh so I came up with them so clip cli p stands for consequences, loyalties, identity and principles And um and they all have deep philosophical roots and they you know, they go back and and into like antiquity, but these are the four things that people need to think about.
So you're you want to teach the 1619 project? The school principal said can't do it. All right. So so I mean I think in that case you already know what you want to do. And so the question is how are you going to go about doing it? So as you analyze the options of how to go about doing it. Um and one maybe go to a school board member that's that's friendly to you and see if you can engage an ally that way. Another might be to confer with some parents that are stakeholders that might exert some pressure on this principle, that it could be taught in some way. If if not exactly like let's just memorize the 1619 project, but you know, let's see what part of it are interesting and informative. So so there there but you're going through the different options of what to do and these clipped things begin to help you think it through. So the consequences, okay, what are the relative consequences, costs and benefits? Things that could, you know, move this forward or set us back about option a option B, option C and consequences is the way most people think about almost everything, you know, should I drive to the store or walk to the store and implicit in there is going to be well what are the consequences?
I walk and get exercise? I drive, I pollute uh on the other hand, I drive to get there faster, you know, so, you know, I can carry more groceries. So so we're doing consequences every day all day about everything moral case is important because the consequences are going to have higher stakes. So we work through the consequences. ele what loyalties do I feel now this is a personal thing. So let's just say that in this system, this principle who's now given this silly order is actually someone that was a mentor for you. Uh you know, they hired you, they brought you along, they gave you opportunities, but now they they they themselves have been pressured by some people to did this rule. So loyalties would be well, what do I owe this principle? Um what do I owe my Children? What do I owe? Uh and not about values, We're going to get to that in principle. So the but the the loyalties are the individual, the personal loyalties to think through what the what the factor, what that can help us inform our decisions and loyalties actually are not a western philosophical principal uh loyalties are Asian, uh they come more from sort of Chinese culture having you with family loyalty and loyalty to ancestors and things like that.
But everybody thinks about loyalties to and they make these important, different, difficult decisions. So, Alfred loyalties, you have to think that through i for identity, which I think is really important. And the whole book is really premised on, I think you should think of yourself as a professional and a person of conscience. The person of conscience is an identity factor and you sort of tested by asking Well in this situation, what would a person of conscience do and principally what you're doing is you're, you're sort of forecasting, who will I be if I make the decision this way, but that way, after the decision is over, and will I be someone I'm proud of? Will I be someone I'm ashamed of? Will I be someone who feels enormous guilt? Will it be someone who feels a degree of satisfaction or fulfillment? And um and and that's where conscience comes in, because conscience is fundamentally wired to guilt? Uh you know, we we have values, we feel guilty when we don't live up to them, and conscience is that little voice that's saying, no, no, no, you know, this is not the way you really should be.
So, so identity is about the who am I question. Uh, and who am I if I agree not to teach this, who am I, if I um if I take action, but I fail, who am I, if I resist this and get fired? Um, and then finally, the principles are things that you might bring to the profession as matters of, um sort of overarching ways that this profession must work in my world, academic freedom is a principle. And so when someone tells someone they can't teach something because of its ideology, when you're in higher education, you go, sorry, academic freedom. Uh, that doesn't apply as cutely in secondary education and public education as it does in in post secondary, but that is an example of a principal Now, a principal might also be um Children first. And so whatever is going on, I always ask myself what's best for the Children.
And so whatever your principles are that apply to how you do your professional work, that's the last checklist. And then you know it's, you have to survey these four questions. They all come and have some balancing features, some plus some minus some unknowns and then you have to do the hard, hard work of exercising judgment and that's where having someone else in the conversation helps because you're just in your own little bubble and you may be overweighting or misunderstanding or misperceiving potential consequences of something and that if you can expand, you know in in success leadership, they call it mastermind groups uh in the there's a book called the extended brain which is sort of a psychologist view of like bring brains together and that's the way social systems work. The extended brain, no one has just an individual brain. We've all got an extended brain because we've been input by all these people that influenced us, our families, our culture, our communities and so on. And so think of yourself as sort of a loan decision makers, a bit of an illusion.
Uh and my viewers be explicit about it. So once you're in the clip framework and you thought things through then go to your colleagues and say well I'm going to lead us through a facilitated discussion of these things and here's my perceptions, but let's see what other points of view might help us make a wiser decision. Uh and so that, you know, though, when you figured when you've gone through those four clip factors, that's it, That's it. Those are the dimensions of a moral decision. And I'm confident in saying that because two or 3000 years of people, much smarter than me, have gone to back for those, and that's what they've come up with. And I think there's some wisdom in sort of you know, centuries of smart people trying to puzzle about stuff and the clip factors is just a distillation of those centuries. I love that. I think that's my favorite chapter in the book. It's just so concrete and practical in terms of helping people through those difficult decisions. And I also love that you really emphasized that identity can really be a huge factor for people in that.
Um one of the things that resonated when I was reading the book were the stories of your students who were reflecting back and many of whom did not regret doing something and taking action and standing up to an injustice, but many who did not stand up to an injustice, kind of felt guilt or, you know, looking back on that, like, oh, I really wish I did do something. And so that resonated with me there. There's there's a marvelous quote from uh it's actually a mystery series on tv that uh some public television I was watching. But there was, it was about, it was a story about police corruption and there was a police chief and their assistant and they were walking together and they were the two people trying to fight the corruption. And there was this big crisis in the story and the big conflict was about to happen. They were going to confront all the bad guys and their careers are at risk. And the older one turns to the younger one and says, well here we are, a moment of courage or a lifetime of regret and you know, the moment, you know, you know the moments you you don't, you don't you don't get to do over on some of these.
And so that's what the book is trying to do is help people prepare. So they're better able to meet those moments. They come up when you don't expect them. They come up often unwelcome, uh, you know, they divert you from some other thing that you were doing that you thought was all like ready to go. And then here comes this value of conflict. This annoying ah upsetting conflict that you just as soon give to someone else or talk yourself out of involving yourself in. Well, okay, you're either ready or not to meet that rationalization and if you're not ready, that's where the remorse will happen later. If you're ready, then you'll be able to do it. If you've got a second. I just want to tell you one story about that because leah the woman I told you it was a nurse, she read the conscience code, She's a big fan of mine so I can count on her to be a reader. She she emailed me from her nursing job in new york uh you know a couple of weeks ago and said well I read the conscience could I think it helped me.
And I said I emailed her back and said tell me. And so she said she'd been at a nursing con you know at a team meeting at her nursing station and the boss come in and said okay team I need you all to initial this paperwork that shows that the safety checks were done on these given days. And leah looked at it and said well I wasn't at work on any of these days and and he said well it's okay, it's just paperwork, you just need to initial it uh you know be a team player. And then uh leah said well I'm not going to sign off on something that happened when I wasn't at work. And and then of course the other nurses, this is pluralistic ignorance. The other nurses all said neither are we. And uh she said I wouldn't I have visualized my I wouldn't have sort of stepped into that situation with the same degree of confidence. If I hadn't just read your book. Um so so I think you can be better prepared. It sort of primed you to be ready to do the right thing when the moment happened. That's an amazing story.
And yeah, those moments happen all the time, they are inevitable, they're going to pop up. And so it's good to be prepared for them. And your book does such a wonderful job of that. And we just talked about a lot of different things. I'm wondering, as a listener is kind of wrapping wrapping up this episode and kind of going about their lives, what is maybe one thing that they could take away to kind of put into action or to remember? Um if they could only remember one thing the next time something comes up. Really, really simple. Thanks for asking that. I think the most important thing is when you confront one of these moments like leah did, for example, or when the principle tells you to do something, you you uh you object to ask yourself what would a person of conscience do in this situation, Forget it, forget about all the rest of it. Just what would a person of conscience do? And then if the answer is they would act then, okay, now we have to think about what to do. And that's that's not that personal conscience doesn't stand up and jump off a wall.
You know, it doesn't jump into the ocean. Doesn't doesn't go to the top of the building and start sheet screaming with a loudspeaker personal conscience acts effectively to address the issue and to advance the value. So, but you have to start with that. What would a personal consciences? That is such a powerful question. I love that. And then, um, one question I usually used to wrap up the show is, since we're all learners, educators, I feel like our amazing learners are lifelong learners, they're always learning and growing as professionals. What's something that you have been learning about lately? Oh wow. Um that's a that's a great question. Well, I have actually, you know, been learning about child development. Um, I four months ago I became a grandfather. Thank you. So my oldest son had his first child little mirror. And so as a grandparent, you look at this baby and you don't see it the same way as you did your own Children because your own Children, like, you know, urgent necessity. Uh you know, the theory of child rearing, it's not really like, you know, you don't have time, but for a grandchild, you see them from a distance.
You know, I sort of have been going back and reading some of the classic books about sort of nature and nurture and the role of genes and behavior and personality and you know, and just taking some some perspective on, you know, how she's gonna develop and grow and how little her parents may have to do with it. I mean they're going to love her of course. But it is interesting how much of our um the way we, we handle and present to the world and understand ourselves is really given to us as a, the architecture of, of who we are and and um so so it's a, so I've been learning about that, that is fascinating and congratulations again, that's so exciting to be here. Um and the final question is just where can people learn more about you, get your book or connect with you online? Sure, I can be found at all the stuff about all my books is my fifth um at G Richard Shell, S H E L L dot com.
Uh and so they'll learn about the, I've written on negotiation, persuasion influence success and now the Conscience Code. And um and the book can be found anywhere. It's on, it's a harpercollins. Leadership is the publisher. Such a big trade publisher. And there's a, if they go to harpercollins Leadership, Conscience Code, they'll find it uh amazon dot com, they'll find it Barnes and noble, they'll find it. Um and so it's uh it's easily found in that way. Excellent, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. That was such a pleasure talking to you Lindsay has been a pleasure. Thank you.
Thanks for listening. Amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me at Lindsay Beth Lyons or leave a review of the show. So leaders like you will be more likely to find it to continue the conversation. You can head over to our time for Teacher ship facebook group and join our community of educational visionaries. Until next time, leaders continue to think Big Act, brave and be your best self.
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.