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Education leaders have three essential resources: time, money, and emotional energy. Time is fixed. Financial resources are typically fixed and, in the present economy, diminishing. Emotional energy is variable but has limits that are exhausted quickly by school leaders who ignore the reality that even the most dedicated employee can be resilient but will refuse to be an eternal Bobo doll, rising from each punch to endure another blow. The Law of Initiative Fatigue states that when the number of initiatives increases while time, resources, and emotional energy are constant, then each new initiative—no matter how well conceived or well intentioned—will receive fewer minutes, dollars, and ounces of emotional energy than its predecessors. This chapter considers the adverse effect of the Law of Initiative Fatigue on high-impact professional learning.
Marie Antoinette and School Reform
"Execution"—for some readers it brings to mind the best-selling book by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan (2002), a chatty memoir of the joys of corporate leadership before economic reality established that celebrity CEOs and consultants have feet of clay. For other readers, the same term is redolent of earlier centuries in which the guillotine, the auto-da-fé, or the battle axe were all mercifully more brief than management books on the subject of execution. Perhaps the most offensive part of the latest genre in which former business leaders presume to inform the rest of us about effective leadership is their enthusiasm for the "initiative." Even the most infectious enthusiasm for new initiatives is an insufficient condition to create more than 24 hours in a day. Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI lost their heads; those who persist in ignoring the Law of Initiative Fatigue have lost their minds.
The Priority Paradox