PMP392: Small Steps to Big Joy with Kim Strobel and Jen Schwanke

Hi, Friends. William D. Parker here. As you listen to this week’s show, you’re going to hear a powerful conversation Dr. Jen Schwanke has interviewing author and educator Kim Strobel. Kim Strobel is a motivational powerhouse, inspiring lives and organizations as a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and happiness coach. Overcoming personal adversities, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery, finding the key to shifting mindsets and achieving remarkable growth. Kim challenges the outdated notions of success, advocating for a life of passion, purpose, and potential. Her mission is to inspire change that boosts well-being and performance in the workplace. With over two decades of experience and reaching over half a million people, Kim’s impactful work includes collaborations with notable entities like The United Nations Global Happiness Summit. You’re going to be challenged and inspired by Kim’s vulnerability and authenticity. Thank you for doing what matters! – WDP

From Dr. Jen Schwanke

Welcome to Episode 392 of the Principal Matters podcast, where I sat down with Kim Strobel, owner of Strobel Education.  At the beginning of her career, Kim taught fourth grade and served as a building leader and literacy coordinator. These days, she is a motivational speaker for businesses and organizations, sharing information she’s learned from studying the science of happiness. She believes shifting simple habits and thought patterns can optimize performance, enhance employee well-being, and strengthen culture. 

I was eager to talk to Kim about some of the motivational approaches that might be helpful to principals, and I had a clear idea of how I thought the interview might unfold. To that end, before recording this podcast, I’d sent Kim a list of questions we might cover. 

We got to none of them. 

Instead, we fell right into a conversation marked by vulnerability and authenticity. We covered “real talk” that will resonate with many listeners, starting with how principals often bury their own challenges and mental health needs in an effort to take care of the people in our schools. 

Kim talks about her own inner critic—a voice she has humorously named Ethel—who comes into her mind and needs to be told to get back out. Kim knows many of us have an Ethel. If we push against those crippling voices, she says, and let ourselves feel the fears carried by our inner critic, we can learn to find a positive mindset versus a negative, neutral, or stressed mindset. That’s when we can get up, get out the door, and be productive. 

Kim is careful not to fall into the risk of “toxic positivity.” She is willing to talk about her own time grappling with dark days, such as the period in her twenties when she was so debilitated by panic and anxiety that she was scared to leave her house. Learning how to accept her own pain helped her overcome it. She pushes back against old formulas for what the world tells us success and satisfaction should be. “It’s reengineering our brains to do more of the things we love and actually getting the results we’re looking for in our professional lives,” she says.

This is just the beginning of the conversation. Listen in to learn more about Kim, about happiness, and about overcoming depressing and difficult days. At the end of the podcast, you’ll hear about Kim’s book, set to release in mid-April, titled, Teach Happy: Small Steps to Big Joy.

As you listen, you’ll feel connected by Kim’s ability to acknowledge the difficulties and heart of being an educator— and be joyful and happy anyway. — Dr. Jen Schwanke

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker