Matt is a former special education teacher and spent the majority of his educational career as an elementary principal. Under his leadership two elementary schools went from Low Performing schools to Top Ten High Performing schools in the State of Missouri.
Matt contributes this increase in achievement to the power of positive relationships. When organizations are focused on people – great things happen … and it’s the little things that make a big difference.
Matt currently serves as a Senior Consultant with Franklin Covey, a Room Tilter for Limitless Minds, and Lead Coach for John O’Leary LIVE INSPIRED.
Matt is also the President of Miller Consulting, serving a wide variety of clients in the St. Louis area.
He has been a Director for the West County Fire and EMS District for the past 18 years, serves on the YMCA Board, and is highly involved at St. Vincent DePaul Church in downtown St. Louis.
- “I’ve never been more truly convicted to know that the most important thing we can do is to hook on to others and just say, hey, I’m here and be that person for them when they need us the most.”
- “If we get the personal side right, there’s an ROI on the professional side, but too many times, people are only focused on that professional side. We’re proving that when you make sure you’re taking care of self and you’re putting family first in the schedule, there’s an ROI on that professional side as well.”
- “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”
What You’ll Learn:
Strategies to create a balanced life that leads to positive relationships and sustainable kindness towards others.
This Episode Includes:
- Matt Miller grew up in a small town and he attributes his propensity to pursue positive relationships to growing up in a close-knit community.
- Be the person that sees something in somebody that they don’t see in themselves.
- If you want to change the world, you have to start with your own.
- Don’t waste time on things you can’t control.
- Stay in your circle of control, learn how to do simple better, and take the next right step.
- When you put yourself and your family first there is a return on investment in your professional life as well.
- Protect your psychological immunity by monitoring what you’re putting inside your head, like the ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.
- Recognize that everyone has four letters written on their forehead: MMFI, or make me feel important.
- Learn how to create soul to soul connections with others.
- Being positive often starts with being less negative.
- Be intentional and give yourself grace.
Three Takeaways from Today’s Episode:
- If there’s somebody that’s been hovering around your awareness, send them a text, pick up the phone, write them a nice note, snail mail or an email. Don’t put it off because you never know what someone else is going through.
- Practice being more intentional as you go about your day by speaking with and connecting to others.
- Think of one good thing that’s happened to you today and share with a significant other in your life.
Welcome back to Small Changes, Big Shifts. And we’re in the middle of our Kindness Campaign, and I was thrilled that my friend Matt Miller said yes he would be on the show today.
Matt is a former special education teacher and spent the majority of his educational career as an elementary principal.
Under his leadership, he took two elementary schools that went from low performing schools to top-ten high performing schools in the state of Missouri.
Matt contributes this increasing achievement to the power of positive relationships. And I want to tell you, that is a true story. We’ve met gosh, I want to say about six years ago, and became fast friends. But sometimes, you just, people are like friends immediately, and that was our relationship.
Matt serves as a senior consultant with Franklin Cubby today. He’s joining us on behalf of his lead coach for the John O’Leary Live Inspired. And we’ve had John on the show, and you all have loved him.
He’s been a director for the West County Fire Department for the past 18 years. Serves on the YMCA board, which, you know, I’m also on the YMCA board in Kansas City, and he’s highly involved in his St. Vincent Paul Church in downtown St. Louis.
Matt’s wife Annie, is also a principal at the Parkway Mass West Middle, and they have three kids. Welcome to the Show.
Thank you, Michelle. So good to see you again. And it seems like yesterday we were at the launch event with John. And I love how we recently reconnected, and it felt like yesterday.
So, Matt, you’re exactly right. There’s people that come into your life that just kind of emit kindness and positivity. And you’re one of those guys. Tell me who poured that into you. I believe that it takes people pouring into us to help us live that way. Tell me who inspired you to live that way?
Well, I grew up in a small little town, Corning, Iowa, just north of you in the southwest corner. And there’s something about growing up in a small town. I can go back there now at the age of 51, and people still know who I am. And so I think just my community in general. You’re taught to be kind to everyone. You know, it’s a small town.
And then I had some significant people in my life, mostly my four grandparents. Honestly. And then as I think of my board of directors, I had a coach that saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. And so that led me to the field of education. And for the last 25 years, I’ve been spending that trying to help kids, and my first career was in education.
Well, you call the board of directors. I call the wheel of support. And I’ve been talking a lot about the loneliness epidemic over the last few months. And we’ll be talking about a lot in 2022. And I’m curious, what is a board of directors or, in my case, wheel of support? What does that mean to you, describe that to our listeners?
Well, I think it’s one what I just said of, we see it’s usually somebody that saw something in us that we didn’t see in ourselves. And then that person that was just always there that you knew you could count on. And you mentioned these last couple of years. I think what I have learned more than anything over these past couple of years is people just want to know that there was somebody out there that would answer a text, answer a phone call and just be there.
And so I’ve never been more truly convicted to know that the most important thing we can do is to hook on to others and just say, hey, I’m here and be that person for them when they need us the most.
Speaking of needing people the most, we have a common friend, John O’Leary. And you guys are doing some really cool things around, reaching out. Can you talk about how you guys are creating a ripple of kindness?
Yeah. I think it starts with themselves. You know, our motto is changing the world, starting with our own. And so it all starts, as you know, obviously, with ourselves being kind to ourselves and really making sure that we’re giving ourselves grace. So then we can pour that cup into others. And so the three things that we’ve really centered ourselves on that we think everything falls into. And it’s a lot of your work, as well as, we’re just trying to keep people focused on the most important. In this world, where they’re trying to teach us that everything is urgent and important.
Staying in their circle of control. You know, I think too many times we’re all guilty of spending a lot of time on things we don’t have a lot of control over. And then, most importantly, aligned with your work. What’s your next right step? Doesn’t have to be a big next step. But what is your next right step you can take today? It leads to the next right step.
And as simple as that sounds, that’s what we say a lot around here, like, just do simple better. Like, complexity isn’t effective. Multitasking isn’t effective. Like, just do simple, better.
take the next step. We’re coming through a very fascinating time, not just the last two years, even though I think it’s throwing gasoline on a fire that was burning. And how do you help people with this kind of work, life balance or life work balance? Because now it’s so integrated. Maybe. Do you think that’s what it needs to be for people to truly live life fully?
Yeah. I never forget when I was checking in with people early on. I’ll never forget this one lady that said, you know, I was good at setting boundaries, and I left work at work and when I was home, I was present. And then all of a sudden we opened up home to work. And now I don’t know where that boundary is, and I don’t know how to keep it as tight as I used to.
To your point, I think helping people with those boundaries and helping actually organizations with those boundaries to set, to go back to their values and set limitations to make sure that we are really helping people find this life work balance because our data is showing, especially over the last two years, with some significant issues that we’ve all dealt with. If we get the personal side right, there’s an ROI on the professional side, but too many times, people are only focused on that professional side.
We’re proving that you make sure you’re taking care of self and you’re putting family first in the schedule. There’s an ROI on that professional side as well.
For those of people listing that are not in the business world, what does ROI mean, return on investment?
Return on Investment. Sorry, we’re full of acronyms these days.
Well, there’s so many. It’s kind of like drinking water. There’s a huge return on investment for drinking water in your skin and your hair and in your digestive system and your muscular system. Same thing with being kind. What steps can people take to improve the psychological immunity? And I believe that kindness is part of that. So thanks again for joining me during the special campaign that we do every year.
Well, again, I use that term a lot over the last couple of years because, yes, we were practicing physical immunity, right. Like we were wearing masks and 6ft apart, and we still are. But what I learned more than anything is the psychological immunity and what we’re feeding up here, as you know, was more important than anything. And it’s not so much choosing what to do. It’s choosing what not to do. And so really making sure that we’re not watching a lot of news, that we’re not spending a lot of time on social media, unless you’re tuned into this podcast. Having a plan for when negativity shows up in your life. And so that’s the first step with everyone I work with. Okay. Let’s check our intake, not only water and all the things that you remind us of as well, but also how are we protecting this that guides everything else. I think that was, that’s been the AHA that people didn’t realize they were just sitting in front of a TV letting it just tell them whatever it wanted to tell you. Right. And so that’s the choice. We choose what to do and what not to do. So going back to that, I think it’s deep choice.
So, speaking of choice, as a wellness chiropractor, we know the body works because of the nervous system, and the nervous system works because of what you put in your mind, what you put in your mouth and what you put on your skin. And so I love that you brought up psychological immunity. You know I have not heard those two words together. So if you see me kind of borrow those over the next year, I’ll remember, I got those words from you, Matt. How do positive relationships make a difference in people’s lives?
When I hear the term positive relationships, it brings me back to the year 2000. So that dates me a little bit. But I was the new principal of Kellison elementary in the Rockwood school district and had spent some time on your side. I got to give a shout out to Liberty in North Kansas City school districts. And I was at Kellison elementary. And after the first year, our test scores went up and Summa Acadamus, the professional director at the time, came in and said, okay, what you do, show me all the strategies and so forth.
And I said, it’s all about relationships. And she didn’t believe me. And so she left kind of frustrated. And 2002 came and our test scores went up again. And she said, set a meeting with me. And she said, okay, what’s going on here? And I said, it’s all about relationships. We’re taking care of the people. We’re loving our kids, and we have great relationships with our families. And she still didn’t believe me.
Well, in 2004, we became a top ten school in the state of Missouri after being one of the lowest performing schools in the district. And she closed the door. And she said, alright, tell me this thing about relationships. And so I do think it goes way back to how I was raised and being in a small town. But what I have been able to show, we have been able to show, is everything we’re doing, no matter who’s listening right now and what profession you’re in or what hats you wear. It’s all about the people, and if we’re taking care of the people, the rest kind of works itself out.
You know, I learned early on before I even started practicing, or when I was at chiropractic school, that everybody has four letters on their forehead “MMFI” – make me feel important. And some days, I miss the mark. Healthcare has been a little crazy to be quite honest. And so you’ve got to do more with less and see more people with less support, et cetera. We can all go through the long list, but I don’t want to make this about that. The positive side is how can you just make that soul to soul connection, not roll to roll, in a matter of a nanosecond just like you and I made at that launch with John Hilary. And so thank you for bringing that up, because it is all about relationships.
So this MMFI thing, one of the things I’m most proud of is we started the first leadership school in Missouri, and it was the belief that every kid is a leader, and every kid has genius. And so our mission was every single kid, I love your acronym, every single kid knew they were a leader and knew they had genius inside of them. And so, you know, shout out to what we built. It’s called the Leader in Me. You have schools all across the Kansas City side, and actually, the state of Missouri is leading in that initiative. And so that’s a lane I still sit here today as the lead coach of Live Inspired. But I’m also a senior consultant with Franklin Covey and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People are real. And we’re teaching four, five and six year olds how to be proactive and begin with the end in mind and put first things first.
So well, I love that we have a foundation called Big Shifts Foundation making Generational change five to 30 year olds through whole person health. And once they can start to value their own self care and learn, if I don’t feel good, why don’t I feel good? Is the people I’m around, is the food I’m putting in? Is that the stuff I’m watching? So once again, the reason why we are twins here on opposite ends of the state here. But as they continue the conversation, here’s a question. What are the three key takeaways that you want our listeners to know about kindness and positivity today?
Well, I think with the positivity piece, one thing we teach is getting to neutral. And what we mean by that is, the research that I’m reading anyway is pretty clear. And a lot of it comes out of Christine Horaths work out of Harvard that says that being less negative is more effective than being more positive.
And so you hear me a lot mentioning that. Yes, we want to be positive and optimistic, but we really want you to be less negative. And so we teach getting to neutral, which means, okay, something happens, right? Our past is irrevocable. What can we learn from it and kind of get to neutral? So think of it as a car, right? Like when you’re neutral, you’re right there your pause. And now you have the ability to take the next right step. But, if we focus on the past and negativity, that’s reversed, right, that’s getting us away from our goals.
And so I think that’s the first step is just again, that psychological immunity check to say. Okay, where am I at on the continuum of just being present and where I am.
I think the second thing is being intentional. You and I do some traveling, right. And I went into one of my last traveling trips very intentional to find the good. And when I got on the hurtz little shuttle, I asked the guy, he was a highlight from your week. And old Jonathan says, this is my 20th year here at hurtz. And we had this great conversation about how he’s been driving this bus for 20 years, just the nicest old man. Right. And then when I get to the Southwest gate, this guy is just making everyone laugh and doing a great thing. And Southwest has those little tickets that say, I forgot the slogan now. But anyway, you can give them a ticket. You can give them a ticket, right? Yeah. And so I gave him a ticket. And he’s like, this is the first one I’ve ever gotten. I’m like, Well, you deserve it, right. And then last, but not least you know, this checking in late. Sometimes when we’re traveling, the Marriott guy just gave me a warm welcome at like, 1:00 a.m. In the morning. And I posted it to Twitter. And we took a selfie together. And he’s like, I’ve never been on social media like that. And so I say all that because I went into it very intentional to find the good. And when we send intentions every day, I think that’s the best piece.
And then last, but not least, just as you and I try to do. And I think we all do. Just try to give everyone grace. We know everyone is struggling at something every day. Some of us are better at faking it than others. But if you go into your day with grace and kindness and positivity, it’s amazing what happens and what kind of circles back and find you as well.
Okay. Those are some great tweetable moments. So if you’re having trouble seeing the positive, and you’re kind of on a Debbie Downer side, get to neutral. Okay. I like that. Find the good, find the good, find the good. And I would say, find the good in your own day. I had a young woman that came to see me recently and I said, tell me something good that happened today. Tell me something good that’s happened in your life, because I have a couple questions that kind of gage their level of trauma. And she said, I can’t think of anything. So, I said, I’m gonna give you something right now when anybody asks this question, this is your line. I can walk today. She’s like, oh, my gosh. That is so powerful. So I think I took her to neutral that day, not knowing what I was doing.
And, of course, give yourself grace. Okay. Give yourself grace and then give other people grace. Matt, I’ve got a couple more questions for you before we wrap up, and you make me think of this video, and you’ve probably seen it where the teacher has a kid, either give her a little dance or a high five or hug. Have you seen that video? Okay. Well, we’re gonna put in the show notes. It’s so good. So I’m curious. I have a few more questions for you.
What simple gesture have you witnessed that renewed your hope in humanity the last year?
I think the reconnection of not only like families and extended families, but like neighbors and how I saw it anyway, within my neighborhood and my circle of people being more intentional, just checking on one another. We kind of got super busy on garage doors going up every morning and leaving and then coming back and just the whirlwind. Right. And I think people truly kind of reflected on, “Okay, what’s most important.” And it is myself, my family, and the people that live around me. I know my neighbors more now than I ever have. I’ve reconnected with more people than anyone, not anyone, you know, that I wasn’t thinking about. So I just think the bringing people back to what’s most important.
Well, I think that’s a good call to action right now. If there’s somebody that’s been hovering around your awareness, I invite you. I invite you to send them a text, pick up the phone, write them a nice note, snail mail or an email. Whatever is your swag. I encourage you to reach out to them today. Don’t put it off. Just one person today. You never know what they’re going through. So once again, Matt, a few more questions. A few more questions. Hey, do you have a favorite quote that inspires you to kind of keep going?
I have a lot of them. I have a lot of them on the walls right now, but my favorite is, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” So whether that be taking care of yourself, drinking more water, whatever it is like in the whirlwind of life, you know, just keeping the most important in front of you.
So the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing just to keep me.
What book are you reading right now?
Positive Intelligence by Had…Remember his last name?
I listened to that last summer. Yes. Very good.
Right to be reminded that we have these saboteurs on one side every day and the stages on the other and the saboteurs outnumber us and how to have a plan when your personal judge shows up. Right. So I’m learning a lot about, it’s natural for negativity to show up every day but what’s your plan when it does?
It’s a great book. Highly recommend it. Okay, Matt, what is one kind thing you’ve got over the last year that stretched your heart a bit wider.
I think it’s going back to my neighbors. I have a small little neighborhood, and there’s five or six people. I send a little weekly text to Jackie Morton right up the road. Suzanne, they’re in this stage of life where they’re taking care of their husbands and so forth. And so it’s just a little text that says, hey, you need anything. And I love when they take me up on it. And so just to know that I’m doing a better job of taking care of them. And then the stories I’ve told, as you and I this morning, like, just if we can all just go into the world more intentional every single day, I think we empower others to do the same as well.
Well, to those of you listening, here’s another assignment for you. Another challenge for you to consider or though, is when somebody says, what can I do for you that you actually answer. You know, when I’m in my right mind that I start the day with my team is what’s one thing I do today to make your day great. You don’t know what it is. They may need to say, I need to be out of here on my own time. You know, you’re on your own at five. Sometimes people need one right now, especially if you’re like, I need to get in. I’m like, okay, well, it’s either stack it earlier or stay late. So I think it’s really important to let people also assist you. And that’s a two way street. It helps other people feel good.
I love what you just said, because when it comes to relationships again, about doing simple better and being intentional, we sometimes just assume what the deposit is and your question is so powerful, because whatever hat you wear as a business owner, teammate, husband, wife, father, son, whatever it is, dad, mom to look at them and say, hey, how can I be a better blind? A simple question, right. And then just like, be quiet and act on the answer. We forget how powerful that is. And so love your intention there.
Okay. Last question. I want to give a shout out to our sponsors, Advent Health, Community America, for making this show possible. And for our new partner, CityWide Maintenance, for sponsoring this campaign that we’re over half way through, spreading the ripple from the heartland, north and south and east and west.
And without a doubt, Matt Miller, and his different tribes. He has different pockets of life like I do. And his team over at John O’Leary. They’re really making a difference for people’s life. I encourage you to check them out. Gosh, what’s the website right there?
You can go to John O’Leary Inspired dot com.
Yeah. Go to the John OLeary inspired dot com website. You will not be disappointed and I also encourage you to check out the show notes. We’ll put a link to the show, Sean has been on as well. Matt, what’s a song that helps you get moving throughout the day and list your spirit up.
Well, I grew up in the 70s and 80s and so literally the song I played from Ballwin, Missouri to Kirk this morning was hysteria by Death Leopard. I challenge you to play that loud and not be in a great mood.
So awesome. Well, I’m in a great mood from starting my day with you once again. Thank you for joining me. Sending you lots of big heart to heart hugs. Be good to yourself.
Love it. Good to see you. Michelle.