Friday, October 16, 2020


As a student athlete I was a member of the 4x400 relay team.  I remember coming off that last turn and heading into the home stretch.

OUR team success depended on MY performance.  And MY performance depended on how well I had conditioned myself to perform optimally.  Running well is as much a function of what goes on in our mind as it is a function of physical condition.

The best leaders I know understand this dynamic and build it into the daily disciplines of the organization.  Here are some of those daily disciplines wise leaders embed, promote, and celebrate:

> They talk about shared values ALL. THE. TIME.

> They identify habits that support the organization's vision and support, praise, and enable them, relentlessly.

> They deliberately prune organizational habits that do not highly align to (in some cases, even run counter to) the vision.

> They understand that it's the PEOPLE in the organization that determine its success (or failure), not the org chart or handbooks.

> They afford team members great autonomy in pursuing the vision of the organization.

> They persistently notice, persistently recognize, and persistently praise effort invested in the pursuit of the organization's vision (even when those efforts fall  a bit short).

Just like my relay-running days, performing well depends on disciplined conditioning - along ALL dimensions (and certainly not just around the physical components).

Friday, October 9, 2020


I view schools as sanctuaries of learning.  Sacred places where ways of thinking, ways of knowing, and ways of behaving are transmitted generationally forward.  

As the core function of schools is LEARNING, the compelling need for increased learning applies just as much to the adults in those schools as it does to the children.  

Further, if the learning of the adults in schools is not occurring at a richer and brisker clip than the learning of the children, a problem exists.  

Further still, if the learning of the leaders in those schools is not occurring at a richer and brisker clip than the learning of ALL the other stakeholders (young and old alike), an even bigger problem exists.

Come to think of it, those same three assertion apply to ALL organizations.  At least they do for those that intend to survive.  When the learning stops, the circling of the drain accelerates.

LEARN forward, every day, on purpose.  Leaders show the way, please.

Monday, October 5, 2020


A desire for consistency in behaviors across organizational membership often results in an abundance (or, overabundance) of rules, regulations, protocols, levels of permission, ......  The effect is that members begin to feel that their purpose in the organization is to be compliant to the "rules" rather than to pursue the Vision of the organization.  

Organizational Vision (which in most cases is noble and worthy) begins increasingly to take on secondary status to the need for adherence to bureaucratic structures.  In effect, the tail begins to wag the dog.   

The best leaders I know fight relentlessly to ensure that the pursuit of the organization's Vision remains the premise for the daily decisions made and actions taken.  Metaphorically, they insist that the dog keep wagging the tail, and not the other way around.  

Beating back the DogWagging tendency is a never-ending battle for right-minded leaders.  

But, if the leadership doesn't resist it.....  

Monday, September 21, 2020


Dependency implies that one person/group/entity relies disproportionately on another person/group/entity for the elements of sustaining life -- whether physical, intellectual, emotional-spiritual in nature.  This is not a healthy state.

Codependency is an elevated relational state of dependency, one in which the dependent party depends wholly and absolutely on the provider party for perceived wellbeing, and for life.  This is not a healthy state.

Independence is the state in which one party can exist and sustain themselves completely without the support (or even existence) of the other party.  This is a healthier relational state of existence, but quite tenuous in times/environments of limited resources.  

Interdependence is a relational state of mutual sustainability.  Both parties in this relationship bring something to the table.  It's an I-need-you-and-you-need-me arrangement, one in which both entities see the value and prospects afforded by the mutually supportive (and life-sustaining) relationship.  It is by far the healthiest form of "-pendence."

IF we outsource our wellbeing to Another, we are acting in faith that the Other has our best interest at heart.  History would advise us otherwise.

Saturday, September 12, 2020


 Bold vs Bodacious.  I've been pondering of late the distinction between those two words.

By definition, Bold implies confidence, courageousness, even fearlessness.

Bodacious connotes an uptick in degree - excellence.

It's as if Bold is the verb and Bodacious is the noun, an outcome.

Why not both, then?  BOLDACIOUS seems about right.  

Dream big.  Be fearless.  (Wimpy seems the alternative; count me out.)

Sunday, September 6, 2020


Optimal LEARNING (aka growth) occurs under conditions of challenge.  By definition, atrophy - the decline in effectiveness or vigor - occurs in conditions of underuse or neglect.

World class musicians know this.  Thus, they practice their craft daily, always pushing the limits upward. 

World class athletes know this.  Thus, they practice their craft daily, always pushing the limits upward

World class researchers know this.  Thus, they practice their craft daily, always pushing the limits upward.

A bit of discomforting stress is required for us to sharpen our skills, to push our performance upward, to clarify our get better - everyday, on purpose.  This truth holds across human domains - physical, cognitive, emotional-spiritual.  

World class LEARNERS know this.  Thus, they practice their craft daily, always pushing the limits upward.

Aiming for comfort yields disappointment.  Aiming for adequate yields average.  Aiming for World Class yields exceptional. 

Consequential results require consequential decisions, practices, and effort.

We get to decide, for ourselves AND for our children.  And, we can start anew each day. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020


Back when I was pretending to be an athletic coach, I carefully studied the practices of numerous outstanding coaches (in various sports).  I came to understand a commonality in them:  they were all fundamentalists. 

 No, not the religious kind. 

Fundamentalists in the sense that they knew that when athletes are put into the crucible of competition, they will physically, cognitively, and emotionally default to their HABITS.

Thus, those coaches built into each and every practice session certain fundamental skills routines, to ingrain deeply the auto-responses desired under duress.  Dribble drills in basketball and form tackling in football are examples.  Do them right, every time, without having to think about it.

The best Servant Leaders I know engage in the same type of daily disciplines - the habituation of the fundamentals.  They know full well that under the pressures of organizational crises, disruptive events, tight schedules, difficult negotiations, etc., we default to deeply ingrained schemas - physically, cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Both sets of consequential leaders I've studied - the athletic coaches and the Servant Leaders - were fundamentalists.  They deliberately chose and practiced daily the default responses they deemed necessary for success. 

I'm still thankfully learning from some of those exemplars.