Monday, October 29, 2012

Invasion of the Quarter Pounders!

     If you are joining me in this series of "Finding Ways to Unwind" ,  you will soon discover how my evening hunt evolved after the slow time was over.  Who would have thought sitting twelve feet up in tree on a seat made up of two metal rods and a thin cushion would be one of most relaxing places during my week?   Did I say the cushion was thin?   Imagine a slice of bread and then sit on it for two or three hours.  When hunting is slow you think of these little comfort things, but when it picks up you could be sitting on a seat of nails and you wouldn't notice it.  And for me it was getting ready to pick up.

     As I looked about three hundred yards to the north of my deer stand, I noticed something moving along the cedar tree row.  It was hard to make out because of the trees and tall weeds.  I mainly could tell it was big and dark.  I squinted a little to cut down on the glare from the sun that was starting to get about eye level.  Luckily for me, if I leaned back just a little I could use a branch to my left to block the light.  Since it was far away, I decided that looking through my range finder would help me make out what it was.  As I looked through the eye piece and scanned down the tree line, my pulse rate went up a little thinking that I might see a big buck.  I could make out the hind legs and then the body.  It was big, but it was a COW!  A stupid cow!
    Seeing a cow in your hunting area is almost as bad as getting your cover blown by a snorting deer.  Deer and cattle don't generally hang around each other.  It’s not that they are mortal enemies or anything, but they just don't hang around the same social circles.  If one cow was bad enough, then twenty was worse.  As the cow moved into a clearing, I could see several more follow.   Although this was disappointing, I have come to learn that it's not the end of the world.  The phrase, "A bad day hunting is still better than a good day at the office" always holds true.  I was still enjoying unwinding and if I wait long enough, you never know, the dumbest creature on the earth might just move out of the area.
     For about twenty minutes I sat and watched the cows lumber around and eat grass or chew their cud. Whatever they were doing, I didn't really care because they were just getting in the way.  The only thing that is important to remember about a cow is this:  Don't shoot them.  If you do, it will become a very expensive hunting trip.   You might end up with a lot of meat, but it will run you a price of one full cow.  And what's worse the land owner probably won't send you a thank you card inviting you back onto his property.  Let me put it this way, if you just shot the family favorite that little sis bottle fed when she was a little girl, you won’t get a warm "come on back anytime you get a chance" invitation.
     As I kept looking north watching the cows doing their cow thing, I noticed a doe jumping over the fence line about one hundred yards to the east.  Finally, some action!  Even though it was just a doe it made life more interesting.  Better than watching a bunch of quarter pounders walk around the pasture.  The next thing I knew two more does jumped the fence line and followed the lead doe.  They were making their way across the pasture to the automatic water tank.  As they got within twenty yards of the tank, a cow decided that it was thirsty.  I guess being several hundred pounds heavier gives you the right to go first in the drinking fountain line.   Really not much different than when I was in grade school.  The big kid always got to cut in line and get his drink before me.  I was okay with that because I figured he needed the hydration to sustain his girth.  The does seemed okay with standing around and drawing circles in the dirt with their hooves as they waited on "Big Mac" to slurp all the water up.  Oh sorry that was more of a flash back to grade school.  Actually as they waited the does did a little bit of munching on whatever wheat that had come up in this dry land.  Once the cow had finished, the does stepped up to the tank and had their refreshment. 
     This was one of the first times I had seen this type of activity by deer.  It gives you an idea of the type of dry conditions this area was going through.  In order to survive and receive water, the deer were willing to change their habits and be around the cattle.  As leaders we can learn a lot from their example.  Sometimes circumstances that are out of our control can change the environment around us.  The best way to survive is to adapt to the changes and not only survive, but thrive in our organization.   What ways have you had to adapt or change to be a successful leader?

Here is a picture of one of the does.  Notice the
lack of wheat coming up.

Join me in my next post to find out what joins us in the hunt.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leadership in the Hunt

     This segment of my "Finding Ways to Unwind" series takes us on the hunt.  Again I would like to thank everyone in joining me in this series.  I hope you are getting something good from my experience and will also find ways to unwind from your work.  One of the best things that unwinding does for me is allows me to clear my mind.  The saying "You can't see the forest because all of the trees" holds so true for leaders and the job that they do every day.  Sometimes a bit of clarity is all a leader needs to help solve a problem at work or get inspired to move forward in your organization.  Unwinding allows the mind to clear its thoughts and see something from a different angle.  Sounds like a lame excuse to go hunting?  Maybe, but I have had many times sitting in a quiet deer stand in which an idea for work has come to me.  Unwinding could be more related to finding that quiet place for your mind to think.
     Once camp was set and we sat around the campsite enjoying the afternoon we soon decided who was going to what deer stand.  We were still about thirty minutes away from heading to the deer stand so it was time to get our hunting gear on.  It takes a bit of time to shed what we were wearing and get all of our scent blocking clothing on and get everything that you need to take, from a grunt call or binoculars and a cell phone.  Why a cell phone?  Great way to communicate with another hunter!  Texting someone who might be 300 to 400 yards away is important in giving you a heads up if a deer is coming your way.  Or if it's really slow at your stand you can get excited for your buddy if a deer is in their area.  Another reason for a cell phone is to take pictures which can provide evidence as you are sitting around the camp fire discussing the big one that came by your stand. That is if you shoot and miss this trophy buck.  You know the "Big one that got away story" that no one believes.
     Once we had all of our gear on and our bows were properly equipped, then it was time to jump on the four wheeler and head to the deer stand location.  As we were cutting across the wheat field the dust kicked up around us.  Where we were hunting had gone through two consecutive droughts.  It was so dry that the dirt in the field had turned to a fine powder, which made it difficult to keep from getting into your mouth or eyes.  The wheat field had just been planted but not much of it was coming up.  It was so dry that the main river running through the property had disappeared.  With all this, we were a little worried that there would not be too many deer in the area. Without food or water deer don't have a great habitat to live in.
     As I pulled up the four wheeler to the fence line, I noticed the tree stand about 150 yards into the "old melon patch" field.  As my fellow hunter left on the four wheeler, I made my way to the stand.  Moving into a stand you have to be careful not to draw any attention to your area.  Stepping on leaves and sticks can send a message to any of the critters around that some loud dude is in the area.  You also have to be careful about rubbing up against weeds and fallen branches.  Doing so will leave your scent for the deer to smell.  With the wind blowing slightly from the north, I walked close to the fence line then made a straight line for the tree my stand was in.  I had to step through tall weeds and grass for most of my way.  I was a little worried that I might leave my scent behind but there wasn't any avoiding this tall vegetation.  I made it to the bottom of the tree and made my way up the tree to the stand.  This evening was unseasonably warm, so by the time I got into the stand I had broken into a sweat.  I settled into the stand with about two hours of sunlight left.  For the first thirty minutes in was slow. Nothing was moving, not enough mouse.  Sorry that sounds like "The Night Before Christmas", but it was true.  It was slow.
     Slow was just fine.  I could soak in the quietness of the great outdoors and let mind just slow down. I compare these times to peeling an onion.  As each layer of my work comes off, the stronger the power of my mind comes through.  Without knowing how much time passes, I can sink deep into my own thoughts and let the stress of the work world can just melt away.  At the same time, I can be watching for that ever magnificent buck that I could tell stories about around the campfire that evening. 
     Do you have these moments where the world leaves you and the only thing you have is yourself?  Maybe it's just you and your thoughts.  Maybe it's you and your Creator.  Either way it’s time that you need to help you unwind from being a leader.  As a leader you have to find these moments.  No one is going to make them for you.  I found my place to unwind.  What about you? 

Join me in my next post to see what shows up after the slow part of the hunt.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Leadership in a Deer Stand

     If you are reading this then I would like to thank you for joining me on my hunting journey.   I hope you find my recent evening in the deer stand insightful and entertaining.  I arrived about mid afternoon to the pasture to help set up our campsite.  Once the tent was set up and the supplies set out, we settled into our lawn chairs to talk about how we could solve the world’s problems.  That discussion lasted about ten minutes and then we were on to important matters, like who was going to sit in what deer stand.  The area we hunt has several deer stands on the property.  Either side of the property in all directions you can take your pick and sit in a stand on a different day of a week.  Why so many?  In bow hunting the wind can make or break a hunt if the deer move in the direction of your stand.   With a north wind then you better sit on a stand that has the deer coming in from the north.   If the deer's movement on the trail is predominately from the south they will avoid your stinky human scent or worse let all of the deer in the area know that something is up.
     How do they warn their fellow deer friends?  It's quite the sight to see a deer stand up on their back hind legs and hold up their front hooves in front of their mouth to shout out, “Live, Bambi, Live!”  That's deer code for "Run!"  Okay that only happens when watching a Bambi movie.  What the deer will really do is, with their head held up high and ears perked straight up, stomp the ground with their front hooves and snort so loud that every deer within ear shot hears.  And believe me in an empty wooden area that sound seems to travel for miles.  If this happens to you as a hunter, you have two choices. You can either get down and go to town or wait for everything to clear out and hope that some other deer wasn't close enough to hear the hunter alert.
     As a leader I can learn a lot from this process.  Be well prepared, but don't be discouraged when everything goes wrong.  Be patient and wait it out because the circumstances could change for the better.  Like any successful program, plans have to be made, steps have to be taken to insure success.  As Stephen Covey would say, "Begin with the end in mind."  The end for me, in this situation, is successfully bagging a nice deer.  Trophy deer would be great for my ego, but I would be just fine with improving from the last deer I shot.  Either way it's still a win-win, because my family and I can still enjoy the meat harvested from the hunt.  Even though the hunt may not go exactly how I like it, hunting can be just like leadership.  The experience is always the best part of the process. 

Next Post:  Leadership in the Hunt

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finding Ways to Unwind

     As a leader the job that you have can consume a lot of your time.  Sometimes it can become a twenty four hours and seven days a week job.  You have to find ways to get away from your job and unwind.   For each person it can be different.  I know people who enjoy quilting, shopping, painting, and even making furniture.  Either way it has to be something that can take you worlds away from your responsibilities as a leader.
     Mine is hunting, specifically deer hunting.  As a kid growing up on a farm I enjoyed getting away from everything by exploring the land which surrounded our property.  I could spend endless hours exploring our property, looking for wildlife, or fishing.  Either way I was enjoying myself.  As I got older and able to handle a gun my step father taught me how to hunt.  It was mainly bird hunting but never the less I was outside enjoying God's creation.  
    As I went to college, started my career, and eventually my family, hunting became less and less of a priority.   Trying to fit in a busy teaching/coaching schedule and raising three kids doesn't leave for very much personal time.  Evidently, I would pick it up again.  But this time it was different.  My brother in-law got me hooked on bow hunting.  The best thing about bow hunting is that you have to fully immerse yourself into the woods.  You have to get close enough to a deer in order to be able to shoot it.  Since I am not the best shot in the world I like to have the deer at least twenty yards or less away from my deer stand.  Closer the better.  Not so much to shoot but just to get a glimpse of this beautiful animal.  
     Deer are one of the most amazing creatures on this earth.  There senses are extremely sensitive to sounds and scent.  Deer can smell twenty times better than humans.  As a hunter going into the woods it's important to cover your scent as much as possible.  This means covering your scent as you walk into your deer stand and the scent the wind can carry from your deer stand.  Generally a deer stand is twelve to fifteen feet in the air.  By having it this high the wind will take the hunter's scent up and away from the deer below.  If the wind is in the right direction a deer will not have any idea a hunter is right above them.  
     This weekend I was able to get away on do some deer hunting.  I was really looking forward to a hunt.  Not so much to shoot a deer but just to get away and unwind.  Sitting in a deer stand there are no distractions.  Siting in a deer stand, life can be simple.   There are no work questions, demands, or concerns.  This isn't to say that I don't enjoy what I do or appreciate the people I work with.  I am blessed with my current position as well as the positions that I have had in the past.  No matter where I have been God has put wonderful people to work beside.  With that being said work can be work and sometimes for me it can start to consume all of my time and thoughts.  If I am not working then I am thinking of work.  When I get to that point then I know it's time to get away for a good hunt.  In my next few posts I will give you an idea of how my weekend hunt went.  I hope you can join me.  Enjoy the hunt, I know I did!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When You Don't Feel Like It

    Some of the worst times are when a leader just doesn't feel like leading.  It happens to everyone.  In fact mine was happening right before I started to write this post.  I opened my computer and turned on the TV.  Football was on.  For a few minutes I wasn't in the mood to write anything down.  It could have been that I just didn't know what to talk about.  It might had been that I just got home from work at nine o'clock and didn't feel like writing.  Sit down and type something up or just sit and watch Monday Night Football.  Hmmm....
     So what did I do?  I turned the TV off and tried to write something down.  Eventually this story came out.  Why not write about what I was dealing with at that very moment.  When to lead when you don't feel like it.  Hall of Fame Basketball player Jerry West was quoted as saying, "You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good."  Jerry West knew something about not wanting to go to work in his basketball days.  In 1960 Jerry was drafted with the second overall pick by the Minneapolis Lakers.  Being drafted by a midwestern team would suit Jerry well because he grew up in West Virginia.  Unfortunately for Jerry after he was drafted the team relocated to Los Angeles.  
     In the beginning, Jerry felt odd in his west coast environment.  Jerry by nature was a loner.   He had a high-pitched voice which earned him the nickname "Tweety Bird".   He spoke with such a thick Appalachian accent that his teammates also referred to him as "Zeke from Cabin Creek".  Don't you think Jerry felt like not going to work each day?  It would have been just as easy for him to pack his bags and head back to West Virginia.  Jerry thought differently.  He decided to put the extra hours in the gym to become better.  His work ethic and physical ability caught people's attention and eventually acceptance and respect from the Laker organization.  The Laker's organization thought so much of his career that in 1983 they retired his number #44 to the rafters of the Staple Center.
     As leaders we have to do the same thing.  Show up to work.  When we show up to work we have to work our best.  By doing so we can also gain the respect and admiration of the people around us.  I am not saying that our world will be trouble free, but at least we will be present and working through the troubles.  People in an organization want to see that from their leaders.  Present and engaged.  Showing up everyday and working side by side with them in the trenches.  A good philosophy is: "When you don't feel like leading, then just fake it until you do."  You might be surprised that no one will notice the difference.

Want to know more about Basketball Hall of Fame player Jerry West?  Click on this "Flashback" video below.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stretch Yourself Armstrong!

    If you were a kid growing up in the 1970s, you probably remember the toy "Stretch Armstrong". From 1976 to 1980 Stretch Armstrong was produced and sold throughout the United States. This latex rubber toy filled with gelled corn syrup was a hit. No matter how much I would stretch Armstrong he would always revert back to his original form. Okay I confess, Stretch would eventually change his shape when I would leave other toys, shoes, school books, and whatever else was tossed on top of him in the bottom of my toy bin. A couple of weeks of being smashed left him with a flat chest and several dents. He would even have some lint or some kind of fuzz stuck to him. He didn't look great after the abuse and abandonment. He deserved a better life, so eventually I would take him out and pound him back into shape. Turns out it was a great way to take out aggression. I should get one today to help me cope with stress.
     I was reading how hard it was to find quality Stretch Armstrongs because they have to be stored correctly to maintain the latex rubber and gelled corn syrup. I guess dry and cool places are best. If only I had known, I would have taken better care of Stretch. Probably would be worth thousands of dollars now. Could have funded the kid's college if I had better latex rubber gelled corn syrup preservation skills. For those of you that are big Stretch Armstrong fans, I bet you can't wait for the movie to come out in April 2014.
     As a leader, stretch is something that you should always keep in mind. Stretching yourself to become a better leader should be something you do each year. Ask yourself if the goals that you set are stretching your skills enough in becoming a better leader or are you letting the area of improving skills get tossed at the bottom of your personal or professional "toy bin" so that it’s smashed to the degree that the status of your leadership skills are out of shape?
     The routine and mundane work day can get in the way of stretching our skills. We have to stay focused on the goals we set. We should write these down and put them where we can see them every day.
      Set goals to build your skills as a leader. Want to be a better public speaker? Take a class to improve your skills. Start volunteering at your organization to present in front of people. Don't be afraid to admit to people that you are working on a skill. They will appreciate your honesty and be more likely to give you quality feedback.

Step out and stretch yourself to become better leader. You will make the Stretch Armstrongs of the world proud.

Check out the old vintage 1970's video on Stretch Armstrong!  It will bring back memories!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Where Do You Find Your Strength?

     As leaders our role can consume a large amount of our time and energy.  Most days can be very rewarding but there are some moments, events, or even people who can exhaust a leader.  I call these little moments, "Life Suckers"  I know it's not a real creative title but it sure is accurate because these moments can suck the life out of your day.  There isn't any avoiding them.  Life sucking moments are just part of life.  They happen.  Majority of time in leadership they happen as a result of what someone else has done.  Sure it can happen because of bad practice, bad policy, or a mistake by the leader, but it's been my experience it happens most of the time because someone has made a mistake.  Maybe it's an honest mistake or maybe someone is just being plain stupid.  Either way it happens and as leaders we just have to get over it and deal with the "Life Sucking" moment.
     As leaders we have to look past these moments and find our strength.  No matter what has happened or how stupid someone is we are always called by our profession to treat them professionally.  To do this we have to look past the circumstances and find our strength.  Where do you find your strength?   I think it's important to ask yourself what my strength is based on?  Is it your circumstances?  What if it changes then where is your strength?  What if your bank account goes in the negative does your strength quickly follow?  Your stress level goes up but what about desire to take care of the problem?  If you want to keep the bank off of your back you work quickly to take care of the problem.  In this situation your reputation might be your strength.  Find something stable for your strength.  Your family, friends, or your faith.  Families have their ups and downs but for the most part they are pretty stable and you can rely on them.  Your friends, the good ones that will tell you the truth and still accept you, are generally pretty stable. 
     Your faith, and I'm talking about God, will never change.  Why?  Because God is always faithful.  Don't get faith and circumstances confused.  Circumstances change, almost like a roller coaster ride.  Your faith is always there because God is always there.  Don't put faith in your circumstances because they will change and then you will think God is on vacation or just ignoring you.  He doesn't, because God never changes.  He is always their because God is always faithful.   When the "Life Suckers" walk into your presence think to yourself, this to shall pass, and start working on resolving the issue.  I have learned more in leadership through each of these life sucking moments than I have in a week of things going well.  These life sucking moments will make you stronger by just going through the experience.  Just remember your strength and not your circumstances.

Here is some more good information on finding your strength!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What is Your Presence?

     As a leader in any setting you bring presence.  What do I mean by a presence?  In this sense I am talking about how you make people feel.  Do you make them feel uncomfortable?  Do you give the impression that you care?  Do you give people the feeling that you invite and value their input?  What type of image do you project as a leader?  In all these questions, along with others that you could come up with, lead to your presence in your organization.
     Did you know that your presence can be establish even before you get a new job?  Several years ago I had a colleague tell me about a job situation that he had just gone through.  He had left a position that had a terrible working atmosphere.  People hated coming to work and they disliked the direction the organization was headed.  Through an opportunity he was able to move from that organization to a new one.  He was still working the same type of job but it was for a new organization.  He knew that this new job would be a piece of cake because the guy he was replacing was fired for stealing from the company.  He said to himself, "This will guy will be easy to follow because I am honest and don't have a problem with stealing".  It turned out to a terrible situation.  The environment and presence of that position he was taking over had no trust with anyone.  The guy before him was a crook so everyone from then on was always checking to see if everything was being accounted for.  It was a nightmare of no trust already established before his first day at work.
     How do you maintain a presence that convenes trust, openness, kindness, fairness, and any of the positive virtues that a quality leader needs to have?  You have those characteristics each and every day in each and every situation.  Are you going to be perfect?  No, and trust me people know that about you.  No one is perfect.  When leaders aren't batting one thousand in a situation, the great thing is we can go back and try and remedy the strike out.  We will have another plate appearance to make a hit with the people we work with.   People can appreciate that openness of making a mistake and trying to make it right later.  Leaders are human.  Leaders will have to admit to the "Elephant in the Room" when something isn't handle correctly on their part.  They might have to apologize to make things correct.  They might have to fix what they broke, which could be trust.  This could take time.  If you have been a leader that has done this I would invite you to try and build that bridge of trust and help your presence as a leader.  It's not the easiest thing to do but you will be a better person for it.

For more help in this area click on the link below.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Steps to Making a Change in Your Life.

     In my "Are Leaders Born or Made?" post of October 7, I discussed how throughout time that leaders have overcome obstacles and become successful leaders.  The leaders I spoke about in the October 7 post overcame their obstacles because they had the will power to make the change.  They had "Gumption" to make the change.  The word gumption takes me back to when I was a kid. When I hear that word I think of my grandparents.  They would have used that word.  Seems like we don't hear it that much in today's world.  It's a great word.
    American Heritage dictionary defines it as someone having "Guts" or "Spunk".  Spunk?!  There is another grandpa or grandma word!  Don't you reckon that our grandparents had to overcome a lot of adversity in their day.  The sacrifices they made to live through some of hardest times in our country took gumption.  From the dust bowl days in the midwest, to the nation wide depression of the 1930's, to two World Wars, along with the Korea and Vietnam Wars.  Our grandparents generation had to have gumption just to keep moving on in life.
     What about you?  Do you have gumption?  Do you want to make a change in your life?  Want to take up a new hobby or acquire a new skill?  Want to lose weight or just get in better physical shape?  Want to do something different in the area in which you lead?  Whatever the change or dream that you have it will take some gumption to get yourself going.  Don't wait!  Karen Lamb, author of the children's book "Princess Star and the Pancake Moon", would say "A year from now you will wish you had started today."  You can check out her work at her website.  Get started today!  Here are some easy steps to head you in the right direction.

  1. Set a goal.  You must have a vision for what it is that you want to do.  Want to learn how to play the piano.  Envision yourself playing it.  Maybe in front of a group of people.  At church?  Or maybe leading your family in a Christmas Carol over the holiday season.  Dream a little bit on your vision so your mind can grasp the image.  As the first part of Proverbs 29:18 says "Where there is no vision, the people will perish..  If you don't envision your goal then who else will?  
  2. Set an ending time.  A goal always has to have an ending point.  As author Stephen Covey of "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".  You "Begin with an End in Mind".  What is the ending time of your goal?  You have already dreamed about your goal in the first step.  When will it be concluded so you can celebrate!  
  3. Surround yourself with people that will support you in your goal.  Just a word of advice.  If it's something that is a little way out there in the realm of realistic you might want to keep it to yourself in the beginning.  If you want to learn to ride a camel so you can spend a year aboard surviving in the Sahara Dessert, keep it to yourself.  I am not trying to be sarcastic.  It's more about protecting your goal.  If you have to share, do it with someone that you can trust to be confidential with your dream.  The more people you tell the more likely you will have someone that will shoot it down and scar up your goal a little bit.  I am not saying to keep your head in the sand, okay I will stop with the Sahara jokes, about a goal but you do have to protect your dream a little bit from the naysayers.  Share them with a supportive core group of people that will give you good sound advice about how to advance in meeting your goal.
  4. Get after it! Set you mind upon your goal and focus on getting it done.  It may not happen overnight so have patience.  If it's weight loss then celebrate after losing each pound or a set number of pounds.  Stay focused on the end results and don't get down if you take a step back.  Stay positive and take one step at a time!  No one ever learned to ride a camel overnight!  Okay really that's the last joke.
Here is great article to help get you motivated to meet your goal.  

If you need more a pep talk and some goal setting advice from Tony Robbins on this video.

Good luck!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Are Leaders Born or Made?

     Its almost like the question of which came first the chicken or the egg?  Are leaders born or made?  After twenty some years of experience in education I have come to learn that leaders are made from their circumstances.  A leader's circumstances have more to do with their surrounding than with their genetic make-up.  The only genetic make-up that a leader really needs to have is a high energy level.  Being a leader takes a large amount of energy to put in the time and commitment to lead.  I am sure that there are some leaders out in the world that don't have the energy to lead and they are still competent in their job.  But without an adequate energy level leaders may lead but they may not be as effective.
     Leaders are made from their circumstances.  Their home and modeling from their parents.  Their education and training.  The type of leaders they had in their schooling.  The type of followers they were when they were being led.  Were they an intelligent follower?   All of these circumstances have one thing in common.  The leader was either trained or educated to develop the leader inside of themselves.  Everyone can be a leader if they so choose to be.  Especially in the United States were free enterprise exists.  Some of the obstacles can be challenging to overcome. Poverty, physical disability, family tragedy, illness, etc...  But they can be overcome.  Throughout history their has been numerous examples of leaders overcoming obstacles to go on and become a great leader.  Henry Ford overcome the death of his mother.  Abraham Lincoln's mother died when he was nine.  He also grew up in poverty.  David Paterson, Governor of New York is partly blind.  Theodore Roosevelt suffered from asthma and was sickly young man.
     Whatever the circumstances, these leaders and many others overcame their obstacles.  What I have learned from watching students after students go through my schools is that leaders have to be determined.  They have to have a vision and a plan for what they want to be or do then they have to stick with it.  They have to have some gumption and a never say die attitude.  If they don't stay focused then the day to day grind of life will get in the way of what they want to be.  What about you?  Are you wanting to aspire to something better?  Do you want to learn something new?  Be more skillful in an area that you have struggled?  What are your dreams?  If you have that desire to do something or be someone different then I would encourage you to do it.  Need a little help in getting started?  Try this link below and see if it helps you get started.  Good luck and go for it!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Who Inspires You?

     In today's world it is sometimes hard to find inspiring people.  Politicians can be corrupt, professional athletes get arrested, and even pastors break commandments.  Seems like the news that we watch, read, or listen to has bad story after bad story.  As leaders we have to look for people that inspire us.
     It's been my experience that we don't have to look very far.  I have found inspiration in the people I work and live with every day.  To the teacher that will put in the extra hours to meet a struggling kid's need.  Or a building principal that will go the extra mile to support that same teacher.  Even the kids are inspiring!  From helping a classmate or overcoming challenges to met an academic goal, they can inspire me each and every day.  One of the inspiring people in my career was my first building principal.  He was then and still is today a man that people could look up to.  He was engaged with the people in his building every day.  He always had an attitude that nothing can't be solved and no challenge to great.  Who inspires you everyday?  Is it someone that you grew up with?  Someone you work with?
     A few years ago I ran into this former building principal at a conference in Wichita.  I took the opportunity to thank him and let him know that it was his efforts that inspired me to become an administrator.  He was very appreciative but was a little surprised.  He wanted to know what it was that inspired me.  So I told him what I have already shared with you.  Does the inspiring person in your life know this from you?  When I let him know some how I knew from the look on his face that I reinforced his inspiring behavior.  I think people appreciate knowing that they have made a difference in someone's life.
     I would encourage you if the situation arises to tell the inspiring person in your life how they impacted you.  If the situation doesn't arise then keep up their legacy by inspiring others around you.  Below is a video of an inspiring story of a father and son team.  Their names are Dick and Rick Hoyt.  Some of you may have heard of the running team called "Team Hoyt".  Click on the video below and enjoy being inspired.   Feel free to share this video with anyone by posting the  link to your Facebook or recommended it to Google by clicking the on the Google icon in the upper left hand corner.  You can visit Dick and Rick Hoyt's website at

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why Do I Lead?

Using a different method to deliver my message today.  Click on the video above.  Just so you know, in the first picture that I am holding up it is me getting ready to read to our first graders.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Creating Ripples in Your Realm of Influence!

The Ripple Effect!

As leaders we sometimes have the challenge to create ripples of positive change in the organization in which we lead.  When leaders create ripples, what they are really doing is having an impact for change. The same impact that a rock would have in creating the ripples in a calm liquid.  In my profession I have that opportunity to have an impact on our students and staff each and every day.  I can remember when I made the move into administration, I had one of my students ask me why I was leaving the classroom.  The student was being very nice and complimented me on the work as her teacher.  She wondered why I would want to leave the classroom.  I told her that I wanted to have more of an impact.
     I wanted to enlarge my territory of influence.  As a classroom teacher I am sure I impacted, and created ripples, with my students every year.  As a building principal I would have the opportunity to challenge the teachers to have a positive impact on the students in our building.  By doing so my influence and the ripple affect would expand.  I expanded that area of influence even more when I became a district superintendent.  The Prayer of Jabez came to my mind before I made the move to a superintendent.  I made the same prayer to God in which Jabez did in 1 Chronicles 4:10, "Oh that You would bless me and enlarge my territory!  Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.  And God granted his request."  God has done the same for me.   My territory or realm of influence grew in each professional position.
      As a leader of any organization you have several opportunities to influence.   Your organization might be different than mine.  It might be a household, church, business, classroom, or even a cubicle.  Either way as a leader you have an opportunity to create ripples in your area of influence.
More Ripples = More Influence!
How can you be a leader of influence?  Here are a few ways to have an impact on your area.
  • Have a positive relationship with the people you work or live with each and every day.
  • Take care of yourself.  No one else is in charge of taking care of you. Educate yourself on how to live healthy and follow those standards.
  • Be excellent and work hard at what you do.  Excellence wears off on the people around you.  You will have an impact by just being good at your profession.  
  • Be joyful and enthusiastic!  If you don't have these traits no one will want to be around you.  Then where is your area of influence?  It's gone, Grumpy Pants!  Remember this one word when you are working with people.  Smile! 
The world around is affected by our leadership.  Whether it is good or bad leadership it still affects our realm of influence.  I want the ripples which I create to be a positive change in some one's life.  How about you?  Each and everyday people will be influenced by the way we interact with them.  Most importantly they will remember how you made them feel by how you said something or how you worked with them.  Ripple away!