By now, most of you know that the great rock band, Alter Bridge, has changed my life in the last year. The release of “Show Me A Leader” has rocked my world and the way I think about leadership. Click here to watch the video I made of “Show Me A Leader.” Here are some verses/phrases from the song that have really resonated with me:
- “Well they’re selling another messiah here tonight; But we’re all way too numb and divided; To buy it” – we should never put our leaders in a position of needing to be a messiah, or the chosen one. Nor, should we ever consider ourselves, as leaders, above others and in messiah status. According to my faith, there is only one of those and there will not be another.
- “Show me a leader that won’t compromise” – we cannot as leaders compromise our values.
- “Disillusioned and tired of waiting; For the one; Whose intentions are pure unpersuaded; We can trust” – we need to earn trust and make sure our intentions are always pure and unpersuaded by self interest and are for the good of the whole.
- “‘Cause a promise is never enough” – pretty self explanatory; don’t promise what you cannot deliver, period.
- “It’s getting harder to fight out here on our own” – Sun Tzu taught us the skillful leader subdues the enemy without any fighting. This means we need a leader that will help us have the conversations of what we can do to create the future. The communal possibility rotates on the question “What can we create together?” This emerges from the social space we create when we are together.
- “Show me a leader that knows what is right” – To do “the right thing” means to make a choice among possibilities in favor of something the collective wisdom of humanity knows to be the way to act. Great leaders must call upon a broad band of intuitive knowledge and use it to give guidance and direction. If a person comes to a position of power as a leader in an organization or in society without knowing how to do the right thing, then the people under his or her influence are in for a bad time. At worst they will find themselves plunged into brutal conflict with outside forces, or at best they will spend a lot of time and energy struggling with internal disharmony and damage control.
- “Show me a leader so hope can survive” – Great leaders often earn their credentials before they become successful. Often, it’s during the times of darkness and hardship that the greatest leaders are born. Hope is the ingredient to which failure knows no answer. And great leaders instill this belief to help the others around them. Hopes and dreams can become real. But often to do so they need life consistently breathed into them. To keep them alive until they are transmuted into reality. Great leaders do this by consistently communicating their beliefs to their followers in the form of visions. They take every opportunity they can – through being a role model, meetings, presentations and writing to describe their visions as crystal clear as possible.
- “We need a hero this time” – There are leaders, there are great leaders, and then there are heroic leaders. The best of the best put others before themselves. They sprint into danger. They pay dearly for their courage, and they often go years, if ever, without the recognition they deserve.
These bullets have become guides for me and benchmarks for some of my personal core values. Particularly this thought of not compromising. Click here to read my thoughts on compromise in “There Can Be No Compromise!”
Furthermore, the music video for “Show Me A Leader” is amazing. Click here to watch the video. In fact, I have now used it three times to lead discussions on leadership. Throughout, and at the beginning of this post are graphics done by Mike Fleisch of the sessions we have facilitated on this great song and video.
If you aspire to be a great leader, the first requirement is that you look and listen, so that you can find out the true needs that a situation demands to be fulfilled. It seems to me there is a general myth that leaders are born rather than made, that somehow nature produces a peculiar species of human being who is bigger, more powerful, smarter, braver, and more charismatic than the rest. During this presidential election year I have been reflecting more and more on this. I have caught myself saying, “Is the right person even out there to lead our country for continued greatness?” A democracy, more perhaps than any other form of government, needs great men and women to lead and inspire the people. Now, there are lot’s of different theories out there as to why we might lack great leaders, such as:
- Our system of government does not always lend itself to the best people being elected to office.
- We seem to linger in a perpetual leadership vacuum.
- Are we open to having dialogue with leaders who are going to bring the spark of creativity to the situation?
- Are we open to having dialogue about new and tranformative ways of doing things?
- Ego causing leadership failure.
Americans, however, myself included, maintain that when the hour comes, it brings the right person. For example, it brought Abraham Lincoln. When he was nominated by the famous convention of 1860 his name had been little heard of beyond his own state. But he rose at once to the level of the situation, and that not merely by virtue of strong clear sense, but by his patriotic steadfastness and noble simplicity of character. If this was luck, it was just the kind of luck which makes a nation hopeful of its future, and inclined to overlook the faults of the methods by which it finds its leaders.
I believe we can all be great leaders, with all the rewards this carries, while still serving the needs of the whole group. We must, however, take an introspective look at ourselves and the areas for improvement we need to make. Having looked and listened, you will know the situation you are in and the need that is crying out to be fulfilled. This deep listening coupled with the criterion values and not compromising those values shapes a model of successful leadership.
We also need to have someone else…share with us the way they experience us…because it’s hard to see our own blind spots or limiting assumptions. We need to get feedback from trusted folks we either know or do not know. Here is my challenge to you: Connect to your top professional priority. Ask yourself: What is the one thing I could get better at that would help me most with my most important professional priority? Create a personal improvement goal around this professional priority. Does the goal implicate you? Your goal implicates you if it is clear that you must get better at something. Your goal should focus on something you can control. It should focuson something specific about yourself that you want to improve. Let’s all own being a better leader.
As Head of Schools for the Hoosier Academies Network of Schools, I want to extend a warm welcome to our returning students and family members and those of you who are new to the Hoosier Academies Network of Schools. Thank you for partnering with us in the education of your children. Many of us here are also parents and we understand the huge responsibility we have for ensuring that all children find success at every level of their academic experiences.
I am so excited to welcome you back to school today. I have told others that this is the most excited I have ever been to start a school year. In fact Mr. Hurst, our science/biology teacher, was so excited that he could not sleep last night – think about this; he has been doing this for 41 years and he still gets nervous. I’m excited because of our new vision, mission, and core values we developed last year and the implementation around these that will guide us this year.
Our vision is “Success for Every Student in Indiana.” We define success using the definition of Dr. Felice Kaufman – “Knowing what one wants in the world and know how to get it.” We understand that success looks different for every student.
Our new mission is “Hoosier Academies Network of Schools Engages Students in a Customized and Accessible Education by Collaborating with Parents and Families for Student Success.”
We have five core values:
Students First for Success
- We are implementing the National Family Academic Support Team with fidelity this year in order to give students and families the support needed to be successful in our schools.
- We started the Insight School of Indiana in order to support students who are behind or need extra support to be successful.
Educating, Supporting, and Empowering Teachers, Staff, and Families for Success
- This year we are implementing the National model for Instructional Coaching. Our teachers will be getting regular coaching in order to help them reach their full effectiveness in facilitating learning for your children.
Safe Environment for Success
- We will continue our anti-bullying campaign.
- We will have drug awareness programs.
- We will be using our Raptor (instant background check) system here at our Franklin Road 7-12 Learning Center and at our Caito Road k-6 Learning Center to ensure that everyone that comes into the building has had a background check. We have alarmed our doors so we know no-one is coming in or going out that should not be. Students are assigned to a teacher for every minute of the day and instruction will be happening from the minute the students come on campus until they leave. We have implemented our School Master attendance program so that attendance is being taken with fidelity. I have set the goal of no less than 95% attendance for all of our schools, but particularly hybrid days. I believe you will find that the ship has been tightened at our hybrid centers. We must take full advantage of the face to face time that your children have with our teachers.
Strong Community Relationships for Success
- We have had many Back to School Expos across the state and a few more to go. Check the website for other community events where you can connect with staff for support you may need.
- Hoosier Helpings is a food pantry that can help families in need access food, toiletries, clothing, pet supplies, and some household items. Click here for information for support if needed.
Accountability for Success
- With our new Academic Plan we have put in place improvements to make sure that your son or daughter is receiving the support necessary for academic performance and achievement.
- We are clearly communicating expectations
- We are supporting a culture of continual improvement
You will be hearing more details about many of the initiatives I have touched on here during your specific school convocation break outs, but please know I am excited for us to be back together for an exciting year of learning.
Earlier in the week I had the incredible honor of having dinner with my friend and leadership “idol” David Marquet. David is the author of Turn The Ship Around and developer of Intent Based Leadership™. He is making a cross country bike ride with a group and had a rest layover in Indianapolis, so it enabled us to get together. In a later post I will probably talk more about our great conversation and all the insight I gained from this great man, but for now I want to tell you about our dinner and the insights we gained.
David has a great thing he likes to do when at a restaurant – let the waitress pick his entrée’s. I knew this so I suggested we do this for our meal. I was hoping he would agree even though we were at my very favorite restaurant and Indianapolis icon Harry and Izzy’s. David agreed immediately and gave our waitress, Jenn Becknell, his intro that he is a control freak and that part of his treatment is to let the waitress pick his meal. I have to set you straight though; David is not a control freak and is the inventor of Intent Based Leadership™. He is anything but a control freak. Anyway, he gave the waitress his one boundary and I told her that I really didn’t have any boundaries except maybe not being the fondest of chicken.
At first Jenn looked at us a little funny and was a little taken aback, but quickly warmed to the idea. We could then very quickly tell that she was going to have fun with this. I was so impressed with David because when asked about a drink he even told Jenn to pick his wine. Now that is Intent Based Leadership™ at its best. We had truly empowered Jenn to serve us and put the best foot forward for Harry and Izzy’s for my friend who was from Florida and eating there for the first time. Long story short, it was the best and most enjoyable meal I have ever had. We had no idea what Jenn would be bringing us and each time she came out with something different it was incredible. Keep in mind we didn’t even look at the menu. We started with the signature Shrimp Cocktail, of course. I am going to ask Jenn to add a comment to this blog and tell you what she brought us out to eat. The point is, however, that as David and I walked back to my truck we both commented that there was no way we would have picked as great a meal as Jenn did. Particularly, we would not have picked the bread pudding dessert that just put us in heaven to end the meal.
So what does it mean to practice intent based leadership? I have included a slide here from David Marquet’s website that gives all the important points of intent based leadership, but I believe there are two that really apply here for both Jenn Becknell and Harry and Izzy’s. First of all it is obvious that Jenn has been empowered to: “Feel inspired, by pushing control and decision-making down the organization people take responsibility and have the authority to rise to the occasion, even during times of change.” Jenn certainly rose to the occasion and was a tremendous ambassador for Harry and Izzy’s. Thus providing David and I the time of our lives. This was such powerful evidence as to why intent based leadership works.
Furthermore, Harry and Izzy’s are modeling that, “the organization’s success should be on the shoulders of all people and not simply the top “leaders” of the organization.” It is clear that this top Indianapolis restaurant has empowered their entire staff to “make it so” for customers. I can tell you a large portion of Harry and Izzy’s success is due to the great staff! Harry and Izzy’s is about great food, but is even more about the experience. Do your people feel valued and proud of the work they are doing for your organization?
I am so proud to be our Indiana State Board of Education’s representative to the task force, formed under HEA 1395, and charged with studying the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and our ISTEP+ summative high stakes Indiana test. Ever since the bill was signed into law on December 10, 2015 by President Barack Obama, I have been fascinated with the possibilities that lie ahead for our children. I have the opportunity to speak about my views and thoughts on ESSA and most recently spoke at the District 9 Meeting of the Indiana Association of School Principals and led off discussing my own and the nation’s fascination with ESSA. But why? Why am I and so many others so fascinated with ESSA?
I believe there are a three big reasons for this fascination:
- The historic nature of this law that started back with President Lyndon B. Johnson, was revisited in the President George W. Bush era, and now with ESSA being signed into law by our current President Barack Obama. President Obama told us that when ESSA goes into full effect with the 2017-18 school year, we will be maintaining Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil rights legacy of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which turned 50 last year. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was originally passed as part of the Lyndon B. Johnson administration’s War on Poverty campaign. The original goal of the law, which remains today, was to improve educational equity for students from lower-income families by providing federal funds to school districts serving poor students. Since its initial passage, ESEA has been reauthorized seven times, most recently in January 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Each reauthorization brought changes to the program, but its central goal remains: improving the educational opportunities and outcomes for children from lower-income families.
- It was also historic and fascinating that ESSA passed by a huge bipartisan margin after eight years of debate. ESSA passed by a vote of 359 to 64 in the U.S. House of Representatives and a vote of 85 to 12 in the U.S. Senate. President Obama acknowledged No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and the work of President George W. Bush, but also said the NCLB “often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn’t always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see.” He went on to say that ESSA “creates real partnerships between the states, which will have new flexibility to tailor their improvement plans, and the federal government, which will have the oversight to make sure that the plans are sound.” I believe this opportunity for collaboration between states, including state legislatures, state boards of education, communities, families, schools, and all other external and internal stakeholders, and the federal governments fascinates us and has us dreaming of the possibilities.
- Finally, I believe we are fascinated with the opportunity to invent unexpected solutions. Innovation is a major pillar of fascination. Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican – Tennessee, and a key architect of ESSA said it best when he stated “What I believe is that when we take the handcuffs off, we’ll unleash a whole flood of innovation and ingenuity classroom by classroom, state by state, that will benefit children.” Ingenuity and innovation – now that is fascinating and we in Indiana and every other state need to take full advantage of the opportunities that ESSA provides for our students.
With this fascination comes responsibility. As I stated earlier, we have the opportunity to invent unexpected solutions – in other words, INNOVATE. Many talk about the POWER going back to the states under ESSA and even as a card carrying fan of my hero, Patrick Henry (who was an advocate of individual and state’s rights), I would rather say “RESPONSIBILITY back to the states.” Power guides action, so we have the responsibility in Indiana to guide the action and bring all internal and external stakeholders together for a true collaboration to develop innovate for great solutions for the children of Indiana and our Nation.
Contrary to popular belief, human beings cannot multitask. You just can’t effectively attend to two things at once – even the superficially automatic ones. So, how do we stay in the moment? The first thing to recognize is that, try as we might, we really can only do one thing at a time, so we ought to do that thing wholeheartedly. Sometimes that one thing is paying attention to those we lead. Really paying attention and listening to those we lead. Most of our time is spent in the past or the future, rather than the present moment. What we end up doing is passing through the here and now on the way to somewhere else and, in doing so, we miss the moment. Sometimes these are important moments with our team members, whether in individual conversations or group meetings.
“…being in the moment with your team, those you must regularly influence in your leadership, will boost your ability to lead effectively and ultimately drive better results.” ~John M. Manning
Have you ever been speaking to someone and found that they are distracted by something and not really listening to you? You probably thought this was annoying, frustrating, and disrespectful. At that point you may have even become angry or shut the conversation down. In Lesson #22 of The Disciplined Leader (2015), John Manning taught us that great leaders are always fully engaged. When listening pay attention not only to the words but the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. This will give you information that will be as important as the words themselves. Most people are thinking of how they are going to reply when someone is talking. Instead of doing that, try to focus completely on what the person is saying.
Active listening is one of the most-important things you will do as a leader. Turn off your computer and your phone, shut your office door, and truly listen to the employee that is expressing their concerns. You may want to make some notes during the meeting – I still take notes on a pad of paper. Furthermore, I am a believer in an open door policy. By keeping yours open as much as possible, you’ll help show your willingness to be part of the team—not above it.
A closed door not only muffles the communication on both sides, but it blinds a manager to the general vibe and energy of the group. Leaders are expected to lead, mentor, and support—things that become pretty tough to accomplish when your employees are afraid they’ll bother you with questions – they will feel this way if the door is always closed. There will obviously be times when a closed door is necessary. I’m a believer it is perfectly acceptable to close your door if necessary to get some things done. But use that perk sparingly and you’ll help cultivate a more collaborative and respectful environment in the office. Not to mention, help give some credibility to that open door policy we’ve all heard so much about.
The bottom line is we need to eliminate distractions and not just show that we on engaged, but be engaged!
Manning, John (2015). The disciplined leader: Keeping the focus on what really matters. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition
How do we make ourselves useful to others? How do we make ourselves useful to ourselves? These were both questions that Peter Drucker believed were important us to think about. He also believed organizations needed to think about this for both the people working for the organization and those it serves. We share immensely in the products of prosperity, including better health care and longer life experiences (Maciariello, 2014). These lead us to a whole new range of conditions and choices, especially the opportunity to move from success to significance.
Drucker (2014) argued that the products of prosperity do not create fulfillment, and this becomes very apparent as we achieve prosperity. Drucker recognized that the term “existential” was not only difficult to define, but more difficult to comprehend. The term existential, as used by Drucker, meant the universal need for inspiration, effectiveness, and hope. This definition, I believe, is consistent with that of Kaufmann (1968), who believed “Existentialism”, therefore, may be defined as the philosophical theory which holds that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to grasp human existence. Please let me be clear, this is not a post about existentialism, but I like Kaufmann’s view of authenticity. We talk about authenticity in leadership all the time. If we go back to Drucker’s view of the need for inspiration, effectiveness, and hope does that not sum up how to be authentic? We need to recognize our own existential needs for inspiration, effectiveness, and hope. Additionally, as we strive for significance, we must strive to provide the existential needs for those we serve and the greater community.
“Here I am in the twilight years of my life still wondering what it’s all about… I can tell you this: Fame and Fortune is for the birds.” ~ Lee Iacooca
While the needs are important to fulfill throughout our lives, they are especially important to fulfill as we try to make the transition from success to significance. Drucker (2014) believed that an important existential need of personhood is to integrate the two dimensions of existence – life in the present and life in the spirit. Organizations need to offer opportunities for meaningful service in the community while also providing a greater sense of purpose for the volunteer. We, as authentic leaders, have the responsibility to bring inspiration, effectiveness, and hope to those we serve and to society. We also must help those we serve do the same thing. Our world’s survival and happiness depend on it!
Kaufmann, W., 1968. Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, Cleveland: Meridian Books.
Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
In an ideal world, social science research would provide a strong basis for advocacy and social
policy. However, sometimes advocates misunderstand or even ignore scientific research in pursuit of their policy goals, perhaps especially when research pertains to controversial questions of social inequality. This past week’s lesson in A Year With Peter Drucker dealt with using affluence and influence to become passionate advocates of change and important initiatives. In other words we must be good stewards of affluence and influence.
Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) believed we must be passionate advocates for innovative projects. These projects could be within our organizations or for social change. Drucker (2014) believed in using pilots. Neither studies nor market research nor computer modeling are a substitute for the test of reality. Everything improved or new needs, therefore, first to be tested on a small scale, that is, it needs to be piloted. In other words, we should pilot innovative projects on a small scale before introducing them on a larger scale.
Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
I knew I was in for a treat when the first two speakers were youth, MaKayla Ivory and Jalen McGraw. Here are the points the two of them made that really moved me:
- Don’t let others tell you who you are, what you believe, or what you want to do.
- Start and finish everything with God.
- Many obstacles our youth face exist because they are invisible.
- When working with Indianapolis youth, remember: the blessings are bigger than the burden.
Then, DeAndra Yates, mother of DeAndre Knox who was shot spoke. Knox was shot in the back of head at a party on the city’s northwest side February 1, 2014. Knox is alive today and took his first steps after the shooting on September 30. He still can’t talk, but is starting to respond to questions by nodding his head. Her points were very moving as well. Here are some notes I took during her inspiring message:
- God did not allow this to happen without a reason.
- Grieve, but recognize that the God is using this tragedy to open doors. Yates said she is making it her personal mission to reduce crime in the city and avoid another tragedy like her sons.
- Expect the unexpected. None of us know what the future will bring.
- This happened to me, yet I am still here.
Other great speakers included State Trooper, Aaron Allen; Pastor Terry Webster, Jr; and, Sgt. Kendale Adams. Here are some points I tweeted from their remarks:
- Don’t let obstacles get you sidetracked.
- Any mentorship program based on forming meaningful relationships will be successful!
- You must define your own destiny.
Then it was time for my keynote. I titled it “Being Prepared for What You Don’t Know You Need to be Prepared For.” I started with the story of the Little Frog in the Well.
My good friends, imagine if you were to live at the bottom of a deep, dark well. What kind of world would you see?
There was a Little Frog who lived at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Now let us go down there and see what kind of world he had.
It was a very old well filled with shallow water at the bottom. The walls of the well were all covered with wet moss. When the Little Frog was thirsty, he drank a little bit of the well water, and when he was hungry, he ate some insects. When he was tired, he lay on a little rock at the bottom of the well and looked up at the sky above him. Sometimes he saw passing clouds. He was very happy and satisfied.
Now, the Little Frog had been living at the bottom of this old well since he was born. He had never been to the outside world. Whenever a bird or birds flew by and stopped at the edge of the well, the Little Frog always looked up and bragged, “Hello! why don’t you come down here and play with me. It’s so pleasant down here. Look, I have cool water to drink and countless insects to eat. Come down! At night I can watch the twinkling stars, and sometimes I can see the beautiful moon, too.”
Sometimes the birds would tell the Little Frog, “Hi, Little Frog! You see, the outside world is much bigger and nicer. It’s many times more beautiful than your little well at the bottom. ” But the Little Frog would not believe them. “Don’t lie to me, I don’t believe there is any place that could be better than here. ”
Gradually, all the birds began to dislike him They thought he was too stubborn and stopped talking to him.
The Little Frog could not understand why nobody would like to come down to his nice place.
One day, a yellow sparrow stopped by at the edge of the well. The Little Frog was so excited he greeted the sparrow and invited the sparrow eagerly. “Hello, Mr. Yellow Sparrow, how are you? Please come down to my most beautiful house.” The yellow sparrow did not say a word and flew away. The next day the yellow sparrow came again and the same thing happened again. It went on for six days. On the seventh day, the yellow sparrow finally said, “Little Frog, may I show you the outside world?” But the Little Frog refused the offer.
Finally the yellow sparrow became angry. He flew down to the bottom of the well, picked up the Little Frog on his back, and flew out of the well.
“Oh!” the Little Frog exclaimed. “How is it that the outside world is so big!” He had been in the bottom of his dark well for so long that the bright sunshine made his eyes blink shut, and he could hardly open his eyes to see.
When he finally opened his eyes, he saw so many things around him. “Hey! Be careful! Don’t hit this strange thing. What are all these green high and low things?” The yellow sparrow laughed happily: “Ha! ha! These are mountains and valleys. There are countless mountains in this world. The Himalayas, the Swiss Alps, the Rockies and… ”
The Little Frog could not believe there were so many big mountains in the world. When they flew over the high mountains, the next view made the Little Frog even more surprised.
“What is this long, silvery, shiny view?”
“It is a river,” the yellow sparrow replied.
“Then what is that huge, blue thing over there?”
“That is a sea,” the yellow sparrow replied.
“That river and sea, how much water do they have? How much bigger are they than my well? They must hold a billion times more water than my well.” The Little Frog began to realize how tiny his well was. “Let’s go down, O.K. ?” The yellow sparrow put the Little Frog down on the ground and flew away.
The Little Frog jumped into the grass and saw many beautiful flowers of different colors. He had never seen such beautiful flowers and had never smelled such nice scents. He kept on going and went into a forest. In it he looked up and saw many tall trees. He looked down and found many different kinds of fruits that had fallen to the ground. He picked up an apple and tasted it. “Wow, so sweet !” Then he listened to the beautiful singing of the birds. The cute squirrels were jumping, the monkeys were swinging from branch to branch, and the antelopes were scampering speedily.
In the pond, the lotus flowers were dancing in the air, and the lotus leaves were floating on the water like umbrellas. There were many fish in the water.
“The outside world is so big, so wonderful, and beautiful!” The Little Frog finally cried out happily and jumped into the pond. He climbed up on a huge lotus leaf and enjoyed his new life there. The yellow sparrow came back and asked, “Little Frog! How’s this outside world? Big? Beautiful?”
“Thank you very much. If you had not brought me out to see this world, I would never had known that there are such beautiful things that exist outside my well .” The Little Frog never tried to go back to his old well again.
I then talked about my past and how I had ended up in teaching. My teaching career did not begin with the same story that many teachers share. I did not have an epiphany when I said to myself, “I want to be a teacher.” My journey as an educator began during my sophomore year at Purdue University when Professor Dr. Hobart Jones pulled me into his office and asked if I had ever considered teaching. When I said, “no,” he explained that he saw a talent in me for educating and wanted me to double major in Animal Science and Agricultural Education. It is amazing how someone like Dr. Jones can make a huge impact on someone’s life. His inspiration and personal interest helped me to deal with the challenges of a double major, making my 31 year educational career possible. Without Dr. Jones’ personal interest in my abilities, I probably would have missed this opportunity. It is his example of true caring that I strive to emulate every day of my teaching career.It is so important that we have people in our lives, just like the sparrow served the frog, to serve as “kickstands” in our lives. These people do not just end up there by chance. I believe God places them there. I went on to explain that I really have not spent a lot of time planning my career. It is more important that we make sure we are prepared for what we don’t know we need to be prepared for. In education we use the term “backward planning.” In other words you take the standards you want the students to have mastered in the end and you plan backward from there. I explained that I believe that God is the ultimate backward planner. He knows exactly what is going to happen and what his end goal is for us and plans, with favor, accordingly. God doesn’t really work from harsh domination or a strict set of rules. It’s not about God saying “it’s my way or the highway.” Instead, it’s about loving God enough to trust him fully with everything. It’s about understanding that his perspective is so much greater than our own as he sees the big picture of what he wants to do in our life. We just need to accept and continue to prepare for what we don’t know we need to be prepared for.
“Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.” ~ General Douglas MacArthur
I then closed with two Bible verses from the book of James that give us comfort when coming up against obstacles in our life and prepare us for what we don’t know we need to prepare for:
“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1:4
In other words many of the obstacles we come up against are placed there by God to help prepare us for our future missions and roads in life. We may not know what we need to be prepared for, but God does.
At the end of the Expo I was part of a panel that took questions from the participants. It was a great discussion. The very last question came from a youth who asked a very astute question that caused me to do a great deal of reflecting. She asked, “How do we ever get to a time when we can recognize and appreciate all the uniqueness that each of us possess?” I used what I have learned from Sally Hogshead to answer the question. Sally believes the greatest value a person can add is to become more of themselves. If this isn’t appreciating the unique gifts we have, I don’t know what is. I told her these unique differences are what make us fascinating. While we have society norms we must adhere to, like sometimes needing to wear a tie in my case, we need to be more aware of who we are and who others are. Sally has taught me to take negative things said about my beliefs or actions as compliments and proof that I am fascinating.
“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” ~ James 3:8
I would like to close out this post by repeating the question of this young lady for you to ponder and maybe leave a response to this post about. “How do we ever get to a time when we can recognize and appreciate all of the uniqueness that each of us possess?”
Peter and Doris Drucker gave tangible form to their values and concerns for America. When they arrived in America in 1937 they were faced with the severe economic challenges all Americans and the country itself was facing at the time. The Druckers did find and treasure the hospitality and warmness of Americans that they called “sweetness” (Maciariello, 2014). Peter Drucker believed, however, that it would take the social sector, particularly nonprofits, not government, to solve our social problems. He believed the social sector must create communities for citizens.
Drucker believed that only nonprofit organizations could provide the diversity of communities we need. These organizations include churches, professional associations, homeless care, health clubs and many others (Maciariello, 2014). Drucker argued the nonprofit social sector organizations were the only ones capable to satisfy the need for effective citizenship needed by an effective community. Drucker posited, “Only the social sector can create what we now need, communities for citizens” (Maciariello, 2014, p. 345). By doing this and becoming involved in the social sector we can give tangible form to our values and concerns.
“What bothers me in this country is that our society today has lost its sweetness. It’s sour, terribly sour, and I think that this isn’t anything government can do much about, or is likely to do very much about. In fact the way we are going, government is making the sourness worse. It’s only this kind of activity in the nonprofits, this kind of self-respect shown to people, this kind of initiative in solving our most difficult social problems that I think we can make this a society again.” ~ Peter Drucker
Drucker taught us we should strive to elect local public officials who understand the limits of government and the need for public, private, and nonprofit cooperation to further strengthen the work of our social sector and public sector institutions. I’ll close this post with the charge that we all need to become involved in civic organizations that are active in strengthening the social bonds that help create more healthy communities in the United States.
Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.