Category Archives: Personal

PMP 054: 7 Tips on Rest & Rejuvenation

During my first two years in school admin, I barely slept, rarely exercised, and seldom had time for my family.

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I’ll never forget the night I was up late after my wife and I had put our four kids to bed. I had my laptop open when my wife sat down beside me.

“Will,” she said. “There’s something I need to say. The kids and I have accepted that you are a husband and dad on the weekends. The rest of the time, the school owns you.”

She didn’t say this with bitterness or anger, just simple resignation.

“In fact,” she concluded, “You just seem a shell of the man you used to be.”

I remember watching her leave the room, and I just sat there. I was giving everything I had to my work as a school leader. But in the process, I was abandoning those closest to me.

That night I made a decision. I opened my laptop and wrote a letter of resignation and placed it in a folder. The next morning I placed that folder on the corner of the desk in my office. Every time I looked at it, I would tell myself that either I was going to find a more balanced way to lead, or I was changing professions. Continue reading

PMP 053: 3 Tips for Responding Under Pressure

When I was in high school and college, my brothers and I worked part-time diving for mussel shells in the Kentucky Lake area.

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We would sell them by the pound at local markets, and those shells would in turn be sold to Japanese markets. Apparently, the pearly-white cuts from those shells are unique implants for growing cultured pearls in oysters.

One day I was climbing across the bottom of an area that was ten to twelve feet deep. The only sounds I could hear were the hissing breaths from my regulator. As I found shells, I placed them in a net-bag I had clipped to one side of my weight belt. Continue reading

PMP 049: Why Self-Control Matters–5 Benefits for Leaders

A couple of months ago, I enjoyed some special time away with my son, Jack.

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He had turned 11, and when his older sisters reached that age, my wife took each of them away for a special weekend. Now it was my turn with Jack, and we had fun weekend in historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to just having fun together, one of the purposes of these one-on-one conversations is focused time to talk about life, priorities, and choices.

In a world that offers our children a menu of options everyday, I wanted Jack to understand that his choices must be based on something greater than what is convenient or fun in-the-moment. We talked about why it is important to learn patience and self-control…how the benefits of self-denial outweigh the temptations of self-gratification.

When I talked to Jack about how self-denial plays out in the life of a boy his age, I shared an illustration I have heard both from Tim Elmore and Seth Godin in presentations: The “Marshmallow Test.” Continue reading

PMP 048: Looking at 2017–Let’s Stay Connected!

One of my first superintendents had been an elementary teacher.

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Sometimes she would begin our leadership meetings by bringing a shopping bag full of hands-on materials (paper, scissors, glue, popsicle sticks) as demonstrations for a lesson or an idea she wanted us to understand.

No matter what your age, you never outgrow the need for self-improvement. And I don’t know about you, but I know I would not grow in my own leadership if I wasn’t interacting, questioning, exploring, and sharing with others.

As we wrap up 2016, I wanted to share some ways I have been “keeping my bag full of ideas” by connecting with other leaders this past year as well as some ways we might connect together in 2017. Continue reading

PMP Bonus 02: “Bee Stings” And Thoughts on Life & Death

This week’s post is more personal than school leadership related. Recently, my wife’s father-in-law, David L. Fulbright, passed away.

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He was a former teacher, minister, and counselor. He was also a great story-teller and Papa. As the family sat by his bedside in his remaining hours, I had some quiet moments that brought back memories of my own childhood that I wrote down. Later as I was flying home from a leadership event in Atlanta, I pulled out the story and finished it—bringing my thoughts full circle from my own childhood fears to the thoughts on David’s passing.

This story is a tribute to his memory. Maybe it will provide perspective for you when you’re facing your own challenging moments: Continue reading

PMP 046: 5 Tips for Responding to Resistance

One of my favorite college education professors would often start class with a provoking question.

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As we would grapple with how to answer and/or support our positions, he would stand there with his large hands lifted in the air, his voice booming, “Disequilibrium is the beginning of education!”

It took me a while to figure out that he was teaching us by example. He was trying to help a room full of future teachers see that the greatest learning opportunities in life first start with challenges that “shake” our normal way of thinking about problem solving. Continue reading

PMP Bonus Track: Focusing on the Simple Joys of Life

Today I’ve decided to take a break from a focus on school leadership and share some simple joys of life.

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During Thanksgiving Break, I took time to record a couple of songs that I decided to include in today’s bonus podcast track.

My wife and I have four children: 3 girls and 1 boy. This Thanksgiving we hosted some of my wife’s relatives including her cousin, Joy, who is one year older than our oldest daughter. When the girls were little, we wrote a song together called “3 Little Girls,” and we decided this past week to sit at the kitchen table with a microphone and my guitar to record it.

Here are the lyrics and a direct link to the recording of the song: Continue reading

PMP: Encore 04 Thankfulness (And the Bacon Story)

This week’s podcast episode is an encore recording of one of my favorite growing-up stories.

As you listen, I hope you take time to remember your own good memories. As we approach Thanksgiving, I hope you are taking time to recharge your batteries and invest time with friends and family. Thanks for doing what matters!

Here are the shownotes for PMP: Encore 04: Continue reading

PMP:041 What Makes a Productive Team?

When I was boy, my dad bought a long, green Pontiac station wagon.
chicken_eggs
Long before the creation of the mini-van, it was the car of choice for a large family. We spent countless of hours of my childhood driving from the West Coast to the Mississippi River and back during his Navy years.

After we had moved to the farm, Dad retired the old Pontiac in a field beside our first chicken lot. Before long our chickens began to roost and nest around the old car. One day my dad rolled down the windows, and the hens found their way into it. For years to come, the old green station wagon was a makeshift chicken coop.

Yes, we were backwoods folks, but I still have fond memories of spreading corn on the dirt and grass each morning—the red, brown, and spotted black hens gently clucking and jostling around my feet.

Hens are interesting creatures: they feed together, warn one another of impending danger, and huddle close for warmth. They are instinctively team players unless they identify another chicken they perceive as a threat. Then they can become vicious in isolating or attacking the culprit.

Heffernan: Lessons on Laying Hens

Last week I was reminded of chickens when I watched a great TedTalk presentation by Margaret Heffernan, businesswoman and consultant, who uses the research by William Muer to inform others about what truly makes some groups more productive than others. Continue reading

Becoming Better: How You Influence Growth

Last weekend I traveled with my son, Jack, and his Cub Scout pack to a joint campout with an older Boy Scout troop.
batfish
It was a perfect October weekend: 70’s with sun and breeze; evening temperatures in the 50’s—cold enough that a sleeping bag was the perfect cocoon for tent sleeping.

Although Jack and I have camped a lot, this was my first experience watching a Boy Scout troop at a campout. Throughout the whole experience, the boys were in charge. During mealtime, the senior patrol leader, a ninth grader, separated the group of 23 boys into three groups. Each had their own food preparation area, menus they had created, food they had procured, and tasks assigned.

Whenever the entire group needed to be addressed, the senior patrol leader would call them together, hold up a Scout sign (three fingers), and everyone would go silent as they held up their fingers in response.

That night the boys had a special treat: they were given a tour of the U.S.S. Batfish, a retired World War II submersible boat that once toured the Pacific and survived. Its maiden crew of 80 was confined to tiny spaces where each man played essential tasks: repairing engines, launching torpedoes, radioing signals, navigating with gauges and periscope, or preparing pastries for hungry crew members.

After the tour, the boys were allowed to bunk in the berthing room for the night. Two adult leaders stayed on the boat, but I made way back to my tent. Continue reading