Category Archives: Personal

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

PMP:037 Are You Growing? Learning to Celebrate the Small Wins

Last week I left school early so that I could watch our cross-country teams run at a local race.

mattiepr

My daughter Mattie being hugged by her big sister after a grueling 5K run when she improved her personal record time by 2 minutes.

It was one of those days where the sun and clouds kept alternating in the sky. My oldest daughter, Emily ran in the first race. When it ended, clouds moved in and a heavy shower began falling with scattered lightning and thunder. We huddled under the team’s tent canopy, and waited it out. Before long, the clouds moved away, the sun broke through again, and the races continued: boys’ varsity then onto junior varsity. My second daughter, Mattie, runs on the junior varsity team for our school.

All summer long these kids have been training: showing up for early morning runs or staying late for long runs. Sprinting 1,000 yard sets or running for 60-minute long runs have become a part of various routines as they’ve worked to increase endurance. I’m so proud of the dedication of all our high school athletes, but the dad in me is also proud of my girls. Continue reading

PMP:035 Are You Growing? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

I remember when my daughter began taking clarinet lessons from a private tutor in junior high.
clarinet
When I picked her up from her first session, she said, “I have been playing for three years, but I learned today that I wasn’t putting the mouth piece in far enough. That one tip has helped me hit my first high notes ever!”

We all have a lot to learn, and none of us ever reaches a point in our lives, positions, relationships, or responsibilities where we have “arrived.” Sometimes this is frustrating. But it is also a relief. So what are some helpful sources of support and instruction that can help you keep growing in your life or calling in school leadership? Here are a five questions to ask yourself to discover some right in front of you: Continue reading