Archives For Generation iY

Flight Delay

February 1, 2013 — 1 Comment

This past week—my days were full of travel on airplanes. I actually love traveling, except for weeks like this one. Between bad weather and broken airplanes, three flights were delayed—which prevented me from making some meetings. Ugh. After years of this, you’d think I’d be a patient person by now…but alas, I’m not. Despite my efforts running through airports—I was at the mercy of flight delays.



This scene is another picture of life, especially when we are living in seasons of transition. I love sharing this new Habitude with first year students, new athletes on a team, employees in their first month on the job…you get the idea. We all begin new ventures with certain expectations. Often, we’re excited about our new chapter. We anticipate. Inevitably, though, something will happen that we didn’t expect. Our journey is delayed. We have to wait. People are vague and can’t tell us what’s going on. We get stuck. Maybe it was a class we tried to register for that suddenly closed. Maybe it was the hope of making a team, or a sorority or a fraternity. Perhaps it was a teacher we’d hoped to get, but didn’t. It might be an internship we applied for, or a job opening or promotion we felt we deserved. It could be a relationship that suddenly evaporated or an opportunity that fell through. Somehow, the best-laid plans can fail. Life shifts. We find that we’re not in control.

It’s been said a thousand times, and I believe it’s true: Life is pretty much about managing expectations. The people who are well-adjusted and happiest are not without expectations, but they are people who are adaptable. Like a good sailor, they’ve learned to adjust the sails with the winds, so they can still get to the destination they’ve targeted.

We must strike a balance. Tonya Hurley wrote, “If you expect nothing, you can never be disappointed. Apart from a few starry-eyed poets or monks living on a mountain top somewhere, however, we all have expectations. We not only have them, we need them. They fuel our dreams, our hopes, and our lives like some super-caffeinated energy drink.” The best solution, then, is to learn adaptability—to be like a tree that can bend with the wind in a storm. We must balance how we possess expectations, but also realize that a wonderful gift may not be wrapped as we expect.

Decades ago, two young men contracted a disease that was terrifying at the time: polio. Before the polio vaccine, it was one of the most deadly and disabling illnesses in America. These guys were friends…and now had something new in common. Once they got the disease, however, their lives took two different directions. The first man became very depressed by his diagnosis. It was understandable. He would have to spend his life in a wheelchair, unable to do the things most guys love to do—play sports, enjoy work, spend time with females and eventually have a normal family. Over time he grew bitter and slipped into a self-absorbed life. The second young man, however, decided not to grow resentful over his condition. He had chosen to go into public service and felt that maybe…just maybe…his condition could help him relate to those less fortunate than him. He remained involved in his community and later was elected to public office. You’ve likely never heard of the first man. You do know the second one: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

habitudes-for-the-journeyThe thought above is an excerpt from the new book we just released, Habitudes For the Journey. It’s designed to spark conversations with first year students. To check it out and download a free sample chapter, just click here.

In the last episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast, we discussed why adults must prepare students to transition well (based on this blog post). In today’s episode, we share an interview with Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, Drive, and To Sell is Human. Continue Reading…


It was bitter cold in upstate New York this past week, but the school teachers and administrators there were warm and inviting, as two of us from Growing Leaders invested a day in Cooperstown, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.


photo credit: Dougtone via photopin cc

Tucked away in this village are educators who really care about building ethical servant-leaders within the student body. Let me list just some of the ideas they are using to create a leadership culture in the middle and high school there:

1. Teams of ninth graders and high school athletes are discussing one Habitude per week, creating a language for leadership among those students. The goal is for students to pass them along to younger students in the district.

2. Students are invited to go on trips to expand their vision for their career. Some just returned from Washington D.C. where they witnessed the presidential inauguration. Last year, several traveled to China for a cross-cultural experience.

3. As young teens, students are challenged to take ballroom dancing and cotillion lessons, culminating in a banquet where guys escort the girls into the building, into the ballroom and even to the restroom. Culture, courtesy and manners develop.

4. Each year, the senior class leads the way in service projects for the community, raising money for specific causes they deem worthy. This cultivates teamwork, planning and sacrifice among the student body.

5. Students were voting on a new name and mascot for their school, after concluding the current one is patronizing and lacked empathy for Native Americans. They’ll all have the chance to weigh in on what the new nickname should be.

6. Caring adults seemed to be everywhere, as parents, board members, civic leaders, staff and teachers invest in and mentor the students there. Their care went far beyond raising the kids’ GPA or test scores. It was about building great people.

Somehow, I think this is the ultimate purpose of education. Isn’t it?

Thanks Cooperstown for the example you set.


What signs of life do you see in other schools? I’d love to celebrate more educators who are doing a great job. Leave a comment below.

I have enjoyed hiring interns for almost thirty years now. Usually they are college students or recent graduates. I love investing in them, and offering experiences that will enable them to get a head start on their career.


Jim Woodard just joined our Growing Leaders team as an intern. I noticed right away how ready he was to serve, to initiate and to assume responsibility. Over dinner, I asked him what his parents did to prepare him for adult life and leadership. It was not an accident. Some might consider his mother’s tactics harsh, but Jim doesn’t. He remembers being loved deeply by his mom, enough that she prepared him for life after college. Enjoy our conversation below:

1. How were your parents intentional about helping become responsible?

Each day Mom told us two things: she loved us and that we were to serve the people we encountered that day. Mom taught us responsibility by giving her five kids daily assignments and told us we could not play outside until we completed them. There were days we procrastinated and didn’t get to go outside and other days we enjoyed a long playtime. Another responsibility we learned was how to teach others. I’m the second oldest, so I helped the younger three with some of their school as they were growing up. While they were learning math and reading, I was learning about patience and helping others achieve their goals.

2.  What were some creative ideas your mother used to enable you to understand life and leadership better?

My siblings and I have many humorous memories about the creative methods mom used over the years. While I laugh, there’s no arguing her outcome was reached. Here are four of my favorite stories about my mom’s teaching moments.

  • The first one is a hard lesson we learned about obedience. My older brother and I were playing outside when mom called us to come inside. We pretended like we didn’t hear her, not knowing she’d baked fresh cookies. When we did go inside, we admitted we’d ignored her. For our discipline, we were not allowed to have any cookies and had to go back outside and serve our friends the cookies. Needless to say, we never did that again.
  • As a kid, it was like the end of the world when mom was on the phone and I had a question. I didn’t have the patience to wait on her to finish her conversation. Whenever we interrupted mom while she was on the phone, we had to call the person back and apologize. I never decided if it was more embarrassing to call and apologize to the plumber or a family friend. It seemed like simple embarrassment then, but I now know she was teaching us to take responsibility for our actions.
  • We were taught that whatever was set in front of us at dinner, we had to eat. There was no PBJ, Mac and cheese, or chicken nuggets we could default to if we didn’t like the meal. The lesson was that sometimes in life, you don’t have choices and must be content with what you have.
  • One other rule my mom had was that we were not allowed to leave the house if we did not demonstrate good behavior inside the house. This was a daily reminder that we must set an example. If we had poor manners at the dinner table, back-talked our parents, or didn’t get along with the siblings, we had to call and tell the person we’d planned to meet why we would not show up for the event.

3.  What have been your greatest “take aways” from growing up in that home?

Every day, we are always preparing for our next step in life. I find I’m still applying lessons in manners, obedience, and behavior wherever I go. The situations have changed and become more important to follow, but they are the same principles that I was taught ever since I was born.

Thanks Jim. I love intentional parents—because it’s young leaders like you who are the product.

What creative ideas have you used (or seen) to prepare kids for life? Leave a comment below.


photo credit: kk+ via photopin cc

As Americans, we usually pride ourselves in being the best. We love being number one in the world—in the Olympics, in economics, in entertainment…you name it.

America is Number One Again…Unfortunately

According to Relevant magazine, the National Academy of Sciences has confirmed what America has long known to be true: America is indeed number one. Does it even matter in which category America is number one? It’s so obvious that it’s almost redundant to say it, but, in the interest of journalistic integrity, we’d best examine the details. When put up against Canada, Australia, Japan, Britain, France, Portugal, Italy and Germany and eight other developed nations, America came in first for all kinds of stuff:

  • Infant mortality
  • Injury and homicide rates
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • AIDS
  • Drug abuse
  • Obesity and diabetes
  • Heart disease, lung disease, and disabilities

And, obviously, America shows no signs of slowing down. “It’s a tragedy,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, who chaired the panel. “Our report found that an equally large, if not larger, disadvantage exists among younger Americans.” And that doesn’t even touch on violence, in which “Americans are seven times more likely to be murdered than people in the other countries, and 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun.”

According to a report by Wealthson, the U.S. also leads in unemployment when compared to ten top industrialized nations between 2009-2010. And youth unemployment is higher than any other demographic in the U.S.

So, here’s my question:

Is there any connection between being number one in categories like teen pregnancy, drug abuse, obesity and homicide rates and the fact that young adults are not working? 

I think there is. When you study unemployment rates for young people and compare them to rates in these categories as well—you see a parallel.  When youth are working they are generally engaged in something meaningful and don’t have time for these anti-social endeavors.  I recognize this may seem overly simplistic, but it’s true. Work is not only about a paycheck, it’s about the development of a person, about the expression of one’s gifts, about contributing something valuable back to society. I know this sounds old-fashioned—but work is supposed to give meaning to our day-to-day lives. I am not saying it’s where we derive our identity, but it IS a place to express our identity.

I say let’s work to get young people back to work. Let’s get them ready for the workforce by equipping them with life skills. And, let’s tell them the truth about the importance of moving from a “consumer” to a “contributor” in this world.

I think they may just surprise us with what they can do, when they don’t have time to do the things they shouldn’t do.

What do you think? Are these trends related? Leave a comment below.