windows and mirrors In January, we released a new addition to the Habitudes series, Habitudes for Communicators. Can I bounce one off of you here? I call it “Windows and Mirrors.” Effective communicators use windows and mirrors when they speak. When a communicator provides a window for people to see into his or her life, those people receive a mirror to see their own. By holding up a window to their own soul (their own humanity), listeners identify with their story and become engaged with the speaker. Because the communicator was secure enough to pull back the curtain on their own life—everyone feels safe to lean in and examine their own. That’s what the window accomplishes. Once an audience sees into the world of the speaker, they’re provided with a mirror to their own.

A few months ago, I put out a request for readers to share stories of practical ways we can prepare students for adulthood. I was finishing up the manuscript for my new book, Artifical Maturity (set for release in June!), and wanted to include real-life examples from people around the world. The response was absolutely overwhelming! I’m so thankful for everyone who took time to share ideas. There were so many more than could be included in one chapter of a book. But I wanted everyone to hear these great ideas. So here’s the plan: over the course of next year, I’ll share a story that someone submitted. I hope you find them as challenging and helpful as I did! Here’s this week’s story:

If you’re like me, you never appreciated hearing your dad reminisce about how he walked to school, fourteen miles, in the snow, without shoes, uphill…both ways. Would you allow me, however, to reflect on some of the biggest ways our world is different for students today—and how it may affect future adults? Journalist Amber Dusick inspired me to do this when she wrote about being a mom in a world very different than the one she grew up in thirty years ago. Here goes.

Today's blog is a guest post by Mike Rutherford. Mike is the Founder and President of The Rutherford Learning Group. After more than 20 years of using workshops, institutes, television, and online technology, Mike is at the forefront of educator development across the United States. Mike will be joining us for National Leadership Forum. I'm excited to share his post today.
i hope you dance One part of my work that I especially enjoy is shadowing school administrators. Shadowing an administrator is like observing a teacher except they move around a lot. So you have to follow them - be their shadow. When I’m watching a great administrator at work - I mean when they’re really on their game - it looks like a dance to me, a beautiful dance.

A few weeks ago, the Growing Leaders team and I had lunch with Barrett Keene. He is an amazing young leader who is walking across the country for an incredible cause. We sat down for a short interview. Click below to hear his story:     To learn more about Barrett's walk, click here to view the Legacy Champ website. Also, you can

As we look at the future of education, we can't ignore the fact that kids today belong to a generation that has never known a world without hand-held and networked devices. According to author Anya Kamenetz, “American children now spend 7.5 hours a day absorbing and creating media, about the same amount of time they spend in school.” What’s more,

artificial maturity A few months ago, I put out a request for readers to share stories of practical ways we can prepare students for adulthood. I was finishing up the manuscript for my new book, Artifical Maturity (set for release in June!), and wanted to include real-life examples from people around the world. The response was absolutely overwhelming! I’m so thankful for everyone who took time to share ideas. There were so many more than could be included in one chapter of a book. But I wanted everyone to hear these great ideas. So here’s the plan: over the course of next year, I’ll share a story that someone submitted. I hope you find them as challenging and helpful as I did!

volunteers

You and I have both groaned about the dilemmas around us:

  • It feels like our country has no more values or morals anymore.
  • I wish we could do something about the AIDS virus.
  • We need to find a way to get clean water to Africa.
  • Someone needs to figure out a way to mentor at-risk kids.
It’s easy to get lost in the problems our world faces. Sometimes they’re in our own backyard. Often, we feel overwhelmed by them, and it paralyzes us from doing anything. That is, except to whine about them. We feel so small and powerless. Recently, I was reminded of a very important reality:

A single, simple, small action step taken by ordinary people can mean everything.

During my book tour, following the publishing of Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, I began hearing comments from audience members. When I would caution adults that we must rethink the way we parent, teach and lead this emerging generation of kids, at least one person would remark: “But haven’t adults always groaned about the laziness of kids? About their lack of values or discipline or respect for their elders? It seems like grownups are always whining about teens.” I will admit—it’s true. In fact, dating back to Socrates’ day, adults have complained about how pitiful their youth are. Socrates said, “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers." Plato also complained about the lack of respect kids have for their parents, as did Hesiod, in the eight century BC. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

career You already know this. Teens and twenty-somethings (Generation iY) are delaying their entrance into adulthood. It’s old news. What’s surfaced recently is that these young adults often won’t embrace adult life because they can’t. It’s true. For a variety of reasons, even college grads from Ivy League schools are delaying their real careers and settling for a job at Starbucks or retail stores. Stephanie Morales, a recent graduate of Dartmouth is now waiting tables in New Jersey and making $2.17 an hour plus tips. “We did everything we were supposed to,” she said in an interview. “What’s the point of working so hard for 22 years if there was nothing out there?”

Tour Guide Over the past couple of days, I’ve introduced some terms to describe why we often struggle leading our students. First, I wrote about the Police Officer and the Personal Trainer. I suggested we often begin our work with young people as a Personal Trainer—focused on developing and building students to help them reach their potential, just like a trainer in a fitness club. Over time, however, we drift into a police officer role, looking for stuff to go wrong and hoping to keep students within the boundaries of our rules. Then, I compared and contrasted another scenario. We are either a Navy SEAL or a Peace Keeper. These are two very different military roles. The Navy SEAL is on a mission, doing whatever he must do to achieve an outcome. He is there to win a war. Peace Keepers are also targeting an outcome, but theirs is simply damage control; making sure everyone is safe and alive. They are simply keeping the peace; hence the name. This is another drift we experience over time in working with youth. Today, I want you to consider a third scenario. Are you a Travel Agent or a Tour Guide? You already know the difference don’t you? A Travel Agent’s job is to tell you about all the places you could go on a holiday; to show you brochures, describe the sights and sounds of vacation spots and even book the tickets. But—they don’t go with you. The Tour Guide, on the other hand, actually takes the journey with you. They walk with you through the jungle or the canyon or the park and along the way interpret what you see. The key? You do it together. Although the Tour Guide is clearly the leader, the experience is shared not virtual.

navy seal Yesterday, I blogged about the fact that our attitudes can decline, as leaders, over time. In other words, we frequently begin our work with young people in the right frame of mind, but eventually we grow weary and slip into a mindset that’s more punitive than redemptive. In fact, I contrasted two common perspectives in leaders today: Police Officers or Personal Trainers. Both inflict pain on the people they meet, but one is about punishing and the other is about developing. Far too often, we begin as “trainers” with students, and become correctional officers, more concerned with damage control than we are with preparing them for the future. Today, I’d like to suggest another scenario we drift into, as leaders. It’s the Peace Keeper. This leader may begin with the right perspective, but in their attempt to connect with the young people they lead—they focus on staying close, on being hip and relevant, on remaining friends with the youth. They lose sight of the fact that while it’s important to be friendly, the leader's job is to guide and provide a model for others to follow. It is not to be like them, or to be liked by them…it is to encourage the students to develop and mature in a healthy way. Contrast a Peace Keeper in a foreign country with a Navy SEAL. Peace Keepers aren’t there to win a war. They’re present to simply keep the peace. They want to maintain civility and ensure everyone is living safely.  The Navy SEAL, however, has an entirely different mission. They are there to win a war; to resolve a conflict and achieve an outcome.

personal trainer

Here are some common scenarios I have seen in the last six months: A Director of Residence Life at a university became so overwhelmed with the student conflicts in the dorms that he created sixteen new policies in one year. A mom became frustrated at the deceitful and secretive behavior of her daughter that their relationship became adversarial and combative at home. A high school principal began the school year excited and optimistic but decided to retire in February after describing his job as a “correctional officer.” What these and other stories have in common is this—we begin our work with young people in the right frame of mind, but move from “offense” to “defense” at some point in our journey. We grow weary of the confrontations, of the conflict, of the re-parenting we have to do with students that we either become self-protective or we quit. If this sounds familiar, let me suggest two images to encourage you.

What is wrong with this picture? Over the Easter holiday weekend, the New York Post, Good Morning America, Fox News and other national news sources reported multiple stories an Easter Egg hunt that went awry, not due to unruly children, but due to the adults involved. One report read… Another traditional Easter egg hunt fell victim to aggressive parents, with event organizers in Macon, GA, forced to cancel this week amid fears greedy moms and dads would become violent and trample on kids to grab eggs.

easter egg hunt

Leading a Culture Shift We see the evidence of leadership everywhere we go. We see the presence of good leadership in some companies, and the absence of it in others. For instance, in convenience stores, there’s a measurable difference between QuikTrip and 7-11. In quick-service restaurants, there’s a huge difference between Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell. In theme parks, there’s a contrast between Disneyland and Six Flags. In department stores, there is a noticeable difference between Nordstrom (or even Macy’s) and Sears. The cultures are just…different.

So what makes the difference?

People.

The way people see and serve others. The way these leaders teach their teams to value people. For some leaders, people are an afterthought. For others, people are everything.

A few months ago, I put out a request for readers to share stories of practical ways to develop student leaders. I was finishing up the manuscript for my new book, Artifical Maturity (set for release in June!), and wanted to include real-life examples from people around the world. The response was absolutely overwhelming! I’m so thankful for everyone who took time

We just returned from a memorable week overseas, in the Republic of Central Africa. It was great to go, it was great to return home. You understand, don’t you? How can I summarize it all? The weather was warm. The people were warm. The conditions were poor. The relationships were rich. The university students didn’t eat much…but they were more hungry to learn. The

Today's blog is a guest post by Kris Hogan. With a 16-year educational tenure under his belt, Kris Hogan has spent the last nine years working at Grapevine Faith High School in Grapevine, Texas. In addition to sitting on its administrative team, Hogan also pulls double duty as Faith’s head football coach. Hogan has coached teams to eight state championships and

Boss your calendar People ask me regularly how I handle my calendar, with all the travel, writing, speaking and projects that must be done. I always answer that I am not an “expert” by any stretch of the imagination. I do, however, embrace a handful of practices that allow me to get a lot of things done, and that still allow me to also get some rest and relaxation. First and foremost, I believe we must recognize that a “balanced life”—as most people understand it—is a myth. I don’t know of anyone who perfectly balances equal time each week for family, work, leisure, exercise, etc. It’s just not realistic. Instead, I believe life happens with an “ebb and flow” where there are seasons of great investment of time and energy, then there are seasons of rest and withdrawal. Fast pace, slow pace. Below are six simple practices I do that keep me achieving the highest priorities I’ve established, and that enable me to “boss my calendar.”

I’m not sure if you remembered, but this month marks the 100th anniversary of the launch and sinking of the great ship, The Titanic. It all happened in April, 1912. What a tragedy. I share the often untold story in the first Habitudes book, with the image of “The Iceberg.” As I spoke recently on this topic, someone asked a question about the Titanic. They wondered what happened in the aftermath of that great tragedy to prevent it from happening again. It was a great question, with an equally great answer. Several policies were put in place—that leaders can learn from today.