Sometimes I forget to do the fundamentals. Here’s one I’ve lost sight of recently: it’s the power of encouragement. As a leader, I’ve learned I can never underestimate the power of encouragement. It’s not a luxury. Team members need it. It has been said that encouragement is the oxygen of the soul. Years ago, an ordinary teacher proved just that. Sister

If you lead young people today, you already know they value creativity. In general, Generation Y (the students born since 1980) and especially Generation iY (the students born since 1990) are creative individuals, and they love environments that allow them to utilize their ingenuity. In addition, they also love connection. They love to stay connected socially (to friends) and technologically (to

As I reflect today, it takes me back in my memory—to a flight I was on two years ago. I was traveling over a weekend, this time to Washington DC. The flights get old, but this one is different. The whole atmosphere had morphed. As I looked around me, I saw dozens of elderly men in t-shirts, smiling and laughing and

In past blogs, I’ve suggested that just like muscles shrink—or atrophy—when they’ve been in a cast for weeks, our culture has created a world where we don’t have to exercise certain emotional, social, intellectual or spiritual muscles we used to need in the past. People skills and virtues were more prevalent in the past because people needed them to make

Today's post is a guest blog from Mark Miller, Vice President for Organizational Effectiveness at Chick-fil-A and author of The Secret of Teams and Great Leaders Grow : Becoming a Leader for Life. I’ve been fascinated by teams most of my life. I guess it started when I was about 6 years old.  It was in the days before tee ball

school yearbook

I will never forget the day our yearbook came out in my freshman year of college. Keith, a friend, had prided himself on his disinterest in the whole thing. While nearly every other student was looking the yearbooks over and signing them for friends, Keith told us he didn’t care to buy one; he was totally apathetic about looking at stupid photos of the meaningless activities on campus that year. It was all so…childish and self-absorbed. What made this episode funny is that while a bunch of us sat in the dining hall looking at the yearbooks, mine sat in front of Keith as he ate his lunch. It was just begging him to crack it open and look it over. Finally, when he thought no one was observing him, he opened up the yearbook and began leafing through it. Before long, he was on an intentional hunt for something in that book. I finally noticed and asked him: “Keith—what are you looking for?” “Uh…nothing. I am just looking at pictures of my friends.” “Yeah, right!” we all said, laughing. Sure enough, when he arrived at the page he was searching for, there it was staring him in the face: his own mug shot. His senior picture. In full color. Everyone leaned over to see this apathetic student smile as he found himself in the “stupid” book. Needless to say, he was a source of comedy for us that day.

responsible kids 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:

Imagine it’s 1995 again. Two digital encyclopedias are about to be created. The first is from Microsoft, a stellar company full of smart people and money. They are on top of the world, as they have just launched Windows 95. Their digital encyclopedia will be sold on CD-ROMs and later online. Everyone expects this product to be a hit. The second

purpose of school 2 Yesterday I started a series on the purpose of school. I introduced a new book to you that will be released in June. I’ve been working on the manuscript for two years, in an attempt to provide solutions for leaders who work with students. The book is called, Artificial Maturity—Meeting the Challenge of Helping Kids Become Authentic Adults. Today, I’d like to do a second part to my blog on one section of the book. We will call it:

What’s the Purpose of School?

Over the years, our school system has changed. It moved from a very personal, one-room schoolhouse to an industrialized system today, where we crank out compliant, satisfied, homogenized people who are eager consumers. That’s precisely what the industrial revolution needed from future factory workers. The trouble is—I am not so sure that’s what we need today.

Schoolhouse   I’m excited to introduce a new book to you. It will be released in June. I have been working on the manuscript for two years, in an attempt to provide solutions for leaders who work with students. The book is called, Artificial Maturity—Meeting the Challenge of Helping Kids Become Authentic Adults. Let me give you a taste of one of the topics I wrestle with in the book. Have you every asked yourself the question:

What’s the purpose of school?

It’s a question our kids ask all the time! I’ve been digging to discover a serious answer to that question, and my findings have been eye-opening.

I have concluded that what defines a leader today is not so much their ability to say “yes”, but their ability to say “no.” Learning how to say no can be life-changing. It’s possessing the skill to sniff out what fits into your wheelhouse and what would be a distraction. Let’s face it. America is the land of opportunity and today, we’ve created more opportunities that ever. Most leaders can’t handle it. how to say no The most accurate words to describe our lives today are:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Options
  • Obese
  • Open-minded
  • Over-committed
  • Opportunities
We have a hard time saying no to anyone or anything. We don’t want to miss our chance to catch that big break or that next promotion. We don’ want to be narrow. On the other hand, most of us would dearly like to reduce and simplify. We are weary of all the tasks, clutter and noise around us. If only we could learn how to say no to the people who approach us with another “opportunity.” Let me offer some simple reminders of how you can do this.

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

Last month, I was able to spend time at spring training providing leadership coaching for several major league baseball teams. These teams are incredible examples of organizations who want to not only develop great ballplayers but also great leaders. I had the opportunity to interview Dayton Moore, General Manager of the Kansas City Royals and asked him to share a

game changer Last month, I spoke at a Chick-fil-A event for team leaders in their restaurants. It was a gathering of several hundred young general managers, managers and team leaders of restaurants all over the Southeast. The theme was: “Game Changer.”  We talked about the fact that there are leaders—and then there are leaders who are “game changers.” They are the ones who don’t merely occupy the role up front, but they actually transform the way people approach what they do. They change the industry. Nobody is the same after they’ve led.

smart graduates launch

This month, we’ll begin seeing a new batch of graduates leave school to launch their career. Sadly, for most, the launch will stall. Employers scaled back hiring again last month according to the Dept of Labor. The hardest hit are the youngest workers. By the end of 2011, only about half of the 18-24 years olds in America were working. This is the lowest number since the government began collecting data back in 1948. So, how do smart graduates launch in an economy like this?

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

One of our Growing Leaders speakers is Michael Hirsch. In addition to helping us equip staff and students, he serves as Executive Director of Loveworks. I asked him to do a guest blog to let you see how he and his team are transforming young at-risk teens into leaders in Norman, Oklahoma. Enjoy his words below.
loveworks It’s a Thursday afternoon with over 100 students and volunteer leaders bustling about the Afterschool Leadership Program. Two volunteers high-five in the hallway as one shouts “There’s never a dull moment at Loveworks!” This has quickly become a mantra between dozens of the volunteers who gather three days a week to mentor at-risk middle school students.

How to read a book

Every year, I publish my "Top 10 Books of the Year". Almost everywhere I go, people ask me the question: how do you read so many books? Where do you find the time? And…can you tell me how to read a book? Do you read it from cover to cover? 

In 1987, while I was finishing my Masters degree, a faculty member shared with me how he reads a book and saves time. I so appreciated his ideas that I began using them and later formed my own steps. Below is a list of tips I share with people about how to read a book.

millennial generation

Every year, I am in front of between 50,000 and 60,000 students, staff and parents, talking about this Millennial generation: who they are and what adults can do to mentor them well. It’s always makes for a lively question and answer time!

One question seems to come up everywhere. What is happening around the world? In other words, are there any international trends we can spot that let us know what is coming in this Millennial generation of kids? I must confess, I certainly don’t have the final answer to this question, but let me share two sobering facts that ignite me to work even harder to provide a moral compass for students today.