Crushing Your Leadership?

Well, here we are again with the start of another school year and for many of us, the first full week with students. As we look toward the end of May, the 36 weeks ahead of us does seem long. However, you are in a position to control the magnitude of your attitude and spread your leadership most positively.

A few weeks ago, I was playing golf one Saturday morning with our group. It was my turn on the tee box, and hit a drive that CBS Golf would have loved to put the shot-tracer on. As I got back into the cart, I told my partner, “That was crushed.” You might want to know that our group does “trash talk” each other out of jest, and we have a lot of fun with it. Norm, who is a great friend and mentor in my life, said, “It didn’t go as far as you think it did.” In response (ego inflated), I said, “That had to carry at least 260.” When we got to my ball, Norm just patted me on the back and said, “about 230.” Now, with my ego deflated, I said, “Well, the wind must have picked up while my ball was in the air.” Norm, in his mentor voice, made a profound statement, “They never go as far as we think they do.” (I still think it flew farther… Maybe his SkyCaddie was broken?)

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As I look back on that conversation, I immediately thought about leadership and the notion that a lot of times, we believe our leadership carries a lot further than it actually does. “Profoundess” and good intentions are needed, but what of lasting ripple effects?

Do you see your leadership as a “hit or miss” idea? Is it like a new clothing style, a fad that you will hope it comes back in style one day? Or, is it something more than like a one-hit song? What we are looking for is that all-time greatest hit, styles that transcend time, and leadership that hits the target.

Measuring your leadership takes time, but how long? I am not sure what the answer must be or is, but I do believe if you lead with a servant-heart, the lasting effects will carry the actual distance it should. Strong leadership is seen over time, whereas weak leadership is almost recognized immediately.

A few thoughts to make sure our leadership carries the distance it should over the course of your endeavors for the foreseeable future…

  • No matter how small, how routine, or how insignificant your leadership may seem, someone is always watching, and you never know what effects it will bring.
  • Your call to pursue quality leadership is built on the foundation of being for others that rests on servant hood. Any pursuit of leadership apart from this is futile and only for yourself.
  • It must be recognized, however, that to have the right view of your leadership, you must hear what others say.

Providing leadership that carries as far as we think is often tricky. Societal “feelings” change with the drop of a handkerchief. Sometimes, there actually may be a strong wind in our face. However, others always see the results. Our challenge is to find a way that measures the true distance our leadership carries, and eliminate the self-inflated ego that gets in the way.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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It’s raining…

Well, here we are in July… It is hot, humid, muggy, sweaty, etc… but tonight, as I sit on the front porch, it is raining.  It has actually cooled down the temperature a little (if you can say that) to where sitting outside is bearable…

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Tonight’s rain brings something that I enjoy… the sound and the smell of it.  There seems to be something about it that brings in a newness, fresh feeling that calms the mind.  I imagine it to be like an “all sensory sound machine.”  While I sit here enjoying the sound and the smell, the thought I have of rain that always comes back to me is the conversation line in Facing the Giants, “Prepare for rain.”

Here is the actual quote…

“There were two farmers who desperately needed rain in a drought. And both of them prayed for rain, but only one of them went out to plow his field to receive the rain. Now, which farmer trusted and believed that it was going to rain?”

As we go about our day, whatever that might be for each of us, are we preparing for the results of our leadership?  Many leaders just go about and lead only because of their title and/or position that they have.  While others actually work to make sure their leadership is meaningful, uplifting, positive for the benefit of others. They prepare their workings to be an outward seeking effect, instead of the internal mindset of “What’s in it for me?”

One thing that I have learned over the past few years is that we must always prepare to pause and pay attention to those around us.  As leaders, we move in and out of our days so quickly that it is easy to forget about who is around us.  We must prepare to lead others effectively, and we cannot do this if we do not know who we are leading.  They are not just a group of people who are hired to do a job.  They are people with a heart, mind, and soul – they matter.

As we close out July and get ready for school to start, the educational leadership that we provide will either help or hurt. Preparation is vital, but it must be more than “talked about” preparation.  Actually preparing the field for the rain, shows the level of commitment we have as leaders for others.  For the crops to grow, we must prepare for them to grow.

The next time it rains, take a moment to listen and smell the effects and give an intentional effort so others can see the preparation you are doing for them. Yes or no, the results will be seen.  What are you doing today in your leadership that “prepares for the rain?”

Thanks again for reading.

©2019 J Clay Norton

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For The Birds…

Sitting on my front porch is something I enjoy more and more nowadays. Yes, I guess that does mean I am getting older. I find it fascinating to sit, watch, listen, think, and rest enjoying a glass of tea or lemonade in the afternoons or coffee in the mornings. The sound of the breeze as it bristles through the leaves of the trees, the sound of birds as they fly, perch on the tree limbs and make their noises, the smell of fresh-cut grass, and the smell of fresh rain as it cools the day. All these things begin to resonate into a peaceful, tranquility of getting older.

For the birds

Right off our porch, we have two bird feeders hanging in a crepe myrtle tree. Since school has been out for almost a month now, I found myself being drawn to our front porch and watching the birds come in to eat, wondering what birds will show up today. Our frequent visitors consist of cardinals, wrens, blue jays, a few woodpeckers, a few doves, others I do not know the name of, and my favorite – the unknown bird with a curved bill. What is even more amazing to myself, believe it or not, is that I actually have binoculars sitting on the table of our front porch so I can get a “closer” look at my new friends and their appetite.

As I have watched these birds, I have noticed a few similarities to leadership, and its effect toward all of us being creatures of habit.

When the wrens stop by, the entire family shows up. You know what happens next, they start fighting for a position at the table. Even when they nestle in, not all are happy. Often, you can see two of them go at it for what seems like something petty. When there are only two or three, everyone gets along for the most part. Nothing really changes when the cardinals stop by, but they do seem to hang out only with other cardinals. The blue jays are bullies and are aggressive from the start. They run everyone else off when they stop by except for the woodpeckers. The woodpeckers come in knowing they do not have to beat their brains in for food, and the doves just sit there cooing, glad they do not have to hear the noise of the woodpeckers.

Now about that curved-bill bird… Fat-bellied and takes up a lot of rim space. When he sits down, the feeder tilts to one side. I do not know how he stays so fat, all he does is walk around the rim, making everyone else leave. His “nose” is out of joint for sure. He just doesn’t seem happy and wants all the other birds to be unhappy also. He even runs the blue jays off. He definitely thinks he is large and in charge.

Funny thing is with all of this… Just like birds are creatures of habit, so are we as humans. As I sit and observe, I consider the fact that we can all identify with some, if not most of the above characteristics. There are those who “fight” their own kind for a seat at the table, and while we enjoy our family, a spat does happen from time to time. You can also see leaders who are aggressive and bully others and those who just want to stay with their kind (yes, birds of a feather do flock together). Many people make a lot of noise, just wanting to be heard, and some just sit and “coo” at everything that happens, good or bad. And yes, there are even the curved-bill people with their nose out of joint all the time, wanting everyone to be miserable because they are.

Admittedly or not, we are creatures of habit, even in leadership. The question that has to be answered is, “Are the leadership habits you have, good or bad?” My thought on bad leadership is just like the title of this blog… “For The Birds!”

Thanks again for reading.

©2019 J Clay Norton

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In Closing, A Reflection and A To Do…

Well, here we are… at the end of another school year and the last weekly blog until we start up next August.  There will be one blog each for June and July.

First, let me say thank you to everyone who reads this blog weekly.  Each week, I intend for each of us to “look within” ourselves and know where we are with our leadership.  If we cannot identify where we are, be sure that others can.  I have said it before; “Others see you better than you see yourself.” (Quote by my mom, Judy Norton)

As I was thinking about what to write on for this week, I reviewed all the previous blogs for this past school year.  As I read and reflected, this is what I came up with…

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I believe one of the best concepts of leadership is the ability to reflect and allow your reflection to shape your future decisions.  As you reflect on the past, cherish the good, and learn from the bad.  Never compromise by separating who you are with what you say you believe in.  Most of all, be for others.

Success as a leader is always at an expense, but what is the cost?  Just because people follow you does not make you a leader.  A “leader” is so much more than directing where others should go and what they should do.  Leadership is sometimes hard to define but very easily recognized.  However, just because we acknowledge leadership does not always mean it is good leadership.  The hardest question to answer is the one we have to ask ourselves, “Am I a good leader?”  We can lie to ourselves, but those who follow us will be able to know the difference.  Can we be a leader that puts off the “self” and puts on the “others” mentality?

In closing, try to do these things this summer…

Tell someone “thank you” in writing. Writing a “thank you” note is a lost art – yes, the handwritten one in an envelope with a stamp.  It takes time and effort.

Always remember where you came from and how much you have learned.  Both of these are easy to forget.  You have to remember it.  If you do not, someone else will remind you.

Most of all, make sure you take some time in your summer break to spend with your family.  Remember, they are your biggest fans.

And.. if all else fails and you cannot find anything to do, then by all means… find a book to read.

Thanks again for reading.  Also, thank you for the comments you have made regarding the blogs; they are very much appreciated.

©2019 J Clay Norton

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