Courage is the main quality of leadership. – Walt Disney

It’s easy to lead when things are going smoothly. When the wind is at your back, sailing is smooth. Authentic leadership is required when things aren’t going well. Real leadership is needed with the wind in your face.

Leadership requires courage. Leaders must have the courage to move intentionally when time permits, and to act with expediency when time is a factor. Leaders must listen, synthesize information, and build consensus. Most of all, courageous leaders uphold the values of the organization – even when it is tough. There are no shortcuts to bold leadership – it demands that we do the work.

It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom. – Aristotle

I recently finished reading The 5 AM Club – Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life, by Robin Sharma. For me, this was an exercise in affirmation. I have been a loyal member of the 5 AM Club since the mid-1990s. While a teacher, early morning gave me time to workout before practice or going to graduate school. As an administrator, especially now as a superintendent, the early morning hours are the only time in my day that is predictable (except on snowy Ohio mornings).

Getting up before the crack of dawn is physical, cerebral, and spiritual for me. I set the tone for my body, mind, and heart with my action. My self-talk during my morning run, swim, or exercise routine prepares me for the predictable events of the day. I rehearse conversations in my mind; I consider scenarios and review presentations. I pray for strength and wisdom; I start the day with an optimistic peace of mind.

Are you in the 5 AM Club? Do you intentionally set aside time – uninterrupted time – for your body, mind, and heart? If not, what’s stopping you from joining The Club? All are welcome!

Every morning you have two choices: Continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.

Every morning you have two choices: Continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them. – Carmelo Anthony

Are you prepared for success today? Are you living your mission through your actions?

We achieve results in our lives when we are prepared for success. We reach our goals when we prepare and do the work. Our dreams become a reality when we chase them . . . when we put forth the time and effort to make them come true.

Dreams don’t come true with pixie dust and magic. Dreams come true when we do the work and make them a reality.

What are you going to do today?

The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms. – Socrates

The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms. – Socrates

The alignment of mission, alignment of culture, begins with a shared understanding of where we are going. We all use terms and discuss relevant topics with colleagues and constituents. Everyone must understand the terms we are using in conversations.

The wise leader takes the time to ensure everyone is working with the same definitions, with the same understanding of each goal. Make sure your team is on the same page; make sure your community has clarity on desired results.

Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.

Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity. – Dr. Rick Rigsby

We all know that person (if you don’t, it may be you) who can justify decisions with his/her own bravado or narcissism. These folks tend to defend mistakes rather than learn from them; they have a habit of doubling-down on a wrong decision rather than changing course to avoid further failures.

While perfection may be a goal, no one or organization every gets it right all the time. Disney had Euro Disney, there was New Coke, and Apple had the iPod Nano. Every journey includes bumps in the road, obstacles along the way, and even an occasional u-turn. Mistakes are often essential in learning – don’t let your ego anesthetize lessons learned through mistakes.

People can feel perfection. – Walt Disney

People can feel perfection. – Walt Disney

Perfection is often an impossible goal. In some areas of our lives, striving for perfection is a fool’s ambition. In other areas of life, of work, perfection should be the bar for which we aim. What is most challenging is to know when to hold ourselves to elite standards.

Attention to detail is essential. A commitment to excellence in what matters most in our lives is critical. When we pay attention to the details, to the things we can control, and when we commit to doing them with skill and purpose, perfection is often attainable.

There are limited things we can control – and limitless things out of our control – so we must be purposeful in doing the things that we can control well. People can feel it.

You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.

You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind. – Joyce Meyer

We all know people who are always negative; we know people who blame, complain, and defend (BCD) about everything in their lives. These seemingly always unhappy people are unhappy for a reason – they live in negative space. For some reason or another, some people desire a particular outcome but aren’t able, or willing, to ever achieve that success.

You can’t be happy in life when you are consistently negative in your thoughts. When your self-talk, when your mind’s eye is always focused on what you don’t have, or on what’s not fair, happiness is impossible.

Spend your time, spend your energy on intentionally being positive. Live a grateful life in the moment, and you will find that a positive life is an outcome.

When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.


When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.  – George Washington Carver

We are all blessed with specific skills and talents.  In many ways, we are more similar than different. Even though average has become a negative attribute, we are all average in many ways.

What sets us apart is what we do with the skills and talents we have in life.  It isn’t the person with freakish skills and genius-level intelligence that commands ongoing attention.  Sure, we are momentarily in awe, but that interest wanes quickly.  What gains our attention is the individual who does the ordinary things with exceptional energy or persistence.

Stop for a moment and think about a person in your life that commands your attention.  Chances are they don’t have unusual talents, but they have the unusual application of the abilities they have.