I think you already know this, but it’s an important reminder.

In the things that truly matter, give your best. 

Don’t just meet spec. Go beyond.

 

If you are willing to do that, you might just do something remarkable. 

I cringe when I see leaders who talk big games, but actually aren’t willing to do what they ask of their people.

You are better than that. 

I learned this lesson from a leader who mentored me ages ago.

We would bring together volunteers to serve at a local men’s homeless shelter. 

The fun job was to cook and serve the men a warm meal. 

The worst job was to clean the bathrooms and make them spotless. That is where Geno (the leader) chose to volunteer and he always brought me (his mentee) along for the ride. 

The job stunk (pun intended).

But it taught me an essential leadership lesson. Be willing (and actually do from time to time) the job you expect of your people.

I model behavior all the time in the mastermind, hoping to inspire and challenge the leaders I serve. 

I also model via the podcast and blog. 

This post explains how I establish and attain goals, including a high-level reflection on the process. 

Posts on this page illustrate short and transparent accounting of my monthly results.

This post is an example of an annual letter I write to my tribe.

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I challenge you to write a similar post to your community. As a leader you hold others accountable and evaluate your team’s performance. 

How powerful would it be, if you not only announced your goals to those you serve, but also communicated your results … in public?

I love this quote for two reasons. The idea of wonder is powerful. It is rooted in curiosity. It doesn’t assume or believe it has the right answer.

I also chose this quote because Step 2 reminds us of the importance of community. 

The #1 enemy of excellence is isolation. Leaders falsely believe they need to do it all on their own. Not according to this quote.

Get curious and bring others on the journey with you.

Humans have a terrible tendency to give away their power. It’s easy to play the victim, much harder to take control. This quote inspires me to take ownership over all my thoughts. 

The principles of Stoic philosophy help us here:

  • Control our perceptions
  • Direct our actions properly
  • Accept what is in and out of our control

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Shane writes one of my favorite blogs. I am a raving fan of his because he helps me be wise. He inspires the posts I’ve recently shipped on mental models. 

I wrote about Hanlon’s Razor here and Second-Order Thinking here.

Tunnel vision will harm your leadership. 

Surrounding yourself with “Yes-men,” reading similar books, spending too much time on social media is problematic because they feed you all the same info. 

Before long you are leading in a bubble … and all bubbles burst.

A guaranteed way to lead at a high level is to eliminate blind spots. 

One way to eliminate blind spots is to invest in a leadership community that can act as your personal board of directors.

Your family, friends, and staff probably won’t tell you when you have spinach in your teeth. We will.

If you’ve done well in school and have been a high achiever most of your life, then you might have this disability: you think there is a right answer to leadership.

I play on this idea when creating content:

My book is called The Better Leaders Better Schools Roadmap. 

I have a download on my website called “The Blueprint for School Success.”

I teach a course on productivity revealing my “Secret System” of productivity.

But there is no roadmap, blueprint, or secrets.

Now, I’m not a salesman selling snake oil. I’m a marketer. I am a leader. I make change happen. 

I know the human brain gets excited when they read words like this.

Once I can capture your interest, I can teach and serve you. 

Once I have your attention, we can make change happen.

The roadmap, blueprint, and secret system will share powerful information packaged in a way that will help you level up.

But the info is only 20-30% of the puzzle.

There is a knowing-doing gap. 

If there was a leadership manual it would state these four truths:

  1. Learn from a multi-disciplinary approach (more tools = more solutions).
  2. Action is better than knowing and talking. 
  3. Radical self-inquiry sets apart the best leaders from the average ones. 
  4. Every great leader has a community that supports her and helps her lead grounded in reality.
Like I mentioned in the quote above … radical self-inquiry is a foundational aspect of strong leadership. 

You can achieve some remarkable results for a limited amount of time. 

To consistently show up at your best, leaders need to embrace the inner journey.

Not only is it important to understand what motivates you, but also be aware of your faults, your fears, what takes you off your game.

Steven Pressfield calls the inner critic “The Resistance.” We all have that voice that tells us we are stupid, not good enough, etc.

If we listen to that voice, we play it safe. 

Playing it safe too long and we forget why we’re playing the game at all

Leadership is service. 

What helped you rise in the ranks often gets in the way of leadership because it is no longer about you. It’s about the team.

Rising to the rank of leader may have come easy to you, maybe not. 

What I can assume is that you are a hard-worker and tend to do well if you choose to. For this, you’ve been recognized and promoted to the position of leader.

Being recognized feels good. It’s nice to hear how wonderful you are.

But now that you are a leader, it’s about your team. Recognize them.

The best leaders are able to “see” and” hear” their people.

If you are looking for ways to do just that, you will enjoy this post on staff appreciation.

This quote tells the story of Dr. Seuss. You can see how his publisher challenged him to write a children’s book with just 50 words. 

Not only did Dr. Seuss change the kid’s book industry with Green Eggs and Ham, he also modeled an important leadership trait.

Like Geisel, we will experience challenges and “constraints” in leadership.

Maybe we serve a lower socio-economic community. Often we see this as a constraint. Schools blame the lack of family involvement or poverty for their lackluster results. 

Again, it’s easy to play the victim.

But if you are willing to take ownership …

If you are willing to look at the constraint and use it to propel you toward excellence …

Then you are making change happen. You are a transformer. You are a Ruckus Maker.

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I’ll end with this quote as a challenge for you to reflect on the privilege and power that leadership affords you.

This quote is a favorite of mine for two reasons:

  1. It challenges the leader to consider her privilege. 
  2. It challenges the leader to take action.

So a final challenge at the end of this post:

As a thought experiment: think about what would make for the worst day ever at work or in life. Taken seriously, you should now be a bit better prepared for this calamity and more importantly, enjoy the added benefit of perspective and gratitude. 

Then, take one of these quotes from today’s post. Meditate on it. 

Write for 10-15 minutes about what it means to you.

Establish one action step that you can take as a result of the quote. What is the pearl of wisdom hidden in the quote? What action can you take that would help you level up?

Your leadership matters. 

Everyone wins when a leader gets better. Everyone wins when you get better.

Take action today and everyone will win.

On Episode 208 of the podcast I shared an entirely different set of quotes that will inspire your leadership. Listen ➡️

Quotes featured in this post come from the following books:

 

 

And if you are a bookworm, check out this post and this post ??Both feature great books all leaders should read.

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