People love acronyms, right?

Here’s one that popped into my head when I was still slumbering on a Sunday morning and didn’t want to open my eyes. I captured it quickly and have let the idea ruminate a bit. So here goes…


L – Learn everything you can about what it is you do. Listen to your people, let them tell you how it works, where the problems are, and what their solutions would be.

E – Engage your team. Let them take the reins, give them support, and make sure they have the resources needed to get it done.

A – Adapt your thinking, skills, and methods to whatever lies ahead of you. Need a softer tone? Work a little later? Now’s the time to adjust and overcome.

D – Decide what works, where to go, what to do…and do just that. If it doesn’t work, make another decision. Start over at the top – learn, get your team, tune in, and get ready to dominate.

Are you ready to L.E.A.D.?

See the picture above? Both horses and camels do well in the sand. But the dromedary does it best. If you’re not constantly looking for the best tools for your team, you’re missing out on a more comfortable journey.



I taught Oskar how to mow the lawn this summer. Again. I had tried last year, and we couldn’t get it right. My emotions got in the way, and the need for straight lines muddled the fact that it probably didn’t matter much.

He’s doing great this year, and I’ve learned to relax about the criss-cross patterns I so desperately crave. He’s doing just fine and learning the ins and outs of mowing, flower bed navigation, and what to do when he runs out of fuel.

As a bonus, I have time to weed and trim trees and bushes, and we spend an hour together outside. He checks in with me, and I check in with him. Halfway through, we stop for drinks in the shade of the garage.

He’s at 80% of what I would do. So I let it go.

Over the last few years at work, I’ve learned to let go, too. I’ve started to let go of departments that I’ve either built back up from the ground or managed for a while, and now, with people I’ve developed in the driving seats, I let them do their thing. If they’re at 80% or more…

This idea isn’t mine, but I like it, and it works. Jocko, former Navy Seal and successful waker-upper at 4:30 AM shared this idea in one of his books I crushed a few years ago.

If your team can perform at 80% of what you would do, let them go, and let them perform. They’ll do it their way, with their vision, drive, and flair. Of course, if they’re sliding down to 60%-70%, it’s time to step in to adjust, redirect, lend a hand, or take over. But if not, let them get after it their way.

Last year, Oskar was all over the place. Mowing just wasn’t his flavor. This year, he’s motivated, careful, asks questions, and gets it (mostly) right in the yard.

That’s probably a lot like your team, too. When they’re ready, they’re ready. So let them drive. Or push the mower. Or whatever you do. After all, you have other things to take care of…


Back to school.

School’s back in session. Our first day was a success; no student got on the wrong bus to get home. Safe and sound, even with a major road flooded.

Looked easy. Felt good.

It’s what people don’t see that made it happen.

Weeks and weeks of planning, testing, data mapping, uploads, rosters, checking, calling, meeting, crying, frustration, launching…

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a small army to run a school district.

An army of dedicated team players who all understand their piece of the puzzle and give it their best, even when the storm clouds are gathering.

Nothing about going back to school is easy.

The dedicated professionals behind every successful opening day are often forgotten. Even to themselves, it’s often hard to realize that what looks and feels like “just another summer of work” is often so far removed from other experiences in the regular world that we take it for granted, and move on with our day.

Technology teams, food service programs, transportation professionals, custodial and maintenance workers, project leads, and supervisors work hard to make that day worth it.

I am fortunate to lead many of the teams on campus that make it happen, and I often reflect on the “dance” that makes it all work.

Here’s to you, dedicated public school professional – a toast in your honor! Well done!

May the school year be successful and full of learning opportunities for you and your teammates and colleagues.

On day two of school this year, at 4 AM, we lost all power and closed school. Downed trees were everywhere, several telephone poles snapped in half, and five confirmed tornadoes had touched down within miles of the district. A new day. A new challenge.

Now what?

We drive on. Like every year. We know what we’re doing because we’ve spent years perfecting our trade.


I don’t check out.

I don’t check out of hotels when I travel. It’s pointless.

If they want their money, or I need a receipt, the matter can be settled later. Card’s already on file either way.


I already checked in. They know I’m there.

And they have an expectation of me leaving.

Taking the extra step of handing back keycards, printing receipts, and engaging in small talk that leads to nowhere and isn’t worth anyone’s time.

Checkout is automated. It’s 11 AM. I’m gone. I met your expectation. Stay’s over. Done. I’m moving on.


When the moment is right…

Sometimes it takes a while to get going.

On projects, chores, dissertations, etc.

And sometimes, the moment is just right, and with a spurt of energy, you create, complete, and chart out the next steps over a few hours and a few cups of coffee.

All before the kids awoke from their summer slumber.

The hard part, of course, is to keep going.

One step at a time, a few more research articles and chapters, and making sure you’ve read to exhaustion.

This note is more for myself than anything. Maybe it will help you in some way as you work on your list. Best of luck, and keep going!


No one has a perfect week.

No one has a perfect week. Or a perfect day, for that matter.

What matters is the long haul.

The “keep going even though it’s a bit difficult.”

The drive to get it done.

An example:

Last weekend I competed at the national level in pistol shooting. It was a Friday-Sunday match, with 6-7 stages each day, and my squad was slated for AM, PM, and AM… not ideal. And what made it worse, the weather called for rain.

It rained all day Friday. And we started on the longer “field” stages with 14-16 targets, multiple steel engagements, and shots out to 25 yards.

It’s a competition, all timed, and the pressure’s on. I had a rough time getting started with good hits and missed quite a few of the longer shots due to moving too fast, being nervous, and wanting to perform.

Needless to say, Friday’s performance was rough. And my shooting partner got DQ’d after three stages for a safety violation. Bummer.

I spent the rest of that afternoon and that night getting my head right. I prepared for the next day of shooting. I imagined it couldn’t get any worse, right?


Saturday saw seven medium stages (my favorite), and I performed at my career best. I had stage placements at 48th, 73rd, and 98th out of 500 shooters. So I was pleased as punch!

Lots of great shooters were there. Professional shooting teams from the Army, Marine Corps, and Secret Service. Sig Sauer’s whole team and Team Beretta were all there. They are all professionals.

For some of those stages, I beat even the best. Luck, perhaps? Or just pulling out all the stops and performing at 100%?

It’s hard to tell. But I’m better than average.

Overall, I finished up in 245th place of 500. Sure, you say, what a mediocre placement… I think of it as being in the top 250 nationwide! And that’s with a few bad stages…

Doing anything over time is never perfect all the time. You’ll have some ups and downs. You’ll have just as many bad stages in the match of your life as you’ll have good ones. And every once in a while, you’ll beat the odds and kick it into high gear!

This is the second time I have competed in a sport at the national level. At 44, I’m not quite sure what’s happening yet, but it’s certainly something to write down for the storybooks. The other sport is orienteering. Both are individual performance sports.

It’s just you, your gear, and your skills. Alone. On the range or in the woods. You’ll be alright if you make it out of the woods in one piece and point the gun in the right direction. 😉

The next time you have a bad day at work, a tough time at home, or something doesn’t go your way the first time, dust yourself off and try it again. Keep going. Line up your compass in a new direction, and take another shot at it. You’ll hit the right mark sooner or later…

Here’s to next week and your next project.


So far…

“Did you have a nice summer?”

That’s the question I get when staff comes back in August.

“Sure,” I say.

It’s mid-June.

So far I’ve set up a district-wide phone system (new vendor, new handsets, new extension schema, etc.), presented at a conference, and we’ve ripped up all the asphalt around one of our school buildings.

So, yeah, so far…it’s been productive.

This coming weekend I’m competing in a 3-day national pistol match.

Next up is the dissertation proposal.

Wait. I should have said “vacation.” Or are those things the same? We’re about to find out.

Summer is just a way to keep track of time when it’s a bit warmer. The summer-equals-weeks-off-from-work is over… There’s always more to do. More projects, more challenges.

More stuff to get excited about.

I hate being bored.

So far, it’s been a nice summer.


Breathing Room.

Breathing Room. A short story of summertime.

In the bustling town of Meadowbrook, nestled in the heart of a vibrant school district, the arrival of summer marked a special time for many.

As the final bell rang, signaling the end of another academic year, the hallways emptied and the classrooms fell silent.

Students rejoiced, looking forward to the well-deserved break from instruction and education. However, for a dedicated group of individuals, the summer months were anything but a vacation.

They were the unsung heroes, the custodians and maintenance workers who breathed life into the school facilities and grounds during this annual respite.

As the last school buses disappeared into the distance, the facilities team led by Mr. Williams, the head custodian, sprung into action. They knew that the summer months provided a precious opportunity to carry out essential maintenance tasks that were difficult to accomplish during the bustling school year.

The transformation of the learning environment began.

Their first mission was to assess the condition of every classroom, hallway, and common area. With meticulous attention to detail, they inspected each nook and cranny, taking note of any repairs, damages, or general wear and tear.

The team developed a comprehensive plan to tackle each issue systematically, ensuring that the school would be in pristine condition come fall.

With paintbrushes and rollers in hand, they embarked on a painting spree, breathing new life into faded walls and chipped surfaces. Colors were carefully selected to create an atmosphere conducive to learning, and the once dull corridors transformed into vibrant, inviting spaces.

The team took great pride in their work, knowing that the aesthetics of the environment played a vital role in the overall educational experience.

Simultaneously, outside, the grounds crew led by Mrs. Rodriguez, the landscape supervisor, worked tirelessly to rejuvenate the outdoor spaces. They meticulously manicured the lawns, ensuring each blade of grass was perfectly trimmed.

Flower beds were weeded, replanted, and burst into bloom with vibrant colors. The playground equipment received a thorough inspection, and any necessary repairs were swiftly addressed to guarantee the safety of the students.

But it wasn’t just about making things look good.

The facilities team went beyond mere aesthetics. They delved into the intricate systems that kept the school running smoothly. They checked the HVAC systems, conducting preventive maintenance to guarantee optimal temperature control for the students’ return.

The electrical and plumbing systems were carefully examined, identifying and addressing any issues to prevent potential disruptions during the upcoming academic year.

Throughout the summer, the days were long and arduous for the custodial and maintenance staff. Their dedication was unwavering as they painted, repaired, reshaped, restored, and reconditioned the spaces in which learning took place.

Despite the physical demands of their work, they knew the impact it would have on the students and staff who would return to a clean, safe, and inspiring environment.

As the days grew shorter and summer neared its end, the facilities team stood back, admiring their collective efforts. The school, once tired and worn from a year’s worth of activity, now gleamed with renewed vitality.

Each room was a testament to their hard work and dedication, a space where young minds would be inspired, nurtured, and challenged.

Finally, the day arrived when the school doors swung open once again, and the staff and students returned. Smiles and expressions of awe filled their faces as they stepped into an environment that surpassed their expectations.

The custodial and maintenance staff, tired but content, observed from the sidelines, knowing they had played an indispensable role in creating a vibrant and conducive learning atmosphere.

As the school year progressed, the custodial and maintenance staff quietly went about their duties, ensuring the ongoing upkeep of the facilities.

But they carried with them the knowledge that the summer months were their breathing room, their chance to shape the physical environment.


Simple. Syrup.

I bet you have one of those fizzy machines that make sparkling water. And I bet you add all kinds of stuff to it to make it taste like stuff you buy at the store.

Know what people like even better?

Fresh citrus, not from concentrate.

Here’s how to make some of your own additives and a recipe for a killer lemonade.

Simple Syrup (about 2 cups)

2 cups fresh, filtered water
1 cup white sugar
juice from 1 lemon
juice from 2 limes

Combine, stir over some heat to dissolve the sugar. You’ve made a syrup. Congrats!

Now, decant into some sort of glass bottle, and store in the fridge. Don’t worry about how long it might last. It won’t. You’ll need to make more soon.


Fill a tall glass with ice. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your syrup. Top with some carbonated water from your fizzle maker. Stir. Enjoy!

It’s summer. I bet you can make strawberry syrup, too. Or one that features mint or rosemary. You might even add a little gin to your glass…


Stop yelling.

When you’re yelling at others and expect compliance, you’re so far up Shit’s Creek that you won’t even recognize why people aren’t doing what you say.

You’ve already lost the battle when you yell in anger or frustration. No one’s listening. Why waste your time? Or their’s?

If you can’t send a message in a measured tone of voice, don’t send it at all. Take a breath. Use a different strategy. Refocus. Try again.

Calm, cool, and collected wins the day. And hearts. And minds.

Only lunatics use yelling as a tool to communicate. No one follows a lunatic.

When your favorite team wins, you can yell all you want. That’s a different kind of yelling. But you knew that already!