Monday, March 14, 2011

This Site Has Moved

All Things Leadership is now . Click here to view my new leadership blog!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Paralysis of Perfectionism

At my home here in Montgomery, I have in the front yard two very large trees.  One is an oak, the other a sweet gum.  Of the two, the sweet gum is by far the most troublesome.  In fact, I have considered having it removed on several occasions.  

During the Christmas break, I spent the better part of one beautiful, cold morning raking leaves and dried sweet gum balls in preparation for the city’s yard debris pick up scheduled for later in the day.  My lawn is large, and the raking that I had to do, even with a good-sized rake, amounted to an invigorating workout. 

As I was working, I noticed that even though I had a large pile of leaves and things accumulated, there were still leftovers lying all around the area I had raked.  My immediate desire was to go back over the area, and over it and over it, until every last leaf particle, twig, sweet gum ball, or other piece of trash had been removed, thus leaving a pristine carpet of brown, dormant grass.  However, time was ticking away.  I expected the great, orange, City of Montgomery garbage truck to be along any minute, and I needed a large pile curbside for pickup. 

As I made the decision to pile up as many leaves as possible, and leave the residue for another day (or, perhaps, for the lawnmower), it dawned on me that the tendency to perfectionism can be, and very often is, a cause of paralysis in even the best meaning of people.  

How many times have we not started a task because we didn’t know where to begin, and the mountain before us seemed too steep to climb?  How many times have we failed to do something because it couldn’t be completed perfectly on the first try?    How many times have we not tried something new because of the fear of failure?

The expectation of perfectionism this side of Heaven is a pipe dream.  It will never happen.  It can’t happen.  And our belief that it somehow will happen is crippling.

In the Bible, we see laid out for us plainly, and without any attempt to cover or hide, the faults and mistakes of every single character, save one – Christ Jesus.  

When we study the lives of great men and women, we discover that they all made mistakes.  What contributed to their success was not perfection, but perseverance.   You see confidence, but not smugness.  A willingness to learn and grow and try again and again and again.

As you go through this week, try not to let perfectionism paralyze you.  Instead, focus on tackling things in manageable, bite-sized pieces.  When you fall down, pick yourself up and try again.  For it is through our failures that we often grow the most.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting Things Done

When I began this blog, one of my early posts was on the Pomodoro Technique - a timer system that improves productivity.  Jim Estill reminds me in his post from yesterday that I would be getting much more done if I would use the technique religiously.  You can check out his post at CEO Blog - Time Leadership by clicking here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget

It was a typical morning at Jefferson Davis High School.  I was in my office gathering materials needed to teach my music appreciation class.  As I headed out the door into the band room, the phone rang.  Usually, I wouldn't take a call just before class, but expecting one, I quickly grabbed the receiver.  My percussion instructor was on the line and he told me to turn on the TV - a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

I envisioned a small prop plane which had somehow gone terribly off course.  I could not have imagined what I would see when I hit the power button on the television set mounted on the wall at the front of the room.

My students and I watched in horror as the second plane slammed into the tower.  It became quite evident that this was no accident and that we were under attack.

School effectively shut down at JD that day as we were all glued to our sets watching events unfold.  As teachers, we didn't know what to say or how to answer the questions the kids posed to us.  The biggest being, simply, why?

One year later, I prepared a halftime show to honor the memory of those who lost their lives on Septebmer 11, 2001.  The memory was still fresh and emotions still ran high.  Cramton Bowl fell silent as taps was played, and many were moved to tears.

With each passing year, however, we hear less and less about the tragic events of that day.  In fact, most of our school children today are too young to have any memory of what we so commonly refer to as "9-11."  We call it "Patriot Day," and rightly so.  But we must never let it become just another "day."

In the midst of our football games and fun this weekend, I encourage you to spend some time remembering the events of September 11, 2001. It is important that we understand that ever since our founding, we have had to fight for our freedom in this country. We should honor and appreciate those who are in harm's way even now to protect my right to compose these words, and your right to express your opinions and worship as you feel led.  Let us never forget.

May God bless you richly, and may God bless America!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lessons from Westwood

Although I had heard the name many times through the years, I didn't really "discover" legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden until he died earlier this summer.  It was only then that I began reading about him and realized what a great man he was and what wonderful lessons could be learned from his life, especially in the area of leadership.  Wooden was meticulous in every way, with a constant drive toward excellence both on and off the court.  Leaving nothing to chance, he kept very detailed records of every practice, and reviewed them years later to assess what worked and what didn't.  He also kept a reflective journal, reviewing whether any given day had been transformed into a masterpiece. I guess you could say his methods worked - at least if you use national championships and deep personal relationships as a measuring stick.

For the next few weeks, I would like to focus on the leadership traits of John Wooden.  In the meantime, I invite you to consider purchasing the book Wooden on Leadership, authored by Coach Wooden along with Steve Jamison.  It is one of the most practical leadership books I have ever read, and should occupy a prominent place in every leader's library.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Importance of Work/Life Balance

I'm a big John Maxwell fan. Recently, he discussed the importance of balancing life and work in a really neat blog post which you my find here. I hope it encourages you to keep your priorities straight!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pick Your Battles

As leaders, we are confronted with conflict of some sort most every day. When do we fight and when should we give in? John Maxwell offers some insight into this important question in a recent post on his blog which may be found here.