Monday, April 15, 2024

The First 2 Rows

 I was listening to a podcast the other day. The guest proposed this challenge:

Imagine you are at your funeral. You see the first 2 rows. The first 2 rows are typically reserved for family and those closest to the deceased. 

Now, examine your life as it stands now. Are you giving more attention and effort to those seated beyond the two rows...or is your focus on the most important people in your life. 

For me, it really struck a chord. So often, when I get home, I am distracted. Tired. Spent. I give my family fumes...when they should be getting so much more from me. 

Take an audit of your life. What can you do differently to be more intentional? How can your family get the 'best' of you versus the leftovers? What will you commit to today? 

How do you invest in the 'first two rows'?

Have a great week of getting after it. Have a great week of being present with those around you. I'm always in your corner- Win the Day- pja

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

43 seconds to read. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Leaders are Readers

 25% of the year is complete…how are you feeling? What is going well? What is not? I always find these check points to be beneficial…if you take the time to reflect- game plan- and take action. 

 I was having a conversation with one of our Leadership Team Members recently.  We were discussing the reading of Atomic Habits. The comment was made…that when I put out the email for our reading schedule, I should say, “You will read this because I said to read it.”


We had a subsequent conversation about my leadership philosophy. A challenge I have always posed to myself: Strip the title/ chain of command away- would people still listen and follow you? 


Plain and simple, Leadership is influence. Regardless of title or rank. As you take account of your own leadership prowess and journey, are you being an influencer?


One of my all-time favorite leadership quotes. “If you think you’re leading, but no one is following, then you’re only taking a walk.” (John Maxwell)


And, to follow up on the ‘command’ to read…I want our team to be so hungry to learn and grow…a direct order is not needed. Never forget, not all readers are leaders. Yet, all leaders are readers. 


Be a reader. 😊


Have a great week of getting after it. I am in your corner. Win the Day – pja


*44.14 Seconds to Read

Monday, September 18, 2023


 As you know, I am a beleaguered Pirates Fan. We have had our share of ups and downs over the years. More down but a few ‘ups’ sprinkled in there. 

 One those ‘ups’ was a stretch from 2012-2015. In 2012, the Pirates signed long time New York Yankees pitcher AJ Burnett. It was a bit of a surprise signing…the Pirates usually don’t sign big name free agents. And, AJ Burnett, known for his competitive drive, was always on a winning team. 


Yet, when he came to the Pirates. The entire mindset of the organization shifted. Simply put, AJ Burnett would not accept losing. And, he would not accept a losing mentality. At least for a short time, he transformed the organization. 


Fast forward to more recently, Deon ‘ Prime Time’ Sanders was hired at Colorado. Colorado was perhaps the worst football team/program in the country last year. 


This year, they are 3-0. Nationally ranked. The stadium is packed. And they are relevant in the college football world. 


How do you transform a program in essence over night? 


Mindset. Coach Prime brought an attitude. A swagger. He is bold. He is brash. He is a winner. He is a leader. 


As you go about your day- your week – your year. What mindset are you bringing? Excellence, hard work, and winning is a quest. Is your mindset aligned with these proclivities? 


I’m always in your corner. Go Win the Day – pja


53.8 Seconds to Read. 

Monday, August 28, 2023

Worn Shoes

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes tour of Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster. From a systems and structures standpoint, it was a fascinating look at all the coordinated efforts that go into the production of the show. 


As the group debriefed afterwards, one comment in particular has resonated with me. The general manager was the one who led the tour. One of the people in the group commented to me, ‘Did you see how worn his (the GM) shoes were?’


One of my favorite leadership books of all time, Lincoln on Leadership, spends a chapter on this:

Leadership by Walking Around. 


As we approach another school year, there is much to be gained by being on the move- being seen- being visible.


Get yourself a pair of comfortable shoes – and get after it. 😊


I’m here to lend support in any way I can. I’m always in your corner- take care- pja


*36 Seconds to Read.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Horse. Or The Camel?

 I recently finished a book on ‘Resiliency’. It shared an interesting comparison of two animals. 

 As a horse ages, and gets worn down, it starts to fade bit by bit. You can clearly start to see the breakdown of the horse. You can anticipate when it will stop being productive. 


The camel, on the other hand, is far different. The camel will go- and go. Until one day, it will literally keel over. 


We began the year talking about how to handle hard better. As we near the end of the school year, how are you holding up? Are you more horse or camel? 


Undoubtedly, the past three years have been hard. Extremely hard. But, like the camel, you are still standing. 


As we enter the summer, I want to encourage/challenge you with intentional summer plans. The dawn of the new school year will be upon us before we know it. 


If we are intentional with our time, we can continue to build and maximize our resiliency. But it takes intentionality. What will you commit to this summer for growth? To recharge? 


I came across this quote- also the name of a book- and thought it was great reflection / introspection as we close out the year…and enter the slower pace of summer.


How you spend your days, if of course, how we spend our lives.” ~Annie Dillard


I’m in your corner. Win the Day. – pja

Monday, March 27, 2023

Embrace the Suck

 My one brother, also a Superintendent, and I have run similar professional tracks. He became a Superintendent about 6 months ahead of me. I will never forget him saying this to me regarding the position: “It’s the most challenging of all the positions we have held. But I think you will like it best.” 

I have indeed enjoyed being a Superintendent more than any other position I have held. But, if I am being fully transparent, the past 3 years has taken a lot of the fun out of the position. 


I am sure you can attest. If we’re being honest, society itself has changed. And not for the better. 


Yet, if you spend some quiet reflecting, I would also contend the challenging times in your life have helped you to grow exponentially more than the easier times. 


Most of my pleasure reading is military history. In particular, the US Navy SEALS have really captured my attention. I find it fascinating to see the discipline, both mentally and physically, they exhibit to endure the arduous training they go through to become a SEAL. In fact, an often quoted and repeated mantra from SEAL Training is one of my all-time favorites: Embrace the Suck.


All sunshine makes a desert. As leaders, we forge ahead, embracing the suck- day by day- to hone our craft- and lead well. For our families. For our staff. For our kids. 


Let the day throw its toughest challenge at you. You will come out better and stronger for it. Embrace the Suck.


I’m in your corner. Win the Day- pja



59.12 Seconds to Read. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Constructive Criticism

 I came across this quote a few weeks back from Dabo Swinney, Clemson University’s football coach- and thought it was worth sharing. 


“One of the best lessons I’ve learned is that you don’t worry about criticism from people that you wouldn’t seek advice from."


Take a moment to unpack this statement. Reflect on the most recent criticism you have received. Is this from a worthy, credible source…who you would otherwise seek input and advice from? If so, great. Learn and grow from it. If not, flush it and drive on. 


Equally important from this statement: who are you seeking input/ advice / mentoring from?


When you step into the arena to lead- no doubt, you will encounter those energy vampires who know nothing but negativity and cheap criticism. 


In any case: Lead. Know who you are. Know what your core values are. Know your why. And get after it. 

I am in your corner. Always. Have a great week- pja


Perhaps one of my all-time favorite leadership quotes- print it out and put it somewhere easily accessible:


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~Teddy Roosevelt




42 Seconds to Read