Monday, April 26, 2021

Chicken Bouillon

As crazy as it sounds, one of my favorite leadership books of all-time is The Giving Tree. Inherently, I believe true leadership is about servant leadership. No better example of servant leadership than the Tree. 😊


As I thought about today’s message, I recalled perhaps one of my all-time favorite memories as a teacher. And I believe it directly relates to servant leadership. 


As you may recall, I began my teaching career in Norfolk, VA. To say it was a stressful year would be a gross understatement. 


One particular day, my frustration and irritation had reached a tipping point. 


One of my all-time favorite students, and from one of the poorest families I had ever known, sensed my dismay. She came up to me, and a held a closed fist in front of me. 


I asked her to show me what was in her hand. She opened her clenched fist to reveal two wrapped cubes. 


I asked, “Is that beef bouillon?”


She replied, “No, it’s chicken bouillon. And it’s very good. I think it may help you to have a better day.”**


She had nothing of worldly value to give to me. Yet out of her nothingness, she completely changed my day, my perspective, and my leadership worldview. 


You may think you have nothing left to give this year. Like the Tree. Like my student. You do. If nothing else, your presence is enough to make a difference. Show up…and serve. Your legacy is being built- moment by moment…and day by day. 


I am in your corner. Get after it…and Win the Day. Pja


*59.51 seconds to read. 


**I kept the chicken bouillon cubes in my desk drawer for years as a great reminder of her impact. Reluctantly, when the smell became too pungent for a learning environment, I had to discard them. 😊

Monday, April 19, 2021

Admiral Nimitz

 I read a great story over the weekend. I will have to shorten it to keep it under a minute…

 Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt appointed Admiral Nimitz to take over the Pacific Fleet. One of the first things Nimitz did in his new role was fly to Hawaii to survey the damage. 


Death. Destruction. Despair. Nimitz remarked the mood of Pearl Harbor was as if the Japanese had already won the war. 


Admiral Nimitz took a boat tour- surveying the sunken battleships,  and destroyed navy vessels. As the boat made its return to the dock, the young helmsman asked Nimitz, “Well Admiral, what do think after seeing all this destruction?”


Nimitz’s response shocked everyone on board. He said, “The Japanese made 3 of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make.” He then went onto explain the mistakes and highlight the silver lining in the midst of all the carnage. 


As I reflected on this story…I was convicted of seeing more negativity than positivity and opportunities in light of recent events. The year has been tough. Yet, how much are we seeing the good – and the silver linings that are truly there…if you look with a discerning eye. 


It’s easy to see the problems. As leaders, we need to be more like Admiral Nimitz. Let’s look beyond the troubles- and see the opportunities…and spread hope and optimism. 


I’m in your corner. Get After It. And Win the Day- pja


*57.8 Seconds to Read


**If interested, I can share with you the 3 mistakes Nimitz said the Japanese made. Interesting. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Be Like Cliff

I always try to make the Monday Morning Message meaningful and relevant to you- and what you are dealing with. This morning…I was going to share with you about a guy who passed away Friday in Pittsburgh. He was 102. He served 81 straight years as an usher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But that may have to wait for another day…


I know you are all dealing with heightened levels of stress right now. Unique to all of you are some really stressful situations you are encountering. 


So how, in the midst of all that is happening, do you bring life and leadership to those around you? 


Allow me to share a brief but powerful story with you- I began my teaching career at a reformed school for adjudicated youth (Summit Academy). I would say on average, we had about 3-4 fights a day. It embodied a high stress environment. 


There was an older gentleman that worked there. His name was Cliff. In spite of all the craziness happening during the day, you could always hear Cliff, in his big, booming, bass filled voice, telling students, staff…and whoever would listen- “You can’t take my joy.” Truth be told. They didn’t. He was calm. Stress-free. Joyful. Happy. And he brought those traits to those around him. Simply put, his presence made Summit a better place. 


You are leading in unprecedented times. Any number of distractions are occurring during the day to ‘Take Your Joy.’ As leaders, you can not allow this to happen. If your people, team, students, parents, etc. see you walking through minefields of stress, maintaining composure and bringing joy…inevitably, that is going to spread. I believe it. But you must fight. And be intentional with your thoughts- and most importantly, win the battle in your mind.


Be like Cliff. Allow no one to  ‘Take Your Joy.’- I’m in your corner. Get After It…and Win the Day- pja


55.54 Seconds to Read

Monday, April 5, 2021


I have been working with my daughter on handling stress the proper way. She’s a pretty- happy-go-lucky kid for the most part…except when she is stressed. Then, when pressed, look out. 😊 (Full disclosure: growing up with five brothers and no sisters…raising a teenage daughter humbles me every day.) 


A while back, I was at a community swimming pool. There was a mom who was sunbathing/ sleeping on the side of the pool. Her two adolescent daughters were playing catch with a ball in the water. At once, the one little girl threw the ball at the mom- hitting her in the side of the head…and subsequently getting her wet. 


As I watched this unfold- I fully expected the mom to awake with anger and irritation. Nope. The mom sits up…and has this gigantic smile on her face. (I can’t make it up😊 ) 


I suppose this story has always been forever etched in my brain because there’s zero.0 chance I respond the same way. 


I would imagine for the most part…we can go for the majority of the day- smiling and being amicable. But when the pressure rises…or stress is induced, what does your emotional wake look like? 


My challenge to you: how emotionally healthy are you? When squeezed, do you breathe life or fire? If it’s fire, how do you go about reversing that trend? 


If you were that mom poolside, what’s your response? For me, I know I have work to do😊


I’m in your corner. Get after it…and Win the Day- pja


(53.47 seconds to read)