Think about the last time you were engaged in purposeful activity to accomplish something. If time flew by and you lost yourself in the enjoyment of the pursuit, chances are that it might have been a hobby, recreational activity, or perhaps a particular project. Now, imagine if that feeling occurred regularly as a part of your job or career. Unfortunately, too many people think of work in the way my cousin once described it to me, "Jim, I'm going to work. Nobody says they are going to fun!" However, if you got to do something that you loved, something that fueled your passion, fully engaged your mind, and used your strengths, I can promise you it would not seem like you were "going to work."
We need kids in the future who are able to use their knowledge as well as imagination and creativity to find unique solutions to complex challenges. Far too many children in the future will not get work but rather make work, and we need to ensure that they are equipped with the skills to do that. One size does not fit all. In a world in which we customize tennis shoes, we ought to be able to do an inventory of children's interests, strengths, and aspirations to help define a pathway for success for each of them.
How important is a sense of humor to any leader? It is important for leaders to find ways to communicate and connect through laughter. It really is the shortest distance between two people. If relationships are built on trust and mutual respect, than they are cemented with genuine humor and laughter together.
How we experience life matters a lot. Have you ever wondered how two people, who seem to experience the same thing, have two totally different views of what happened? Consider twin boys who grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family of alcoholics. One grew up to become an alcoholic and the other a teetotaler. Yet it was said of or by each, “What did you expect?” Having an optimistic orientation is much more than a sunny personality and the benefits are much more than psychological. Why is it that some people in the face of any adversity are able to cope, see the silver lining, and make adjustments, while others only see the obstacles and difficulties ahead? More importantly, does it matter to the people they lead?
Perhaps nothing says more about your priorities as a leader than how you choose to invest your time. Recently, I spoke at a school where one of the teachers was a student I’d had in elementary school nearly 40 years ago. Her grandfather was the school custodian, and he passed away at the end of my second year of teaching. I remember visiting the house and offering condolences. Four decades later, the granddaughter told me that she remembered my visit as a sign that I cared about kids and families. The old adage that kids often forget what we say but clearly remember how we made them feel is true, and it lasts forever. That’s also true of adults.