Why Every Leader Should Write a Book

Why Every Leader Should Write a Book

Within in a few months my dream will come true. I will have published my first book. This book is the product of three plus years of effort, including settling on a topic (becoming the new boss, a book for new leaders to experience sustained success), identifying a target audience (new leaders, primarily on the front-end of their leadership journey), doing lots and lots of writing, testing my content online through regular leadership posts, finding an editor and publisher, and working through the complex publishing process (even the cover design can be a big, time-consuming and emotionally charged deal).  

Without question, this is an exhilarating feeling. Not only am I proud of what I have achieved, but I am super excited to know that very soon I will be able to share my ideas and experiences with so many others.

I often reflect on how I got here and how difficult it may have been had I tried to achieve this goal as a full time head of school (my previous position). Leaving aside the fact that my experiences in that position provided much of the fodder for my text (something that I likely could not have shared freely while under contract), I think that the rigors of full time employment would have made such an undertaking daunting, to say the least. Without having real control over my time and with the many demands of school leadership, how could I have possibly seen this process through? The likely answer is that I wouldn’t have. And I suspect that many leaders with great content, ideas, anecdotes, experiences and achievements feel similarly.

Lessons From Today's Blizzard

Lessons From Today's Blizzard

Today’s weather up in the northeast (US) was far from ideal, at least if you were hoping to go in to work. After three rounds of shoveling, there’s still no end in sight to the white invasion that has made travel and general life activity a challenge. But the good news is that the time outside has given me opportunity to reflect and ponder how snow-related lessons can have a positive impact on us today and well into the (hopefully warmer) future. These are some of the ideas that came to mind:

  1. Be prepared – Nothing spells doom for a day like today than the absence of proper preparation. Knowing that a storm was looming, I made my way out to the shed yesterday to get the snow blower, shovels, etc. We also stocked up on food staples and other necessities. In life we also need to be prepared for what’s to come. Sometimes these challenges are in the “forecast”. Sometimes they arrive will more suddenness. Either way, the better prepared we are, the likelier that we can take life’s challenges in stride.
  2. Plan for the worst but expect the best – One never really knows what weather you’re going to get, which is why the weathermen like to cover themselves with a wide range (say, 12”-24”, for example). While we need to prepare for the worst, we should always expect the best, and plan to maximize our days rather than succumbing to the “what can I possibly get done on such a day?” mindset.

Filling the Parental Void

Filling the Parental Void

One of the most widely watched TED talks on education was delivered by Rita Pierson. In a moving talk entitled, “Every Kid Needs a Champion”, Pierson, a second-generation educator, emphasized the importance of building relationships with students. She details her experience working with some of the hardest challenges in the system: kids who haven’t tasted academic success and often lack strong adult relationships that can provide guidance and inspiration and also strengthen resolve. Her successes, she says, were to a large degree the result of believing in her charges and giving them a vision of a better tomorrow.

Ironically, having a champion can have its downsides for kids as well. In a recent parenting post by Kathy Caprino, the author cites leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore, who shared a list of ways in which parents today are failing their children by coddling and crippling them. Such behavior, says Elmore, prevents children from becoming the strong, independent leaders and balanced adults that they are destined to be. According to Elmore, current parental failures include:

  1. Not letting our children experience risk – We live in a dangerous world that is full of risk. But instead of allowing our kids to get out there, we seek to provide a strong layer of protection. For kids to succeed, they need to fall a few times to learn it’s normal. Parents who remove risk from their children’s lives will promote low self-esteem and greater insularity in our children.
  2. Rescuing kids too quickly – Today’s adults have a propensity to swoop in and take care of problems for them. When we rescue too quickly and over-indulge our children with “assistance,” we remove the need for them to navigate hardships and solve problems on their own.