Podcast: A New Future

In a recent podcast, I was able to discuss school district leadership, facing adversity and seeing success. It was a great opportunity to share a story of hope, resilience and goals.

Click here to listen to the podcast from Santiam Local.

‘LEADERSHIP’ from a New Perspective

Inspiration and insight can come from anyone, if we are willing to listen for it. Generally, we look to the old, the wise, the wealthy and the famous for words of wisdom, yet our perspective grows when we listen to everyone. Now, not everyone’s ideas are worth acting upon, but they are all worthy of being heard.

I could read more about leadership from the long list of esteemed leaders, or I could learn more about it from an unlikely source. I have heard about leadership from John Maxwell, Abraham Lincoln, Seth Godin, Earnest Shackleton and other greats, but I had never asked my nine year old daughter, until recently.  I had no idea what kind of response I would get, or even if she would respond at all, but what she said was spot on. Her definition of ‘leadership’ was,

“I don’t think of it as telling people what to do, I think of it as helping people and solving problems.”

This response was complete, simple and easy to understand. It not only defined the essential qualities of leadership, but it also corrected the common misunderstanding of leadership versus management. This off-the-cuff definition from a nine year old worked for me and became worthy of sharing.

By allowing my ears to hear a new perspective, I am better off. I can now add her name to my list of influential leaders and thinkers. Inspiration and insight can come from anyone, if we are willing to listen for it.


Leaders must be learners

Train Your Eye


Black bear observed at Yellowstone National Park

Our lives are filled with lots of stimuli that distract us from the course we are meant to take. Once you determine your goals and set your course, keep your eyes trained for the opportunities you seek.

It is simple to spend energy dwelling on the past and the things that could have been or you could use your energy seeking the next opportunity. We all work with limited resources, but opportunity is all around us. It is not abundant and opportunity usually sits hidden or unnoticed. We need to have the vision to see it and the hope that it will happen.

Recently, prior to our family trip to Yellowstone National Park, I taught my daughter how to locate animals in the woods or from afar. We discussed and practiced training her eyes to see the color, shape and movement of animals, as they are so well adapted to not being seen.  While in the park (and now anywhere), she is great at locating the opportunities to watch the animals she so excitedly wants to see and experience. She seized the opportunity by training herself to see it, and then was able to help others who did not have the same skill.

This is not unlike business or life. Once we know what we are looking for, we need to keep our eyes and ears open to the possibilities. Partnerships and resources don’t typically fall in your lap and it takes a keen eye to find the possibilities, but you need to be trained to look for them.

Take some time to identify your goals and needed resources, and then train your eye to find them. Give yourself the edge over others who cannot see these opportunities and those who do not even look for them. It requires some patience and perseverance, but the time will come and your keen eye will see an opportunity that will propel you closer to your goals.

Opportunities are all around if you know what to look for. If you don’t see them, surely someone else will. Train your eye!

Achievement (On the Lighter Side)

It is common to set goals and dream, but what separates dreams from success is those who do it. Follow your passion and purposefully make progress: step by step, brick by brick, day by day, skill by skill, place by place, person by person. Take the time to make progress toward these goals and their achievement becomes possible. There is one guarantee: If you aren’t working to achieve your goals, they are only dreams. In the words of the famous philosopher, Calvin:


Now, get your knees dirty and make progress toward your dreams!

They are Waiting for You!


Our current generation of youth have grown up with media at their fingertips. Their easy-access, ready-on-demand electronic world has some advantages, yet it is also leaving our youth with gaps in their natural understanding, exploration and discovery.

We created this world for them and it’s also our responsibility to teach exploration and discovery to our youth. You don’t need to be a teacher or expert to do this. The answer is simple though, take a child with you on your next outdoor adventure. If you already do that, allow them to invite a friend. Pass it on! This does not need to be an expedition to have the intended effect, as just a simple visit to the woods, lake or beach can spark this fire. The lessons learned will be lifelong and the exploration infectous. The experiences can instill an understanding of the world around them, an appreciation of simple things, perseverance and self-reliance.

Get out and grow within! (and take a kid)

#Mentor #Teach #Explore #Discover

Find Your Inspiration


Now is the time to invest in yourself! There are lots of places to turn to for inspiration today. This can be a good thing in terms of access to information, but it can also be overwhelming. Between social media, Internet resources and publications, the amount of information available is staggering. We all have differing professional and technical needs for information, but we also have a need for leadership training and inspiration.

If you are like me, I continue to learn and improve upon my trade by reading information pertenant to my job and situation, yet I also have a need to continue to improve me and my drive. I have discovered over the years that my interest in the outdoors has lead me to ‘pleasure reading’ these types of books, yet I always seem to find work parallels and life parallels that make the enjoyment an education as well.

Confluent Leadership originated where the streams of effective leadership and outdoor discovery meet.

I recommend you check out these areas for inspiration:

Leadership Books:

Outdoor Books:

Now, enjoy!

Your Gift, Your Reward

In an economic system that measures our worth by the response we get from our clients, customers, reviewers and patrons, we often overlook our own creative release. 

Recently, while visiting a home in Central Oregon, I noticed many fine carvings around the house. The work was very well done, showing quality to attention and proportion. I was impressed by the work. The owner did not draw attention to the carvings or even discuss them, and had I not gone into his shop and later seen his current carving projects, I would have never known that he made them. Later, what astonished me even more than the carvings was his humbleness about the work. He did not seek any attention, review or sales for his talents. It was clearly done for himself.

Again, in my role as a Superintendent, I was talking to a parent about an after-school art class taking place. The parent was thrilled with the class, but posed a concern to me. She stated that she asked her daughter what she thought of the class and the young girl paused and told her mother, “I like the class, but I didn’t try my hardest.” This perplexed the mother, as her daughter is a talented and creative young artist. She looked at me and asked what may be going on. After some probing questions, I was able to confidently tell this mother, “Not to worry. Your daughter does art for herself, not for a teacher or for praise. It is for her.” The parent agreed and left with a new perspective on her daughter and her talents. 

When we deal with sales and services, we need to mold to meet the demands of our market. I am pleased to see, though, that intrinsic motivation and creative release still exists in this extrinsically motivated world. Your gift can also be your reward.