babies happy cryingThis week is the 1 year anniversary of the Second Chair Leadership blog. I recently saw the statistic that 80% of blogs go silent within the first year, so I am happy SCL is in the surviving 20%. Thank you to the 1,000 unique visitors who stop-by to read, share and comment each month.

At a pace of more than two posts per week, I have written 60,000 words in the form of 120 blog posts over the past year. During that time I have ridden the roller coaster of writer’s emotions. Here are the emotional stages I have experienced as a first year blogger plus a little take-away I’ve learned from each one.

Stage 1: I have something to say…

For two years, before I published my first blog post, I used a system of note taking that allowed me to capture fleeting thoughts for potential posts. Because of this “note taking incubator” I felt I had something to say beyond momentary thoughts of inspiration.

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Any fool can make something complicated, it takes a genius to make it simple.

Woody Guthrie #leadwell

Keep the RulesRecently I spent time on the receiving end of two great nonprofits, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and Ronald McDonald House (RMH). Both organizations do amazing work to serve families.

I’ve spent over 18 years as a leader in nonprofits, so whenever I have a chance to be the customer/patient I pay attention. I’m watching for the insights that can only be mine through the eyes of a recipient.

It is impossible to see all the assumptions you make about your own organization as a provider, but as a recipient you clearly see the assumptions other’s are making in their organization. Often the best way to evaluate what you do is to be on the receiving end of what others do.

The impetus for every nonprofit is a cause, and effective nonprofits clarify a compelling mission around that cause.

RMH keeps families together to help kids heal faster and cope better. My family interacted with dozens of employees and volunteers at RMH who embodied that mission. We also encountered a few who had forgotten the mission and where just keeping the rules.

This past week my recipient eyes noticed that nonprofits attract two kinds of people: mission pursers and rule keepers. Here is the difference:

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I’m not young enough to know it all anymore.

Brad Curtis #leadwell

oscar statueI recently heard Dustin Hoffman interviewed about his 50 year film career. In the interview Hoffman described himself as a peripheral person.

He noted how his 5’6″ boyish look never made him the automatic choice for a leading role. In 1967 Life Magazine said, “If Dustin Hoffman’s face were his fortune, he’d be committed to a life of poverty.”

The amazing thing about Hoffman is that he changed the idea of a leading male actor. The screenplay for one of Hoffman’s early films was written with a 6′ blonde-haired, blue-eyed leading role in mind (Robert Redford auditioned for the part.) Hoffman not only got the part he got an oscar nomination for his performance.

I’m not one to take sage-wisdom from Hollywood actors but something Hoffman said in his interview grabbed me: “Many times in life a peripheral person is the leading role.” (tweet that)

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While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.

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Henry C. Link #leadwell

Last night PBS aired an episode of FRONTLINE entitled “Generation Like”. The program explores the relationship between teens, social media and corporate marketing.

There is an unprecedented relationship developing between teens and the companies that market to them. Social media is allowing teens to directly connect with brands and celebrities. Watch this 30 second preview.

A powerful line from the full-episode: “This is the biggest transformation of communication in our lifetime. To stand on the side lines is not an option.”

Many families are struggling with social media confusion because parents are standing on the side-lines unsure of what to do.

Here are a few things to understand about teens and social media:

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twitter followersWhen I joined Twitter in 2010, I quickly maxed out my following once everyone who remotely knew me had followed me. I hovered around 100 followers for three years.

Last week I passed 1000 followers!

My Twitter following has grown by 900 followers in 9 months.  I have not subscribed to any “pay for followers” service.  I haven’t had anything unexpectedly go viral. And most of my followers are not “follow to get followed” junkies. My following has come through intentional, steady effort.

Here’s what I’ve done and plan to keep doing.

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confessionOne of the best teachers I ever had began the first class of each semester with a confession of how he had been fired from his last job.

There was something about that opening confession that set the whole class up to succeed. In fact a majority of his students did very well.

One time his students’ success brought him into question before the academic dean. The dean felt sure he was making exams too easy for his students. My prof brought a copy of his final exam and challenged the dean to pass it. The dean declined and dropped his concerns.

A few months ago I came across a post entitled “The 13 Biggest Failures from Successful Entrepreneurs and What They’ve Learned from Them”. These are not light-hearted confessions about failing to show up to work on time or missing project deadlines. I was struck by some of the “black-eye” confessions of wasting money and letting growth exceed the ability to lead.

I have worked in churches for over 18 years and I’ve rarely heard a pastor confess a leadership failure unless it was attached to moral failure. I certainly haven’t heard confessions from 13 prominent pastors.

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He who has a WHY to live for can bear almost any HOW.

Friedrich Nietzche #leadwell