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Do you know about the JABBAWOCKEEZ? They are a dance group that have been around for some time now and are recognized as one of the best in the business. Their ability to tell a story as well as their preciseness with small movements are their trademarks. Here’s an example:

This performance consisted of a lot of new movements. Note that they’ve added splitting the group and performing the same movements to show to multiple facings to accommodate an arena as opposed to a stage. That’s an innovation. Most dance groups focus on one facing. 

In fact, they are constantly innovating. This video even shows coordinated movements for entering and exiting the performance. Think about that for a moment. How many groups actively practice for parts other than the main performance? 

Their previous movements are performed incredibly well in this performance.  That’s to be expected. However, there’s a lot of new stuff to go with the old. Those new movements are comparable in quality to their previous body of work. That takes an incredible amount of practice. These guys invest in that work to polish their innovation. I’ve never seen a performance of theirs where something new is done to less than their previous work. They improve their innovation, which always starts raw, to match their current level of performance. 

There’s a lesson in all of this: we must innovate, but we must do so with a high degree of skill. Innovation poorly performed is arguably no better, possibly even worse, than not innovating at all. 

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Folks that know me know that I prefer to wear my hair in a military high and tight style. I got used to this haircut during my Citadel days and continued it while I served in the USAF. It’s “high speed, low drag,” meaning it takes almost nothing to maintain. However, I don’t wear it that way any more. This came up when I was visiting some family whom I hadn’t seen in a while and they asked why my hair was long.

Some years ago, my wife was donating her hair and the stylist remarked I should consider donating. That got me to thinking. Growing my hair out requires a little more hassle on my side, but effectively, it doesn’t cost me much more than keeping it trimmed down. Plus, it helps others as the hair is made into wigs for children and adults, depending on the organization. Most organizations provide these wigs free of charge to folks with particular situations, such as those fighting cancer. So I came to the conclusion that it’s an easy way to give back and I didn’t have a valid reason preventing me from doing so. Ever since, I’ve grown my hair out.

This has raised some questions, especially where I’ve served as a children’s or youth pastor, but that always works out for the positive. In each case I’ve explained why I grow out my hair and inevitably some of the children and youth decide to do follow through and do the same. This is the reason for my post. It takes multiple ponytails to make a wig. Therefore, hair donations are always needed. Even if you normally wear your hair short, consider growing it out to donate. Here are a couple of organizations that take hair donations and what the requirements are:

A lot of salons will handle the hair donation for you. Some will even provide the haircut for free. Definitely call around.

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If you’re like me, you always have more to do than you can get done. This means some things lose. How we deal with situation makes a difference; specifically, our language makes a difference. We can either say, “I just don’t have time,” or we can be truthful and say, “It’s not a priority.”

Saying the latter reinforces that we have a choice. We are in control, for the most part, of how we spend our time. However, we often say we’re not by using the former line. We are avoiding responsibility, but by doing so we also ignore the power we have over our own circumstances.

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Seth Godin contrasted two views with regards to marketing: behaviorists vs. empathists. While he wrote about it from a marketing perspective, it’s also true with respect to leadership. 

I’ve seen folks who have tried to lead purely by numbers. Numbers may tell you what folks will do the majority of the time. But they won’t tell you what one particular person may do in a situation. That’s where empathy comes in. 

Numbers help, but they aren’t enough. If you’re a leader, you have to relate well to people. You have to get to know them well enough to be able to determine what they are likely to do. This is an investment in time. Some folks don’t want to make this investment. However, I don’t think you can lead without it. 

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Most of us spend a lot of our life at our work desks, whether they be located in an office building or a home office. Simple personalization can make a difference in how we feel. 


I enjoy candles. I have a lot of candles at home that I burn, especially when I am looking to destress. My work doesn’t permit lit candles for obvious reasons. However, the electronic candles serve the same purpose and are permitted. Therefore, I went out and bought these small electronic candles and have them scattered about my desk. 

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From Ken Blanchard:


I know that an immediate “attaboy” has an amazing impact on children and youth. It works well on most adults, myself included. Catching people doing the right things and encouraging them to continue to do so tends to be effective, and in my own experience, more effective than disciplining when someone does something wrong. 

I learned this lesson through the leadership laboratory known as The Citadel, and saw how effective the rank holders were who could quietly praise versus those who only yelled. 

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I firmly believe that leaders can be made. So does every branch of the United States Armed Forces. That’s why there are leadership schools at every major level, both for enlisted and officers. Some would say that people are born leaders and that’s it. In those cases, we’re not talking about leadership, but charisma. They aren’t the same thing. But to play along with that point of view, if leadership can’t be taught, if one is born a leader, then what’s the point of leadership training? And what about all the evidence which shows that leadership can be learned?

The problem is that if one believes that leaders can be made, that means they must be… trained. Too often I’ve seen new leaders fail and end up discouraged. This is true whether we’re talking the military, the civilian workforce, as part of a non-profit, or in a religious institution. However, in the majority of cases I’ve concluded that it isn’t the new leader who is responsible for failing. The new leader was set up to fail. In this series of five posts (including this introduction), I’m going to look at what I think is necessary to build new leaders.

In covering four things I think are often missing, I think you’ll agree with me that without these four things, the new leader is being set up to fail. Therefore, the responsibility and accountability are on those who don’t provide these things for the new leader. To use an analogy, if my child has just started algebra and then I give him the final exam for the class and he fails it, who is at fault? Is it my child, who was never prepared for the course in the first place? Or is it me, the one who put my child in that situation without proper preparation and the necessary tools? When I see new leaders fail, it’s because the people who put them in their new positions did so without the needed training and without the required support to help that new leader be successful.

Tomorrow we’ll start off with Preparatory Training, something the military teaches through organized schools like Airman Leadership School and Squadron Officers School, to name two within the US Air Force pipeline.

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