From the Front Lines!

3ee26cdWell, I’ve just finished teaching at the California League of High Schools Annual Convention in Sacramento.  This marks two conferences down since I’ve re-engaged in training.  I have chosen to address several topics. One is a “How-To” workshop called “Building a Solid and Effective Digital Video Program”, and the other two are more relational; “Creating a Catalytic Classroom” and “Building Student Leadership Teams”.

I must say that, although I have a pretty solid track record in leadership development, I was really not prepared for the response that I received at these two conventions.  Yesterday afternoon I must have stayed after class for at least a half hour discussing specific issues about teams.  We weren’t talking about students though…. we were talking about teachers and administrators. The questions that I was getting had to do with creating a sense of team in public schools.   I think I’ve struck a nerve!team_building_ring

When the walls started to come down I had a group of teachers who desperately wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  They wanted their leaders to lead and had a desire to feel empowered to teach.  It took a while for me to understand this, but what they really wanted was not only to be a part of a team, but to see what their role was on the team.  Of course they were empowered to teach their subject, but what they were thirsting for was…… well….. to feel wanted and to know that they were really making a difference.  They acknowledged something that I have been watching for the last 7 years, and that is that high schools staff’s function more like a complex of small businesses than they do a like minded organization.

positive+changesI believe that we are on the threshold of change.  The gap between teachers and administrators is too wide.  The philosophical difference between how employment in education functions and how the real world works is no longer acceptable.  Many teachers have lost their passion for the students and have traded this for just trying to keep their jobs.  The intimidation that young teachers feel from administrators is not okay!  While successful organizations are building mutually supportive teams and creating vision, we in education have accepted the hierarchical approach as the norm.pinnochio

It’s time to reevaluate what we’re all about.  If the passion that I heard from these educators is any indication of what’s out there….  We have an opportunity to bring real positive change not only to our schools, but to education in general.  Yes… it’s a huge task and it’s not going to happen over night.  The the first step to making serious change, in any area, is to be honest, and I mean real honest, about the problem.



We can continue to complain about our situation, or we can stand up and create a new culture.  And… if we fail?  Well then, the next generation of leaders will know what they’re up against by seeing the direction of our blood splatter (metaphorically, of course!). And….. that is something worth giving our lives to, and perhaps for.

And ya know what… It’s kinda cool to be a voice in the process.      Just a thought!


Final Cut Pro X Training in Healdsburg

Beginning on February the Sonoma County Office of Education will be offering it’s second evening class in video editing for adults at Healdsburg High School.

Thisl 9-week class, “A Comprehensive Study of Final Cut Pro X”, is designed for anyone looking to edit professional-quality video.  Students completing this course will have the opportunity to take the Level 1 Apple Certification Exam to become an Apple Certified Pro in FCPX.  This is the exact same training that you would receive at any commercial Apple Training Center.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning video editing and production, CLICK HERE for more information and to register for the class.


Please pass this on to anyone who you think would be interested.  Class size is limited to the first 16 people who sign up.

Hope to see you there!

Getting Back on the Horse





After taking 5 years off, I’ve decided to get back on the horse and go back to my passion of training leaders.  From 1995-2009 I was traveling nationally equipping and training leaders in the non-profit sector.  After accepting the position to teach for the Sonoma County Office of Education I backed off to focus on the high school classroom.

Don’t worry, I’m not quitting the “day job” but very excited about a new opportunity to equip teachers and educational leaders. And……. as if that’s not enough, I’m back at INFOCOMM in Orlando in 2013.

Yes, of course, I’m already working on a new line of products, too.  I have to say, I have not been this energized in a while.  Very cool stuff.  Stay tuned for more information and check out my calendar by CLICKING HERE.

Skating Against The Wind

I remember, as a young boy growing up on Ballston Lake, every winter my dad taking the snow blower out on the ice and making us a skating rink.  This was something we looked forward to every year; however, I remember one year when we didn’t get any snow so the entire lake was our ice rink.  One-day two friends and I thought it would be fun to skate the length of the lake, which was just less than 4 miles long.  As we neared the end of the lake it was pretty obvious that this was not anywhere near as hard as we thought it would be.  That was, until we turned around and started to skate back.  Skating from south to north we were going with the wind, but now on the way home we were skating against the wind.  We made it home. It took us 3 times as long and we were freezing, but we made it.

There are times in life where we have to skate against a different kind of wind.  It’s a time when we have to move forward against circumstances, situations or people whose opinion matters perhaps a little too much.  That’s my wind; the people thing; the wind of public opinion.  Especially when that opinion is coming from people who are very close to me.  When I get an idea or start moving in a direction I want those who are close to me to, not only support me, but to encourage me, to cheer me on and keep me motivated. However there are those times when there is something that I know is right and others cannot see it, where it becomes hard.

It’s in those times where I know that I have to do this alone. I have to skate against the wind.  I have to choose to do what I need to do and not let other people make decisions for me.  It’s not easy.  But I know one thing.  Every time that I have had to do this, when those around me see the results and see how happy I am, they once again become my motivators and encouragers. The wind dies down and I will not look over my shoulder wondering…… “what if?”

What is your wind?

Angus The Bagpiper

As a bagpiper, Angus was asked to play at a graveside service for man who had no family or friends.  The funeral was to be held as a cemetery in the remote countryside and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.  Angus finally arrived an hour late and saw the backhoe and crew, who were eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight.

He apologized to the workers for his tardiness and stepped to the side of the open grave where he saw the vault lid already in place.  He assured the workers he would not hold them up for long but this was the proper thing to do.  The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. He played out his heart and soul.

As Angus played the workers began to weep.  He played like he’d never played before, from The Lord is My Shepherd, to Flowers of the Forest and closed with Amazing Grace.  As Angus was opening the car door and taking off his coat, he overheard one of the workers saying to another; “Sweet Jeezuz, Mary n Joseph. I never seen nothin’ like that before…….. and I’ve been puttin in septic tanks for twenty years.

Divine Moments

by John Chevalier

Does everything really happen for a reason?  Is there even such a thing as a “divine moment”? Perhaps it’s a time where our reality seems to line up with our hopes and dreams.  Maybe it’s a circumstance or situation that we had hoped for, that seemed impossible, that now sits clearly in front of us. Is it possible for these moments to arrive and we don’t see them?  Or is it more likely that we chose to ignore their existence; passing it off as, “this is too good to be true”.  My guess is that this moment, that I imagine and honestly have hoped for, will not come without risk. Could it be that it will be both so obvious and so confusing all at the same time?

These thoughts have been on the forefront of my heart lately. Recently I’ve been talking with a friend about these very things.

We wake up each day faced with both challenges and opportunities. Most times we can look at them, take them at face value, make decisions, and move on.  Then along comes a circumstance that the more we think about it the more our head and our heart seem somewhat conflicted. We look at what’s happening, it’s exactly when we’ve wanted, but now that its here, we’re not sure what to do about it.  Thankfully, these are not daily, monthly, or even annually, however, I am now convinced that when these moments confront us, we are at a crossroads; a point where our simple decision making skills are not enough to process the event.

My personal fear is that when this moment arrives I will chose to make the “head” decision without listening to my “heart”; or vise-versa… I am not suggesting that I will follow my heart at any cost, or eliminate my heart from the equation; but I am thinking that I will need to take the time to challenge both.  Whenever I have that strong inner nudge, I need to consider the fact that this “feeling” just might be a moment that I’ll miss if I’m not paying close attention. Feelings are funny too. Just because we lack the feelings, doesn’t mean that this isn’t an amazing opportunity either. Sometimes we have to grow into feelings. And I constantly remind myself that feelings always change.  In either case I don’t want to miss a potential life altering moment by over-thinking or over-feeling.

The “Harmonic Convergence” was the world’s first globally synchronized meditation. It occurred on August 16–17, 1987, which correlated to an exceptional alignment of planets in our solar system. The chosen dates marked a planetary alignment with the Sun, Moon and six out of eight planets.  Although that might not have anything to do with your situation, it’s a metaphor for this type of moment. It’s a point in our life where circumstances beyond our control all begin to line up.  Many times this comes with an opportunity.  It might be an offer of the dream job, maybe a promotion, perhaps it’s a relationship, or a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel around the world.  No matter what it is, that opportunity is only there for a brief time and then it’s gone.  The moment may last only a day, a month, or maybe even a little longer, but it’s still only a moment. If we ignore it, it will eventually go away. Wow… no pressure, huh!!??

Recently I put the following comment up on my FaceBook page.

Some things in life are pretty straight forward, while other things that should be easy, seem really difficult at times. I have decided that it’s those things that are worth stepping into. Hard yes, but just perhaps the rewards on the other end will be more than you ever expected.

So, how do you know what to do?  Can we ever be sure that the risk is worth taking? I am convinced that these moments will always bring with them the need to take a step into the unknown. Sure there are always consequences, but what are the benefits?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do hope that when my “moment” comes I’ll be able to process it correctly.

First of all, I hope I know myself good enough to know what I want. I hope I’ll take the time and recognize whether this lines up with what I’m looking for.  If it seems too good to be true, maybe it’s because finally things are really going to work out.

Secondly, I hope I have the maturity to accept that, if it is what I’m looking for, it will probably look different than I imagined. Just because it looks or feels different than I thought it would, doesn’t mean it is any less real.

The third thing I hope is that I’ll have the courage to take the risk and not ignore it.  I know I will talk to family and close friends and get input, but will I have the clarity to make the decision for myself, based on what I want, and not based on the opinion of others?  Will I be able to follow my heart and stand against the wind, if need be?

And…… I truly hope that I’ll recognize that this moment will not last forever. I don’t ever want to look back and ask myself
“What if…….?”

Sucked In, Washed Up, and Blown Over

“CHIPPIE THE PARAKEET NEVER saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She’d barely said ‘hello’ when ‘sssopp!’ Chippie got sucked in.

“The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie– still alive, but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.

“Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.

“A few days after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. ‘Well,’ she replied, ‘Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore he just sits and stares.”

Have you ever felt this way?

Yeah… Me too….

Making Your Resolutions Stick in 2012

by John Chevalier *

At the end of every year it’s common for people to evaluate their lives and make resolutions for the New Year.  It’s a natural new beginning and a time to look at the changes we’d like to make.  The problem is that we seem to be really motivated on January 1, but lose sight of these goals by the end of the month. What would it look like if we could actually stick with it and make our goals happen?

The problem with resolutions is that they represent change… and change is hard.  We can’t just say that we’re going to change; we need to embrace it and let it take us to the next level. It has to be more than just nice words and a dream that we’d like to see happen on its own.

So this year, before you lock in your resolutions, let’s look at how to position ourselves for change.

Understand That There Can Be No Other Choice.
Most New Year’s resolutions fail because the stakes aren’t high enough.  When it’s not important, we don’t take our resolutions seriously.  Ask yourself; “What do you really need to change?” and  “What is really “life or death” for you?” The common resolution of loosing that extra ten pounds might not be much to most people, but for a model, actress, or athlete, it could kill a career.  Take the time to really think about what ONE CHANGE can you make that will bring the biggest difference in your life.  Don’t make a resolution unless it’s really critical.

Cut Away Negative Relationships.
Good relationships inspire and motivate you.  Bad relationships suck the life out of you and grind you down.  In 2012, surround yourself with people who believe in your vision, those who really love you, support you, and care about you.  Get rid of the negative people in your life, and surround yourself with people who are convinced of your possibilities! This can be a hard decision to make and even harder to carry out, however, making a break from those past negative relationships is vital to move in to your new future.

Change What Matters.
Take control of your priorities, and you’ll take control of your life.  We often fail because we don’t take the time to decide what’s really important.  A promotion has little value if it comes at the expense of your family, friends or your personal life.  Stop spending so much time on what other people think is urgent, and spend more time on what really matters TO YOU. This means that you’ll have to do some evaluation. This means that some people won’t understand. But remember, this is “life or death” and a chance to change tomorrow.

Eliminate Destructive Distractions.
Release the negative baggage from your life.  Stop re-living your failures and start focusing on the future.  Don’t focus on the darkness of night, but on the new dawn that’s coming. Remember, there has never been a night without a dawn.  So, the divorce, the firing, the bankruptcy, the last decision that you couldn’t follow through with, or other disaster in your past does not determine your future.  I love the interaction between Pumbaa and Timon in “The Lion King”, when they are trying to encourage Simba:
Pumbaa: It’s like my buddy Timon always says: you got to put your behind in your past.
Timon: No, no, no. Amateur. Sit down before you hurt yourself. It’s “You got to put your past behind you.”
Again, this is not always easy to do, but it’s necessary if we’re going to move forward. As long as you dwell in the past, you’ll never discover your destiny.

Think about these four things before you decide on resolutions.  Because the truth is, when you know how to position yourself for change, you’ll find that these annual “resolutions” are really not that important, because you’ll always looking for ways to improve your life, year round.

Here’s to new beginnings…. I am personally looking forward to a great 2012! Happy New Year!

*Adapted from “For 2012, Let’s Get Serious About New Year’s Resolutions”,
by Phil Cooke author of the book