Everyday Leadership – Everyday Followership


So, we’re out here in far away California. Our house feels like a summer cottage – lots of wood and windows-to-nature and walls that don’t require northern insulation – and we feel like we’re on vacation. Classes don’t start until late August. Jack’s cool with summer. Jennifer and I are a bit too Type-A.  Life is short. Much to accomplish. Write sentence fragments. No time for full thoughts.

Every day I push Jack. I know. I know: Some great readers will say, “Lay off the kid. Do you push a plant to grow?” Or, they’ll say “Chill out.” Jack would agree.  On Sunday we were throwing a lacrosse ball – for fun and of course to improve (new school, tryouts, etc.) – the yin and the yang.  My little brothers when they taught me tennis would count consecutive good hits out loud to improve concentration and help reach “flow.”  From the earliest days with my toddlers I’d mimicked Pat and Jim’s tennis coaching and played “catch and count” with my little ones.  Yesterday I said to Jack “let’s go for 100 straight catches.”   After many streaks of 10-20, Jack said, “We’ll never hit 100.  We’ve never caught 30 in a row.”  I said, “What do you mean? We hit 200 that one time!”  He pointed out “That was when you had on your baseball glove, not a lacrosse stick.”  We continued and got on a roll: 28, 29, 30, then at 31 he threw me a good ball, but it rattled off my basket and splashed into the dry-as-dust ball field. I turned to pick it up and angrily whipped my stick off the grass tops, as if to punish it.  “Relax, Dad,” Jack called from behind me. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“You’re right,” I said.

I like his initiative. He’s an Everyday Leader. When I was a kid and my dad was cursing, which he always did (and only did) when he was trying to fix something in the house, I never would have thought to coach him. I’m glad my kids are eager to coach me.  It’s yin and yang are at work between the old and the young; the teacher and the student; the leader and the follower; the activist and the pacifist.

In our society, we’re still WAY too stuck in top-down.  Parents and bosses are ridiculous in their assumptions about how knowledge, values, and even wisdom should largely flow down. My boy has an old soul.  “Out of the mouths of babes” is not the same as “lightning strikes.”  It’s not an accident that the newer eyes can see.  Interns see dumb things we do (especially these technological kids who “get it”).  A new political administration will ask “why” about things others have just grown accustomed to.  And secretaries who execute stuff know way more about real issues than a conceptual boss does.

So, I will keep pushing Jack.  He told me that Richard Sharpe, his hero from the 20-some Bernard Cornwell novels he’s read has the primary strengths of courage and perseverance.  I want to evoke those in Jack. And I will keep listening for what Jack’s got to teach me. My friend Colleen Pobur would call it “glorious” or “magnificent,” how much synergy there is in life, leadership and love.

It helps to become an Every Day Follower if you want to

Lead with your best self,


  • @Dan ‘glad my kids are eager to coach me.’ …and that is why I stuck with teaching for 39 years. I learned so much from my kids.

  • Reading this week’s piece has me thinking that the interest and ability to learn from people lower on the hierarchy or experience level is one of the most important traits in a leader.

    It has at least 4 essential elements: first, the awareness that leaders continue to learn. Second, that learning comes from many places. Third, that true respect for staff means recognizing their expertise and contribution. Last (in this list) is that if the leader already knows everything then all she or he needs is a bunch of implementers. There’s a place for implementing but it’s more restricted than we often realize.

    Thanks, as always, Dan. And Jack too!

  • As a teacher, I would be ignorant to ignore the everyday teachings of my students. From technology tips, to fresh insights about difficult problems, and to thoughtful comments/reflections, my students teach me every single day. As a parent, I am viewed by my teenagers as somewhat of a slow learner, but maybe someday they will “get it”. Sometimes I find it easier to learn from my students than from my own kids!

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