Sitting at the Middle Table

As I’ve posted previously, I volunteer as a Guardian Ad Litem and advocate against child abuse and neglect.  In our juvenile courtroom, GALs sit at the middle table of the bar area, alongside the GAL Program attorney, to field questions from the Juvenile Court judge and speak on behalf a child.  Recently, our GAL Program director asked what it meant to sit at the middle table.  My response is below:

“Being a part of the team at the middle table in the juvenile court-room means using my life and my voice for a purpose bigger than myself. I truly do believe that “children are the messages that we send to a time we will not see.” (John W. Whitehead) Sitting at the table means having a hand in positively impacting a child, a message, for the future.”

Whatever your passion, I pray that you are able to follow it and make a difference in pursuing it.  Tootles!

#volunteer   #childabuse    #passion

Understanding Employee Motivation and Applying Theory to the Workplace

Below is the introduction to an article that I co-authored and was recently published in the SACRAO (Southern Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers) journal. Understanding our team members and their motivations not just for working hard, but also for working well, are key to maximizing productivity and having a well-run office.  This is regardless of whether you have 1 team member or much larger numbers to manage.  You can view the full article at


Being chosen for a leadership position is only the beginning of becoming a leader. To
become more than “the boss” people follow because they are required to do so — or to
become someone employees will want to follow at all — leaders must master the ability
to invest in people and inspire those around them. Simultaneously, in order to succeed
in a leadership role, one must build a team that consistently produces measurable
results. There are multiple paths to explore along the journey to reaching the “pinnacle”
of leadership (Maxwell, 1999), where your influence extends beyond the people who
are in your immediate sphere. During the journey, you are not only learning how to lead
people and encourage their professional development, you should also be engaging
in self-reflection on your leadership and communication styles. Time may feel like a
limited resource, but being more purposeful about understanding employee motivation
and “crucial conversations” (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012) will help you
lead an efficient and motivated team and ultimately make everyone more satisfied with
their work.

This article is based on a presentation by the authors at the American Association
of College Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) conference in April 2017.
During the presentation, we explored levels and sources of leadership, promoters and
deterrents to motivation, and the importance of proper communication as it pertains to
development of people and teams. Points were infused with examples of challenges
and triumphs throughout our careers to date, as well as best practices used to motivate
individuals across small and large teams. For purposes of this paper, we have created
two scenarios we believe will be relatable, reviewed the information presented in
the AACRAO session, and discussed how that information can be applied in these

#leadership    #motivation     #teams     #employees

“A Voice for the Voiceless”

An opportunity for volunteerism:  Become a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), depending on the state in which you live. 
“A Guardian ad Litem Volunteer is..
Being told you’re the only intelligent person involved and the only one who understands.
Being told you’re just as stupid as everyone else involved is, and to mind your own business.
Having a fifteen-year-old ask for a hug.
Having a fourteen-year-old ask if he could live with you if he runs away.
Being endlessly exposed to colds, flu, colds, strep, colds, chicken pox, colds, pink eye, colds.
Meeting some of the extraordinary people who are foster parents.
Being slobbered on by a zillion dogs and cats.
Losing your car in the parking lot for the fifth time in a month.
Spending dozens of hours talking to dozens of people to get ready for trial and then settling out of court on the first day.
Waiting for people to return your phone calls.
Having a hearing start on time—the one time you’re late.
Having a six-year-old call and say, “Why haven’t you come to visit me? Did the judge fire you?”
Discovering places in the county you never knew existed.
Getting phone calls saying, “Thank you.”
Brief program description:  When a petition alleging abuse or neglect of a juvenile is filed in district court, the judge appoints a volunteer Guardian ad Litem advocate and an attorney advocate to provide team representation to the child, who has full party status in trial and appellate proceedings. All Guardian ad Litem advocates are trained, supervised, and supported by program staff in each county of the state. The collaborative models of GAL attorney advocates, volunteers, and staff tries to ensure that all children who are alleged by the Division of Social Services to have been abused or neglected receive GAL legal advocacy services.

“Be Seriously Disturbed”

For 2018, I am rereading Pastor Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional and decided to share one that was particularly thought provoking from a few weeks ago, as it promotes a call to action BY YOU, whether it be via community volunteerism, advocating for a cause via your job, church, or wherever the opportunity arises.


“One key to discovering your destiny is to identify the needs that stir your heart. What is it that upsets you? What causes you to think, “Somebody ought to do something about that”?

Whatever it is, that is the key to your destiny. My wife, Kay, calls it being seriously disturbed. Why? Because, it bothers you so much that it moves you to action. Is there anything that disturbs you or is your life so insulated that nothing makes you say, “Somebody ought to do something about that”?

Here is a homework assignment: Make a list of the needs you see that disturb you. Then pray and ask God to show you ways you can use your gifts to make a difference.”


For me, it remains advocating for children who have been abused and/or neglected.  It’s something I’ll never understand and I’ll never stop fighting against.  My newest “disturbance” is childhood food insecurity in America.  It’s a larger problem than I initially thought.  I’m looking forward to making some level of impact in 2018.

What about you?  Share your “disturbance” and your plan of action!  It may not be something global, it may be something simple…and that’s ok. The goal is to set a goal to make a difference, whether it be in the home, in the community, in the country, or in the world.

Keep Striving

I came across the following quote recently.  While it is brief, it speaks volumes:

“Chance favors those in motion.” —  James H. Austin

I encourage you to continue to set small and large goals and focus on them with all diligence.  From volunteering in the community or church, finding professional development opportunities, getting that degree or writing that book…keep striving, keep researching, keep trying…to see what will work and what won’t work.  You’ll never know unless you try.  From Thomas Edison:  “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  I love it!





Sharpen Your Saw: An Observation

On Sunday, I listened to a diverse group of young graduate students, soon to be professionals, share goals and objectives relative to the student organizations in which they hold leadership positions. As I observed, the principle that resonated with me was Sharpen Your Saw. I’ve long admired Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw, is one that often hangs in my memory. Admittedly, I usually only think in terms of attempts to stay mentally sharp but in reality, and in short, this habit speaks to the need to continually utilize resources and tools that will strengthen your overall ability to be productive and be a part of the change that you desire to see. Sharpening the Saw is about renewal.

During this leadership retreat, which was set in a peaceful camp and retreat center area, these student leaders were able to address the four areas wherein sharpening is necessary for renewal: physical, social/emotional, spiritual, and mental. To participate in the retreat, they had to be willing to step away from the rigors of law school studies and refocus their energies towards planning, brainstorming, strategizing, networking, and synergizing. As a bonus, they also had a chance to enjoy nature and engage in physical activities. I do believe that both the individual and student organizations represented will be the better for it.

In closing, I have to give props where they are due, for I was truly an observer only in these efforts; I did absolutely nothing to make it happen. With that said, kudos to the dean of Campbell Law School, J. Rich Leonard, for making the retreat possible and his staff who took part to ensure its success. One more example of successful collaboration!  Until next time, take a moment to sharpen your saw.

#studentleaders  #CampbellLaw  #StephenCovey

A Thought on Personal Commitment

He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times.” -Johann von Shiller, Playwright. Another quote I’ve borrowed from Dr. John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader.

When I read it, I thought to myself, “That can be a definition of success…to have done your best for your own time, the time in which you lived and had an opportunity to impact people.” You know where this mindset stems from?…Commitment! Yep, commitment is key, for it can manifest in various ways, from the productive work hours we maintain, to self-improvement goals, to sacrifices we make for team members, family, and etc. Commitment isn’t entirely selfless, for in the long run, we find that as we commit to do the best that we can with the time, energy, and resources we have, we ourselves are greatly impacted and blessed. Our reach goes beyond our time.

Have you ever transitioned positions or jobs and later heard from prior team members that you are missed because_______ or they learned ______ from you and are using that to make a difference? Often, these little but consistent examples of commitment seem miniscule, but like children, little acts can have a huge impact. Therefore, I encourage you to continue with commitment, for though at times it seems to be moot, insignificant, or mundane, it has the opportunity to make a difference somehow, somewhere, to someone. Michelangelo never knew that his reluctant agreement to commit to paint a depiction on the Sistine Chapel would evolve into a masterpiece and proceed to bless millions of people over the centuries. You don’t know how your commitment will proceed to bless countless others and I encourage you not to dwell on that. Instead, dwell on doing the best you can with the time, energy, and resources at your disposal, and have that which you do be genuine, your actions be consistent, and your heart be at peace. Tootles!

#Commitment #Influence