My grandfather, a member of the Greatest Generation, a veteran of two wars, retired Air Force and a top executive in two large companies shared this with me early in my development as a leader. He said, “Son, they don’t have to like you, they just have to work for you.”

This piece of advice has always kept me focused on what is truly important in leadership, that the mission of the organization trumps your need for feeling good.

I learned a lot from my grandfather. When I start to think that I’m overwhelmed, I just remember me a plaque he kept on the wall. In formal and fancy script it read, “When you are up to your ass in alligators it is difficult to remember that your primary objective is to drain the swamp.”

If what we do everyday isn’t primarily focused on improving the quality of instruction and increasing student performance, then we too are being distracted by the alligators.

My grandfather gave me a gift. It was a safety net. He and I knew that if things ever got over my head, he would bail me out. No questions asked.  I am most proud of the gift I believe I gave him back. I never had to use the safety net.

Work Hard. Be Responsible.

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