Category Archives: Uncategorized
Clearance Lights has just passed its 2nd anniversary. We’d like to take this moment to consider where we are and where we might go in the future. First, thanks to all of you who have dropped by to read our musings. Thanks also to School Transportation News for reprinting our posts. We’d also like to thank our respective spouses Mike and Jan for tolerating yet another distraction.
When we first started this blog we were looking for a quick and easy outlet to express our opinions and to incite some discussions. In that regard this effort has been a success – even if the discussions have mostly been between the two of us, while the “quick and easy” wasn’t quite. We’d still like to get more of you involved in our discussions. To that end, we’ve slightly revised the layout to highlight most frequently commented posts. Please let us know what else you’d like to see here. More or less opinions, analysis, stories, and humor? We’re definitely open to suggestions.
BTW, we’ll graciously accept anniversary gifts when next we see you.
I learned a lesson this week about making hasty choices. I’m in a book club – it has nothing to do with pupil transportation or the law, and I just love it. The club has met, since before I joined, at a local large book store that is quite close to my home. The members come from surrounding towns, and some of them have had to travel quite a distance for many years to come to our once-a-month meeting. Recently, one of our members suggested having a trial meeting at a new library branch that is quite a bit more convenient for these more northern ladies, while still fairly convenient for those of us who live closer to the book store. We all understood that the purpose of the trial was a possible move. After a most enjoyable meeting there this week, we planned a vote on the three choices now available to us: to switch to the library, to stay at the bookstore, or to have meetings at the library for 6 months, followed by meetings at the bookstore. Read the rest of this entry
Peggy and Pete are taking a break for Thanksgiving. We’ll be back with our usual (semi-)witty and sometimes provocative takes on life in mid-December. Please enjoy your time with friends and family and know that we both are thankful for your support, attention, and (in many cases) friendship.
This post kicks off what we call The Guts of Leadership series. You’ve probably noticed that over the past few months we’ve expressed our frustrations with weak leadership and the failure to change when change is clearly necessary. So over the next couple of months we’ll highlight some specific practices we see in far too many operations. We hope to provoke some critically needed improvements.
In a recent article titled 6 Sins of Leadership, the former head of GE Jack Welch asserts that poor leaders lack the guts to differentiate between the star performers and those who are performing at a lower level. He rails against managers who are “unwilling to deliver candid, rigorous performance reviews, …[and instead] give every employee the same kind of bland, mushy, ‘nice job’ sign-off”. Read the rest of this entry
I recently had the opportunity to see the movie Argo. The lead character, Tony Mendez – played by Ben Affleck, is a CIA extraction expert. That means it is his job to help people the U.S. government considers “important” out of countries where they are in danger. This particular story involves trying to extract six U.S. diplomats from post-revolution Iran. (For those of you that haven’t read about it or seen the movie, I won’t spoil it for you.) Needless to say, if your job is so important that people’s lives depend on your performance, it is essential that you are thoroughly trained and ready for the mission. We’d like to believe that Mendez spent much of his career learning and practicing the essential skills for his job. He had to have studied and practiced foreign languages, foreign cultures, weapons, strategies, and tactics. Although we don’t see this in the movie, we know it to be the case. Mendez’ bosses would not have entrusted him with such an important mission if they weren’t certain he was the best person for the job.
As someone who has performed trainings both here and abroad, of course I feel training is important. Otherwise, why do it? In these tight budget times, some organizations are unwisely trimming and cutting their training budgets. We all know of the operation that barely complies with mandated training hours but really is just going “through the motions.” They might look the other way when a portion of the pre-trip is skipped. They might overlook a student’s serious medical issue. They might even ignore or minimize a parent’s complaint. When what they see or hear doesn’t match what they trained, instead of revising or increasing training, these managers often point to compliance with the mandated minimums. Unfortunately, when something goes wrong they use the same reasoning to assuage their guilt.
For those transporting students or educating students with special needs, many more than the six lives with which Mendez was concerned are actually on the line every day. Our customers expect and deserve a level of performance which is exemplary. Modifying a famous quote from Seneca: “Heroism results when training and opportunity meet.” It’s our job to ensure that the expertise really is there and ready for our critical mission. I know I take the responsibility of training very seriously. Those I respect in our profession do as well. We don’t have Ben Affleck making movies about what we do. Our heroic efforts get less publicity. However, make no mistake about it, they are no less important.
Need a little motivation? Got the Winter Blues? Click on the Kid President link under Those Who Inspire Us.
As I think about what I’m grateful for this year, there’s much to be thankful for. I want to take this opportunity to tell friends and colleagues in the industry that the marvelous opportunities to spend time – real and virtual – with you during the last 17 years have been a gift on both a professional and personal basis. Thank you for allowing me to become part of your world. That you would let a lawyer-type into your midst to the degree you have is testimony to how seriously you take your responsibilities. I hope you have a great holiday with family and friends, and a wonderful year ahead. My heart is with my people on the east coast, especially in New York and New Jersey – I wish you well.
My good friend Peggy again offers superb inspiration – this time for a Thanksgiving post. There are far too many wondrous things for which I am constantly grateful. I will list a few here but will be sure to slip several more into upcoming posts. As I sit in a hotel room in China I am very thankful:
- For the free interchange of ideas and stories with friends, family, and colleagues.
- To work with people who are committed to making a difference in the lives of kids.
- To be able to choose to learn, work, and play in varying amounts.
- For advancing technology which brings us together and allows us to share.
As this holiday weekend draws to a close, let me suggest we try to focus just a little bit more on gratitude. Whether it’s a gratitude walk, prayer, conversation, or just a gratitude moment, we could all stand to share our thanks and, in the process, gain a little more perspective.
P.S. – I was unable to post this from China. Sorry for the delay.
On our new blog we’ll be sharing our opinions on a wide array of events, concepts, and ideas. Almost all of our posts will be shorter and less formal than our usual presentations or articles. However, while we won’t be as wordy, we will be more prolific. Our commitment to you (and to each other) is that, regardless of how busy we are, we’ll make time to post at least once per week.
Neither Peggy nor Pete are naive or egotistical enough to assume our random thoughts would be of much interest to many of you. So it is with more than a little trepidation that we embark on this new venture. We like to think of ourselves as thoughtful, but we also know that the line between “thoughtful” and “thoughtless” can be very thin. This is where you come in. Please let us know if any of our “detours” lead you to a dead end. We also want to hear your positive and creative comments on our postings. If something we say strikes a nerve – good. If it inspires you – even better.