Driving Lessons

August 19, 2014

Many millions of us this summer took to the expressways of North America, and most of us reached our destinations safely. I find myself amazed at how few the accidents are when highways are crowded with hunks of metal traveling at 60, 70 and even 80 miles per hour.

There are three actions on a fast-moving expressway that jeopardize the health of travelers that are like three actions that jeopardize the health of organizations.

  • First, if any number of drivers defies heavy traffic or wet pavement, then the well-being of all the others is at risk.

  • Second, if just a single car ahead of a crowd of others slams on the brakes, then a chain reaction collision is likely to follow.

  • Third, if a driver fails to look around and indicate the intention to change lanes, then those around that car must take evasive actions to escape trouble.

Likewise, organization leaders who move forward too fast without regard to their environment, leaders who suddenly slow down or stop their forward motion, and leaders who fail to consult with those around them and clearly signal their intentions to make a change, put their enterprise at risk.

Lessons for the office, learned on the road.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.