Real Life Leading #1 -- Intro: the what, why, and how

Real Life Leading #1

By Joel W. Hawbaker

Hi, and welcome to Real Life Leading! I hope that while you’re here you find something useful and valuable, and I hope that you leave knowing that you can make a difference as a leader, right where you are.

As this is the first post in my Real Life Leading series, I want to use it to introduce myself, to tell you the purpose and structure of the Real Life Leading series, and also to briefly explain my philosophy of leadership, which I call Confident Humility. I’ll try to keep the posts relatively brief but packed with content, so that you learn something useful without having to worry that it’ll take you fifteen minutes to read each time there’s a new one.

First, the bio bit: My name is Joel Wesley Hawbaker, and tomorrow is my 35th birthday. I’m married to my wonderful bride Maryellyn, and I have two great daughters and two rambunctious dogs. I have been a high school teacher and coach for over ten years, and I have held roughly 835 other jobs in my 20-ish years of working. (Seriously, I’ve had a ton of different jobs. Not as many as Shawn Spencer, but still a lot.)

Next, the purpose of this series: I have had both great successes and spectacular failures, both in my personal and professional life, and my goal is to share with you some of my story in the hopes that it inspires you to also help make the world a better place, one positive interaction at a time. Why am I writing something like this, you may ask? That’s a great question, and I’m glad to answer it. First, it’s NOT because I’m the perfect leader. Second, it IS because I think that what I have to share is valuable due to my 1) personal education and 2) personal life-experience. That is, I’ve been studying leadership, both formally and informally, for almost 15 years, and I plan to continue studying it as long as I’m able to study anything. And second, I have real-life experience in leading, in a variety of different roles: husband, father, teacher, coach, manager and employee. My goal here is to help others by sharing what I’ve learned from both my study and my experience. Hopefully we can all continue to learn together how to be better leaders. As Coach John Wooden (legendary UCLA basketball coach) said: “When you’re through learning, you’re through.” Let’s never stop learning!

The structure of this series is simple: each week, I’ll be reviewing one new book that I’ve studied that has to do with leadership. Some will be true ‘leadership books,’ others will be biographies, while still others may be fiction or non-fiction books from which we can see great (or terrible) examples and principles of leadership. In addition, I’ll be recommending specific, immediate steps you can take in your current role as a leader to help make a difference in your world the very same day you read the post.

Last and most important, the philosophy of leadership that I call Confident Humility: Confident Humility is simply others-centered, servant-leadership. This involves, but is not limited to, ideas such as honesty, respect, personal responsibility (while still remaining outwardly focused), integrity, compassion, and empathy. It involves skills such as active listening, mutually positive conflict resolution, a willingness to admit one’s own shortcomings, and honest self-reflection in the face of constructive criticism. In short, Confident Humility is being humble enough to say, “I don’t know,” and being confident enough to ask someone who DOES know without feeling threatened in your leadership position, whatever it may be.

So, why is this called Real Life Leading? Because the truth is that most of us won’t be CEOs of international corporations, or pro sports coaches, or high-powered politicians or military commanders. Most of us are more ‘everyday’ leaders, or what I call ‘Real Life Leaders’: husbands, wives, teachers, coaches, office or company managers, entrepreneurs, or employees. My goal is to write FROM the perspective of an Everyday Leader to other Everyday Leaders (and I use that term as one of praise, without intending any disrespect to the CEOs, pro sports coaches, etc, of the world) in a way that helps you make a difference, every day, right where you are.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I’ll leave you with this thought: may our leadership always be shaped by the very powerful concepts of Veritas et Amor (Truth and Love—more about this in a future post!).

Walk Worthy,

Joel W. Hawbaker