GROWING from the inside out revisited

11/15/2012  |  Larry Biddle

Many years ago at Winyah Academy in Georgetown, South Carolina, where I was serving as headmaster, we began a quest to instill in our parents, students and staffulty a lifelong commitment to never again trash our campus, community, state or nation. The inspiration for this movement came from a television public service announcement against littering which featured a Native American chieftain with a tear rolling down his cheek. It was a powerful visual reminder that we are all in this together — as Woody Guthrie penned, “This land is your land; this land is my land.” It would become a lifelong commitment to never litter again. What could this simple decision mean for our country? A greener, cleaner America! Commitments such as this one must grow from the bottom up; they cannot be mandated.

Inspiration, not legislation ...

Founded out of the excess profits from the indigo crops by the Winyah Indigo Society in 1757, Winyah Academy was the first private school between Charleston, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina. During my tenure at the Academy, I met and worked with Mike Carroll, our Jostens representative, in the development of rituals, ceremonies and celebrations recognizing academic achievement and improvement, such as class ring presentations as well as commencement invitations and programs. Little did we realize that this relationship would lead to the birth of Jostens Renaissance at Conway High School 10 years later.

While reading one of Seth Godin’s daily blogs, “The Acute Heptagram of Impact,” I immediately flashed back to the Academy’s community commitment to never litter again! Seth challenges us to revisit what high school is for in this world of technology. He urges us to endeavor to teach our future:

  • How to focus intently on a problem until it’s solved.
  • The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
  • How to read critically.
  • The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
  • An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
  • How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
  • Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
  • Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
  • An insatiable desire—and the ability-—to learn more. Forever.
  • Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.

At Jostens Renaissance, we believe that each of these tenets can be incorporated in our elementary, middle and high schools. We must grow young America from pre-kindergarten up ...

The Acute Heptagram of Impact is not as catchy a title as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; however, we must re-examine our strategic thinking. It makes no difference how good the strategy is, if the tactics or the skills to execute it are not in place.

2013 Jostens Renaissance National Conference

July 11-13, 2013 at Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, AZ

The Jostens Renaissance® National Conference is nearly three full days of nationally known speakers, presentations on tried and true recognition ideas, case studies of improving school culture, and exchanging best practices. For additional information, you may contact me at [email protected].

Choose your team wisely. The success of the project will be largely influenced by the individuals who join in and the organization that is brought forward.

Choose your team wisely. None of this matters if you don’t persist. Your persistence will be mostly fueled by the desire to succeed, which ironically is undermined by the daily fear of failure.

Leaders lead. The seven elements of the Heptagram: Strategy, Persistence, Fear, Tactics, Execution, Reputation, and Desire will drive the project to success. It is all of them! If your project isn’t working, one or more of the elements is lacking. Usually, in some degree, it is all of them. We generally choose the easiest and safest one to remedy the challenge (usually Tactics) without recognizing where the real problem is.

Seth has invited us to share the AHI, but “please don’t have it tattooed on your hip or anything.”

True leaders inspire others to go where they might not go on their own. They understand that real commitment is a bottom up endeavor. As our nation focuses more and more on the conservation of our resources, it behooves us all to realize that change begins at home. We must put our primary focus on individual commitment -- the earlier the better, the younger the better. Leaders lead.

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Larry Biddle is considered the founder of Jostens Renaissance. He has been a student of the impact of recognition on individual achievement for two decades. He served as vice-chairman of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, as well as a member of the Coastal Education Foundation at CCU. Dr. Biddle currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Coastal Carolina University.
Comments & Ratings

  3/12/2013 1:36:10 PM
Don Ramer 

We Are What Do 
The beauty of this piece is that it both informs and challenges. Leaders think through their ideas and enroll others in shared purpose through communication. Dr. Biddle reminds us that sentiment is insufficient. Persistence and rigorous intellectual integrity hits the mark. Our challenge is not just to hit the target, it is instead to aim high enough to unleash the potential in those we lead.