Administrative Talk…Some Advice about Leadership and Life

Jun 14th, 2010 | Category: Administrative Talk, Columns
By Glen Kuck

Editor’s Note: The readers of the Lutheran Education Journal have been privileged to have the sound advice, reflection, professional commentary and encouragement in ministry from Glen Kuck in these pages since 1997. His view from the principal’s chair at St. Paul Lutheran School, Chicago— affectionately known to many as “St. Paul Austin”—has always taken into account the role of the educational leader but also with valuable insights for those who benefit from that leadership. The position of a Lutheran school principal is unique in its demands, relationships, challenges and opportunities for servant-leadership as anyone who has served in that capacity can attest. Glen has steadfastly reminded us of the special Calling involved, too. The offering which follows marks the end of Glen Kuck’s regular contributions as a columnist for the Lutheran Education Journal—after thirteen years, he’s decided to hang it up. Thank you, Glen. And we thank God for your wisdom, wit and continual sharing of joy in service to this profession!

The world is filled with advice givers. Some advice is worth listening to, and some is not. It’s been said that those who can tell the difference between good advice and bad advice don’t really need advice in the first place.

Below is some advice to take or to leave—you decide. I’ve inserted a couple of illogical ones just to keep you alert.

If you want your students to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.

Be patient with everyone, but above all, be patient with yourself.

It is wise to keep in mind that no success or failure is necessarily final.

Don’t find fault; find a remedy.

Look both ways before running with scissors.

Education is what you get from reading the small print. Experience is what you get from not reading it.

You don’t have to attend every argument to which you’re invited.

The greatest test of courage is to bear defeat without losing heart.

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

If you’re going to be able to look back on something and laugh about it, you might as well laugh about it now.

Correction does much, but encouragement does more.

Don’t try to be a person who is successful; try to be a person who has values.

Borrow money from pessimists – they don’t expect it back.

Be yourself. Who is better qualified?

All of us could learn a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

If you have tried to do something and failed, you’re better off than if you tried to do nothing and succeeded.

You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

There are two things to remember: There is a God, and you’re not Him.

The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.

Be polite when accepting candy from strangers.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

The happiest people are those who are thankful for life’s responsibilities, not for its prizes.

Plan ahead – it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.

To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself.

Don’t worry that your students never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you.

When everything is coming your way, you may be in the wrong lane.

To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.

If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.

Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side.

Lead your life so that you won’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

Don’t give God instructions – just report for duty.

Always wash your hands before crossing the street.

Don’t put a question mark where God put a period.

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

A child’s mind is not a container to be filled, but rather a fire to be kindled.

The greatest power is simple patience.

Before you insult someone, walk a mile in his shoes. That way you’re a mile away and you have his shoes.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

If you think one year ahead, plant a seed. If you think ten years ahead, plant a tree. If you think one hundred years ahead, educate a child.

Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper. It doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.

A child doesn’t become what he thinks he can. He doesn’t become what you think he can. He becomes what he thinks you think he can.

Don’t let your worries get the best of you. Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pew.

Be wiser than those around you, but don’t tell them you are.

Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal for the real production.

He who laughs last thinks slowest.

And finally, your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace, and your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace. LEJ

Author Information

Glen Kuck serves as principal of St. Paul Lutheran School in Chicago. He may be contacted at

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