I first think of the line “Watch out for that first step - it’s a doozy” as another smart aleck jab delivered by that ‘wascally wabbit’ Bugs Bunny to his hapless pursuer Elmer Fudd. Bugs opens a door on the edge of a cliff sending Fudd to yet another untimely cartoon demise. It later passed into pop culture when uttered by annoying insurance salesman Ned Ryerson to Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors in the time-loop comedy “Groundhog Day” as Phil steps off the curb into a deep puddle of slush.
The phrase came back to me as I pondered what to share in my first blog post. It’s not that I couldn’t think of what to share. I have lots to share on building community, the importance of relationships, servant leadership, being part of something bigger than yourself, longing for belonging, how to move people from where they are to where they could be, how the Blue Jays should invest their free agent money this off-season, and more.
It is my hope that my thoughts on these topics might be helpful whether you are seeking to invigorate a school, service club, public organization, corporate environment; or perhaps you are just looking for some perspective that will help you be a better friend, leader, educator, spouse, parent, or community member.
The question remained not what to write about, but what to write about first. “I am probably overthinking what to share first”, I told myself. I was stuck in paralysis from analysis. But in my mind this first step was still a doozy.
So I decided to start with a simple message that can serve as a touchstone for a series of subsequent posts.
In my years as a Student Activities Council Advisor (SAC) and Leadership teacher we have had the size of our group grow from 25 students when I began in the role to well over 200 full time SAC members, Leadership students and elected Homeroom Reps today. This growth, and more importantly the magnitude of the difference we are able to make in our school community, is built on three foundational principles:
On the surface these three foundational principles seem simple enough. The first two are cliches; the third one I authored myself. But taken together and grown into a group’s DNA over time they have tremendous power to transform any group looking to increase their numbers and the positive impact they can have, individually and collectively, on others.
Each of these principles are worthy of a blog post of their own and I will certainly expand on them moving forward. There is lots of truth and nuance to explain in each of them.
As to my remembrance of how the title phrase was uttered in the cartoon world, I consulted Google to learn the phrase is indeed from a Bugs Bunny cartoon ‘Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk’ (1943). It turns out it wasn’t said by Bugs to Fudd, but rather by the Giant (of Beanstalk fame) after Bugs directs him away from an elevator at the top of the beanstalk to a fake sign showing stairs. The Giant says the line “Watch out for that first step - it’s a lulu” emerging from the crater he creates after taking the bait and plunging thousands of feet to earth. The line in its title form was indeed said by Ned to Phil on the slushy streets of Punxsutawney, PA in “Groundhog Day”.
The lesson here is that the internet can be a great place to fine-tune and revisit one’s own experience and improve it moving forward. I hope that this blog might be become part of that for you: a place to fine-tune and revisit your experience as a friend, leader, educator, spouse, parent, or community member, and improve it moving forward.
Ephrata High School - October 11, 2019
Ontario Student Leadership Conference - Nov. 3-5, 2019
Niagara Falls, ON
Decatur Public Schools - November 6, 2019
Brock University Concurrent Ed Conference - March 7, 2020
St. Catharines, ON
Global Student Leadership Summit - April 19-21, 2020
Weyburn Comprehensive School - April 29, 2020
Canadian Student Leadership Conference - Sept 24-28, 2019
Gardner HS, Gardner Massachusetts - Aug 26, 2019
Youth Leadership Camp Canada - July 17, 2019
Camp Wabanaki Leadership Staff Training - June 23, 2019
City of Kitchener Neighbourhood Camps Staff - June 9, 2019
Nova Scotia Secondary School Students Assoc. - May 17, 2019
Bluefield HS, North Wiltshire PEI - May 16, 2019
Spring OSLC, Kingston ON - May 12, 2019
McKinnon Park Secondary School, Caledonia ON - May 10, 2019
John G. Diefenbaker High School, Calgary AB - May 6, 2019
Cochrane High School, Cochrane AB - May 6, 2019
Beaver Brae SS, Kenora ON - April 25, 2019
Windsor Park Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB - April 24, 2019
Carberry Collegiate, Carberry, MB April 23, 2019
Georgian Bay Community School, Meaford ON - April 5, 2019