As a way for a group of child welfare leaders to practice articulating their theory of change in a succinct fashion, we had them participate in a role-play exercise of mock interviews with different constituent groups. Over the course of an hour, leaders rotated between speaking with a donor, board member, judge, parent and law enforcement officer – changing their pitch and message with each rotation so it was targeted toward the respective interviewer.

In the subsequent debrief, leaders lamented about the challenge this exercise posed and how difficult it was to be succinct and relevant in the moment. “This exercise was like eating broccoli,” one of the leaders commented. “I know it was good for me, but I didn’t like it. It was the right thing to do, and I’ll thank you in the long run, but it wasn’t enjoyable now.”

I think many activities that occur are like eating broccoli, and, as such, we either avoid them voluntarily or others allow us to pass rather than impose the rigor and benefit that the exercise could deliver. We often gravitate to work or learning that is fun or easy, but there is something to be said for the growth that occurs from practicing things that are difficult and challenging.

Don’t be like President George H. W. Bush and proudly proclaim that you aren’t going to eat any more broccoli. Even if it’s not your favorite vegetable, use it as a metaphor for doing what you know will be helpful over time and regularly put a helping of it on your plate (or agenda!).



I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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