Lead on, Dr. Seuss!

dr. suess bdayLike many of you, my shelves are packed with great leadership writers from Anthony Robbins to Zig Ziglar.  But in honor of a certain birthday today, I would like to honor one of my favorites:  Theodore Suess Geisel (a.k.a Dr. Seuss)* who would be 109 years old today!

Dr. Seuss’s beloved characters tackled Sneetch and turtle civil rights, saved the environment, rescued a tiny Who city, overcame objections in green food sales, and creatively re-envisioned some challenging businesses (zoo, circus).  What I really love is that our kids are learning wonderful leadership skills with so much enjoyment!

At age 40, I still have these lessons to learn, too.  “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”  Simply, many of the famous Seuss characters refused to give up on what they knew was the right path even when no one else would help them, believe in them, or support them through the obstacles.  “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent!”  I have to do a little self-evaluation, here.  How many excuses have I made for not supporting a favorite cause, or not continuing a path that I started?

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

This quote is from my favorite childhood book, The Lorax.  I read it over and over again.  I can trace the drive in my personality to make my community and environment a better place to my early love of that story.  What inspires you to care?   If it’s an article, photo, statistic, etc, place it where you can see it regularly as the daily distractions of life move in.

Results start with passionately caring about a goal, whether it’s large or small.   There is probably something that you care about a “whole aweful lot:” the environment, saving a local historical building, raising money for certain medical research,  child safety in your neighborhood.  The list of possibilities is endless.  What do you desperately want to see changed?

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” 

Whatever you are passionate about, that passion alone can help you persevere through many obstacles.  But you’ll need some help from another Seussian leadership trait:  imagination.  Dreamers are often seen as the opposite of “doers” but every solution first begins with creative thought.  Let’s start with the phrase,  “If I ran the…”  It helps us begin to understand the perspectives of other people involved, and also what could be done about the problem.  Imagination (which adults usually call “vision” or “creative problem solving”) is a key to seeing a better future and our role in it.

“Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.”

So what follows thinking?  Action!  What if Dr. King only had a dream, but nothing else?  Or if Horton set down that clover because he was too busy?   It’s our behaviors and actions that will be remembered after we’re gone, not our good intentions.

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

Perhaps your friends and family will remember today as the day you STARTED.  Started what?  That’s up to you.  Maybe you’ll go out to your garage right now and make a yard sign to support your cause.  Maybe you’ll go on facebook and create an event called “Fundraiser for ____”  (fill in the blank).  One of the best things about Dr. Seuss is the way he makes us feel like WE CAN!

“Will you succeed?  Yes you will indeed!  Ninety-eight and three quarters percent guaranteed!”

So is there a Seussian formula for success?   Passion for a cause + problem solving creativity + perseverance  no matter what….Or in some cases change occurs when we learn from mistakes and bad decisions and turn things around.  All I know is that these characters didn’t use magic to solve problems.   Ted Geisel himself was an example of that, writing and drawing about what he believed in even outside of the kids’ books he is most known for and influencing people long after his death.  There are people around the world celebrating Dr. Suess’s birthday with costumes and reading sessions, but he could also be honored if we each follow his example and help make the world a better place in our own way.

Here is Grinch’s lesson indeed, a warning for new Leaders to heed:  when you choose to give and start leading the charge…your heart might grow two sizes too large!

*All quotes in this article are attributed to Dr. Seuss

~ by jessaswift on March 2, 2013.

2 Responses to “Lead on, Dr. Seuss!”

  1. Loved this Jessa..these words made my day!! Keep writing!


    Your wonderful blog has been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award! If you accept, more information can be found here:


    Thank you for sharing your ‘words of wisdom’ with me and please KEEP WRITING!

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