No Guts, No Glory

As I was assembling the Flipboard document yesterday, there was a recurring theme from Ron Canuel’s presentation…

This, from @CCareyHerbert via Twitter

The first quote took me back to Sundays as a child.  After church, my brother and I would have to sit down with our parents and play some Euchre or Bridge before we were allowed to roam the streets.  My dad had this great expression that he would use before playing a lone hand “No Guts, No Glory”.  Then he’d proceed to make good on his promise.

At the time of the above slide, the teacher in me said “that’s not how you spell adopter” but I quickly overcame that and listened to his message.  It was so appropriate to those who feel like they need to make change within their organization.  In my context as a consultant for a school district, it made perfect sense.

I was always the guy who arrived at the planning table with all kinds of ideas for innovation and was generally glossed over.  I still remember bringing the message that our district needed to embrace Twitter and other social media to connect with our community.  Just like it happened yesterday, I remember the remark that was given to me with direct eye contact.  “The world doesn’t need to know what we had for breakfast”.  Needless to say, time proved me right and now social media is a mainstay for communications in most circles.  Some just do it better than others.

I also had a wonderful group of elementary and secondary educators that would meet bi-monthly and they would be the recipients of my ideas.  In my own little world, they seemed like great ideas but it was only after being put into their own contexts and community that they became outrageously successful.  In that respect, perhaps I was the early adopter but it was their efforts in taking the ideas and running with them that put them over the top.  From there, the ideas would cascade to their colleagues until it became a board level “plan”.

By the time Ron was done, I was just sitting there having my Eureka moments.  I finally got it.

I also realized that the district could have saved a lot of money – don’t hire me – just go directly to the mid-adopters.  (tongue in cheek)

Over the past while, there have been a couple of interactions with inspiring minds on social media.

  • Sue Bruyns had asked “I wonder why they don’t get it”.
  • Brandon Grasley had responded in a completely different forum “They might not be ready yet”.

While these were two distinctly different conversations, they could have been asked and answered in the same conversation.

The third part of the conversation would be something like:

  • When they do, look out!

Somehow, the successful implementation of any change needs to come from those mid-adopters.  That, I get completely.  They aren’t the single voice in the wilderness; they’re the mass that will ultimately make it happen so that everyone sees the value of the change.  But, it’s that single voice with the crazy ideas that’s ultimately responsible for seeding the masses with the idea.

If I could poll, I’d bet that most readers of this blog see themselves as that single voice.  My advice – keep those ideas coming; scream them loudly and frequently; there are those mid-adopters who are ready and willing to run with them.

You need to have the guts to provide the ideas; they need to implement successful and enjoy the glory.



  1. Right on, Doug. I am gradually claiming my voice as a stranded evangelist, and am working on not having a head-desk moment when something I suggested months ago comes back, and people are ready to hear it, and they embrace it. It’s the embracing that’s important, not where it came from, or when people first heard it. That’s hard sometimes, but it’s good to be reminded (all the time) that it’s not all about us, it’s about learning and learners. I also have to remember that when I get an idea and run with it, someone else might be having that head-desk moment. 🙂

    And I’m not convinced it’s a spelling error – do you think maybe Ron wanted “adaptors”, and not adopters? – we are early to adapt to new ideas, so maybe that’s what he was after. Just a thought. 🙂


  2. Thanks for your comments, Lisa. As my wife would say “you’re such a teacher” when I see things that I think are not correct. I did do some research and there is a word adoptor but I think that adopter is more common in usage. At least in my circles. As I indicated though, the important part was Ron’s message. It really resonated with me; I’m not surprised that it did with you as well.

    Now that we’ve established that I’m not “that guy”, I wish that we could get together and chat about things more frequently than at annual conferences! Thankfully, we have social media to continue the conversations.

    I’m also not surprised that you’ve identified yourself as the lone voice. Maybe we should start a lone voice club…


  3. Thanks, Doug. I needed to hear this; I’ve been feeling discouraged lately and hearing about your struggles (and eventual successes) makes me more hopeful.

    FWIW, from a distance I thought the first “adaptors” was a typo… I thought Ron was saying “early adopters” and “mid-adaptors”, meaning that the second wave would refine or even repurpose the tools and therefore be “adaptors”. It was an interesting perspective, even if it wasn’t the one presented. Happy accident? 🙂


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