The Power of DWYSYWD

This weekend I had the privilege of going for a nice long nature walk with my friend Matt Hale.  Matt and I talked about a large range of topics, but one part of our conversations that has really stuck with me was about the power of DWYSYWD.  DWYSYWD – (pronounced de-wiz-ee-wid), for those of you who don’t know, stands for Do What You Say You Will Do.  I was telling Matt about a coaching session I had with a colleague – and the conversation I had with him about DWYSYWD, and Matt immediately came back with a story of DWYSYWD’s power to build trust.

Matt does some really amazing work for social justice in the city of Detroit (You can learn more about it here:  He told me about one of his friends there who is fully invested in the work – Let’s call him Dan.   Matt told me that he had so many conversations with Dan, times when Matt was vulnerable, that he thought of as the trust building moments between he and Dan.  But Dan recently confessed the moment he decided to really trust Matt.

Matt had been talking about buying the abandoned houses on his block, fixing them up and inviting people to live there in intentional community.  Not long after, Matt bought the house next door.  Dan told Matt that he had never met anyone who had a radical idea like that, and then acted to make it a reality.  That was when he decided to join with Matt in the work he is doing in the neighborhood, and move in.

The truth is that sharing who you are, being real and vulnerable, does build trust – but nothing has power like DWYSYWD.  When you do what you say you will do as a leader, you will soon have followers.  Leaders are change agents, they don’t just talk the talk – they walk the walk.  Whether it’s in business, in your personal life, or your everyday interactions people will trust you, and believe in what you are doing, if you espoused values and lived actions align.  Period- the end.

If you want to succeed in leadership, therefore, there are at least two questions you should be asking yourself.  First, “Am I doing what I said?”  You need to think about what your stated goals and values are.  Are your actions in alignment with them?  Why or why not?  If not, what can you do today to change that?

Second, leaders should challenge themselves with the question “Do I consider what I say I will do?”  If you want to succeed as a leader, take the time to think hard about what your espoused values and goals are.  Don’t agree to do something that doesn’t align.  Furthermore, don’t say you will do something that you are unwilling to do.  Before you say you will do something, consider whether you are truly willing to be in it for the long haul.  Will you make sacrifices to achieve your goal?   Will you quit when the going gets tough?  Is it worth losing people’s trust to say you will do something and then not follow through?


What do you think?  Continue the conversation with your thoughts, comments or questions below.


Leadership Lessons from Yggdrasil – Part I

As a Residential Coordinator at a large public University, and as a gamer, I’ve been hosing a board gaming event on a weekly basis on campus. Recently I observed some students playing a game called YggdrasilYggdrasil is a co-operative game – meaning the players work together as a team and win or lose together- based on a Norse Mythology theme.  As I was reflecting on the game, I realized it is a great example of why I put so much time and energy into planning gaming events and the learning that comes from playing modern board games.

I’m inspired to do a series of blog posts to put some of my thoughts in order, and hopefully, to inspire others to consider more creative and engaging methods for reaching co-curricular learning outcomes.


In Part I, I want to tell you a little bit about the game and how it works.  I believe some explanation of the game will help readers understand the next several parts – where I will elucidate the learning I saw taking place- more fully.

As I mentioned earlier Yggdrasil is a co-operative game for 1-6 players.  In it players take the roles of Norse Gods such as Thor, Odin, Freya, or Heimdel and are trying to hold back attacks from the enemies of Asgard such as Fenrir, Loki, Surt, and Hel.  On the board Yggdrasil – the world tree- is pictured as well as the 9 worlds of Norse Mythology.  Each world represents an action a player can take, and players may choose 3 actions to take on each turn.

But, before a player takes actions they must draw an enemy card from the deck.  The enemy pictured moves further into Asgard an triggers a special effect.  For example, when Loki moves forward – he calls Frost Giants to spread panic in Yggdrasil.  Frost Giants block players from taking particular actions until they are defeated.  Fenrir, on the other hand, causes players to waste actions trying to calm him before they are allowed to take their turn.  Each enemy of Asgard has a unique special effect.

The player then takes their actions.  They can collect resources, such as mythic weapons, elven warriors or viking souls to help them in future battles.  Alternatively they can trade resources or “manage”  the group’s chances of collecting resources in the future.  Of course, they can also do battle with Frost Giants or Enemies of Asgard.

If, at the end of any players turn, 5 enemies have managed to move beyond the wall of Asgard – the players lose.  Likewise, if 3 enemies are beyond the door to Valhalla – the players lose.  And of course it only takes 1 enemy in Odin’s throne room for the players to lose.  If the players manage to avoid these conditions and play through the entire enemy deck, the have won the game.

If you would like a more complete rules explanation check this video (you can skip to the 2:00 mark for the rules).

In my next several  posts, I’d like to talk about the skills I saw students practicing and developing – such as teamwork and cooperation, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, and emotion management.  Coming soon – critical thinking.