Muddy Boots 2.0

Waer Muddy Boots 

Muddy Boots 2.0 Blog


Leadership Thoughts:

Wear Muddy Boots

Be Intentional in how you spend your time.

Make it safe for folks to name the elephants.

Your personal brand is everything, as in what do you stand for and how do you stand. 


This is your time.

Find the pain and fix it.

It is all about your crew. Talent Matters

Be calm, be consistent, care, and always be a coach.

Legacy in the end is how we will be measured. 




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On the Water

Posted by on July 7, 2020 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I am up to my wader belt in sixty-degree water. The sun is dancing on the surface, and the ripples are in and out of shade from the overhanging trees. A short waterfall is on my left, and a deep pool is in front of me and runs along the far bank on my right. I am casting a six weight rod and line with a caddis and sinking green nymph set up. For me, this is about as good as it gets.


I get a rise in front of me at about 35 feet. Then a second. I cast and lay the fly about a foot in front of the last rise. The indicator starts its drift in the current. I can't feel the line, but the cork does its job and disappears with a hit. I lift my rod sharply and set the hook.


I reel in the excess line and start the dance. The fish runs for the bottom, then turns, then breaks the surface. We do these steps three or four times, each time I can bring in more line. As the fish tires, I get my net and look to bring the fish over its submerged opening.


The fly is barbless, as we fish catch and release, and for a second I let the line slack. In a flash, the fish spits the fly and is gone.


The pool grows still again. The waterfall the only sound. I check the fly, strip some line and cast back into the moving foam of the falls.


It does not matter if I catch a fish. It only matters that the soul restores in the attempt.


Prayer takes many forms.


That is the beauty of fishing.



"There is no try, only do or do not"

Posted by on July 5, 2020 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I have not posted for a while.

Like many, I find myself caught in the arc of history and the times.

Our plans and preparation for the future now requiring a redrafting.

We are not a “remote” culture, but Teams and Zoom are our new office.

In my current work in nonprofit social services, the rules are changing. Some because they have too and some because they can. I know it is not just our sector.

None of us can sit and watch. We must do. Moreover, we must do together on the big issues.

Therefore, what is the punch list?

1. 11.3.2020 vote. Fight to protect your and others right to vote.

2. Vote 11.3.2020. It is where accountability starts.

3. Wear your damn mask, go long on hand sanitizer, 6 feet means 6 feet. Science matters.

4. As a leader, confirm your Mission, Vision and Values, what is your North Star? Is it valid?

5. If it is in these times, double down. If not, reload and accept change. Drive it. Quickly.

6. I suspect we all call for racial equity in America, what are you doing to make it real? Are you getting help so you drive real change?

7. Care for your team, care for your clients, care for yourself. See #6.

8. Communicate the truth; its absence sows fear and discomfort.

9. Learn from these times, reality has never been sharper. Know your data. Forecast, as time and insigt are a gift. Nimble is how you survive. Talent, Data, and Assets are your levers. Know and manage all three. Know reality and shape it where you can, adapt where you cannot.

10. Every day, do your job. Move towards your North Star. Your team, your customers and clients, count on it. Not everyone has the assets to make it through a crisis. Keeping people employed and moving forward is job one. The team delivers the mission.

You may never have the opportunity to make a bigger difference than you do now.

To quote, “There is no try, there is only do or do not”




It is Time

Posted by on May 29, 2020 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I have been thinking hard about recent events and how to respond as both as an agency focused on the issues of poverty in our community and as a father and citizen.

I have long held the belief that our values frame us. Not just what we say they are, but how we live them.

Our values at ECS, as I have written about before, are dignity, justice, community, and impact. I recently wrote about how CV-19 has ripped off the covers on the issues of equity in our communities and wide gaps in our society. Much of our work at ECS focuses on addressing these gaps with individuals and communities impacted by poverty.

The recent news highlights the racial inequity in America. While I do not know the specifics of each case, the ongoing trend and response is alarming and confirms what many of my black and brown colleagues have told me and what I have witnessed in our work. Let us note the events in Minneapolis with George Floyd are not new and that alone should get our attention. One would have to be blind not to see our history, root causes, and note the consequences of doing nothing to change our trajectory.

As a father, I hear the concern in both participants and employees who are parents' voices; as a father, I fear for the youth we serve, as I would worry for my children. However, as the leader of a 150-year-old social service agency that holds the values of dignity, justice, impact, and community, I also have to call for action. The baptismal covenant in our tradition asks if you will respect the dignity of every human being, not some, but every. The conditions that spawn this violence find their root cause in poverty and racism and result in the long-term disparity in America over access to opportunity.

We condemn the use of violence, and we call for us to step back from the brink, breathe, and name the real problems here, especially in a pandemic and economic disruption that has raised so clearly the differences in America. We acknowledge that we are all afraid, but I know fear is best met if we are all together. Let me emphasize the "all." As I have said before, self-interest starts with your neighbor—all your neighbors.

Let us use our resources to ease the short-term pain. Then let us use the events of late to trigger a collective and aggressive response to the economic disparity and racial inequity that divide us as a nation and as humans. Let our values be more than words.

"You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again." Ben Franklin

Time is not on our side.



Week 10

Posted by on May 17, 2020 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

So today starts week ten of stay at home for Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. At this point, we are all beginning to realize that we are never going back to pre-March 13th.

We have some choices. We can move into our darkest places and shut down, or we make our new future state work—some choices.

1. Leadership, we have an election coming up. I suggest you vote. Think about the proper role of government in our lives.

2. Health, I appreciate the thought behind the open up movements and individual freedom, but I note there is not much freedom for the 86,000 Americans who have died and their families. Let us balance the risk and the reward.

3. The economy, first see point 1, and we need to draw on our innovative spirits and recreate business that works in this environment and keeps people safe and employed. See point 2.

4. Equity, might be a good idea to define and value essential jobs differently.

5. Equity again, it might be a real good idea to look at the impact CV-19 is having on all our different populations and look at root causes, and once and for all address. Education and new economy skill development, housing, a living wage, access to health care would be the four I would want to understand and support fundamental changes in our current approaches. Again, see point 1.

6. Transformation. The business model has fundamentally changed, and we need to make sure as our economy converts, we support workers caught in the transition. Retail vs. on-line, travel vs. stay at home, hospitality, education vs. on-line. The economy will always need consumers, and the new economy will need workers. Thinking through how to balance these two trends will be critical as we transform.

7. Stay at home vs. office. Some old attitudes will need to change, and we will need to embrace a different working model. Good for some employees, not all. Coaching and management will need to adapt. Essential on-site work will need to be fairly valued.

8. Preparedness. We got caught, and we should not have. Infrastructure matters, as does science. See point one. Let us invest wisely. We have oil reserves. We have FEMA, and we need to be able to respond when the next pandemic hits. It is not as if we did not have a warning. On this point, both Fox and MSNBC agree. We can also prepare a thoughtful response to the economy and have support systems, like unemployment, that can handle a surge.

Out of every crisis comes lessons.

I hope, so does learning and actions.

I have found that the light is so much better than the dark.

Note, you have to turn on the light. See point 1.


A Time to Rise, Again

Posted by on May 15, 2020 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” –Albert Einstein


Poverty is pervasive, persistent, and painful. It is complex and cruel in its scope. It impacts society on many levels. Both the individuals and families experiencing hardship directly, and the opportunity costs to all of us. In my tradition, the gospel calls us to acknowledge poverty and to meet it with intention and resources. For many our response to that call, while filled with good intent, does not fundamentally change the trajectory of those living in poverty. One could argue that much of our current public policies share the same attribute. The impact of our actions does not change; long term the lives of people in poverty. Does it bring comfort, perhaps, does it save lives, at times, but does it at its core attack the root cause of poverty and drive change. The stark, data-driven, answer is no.


The social service sector, along with government safety nets, has been the backstop to those in poverty. Poverty in American in the 1960s was 15% of the population. Today 60 years later, unadjusted for inflation, it remains essentially the same. If one looks at the living wage, the numbers are significantly higher. Some argue poverty is a human condition and that the poor have always been with us, an interesting perspective unless you are the one experiencing hardship. No reasonable person can make the case that poverty is good for America. The question is who and how to address the challenge it represents to all of us? Clearly, the approaches and attitudes of the last 60 years are not working.


Imagine an America where the 30-35 percent of Americans living below a living wage and likely drawing on the social safety net is no longer doing so. Imagine the impact on growth, individual and corporate taxes, crime, families, and our overall quality of life. Imagine an America where full employment comes at a living wage, and a skilled workforce drives investments in infrastructure, new technologies, and innovation across any number of critical needs. Imagine an America where opportunity is available to all and that the engine of change is a living wage job and a self-determined life, not by circumstances, but by choice and a real available opportunity and path to economic mobility.


There is a Movement in America of individuals and organizations that believe this dream is real and reachable. A Movement that draws on Einstein’s observation that big problem requires bigger ideas. Ideas that challenge the status quo while drafting off the opportunity and uniqueness of a diverse, innovative, and courageous America.


At its core, the Movement requires that government, corporations and individuals come together and make the ending of poverty in America a national priority. A Movement that believes the opportunity to advance one’s self is available to all and that opening that door is an obligation on all of us. The Movement is the belief that economic mobility is not a redistribution of wealth, but the creation of wealth through innovative public policy and incentives to create living-wage jobs while lowering the need for the social safety net. By matching investments in education and training to employment in the new economy that address infrastructure, technology investment, innovative new markets, and the environment. Jobs that provide a path out of poverty and creates a new generation of consumers and contributors.


The Movement will also require leadership that thinks big and bold and is willing to take on the old ways. It will need a consensus of voters, markets, and the private sector to take the long view. It will require us to view that maintaining individuals and families in poverty is no longer acceptable and that fundamental changes require investment, time, and a long-term generational commitment. A belief that the way out of poverty is a job at a living wage and that opportunity is indeed available to all.


I believe we are at the tipping point. As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” One need not look far to see and feel the divide in our country, and long term intergenerational poverty is perhaps our worst/best example. We are not far from social unrest and with it all of the consequences.


We have a choice. We can continue as we are, and the problem will not change or we can look to our better nature and say enough. Let us hold leadership accountable at every level of government and the private sector. Vote at the ballot box and as consumers. Get educated on the issues and look for the long term, innovative programs and policies that can scale, drive real change, and support them. Support them with your vote, your Visa, and your voice. Be courageous and call for change. If you are in leadership, lead. If you can volunteer, volunteer. Put grandchildren ahead of greed.


Let us go to the next level and let us go now!


It is time to rise above.


Dave Griffith is the Head Coach at Episcopal Community Services, where they are part of the Movement using innovative brain-based science to coach individuals towards and to economic mobility and advocating for public policies that drive the same agenda. ECS employees some 175 professionals and works with some 2000 participants and 300 volunteers through its various programs.


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A Prayer for this CV-19 Time

Posted by on May 15, 2020 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Prayer in this time of CV19


Lord, look over all our front line men and women caring for the sick.


Lord, look over all the essential workers keeping the supply chain running.


Lord, have mercy on the sick and grant them healing.


Lord, help us have faith in the face of death.


Lord, help us show compassion to those not working and in need.


Lord, grant wisdom and courage to all our leaders.


Lord, give us strength in this time of trial.


May we learn that which is essential is that whom we love,


be they family or the stranger among us.


May we come together now and remember we are stronger together,


both today, but especially tomorrow.


Lord, with you, our capacity is limitless and our faith strong.


In this season of resurrection, we take courage to face the challenges ahead.


May we do so. May we do so, May we do so.


Out of the darkness, may we find the light.



In Memory of a Coach

Posted by on May 15, 2020 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

When I was a young man in boarding school, my Latin teacher was Mr. Hopley who, while proficient with the language of ancient Rome, also had a sense for the English language that he would use from time to time to turn a phrase such that many remain in my memory forty years later. He believed that words can inspire, that the spoken word, well turned, could stiffen a backbone, instill character, provoke thought, and become a touchstone for one’s values. His great gift was the lesson that words spoken, words written, only had true meaning if one could back them up with deeds and actions that matched the rhetoric.




One thinks of JFK’s enduring question; “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country?” or Lincoln’s well-chosen words at Gettysburg “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”




My favorite, probably due to Mr. Hopley’s influence, comes from Gene Edward’s well-conceived book, A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness, a fictional tale about King David, Saul, and Absalom. In one chapter David, living in King Saul’s house, asks what to do when a spear is thrown at him. The answer?




When someone throws a spear at you, David, just wrench it right out of the wall and throw it back. Everyone else does… And in doing this small feat of returning thrown spears, you will prove many things. You are courageous. You stand for the right. You boldly stand against the wrong. You are tough and can’t be pushed around. You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment. You are the defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of all heresy.




Upon first reading, I was sure I had heard those words before. I continue to think about this passage a lot. On first read: Go ahead, return the spear. Justify it as a defender of the faith, keeper of the flame. Often our reaction to attack is to return the favor and to find some nobleness in doing so. In the end you both end up wounded, or perhaps dead. In the following passage, however, Edwards’s writes that perhaps you will be the finest spear thrower in the realm, but you will also be more than likely become quite mad. He understood PTSD before it had a name.




Edwards goes on to suggest that perhaps the true defender of the faith is the one who does not throw the spear, does not spend time with spear throwers, and the true keeper of the flame is quiet, even as one’s heart is pierced. Herein lays true leadership and strength.




How ironic that the classic phrase of English coronations, Fidei Defensor, defender of the faith (that’s where I’d heard the phrase), is turned from the old biblical story of David and Saul when that very same story speaks to the true king, one who would come after David and from the House of David and speak not of armies and violence, but of peace. We respect warriors, but we honor peacemakers.




So perhaps true defenders of the faith, true keepers of the flame, do not stand their ground on the strength of their swords. Perhaps the true defenders look for the common ground and the strength of peace. Perhaps the early deeds of a young King David match the words (ironically not his later ones, but Edwards has the liberty of prose here). Perhaps, Mr. Hopley was right. And to quote another man from Massachusetts “the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”




The work of peace goes on, and with it the notion that peace on the battlefield needs to be matched with peace on our streets and in our hearts. Peace that comes when the spear of poverty has been stilled. Then we can be true defenders of the faith. In a new land and in a new time. Fidei Defensor, Mr Hopley

The Trajectory

Posted by on May 10, 2020 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

We all have moments that change the trajectory. The trajectory of our lives, our relationships, our careers, and our opportunity to shape our legacy. One of my all-time Muddy Boots heroes, Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 US Olympic team, famously challenges his team before they played the Russians in the semi-finals that, “This is your time.”


Well, we are at such a moment. This is our time. We have some choices to make.


Let me frame these choices in terms of our stated values at Episcopal Community Services, where I work.


1. Dignity: We are asked in our tradition if you will respect the dignity of every human being -not some, every.

2. Justice: What are the rules for a free society, not just the rule of law, but equity and access to opportunity for all. Is justice equal?

3. Community: How does an interdependent community of individuals from entry-level supply chain workers to corporate executives function?

4. Impact: How do our public policies, our economic systems, our support systems drive results that deliver and create real opportunities for all individuals.


What CV-19 has made clear is the playing field is not level, nor has it ever been. That on the core fundamental legacy values of dignity, justice, community, and impacts, we are at an inflection point.


As we recover from CV-19 over the next several years and we rebuild our economy and establish health policies to face the next pandemic, what have we learned? More importantly, what will we do differently? Some thoughts:


1. All jobs have dignity and value. Can we build a workforce that allows for living wages and benefits while addressing the critical needs of infrastructure, clean energy, access to health care, supply chain, and sustainable food supply? The data says we can, but not without changes in public policy and support for these investments.

2. How do we level the playing field on economic opportunity and still drive innovation and investment in research and design? Again public policy and partnership with industry that supports education, training, and investment in creating living-wage jobs. The current safety net programs maintain people. The most effective safety net is a living wage job with benefits. On a macro level, we need a transition tax policy that drives this transaction person by person, company by company.

3. CV19 has highlighted the enormous value of essential workers. Time to value these jobs correctly as living wage jobs. As local communities and as a country, we need to find a better balance in how we value employment. I am all for the market to work, but it needs to be a transparent and free-market guided and led by thoughtful public policy that creates living-wage jobs. Think of an economy where you have 25% more consumers.

4. We spend time and substantial funds on programs that maintain our most vulnerable. One could argue that the impact of these programs saves lives, but fundamentally does not change lives. It is time to rethink the approach and call for different long term results. What does success really look like in a post-CV-19 world? The issues have long been here. CV-19 now shines a bright light on the challenges. It would be irresponsible not to pay attention on many levels but I also can see that social unrest is brewing. Let us work on the real root causes, not bandaids.


We have some choices.

It is our time to listen and learn.

It is time to act.

What trajectory do we choose?

ECS at 150

Posted by on May 3, 2020 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Today marks the 150th year of the founding of Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. For 150 years, we have always run to the fire, and we will continue to do so. As we find ourselves fighting yet another fire, I have never been more proud of the organization.


To our staff, thank you for your service. You live our values of dignity, community, justice, and impact every day. To our board, your support, partnership, and guidance are unmeasurable, and on behalf of the people we serve, we say thank you.


To those of you who support us know that you make a difference and that without you this work would not be possible. We touch some 2000 lives annually from shelter, to housing, to out of school time, to coaching individuals to achieve economic mobility and more. We say thank you.


We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, and others will stand on ours. Let our shared legacy be that even in the darkest of days, ECS gave light to the darkness and answered with our full measure the call to service. There will always be fires and we will always respond.


We may not be able to gather today, but I know we are together. Today, tomorrow, and always.


It is an honor to stand with you.


Stay safe, be well, be strong.


Coach" target="_blank">http://




David Griffith | he/him/his

Executive Director and Head Coach

Episcopal Community Services

Muddy Boots 101

Posted by on April 16, 2020 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to an assembled group of leaders of family businesses sponsored by the Delaware Valley Family Business Center. They asked me to share my perspective, aka scar tissue, on the attributes of leadership observed over my years in business and my service as a board chair with privately held for-profit organizations.




I shared five core attributes.




Muddy Boots. Leaders who put on their Muddy Boots and go into the field and listen to the answers to two questions. How are we doing? What can we do better? Leaders do not manage the business from behind a desk. The listen to customers, competitors, employees, thought leaders, educators, to the people closest to the work. They seek outside advice and perspective.




Time. They are intentional with their time. "They do the important, not the urgent." They carve out think time. They are curious. They find the pain and fix it. They invest in learning and talking with contrarians. They think not in the present but three to five years out.




Elephants. They create environments where it is safe to name the elephants. They focus on the hiring and the care and feeding of talent. They work to be the dumbest person in subject matter areas. They understand that a bunch of talented people are more valuable than one individual telling people what to do. The world needs inventors and implementers. They understand that inclusion is a seat at the table and that the bigger the table, the better the decisions.




Personal Brand. People know what they stand for. They live their mission, their vision, and their values. People understand what is their North Star. They are consistent. They are both firm and calm. They run to the fire, not away from it. People want to work for them. They care more about other people's success than their own. They put their crew first, and their crew knows it.




Balance. They understand that while focus is important, so too is balance. They understand that shareholders are not the only stakeholder, but so too is family and community, employees, vendors, and customers. They understand and act that they are part of a much larger system and that we all carry the responsibility to pay it forward. They do not put greed ahead of grandchildren.




In the end, leadership can be summed up in the concept of legacy. True leadership understands that it is never about them. Rather it is about the organization they lead and the people they serve. They understand that old African proverb that "to go fast, go alone, but to go far, go together." Leaders pull the rope; they don't push it. They understand that personal achievement and economic security is a function of stakeholder service.




All of your stakeholders. Especially your future ones.