Be Excellent, Go The Second Mile

L.E.A.D. Elementary School Character Development Series

I am proud to announce that the new name for L.E.A.D.’s Middle School Baseball League is the L.E.A.D. Middle School Character Development League. The reason for changing the name is to ensure that our LEADers, their family and the Atlanta community understand that L.E.A.D. is about much more than bats and balls.

Photo from left to right: L.E.A.D. Ambassador Mendez Elder (Grady High School); Ambassador Andrew Young; Reverend Joseph Lowery; Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves) and L.E.A.D. Ambassador Wesley Clement (Mays High School)

Each week, I’m going to publish a blog discussing a character trait that is important to our organization. Many people say that baseball develops character. On the contrary, L.E.A.D. feels that baseball exposes your character first then it develops it. Baseball is the ultimate game of failure. It is also the only game that allows you to be considered successful based on you failing more than you succeed.  Yes, this is a correct statement and you will learn how during our time together.

The character trait that I will highlight this week is excellence. Excellence is also one of L.E.A.D.’s seven core values. According to, the word excellence is a noun and is defined as a state or quality of excelling or being exceptionally good; extreme merit; superiority.

I define excellence as simply going the “second mile.” I recently heard Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy speak about the Chick-fil-A culture of going the “Second Mile” based on the Book of Matthew 5:41. Jesus says, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles”.

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Mendez Elder and L.E.A.D. Co-Founder C.J. Stewart attending a 2011 Atlanta Public Schools Board Meeting

My wife and I started L.E.A.D. in 2007 with the intention of doing camps and clinics throughout the year. Now L.E.A.D. is a year round character development program that uses academics, athletics, service/civic engagement and exposure to increase the high school graduation rate of African-American males from Atlanta Public Schools. We continue to go the “Second Mile” by serving our families with excellence.

L.E.A.D. Co-Founders C.J. Stewart and Kelli Stewart attending the 2013 L.E.A.D. Middle School Signing Day at Harper-Archer Middle School

Here are three things that you can do everyday to ensure that you are excellent.

1. Get feedback from others. Ask your co-workers and teachers if your work is excellent. If they truly want to see you improve, they will give you honest feedback.  Don’t be offended by constructive criticism.  In order to do better, you have to know better, and once you know better, you have to be better.

My wife Kelli from time to time has to remind me to get my priorities together. I get so busy with preparing for business meetings that I neglect other more important things in life like family time, Bible study and my health. I’m thankful that she can slow me down at times and get me back on track. Who helps you to get back on track when you are falling off?

2. The results don’t lie. If you feel that you performed well on a test but you get an “F”, that means that you didn’t prepare with excellence. 

3. Examine yourself.  You have to first experience excellence in order to be excellent.  The reason that L.E.A.D. can provide an excellent experience to our families is because we have been a part of excellent experiences.  Everyone has experienced excellence and therefore I believe that everyone can be excellent.

Learn more about L.E.A.D. at

“Narrate the positive script for your future and you are the star character.”