Landmarks and Memories

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Sometimes I wonder if everyone operates the same way I do. Today, let’s find out.

When I drive by certain landmarks and have a memory come to mind, it is generally something I was listening to at the time. As a result, I can drive by a windmill and remember the song that was playing, or under a bridge and remember a conversation I was having. Or, on a tractor, drive by a fence post and remember the point of the story I was at in an audiobook. Crazy, right?

But one place in particular is different. There is one spot between where I live and where I grew up that every time I drive by it, I feel like a 7th grader again.

Honestly, I do not know if the memory comes from that long ago or not, but it’s a spot where over time I have assigned a specific feeling: the feeling of awe at finally having arrived–being an athlete. It was undoubtedly one of my first early bus rides, but the emotion remains. Every time I drive by that spot, I feel optimistic, energetic, and old.

I may not know you well, but I’m going to guess you have something like that. It may be a spot where you fell in love. Maybe it is a note you keep in a safe space. It might be bigger, like your old car from high school, or your very first instrument. Or, maybe, it comes with a person. You think about the first person to encourage you to push for something more, or the first person to point something out to you.

Whatever it may be, I want you to think about this: you are not the same person you were in that moment, in that memory.

I am not a 7th grader anymore, though my wife may accuse me of acting like one from time to time. More than that, I had no clue I could ever become the person I am today.

Again, I would venture to say the same is true of you.

We change over time. We mature. We grow. We make mistakes. We get things right, and we grow some more.

Take a moment today and celebrate that you are not who you were in that memory. You are something more, something better, something different. And, if you’re not better than you were then, take a step today to correct that.

The Tension of the 3rd Question

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Last week I went to camp. One of my roles at camp was to teach leadership to a group of 12 students. What I did not anticipate, however, was the leadership challenge I was going to face in the process.

The kids were great. They were willing to step up and serve, they had humble spirits that were willing to learn, and they poured back into their own groups to make a difference.

The challenge was on my end. I had two roles while at camp: leadership and sound booth. There were certain times in the schedule where the two overlapped, and so I was faced with the tension of the 3rd question: both things need to happen, but I cannot accomplish both at the same time.

(Side note: If you do not know the 3 Questions, click here to read about them. The 3rd question asks “Who can I get to help?”)

The tension of the 3rd question boils down to this: asking other people to help actually helps us accomplish more. Revolutionary, right? Maybe not. In fact, this concept is completely logical. It makes perfect sense that the more people we ask to do something, the more we can get done.

The tension, then, comes when we as leaders would rather do something on our own for any number of reasons. Maybe there’s a certain level of glory in being in charge of something, or we enjoy accomplishing the task. But at the end of the day, if we want to lead, we have to answer the 3rd question.

So, today, what are you holding onto that you can let go? What is on your plate that overwhelms you, but you are afraid to ask for help? What can you ask someone to help with in order to create some forward momentum? Answer the third question this week and see what happens.

 

Avoid Getting Distracted

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I love grilling. Over the past six years, especially, I have started to experiment more and more with recipes, rubs, and types of meat. It has been a wonderful journey.

Last night, unfortunately, I was reminded of something: I am not an expert, and I cannot multi-task very well.

We had some friends over for supper last night, so I decided to grill some ribs. I put them on the grill, but it was late at night so I wanted them to cook a little faster than I usually cook, so I violated a policy I have when grilling: leave the middle burner off. (My policy comes from experiences with flare ups mainly.)

I went inside to take care of something in the kitchen, and while doing so my youngest daughter comes running inside saying “Daddy, your ribs are smoking!” I ran outside to find the flare up of all flare ups.

In leadership, beware of the temptation to multi-task. There are going to be things in your experience where you know you have to keep some safeguards in place (no middle burner), unless you can devote all of your attention to the task at hand.

I truly believe trying to multi-task often only means divided attention and weakened results. Focus on the job at hand. Keep your mind on what you’re doing. Carve out time later to jump to the next project, but make the most of the time you have in the moment.

The good news: I was able to salvage most of the ribs last night.

The bad news: I lost one. Well, one rib had a custom blackened crust on it.

Beware the distractions that pop up in your leadership and keep you from focusing.

Here’s to New Adventures

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Here’s to new adventures.

Our summer schedule starts in 10 days. By June 1, I will be halfway finished with our church trips for the summer of 2018.

Over the next 2 1/2 months, I will help lead a trip with kids to a place I’ve never been even to visit, I will experiment with a concept in a new environment (different from the one it developed in), and I will send both my daughters to camp for the first time.

It’s going to be a crazy 12 weeks, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

What new adventures are you taking this summer? What steps are you taking to step out in leadership? How are you going to challenge yourself to grow this summer?

Learn From Your Mistakes

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Learn from your mistakes. Seems like a simple concept, right?

But when was the last time you stopped to ask yourself if you’re truly learning from your mistakes? When was the last time you admitted you made a mistake?

I think there’s a fine line in here. I never want to wear a badge of “proud to make mistakes” on my chest, because mistakes are embarrassing. But I also never want to wear a badge of “mistake free since ’93” either.

Mistakes come from 2 places. New mistakes and mistakes of comfort.

New mistakes happen because we are trying something new. We step out of our normal routine, maybe swing for the fences with something, and make a mistake along the way. Whether the something we tried is a success or a failure on the whole, the mistakes we make are all part of the learning process.

Mistakes of comfort, on the other hand, happen because we are too lazy to correct them. Sound harsh? It may be, but that doesn’t make it less true. Mistakes of comfort are the result of knowing we are making a mistake, but we’ve made it so many times that we know the outcome and think we can live with it. Mistakes of comfort are dangerous and damaging to our leadership.

If you want to grow as a leader, take some time to evaluate the last few months. What mistakes of comfort keep popping up? My tendency is to laugh them off, but I know they need to change. What about you?

The bottom line is this: if you desire to grow as a leader, you need to learn to eliminate mistakes of comfort but maximize new mistakes. Taking risks can aid growth, but accepting mediocrity kills it.