Incoherent Ramblings

3 Reasons to Hand Write a Note Today

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A few weeks ago I had the honor of speaking with a group of student leaders. Their leader is someone I respect, and I was grateful for the opportunity in and of itself.

Then, I was blown out of the water. About a week later, I got a handwritten note in the mail. The note immediately went up on my bulletin board as a reminder of being appreciated.

So, this week, let’s talk about writing notes. Here are 3 reasons to hand write a note today and make someone’s life a little brighter:

Physical Mail is Special

Snail mail is the new personal touch. Think about it: who doesn’t love getting something in the mail that is not a bill or a credit card offer? I love getting mail that is hand addressed to me because it’s usually someone who took time on me!

I see this with my kids. My girls LOVE getting cards in the mail. One of them even pouts when someone else gets something and she doesn’t. And honestly, I do too!

The Recipient Feels Valued.

My handwritten thank you note went on my bulletin board not for people to see when they come in, but because it’s something I love seeing and remembering. I feel valued every time I look at it. I have thank you notes from graduates that will not get thrown away (especially ones with a personal touch), because a handwritten notes communicates value.

It Sets You Apart, Hopefully as Someone Who Cares Deeply.

A few weeks ago my oldest daughter forgot her lunch. We have a rule that if she forgets her lunch, she has to deal with the consequences, but I decided to make an exception that day. So, I wrote a note, put it in her lunch box, and dropped it off at school for her. A few days later, I put a note in my youngest’s lunch box. I don’t remember a follow up conversation with either.

Last night, however, my wife told me our youngest told her she wants notes in her lunch box, that it was special and made her feel good.

If I can take a few moments to surprise my child with a note, why wouldn’t I do that? At the same time, if you take time today to write a note of some sort, what’s the most you have to lose?


So, there you go. Today’s challenge is to simply hand write a note to someone. Tell them thanks, or that you’re thinking about them, or wishing them luck.

Grab a stamp and make a difference today!

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Leadership Journey

The Poor Reader’s Tools for Reading

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I have talked about this several times, but I currently do not have a strong habit of reading. I could say I’ve read more this past year than in the past, but honestly anything above 0 constitutes “more”.

So, as I have journeyed along trying to develop a habit of reading and consequently, learning, here are some tools I have found along the way.

Audible – Audiobooks have their downside, but the upside is still worth it for me. I get presented with ideas and thoughts, and it’s an easy win for an audio addict like me. The selection is incredible, and the variety is impressive–I just finished Nick Offerman’s book Good Clean Funand it was great fun for a wannabe woodworker like me. If you sign up for the Audible trial, you’ll get two free books, so at least check it out to see if it would fit you.

Kindle Unlimited – The strength here isn’t necessarily the books you have access to, which can be spotty depending on the topic. The biggest benefit for me is the summaries. I’m not spending $10 and countless hours on a full book that I will likely never finish, but instead, I’m getting a summary of the ideas, and get to process them in my mind. I know I miss a significant part of the benefit of reading a book, but I’m exposed to the ideas and they get to bounce around my head for a while. At the same time, with the Unlimited membership, I am able to stock my kindle with books worth reading without breaking the bank. You can have 10 books loaned out at any point, and I stay around 9 or 10. Click here to learn more.

Libby – This is our local library audiobook app. I have discovered it, and have been using it along the way the past couple months. The selection is low, but it’s free with a Library card! I already have a John Grisham novel picked out for Thanksgiving travel, and I’m looking forward to it!


The bottom line about reading is this: you have to make time for it. With apps like Audible and Libby, it fits my routine better because I listen to so much anyway. Kindle Unlimited is nice because when I hit a spurt, I have access to books that stir my curiosity. But reading is a habit, and one I think is worth investing the time and effort to make.


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Leadership Journey

3 Tips to Develop a Lifestyle of Learning

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I have been very fortunate in my life. School came easy to me. I rarely had to work on school work. I grew up in a small school, and was generally able to finish most of my homework before heading home for the day.

Going through college, I had to make some adjustments. I realized some of my friends could calculate the number of days they could miss class, and plan out how many times in a semester they would sleep instead of going to class, whereas I needed to be in the classroom, listening to the lecture and discussion.

Then I graduated, and was faced with a new realm of life: learning away from the structure of school.

Over the past 10ish years since finishing my masters degree, there are a few things I’m starting to pick up. Oh, who am I kidding. Most of this has developed over the last couple years as I realized I want to develop habits now that will help me continue to grow 30 years from now.

So, here are my three tips to develop a lifestyle of learning:

  1. Learn From Everything. This comes natural, and it’s something I’ve written about previously (click here to read the post). The concept is simple: in every situation, take mental notes about the systems taking place. Go to football games and watch how coaches interact with players, coaches, officials, and fans. Watch the response by leaders to a public tragedy and ask yourself how you would handle those situations. Allow children to remind and refresh you along the way–enthusiasm, excitement, and growth.
  2. Learn From Others. Surround yourself with people who are a notch (or three) above you (I have another post about this here). Be curious about what makes them tick, and take the initiative to ask good questions. Be willing to learn from them–quick to listen and slow to speak. I had one interim pastor tell me I may not have the wisdom of an 80 year old pastor, but I can always ask an 80 year old pastor for wisdom. You will be amazed at what you can pick up when you set out to learn from other people.
  3. Learn From Books. I wrestle with this on a regular basis, because I’m such an auditory learner (I think). The reality is, however, I still learn more when I actually read. I listen to podcasts at an almost nonstop rate, but if I am being honest with myself, the written word is still my greatest retention and implementation strategy. Audiobooks are simpler to finish, but several of the ones I’ve finished lately still deal with being able to see images and diagrams, requiring visual effort. On Thursday, I will share some things that have helped me as I try to make reading a regular part of my life.



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Leadership Journey

When Mistakes Are Not Mistakes, pt 3

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We’ve all been there–the frustration of leading. You pour hours into a project or event or relationship, only to experience sub-par results. Or you have to make a decision in the moment, only to realize later you made the wrong choice. Anyone who has been in a leadership role can identify.

Today, we continue looking at a few mistakes we make in leadership, that even though they feel like a colossal failure in the moment, they are actually not mistakes. (Click here for part 1 and part 2.)

Asking for Help

When you interact with leaders, you begin to see a common thread among some–I cannot ask for help because it will make me look weak. Or, for a few others, the mindset seems to be “Why ask someone else when I can do this better than they can?” Still others view asking for help as a sign of weakness, or worse, and admission of being incapable of accomplishing a task.

I have written about this idea several times, but it bears repeating. So, pay attention:

You will never grow your leadership influence if you never ask for help.

Sure, you have a specific set of skills. Sure, you are good at what you do. Sure, you enjoy what you do. But if you never allow the people around you to step up, to serve, and to grow, before long you will either have no one left, or the only people left will be people who expect everything to be done for them.

Think of it this way: if I can do something at 90% efficiency and I pass it off to a student, they might be able to do it at 75% efficiency at the beginning. But over time, if that something turns into a passion for them, they will likely move to 95% efficiency, or higher.

Just because you can do something does not mean you’re the only person who can do it. Yes, you need to find the two or three things only you can do and embrace them, but ask for help with the rest!

What are you holding onto today that needs to be let go?


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Leadership Journey

When Mistakes Are Not Mistakes, pt 2

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We’ve all been there–the frustration of leading. You pour hours into a project or event or relationship, only to experience sub-par results. Or you have to make a decision in the moment, only to realize later you made the wrong choice. Anyone who has been in a leadership role can identify.

Today, we continue looking at a few mistakes we make in leadership, that even though they feel like a colossal failure in the moment, they are actually not mistakes. (You can read the first post by clicking here.)

Investing in Relationships

Human relationships are hard. There are nuances that vary wildly from relationship to relationship. There are often unexpressed expectations that go unmet. And more often than we would like, those relationships do not end the way we wish they would.

Part of our role as a leader is to invest in relationships. In ministry, we invest in people in whom we see potential or promise. So we spend time getting to know them, encouraging them, leading them, trying to help them grow. And occasionally, we watch our investment dwindle away as they begin making poor choices and slipping away.

At the end of the day, when those relationships have slipped away, we feel like we wasted our time, but I would argue it was not a waste of time. We cannot control people. Everyone has free will. But any time we learn to invest in someone, we are providing the opportunity for them to better themselves. Any time we spend investing in people is time well spent.

The real mistake in relationships, however, is not building them at all. If we find ourselves deciding beforehand a student (or anyone in general) will not benefit from the investment of our time, we play a dangerous game.

One final note, beware of trying to relationally invest in a disinterested person. I have built relationships with students early on, only to have them distance themselves later. Find the balance between mourning the relationship (and trying to mend it) and obsessing about the lost relationship. Remain emotionally available, but realize the energy you may be spending trying to rebuild could be spent elsewhere.

People are surprising. You cannot know their hearts until you get to know them, and vice versa. Spend time investing in relationships this week, and be not discouraged.


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