It is not all about me.

I have been running into a common theme lately: Leadership is not all about what you (as the leader) may want. Leadership is not about always getting your way. It is about casting a vision in front of people and then working with them to take your initial vision and turn it into something that everyone can take ownership in. Leadership is about seeing the next place you need to go as a group, and then having everyone get there together.

What do I mean? If I come to you with an idea that I have and ask for your help, but don’t allow you to have any input, will you be invested in the outcome of my idea? Not really. You would simply be helping me with one of my crazy ideas, and upon its completion would have very little lasting impact in your life.

Now, take the same scenario and tweak it a little bit. I have an idea that I bring to you. I tell you what I am wanting to do with it. I ask for your help, your advice, and your active input. You are excited about the idea and want to become a part. My idea has now become our idea. We work on it together. When we are finished, I doubt that it looks much like what I initially brought to you. The idea has changed…many times for the better.

Many years ago I worked in a small church setting. I was a youth pastor with a lot of energy and self proclaimed “brilliant” ideas. I did not understand the principle I have described above. I believed it was my responsibility to tell everyone else what we needed to be doing. What did I get in return? Leaders who did not know where we were going, or trust that I could get them there. I was too arrogant to admit that I didn’t know where we were going. I was the leader. I was going to get us there. Wherever there was. Had I joined with them and gave up the need to have things my way, who knows the good things we would have been able to accomplish together? It was a missed opportunity, but a step in my education of what leadership is.

Fast forward ten years. I am in a leadership role with a business group that I am associated with. I believe in the mission and purpose of the organization. I believe what in what we stand for. I feel the need to lead. However, I don’t feel the need to always have my way. I am eager to meet with people and hear their vision about what we are doing. As the groups leader, I want to share my vision and then work with them to get to a place that was better than any of us intended when we began. I want the organization to be better after my time as a leader is gone. I want others to want to step in and take the vision ever further. If I can accomplish this, I will feel like I have done what I am supposed to.

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Who is that old guy?

I was reading the other night and a startling image caught me by surprise. The light of my iPad was shining in my face and I looked up for a moment and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Maybe it was just the half light of the screen that made my face look older? It wasn’t. It certainly accentuated the lines that didn’t used to be there. I almost didn’t recognize myself. When did my reflection start looking so old?

Ok. I am not that old, but I am certainly starting to feel older. I will be 33 later this week. I have been out of my twenties for a while now and am steaming on to bigger numbers in the 30 series. I haven’t been feeling it too much, but it doesn’t help that I had a coworker remind me that Jesus was crucified when he was 33. I thanked her…with sarcasm, but thanked her nonetheless. Just when I got over that, a guy at church called me sir yesterday. It happens, I suppose. Oh well.

Part of aging includes remembering. Marixa and I have been talking a lot lately about memories. What do we remember? How long has it been? What significance did that period of time have? What did we learn? This is what I pulled from the conversation: What we remember is important. What we do with it is more important.

You hear the hypothetical question all the time: if you could go back to when you were younger, knowing what you know now, would you do it? My answer? No. Sure it would be nice to go back and make better use of my teenage years, save some more money, not date some of the women I dated, and so on, but I wouldn’t be the same. If I made it back to where I am now with a different view of life I may not have the things that mean the most to me now: my wife, my son, etc.

It was all of those life experiences that have made me into the man that I am today. If I hadn’t made a lot of the blunders and idiot mistakes I made over the years, I would not be who I am. It has taken a while, but I am really starting to like the guy in the mirror. I am finally becoming comfortable being myself. I know myself much better these days. It was only through the process of self discovery (and getting older) that I got here.

The old saying is true. People who don’t learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them. Those who don’t remember what happened, may walk down that road again. There are things in my past I am not proud of. There are choices I made that I would not make again. So, I remember them. I remember how it felt when I was going through them. I don’t want to go back so I choose a different way.

Yeah, he’s getting older. There are more lines on his face. There is much more gray on his head than there used to be, but they guy in the mirror’s life is getting better. I can’t go back and change what has happened in the past, but I am doing my best to take the memories I have and learn from them. The reflection is going to keep getting older, but the smile on his face has a chance to get wider as the years go by. I will take that over going back any day.

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What is the problem with asking for help?

I have something to admit. There are times that I have a hard time asking for help. There is a prideful spot in me that believes I should be able to do whatever I undertake without help. Like it is admitting weakness or making less of myself to ask someone else to lend me a hand. News flash! It isn’t. There are things I can learn on my own and then there are times you have to find someone who really knows.

For instance, I need help buying  insurance. Despite what some of the companies on TV will tell you, it is a good thing to have an old fashioned insurance agent help you determine what kind of coverage you need for you home and auto. You need someone who is well versed in the subject to help you protect yourself should something unfortunate happen.

An example: if I go get insurance from one of the compaines that tempts me to pick my own coverage on the internet (without dealing with an agent) and I only get the state minimum coverage (because according to the commercial that is all I need), I put myself at great risk for Murphy’s Law to show up and kick me in the butt. State minimum coverage in Oklahoma for auto insurance is 25/50/25. That means you have 25 thousand dollars max for physical damage that you do to someone else’s vehicle, along with 25 thousand dollars medical coverage (max) for each injured person, with 50 thousand dollar max for all medical claims. If I only have the minimum coverage and I cause a wreck that totals a brand new 18 wheeler (some are in excess of 125+ thousand new for just the truck…it is another 50+ thousand for the trailer) I am on the hook legally for 175 thousand dollars in physical damages. My insurance policy will pay out my coverage and the people I wrecked can sue me for the rest. Not a good place to be in.

I have seen the study material that many agents use to get their licenses. There is a bunch of information. The good agents know it all very well. I think it better to ask for help in this situation.

This is only one example I could mention. There are a ton of other things in this life that I could try to go alone, but would be so much better off if I just asked for help in the first place. There is no shame in admitting that you don’t know how to do something. The shame comes when you realize that you need help and are too chicken to ask for it.

There is two verses from the book of Proverbs that sum up what I am trying to say:

The way of a fool seems right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15 (I would say he not only listens to advice, but seeks it out.)

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14

The older I get the more I realize I don’t have everything figured out. (Surprise, surprise.) There are things I know how to do well and rarely ask for help on. There are even more that I know I don’t know how to do and will gladly find someone who does.

 

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Do you remember?

For the past few nights I have been sorting memories. Ok, old papers and pictures, but they are bringing up a lot of memories. Many good. Some painful. Some things I haven’t thought of in over 10  years…or more. I have come across memoribilia from a couple of things I don’t remember doing, but I am in the pictures. (That isn’t a good feeling.) I have run across evidence of things I know I did that I wish I could forget. And, I have been bombarded with a lot of good memories.

I have enjoyed the trip back in time. It wasn’t intended as a pleasure trip though. I have been searching through this stuff to see what I can remember (or find out) about myself. Who I was back then has a bearing on who I am today. I may be completely different, but where I am now started back down that road. Parts of it have grown fuzzy. I have noticed that we tend to forget things about ourselves. Sometimes, they are very important things. Pieces of who we are and why. Life presses down on us so hard that we forget. Have you ever had times like that?

For instance, I was almost a straight A student when I was in grade school. There were a few Bs here and there, but I did really well. What do I remember? I was very unmotivated in High School. Lots of Bs and Cs. I was just as bad in college. What happened? I made the Jr. Honor Society as a kid, but I had to have my Plant Biology professor grade my final before I left the class to make sure I would pass the class so that I could graduate from college. (I was happy with the D I made in that class at the time, but looking back now I know I could have done so much better.) I still haven’t figured it all out, but I know there is something important I am missing there.

How long has it been since you examined who you are now compared to who you were back then? History really does repeat itself if we forget or neglect to remember. If we forget where we have been, we may make the same mistakes we made long ago. We may be bound by the same problems that should have already been over.

It has been painful to see my younger self in some of the pictures. (I had an unhealthy fascination with posing for the camera.) But, it has been amusing at the same time. There are things I have remembered by looking at these pictures that have been long forgotten. It has been an interesting look in the mirror. One I should have taken before now.

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Grateful for the routine.

Tonight an old friend called me on the spur of the moment to see if I had plans for the evening. It was a flexible evening and I headed out to see him and had a good time hanging out. It was fun to get out for a bit and do something out of the ordinary. I am glad I went. One thing hit me when I got home. I missed getting to be a part of the evening routine of hanging out with my family and then getting our son down to sleep.

When I got home I went back to my bedroom and my wife and son were both fast asleep. I felt a sense of loss as I looked at the two of them. The time we get to spend of an evening is a special time. It usually involves chasing the boy around the house and wrestling with him. It involves reading to him and then fighting with him to get him to stay still long enough to let sleep catch up to him. Then, when it is all said and done there is an awesome quiet that settles over the room. A peace that is amazing.

Marixa and I get a chance to catch up if he has gone to sleep early enough. We get to really talk to each other and dive deep into conversation. (That is hard with the little guy around sometimes. Can’t get too far into a conversation when Mama or Daddy gets said over and over!) I enjoy that quiet time we get to spend with each other talking over our boy as he sleeps.

I am grateful for the life that I have been given. I love the routines that we do together. I love the time we get to spend. It was fun to do something out of the ordinary this evening and I am glad I did. I do look forward to being back in the routine tomorrow. It is good stuff.

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There comes a point when you have planned enough…

If you could win awards for drawing up brilliant plans, I am not sure I would win one. I make good plans all the time. I am not sure they are brilliant, but I do have some good ones though. I sit down and plan out my attack on whatever goal it is. Then I sit down later and plan it out a different way. Then I sit down even later and plan it out again. Did I mention that no execution followed any of the planning?

I don’t know if I just like looking a problem and figuring out ways to get around it (on paper), or I have just been scared to get my butt moving and follow one of the many plans I have drawn up (whatever the goal may be). It struck me yesterday that a plan isn’t worth a nickle if it isn’t put into action. It is just some dreams scribbled on a piece of paper. It only becomes reality when you do the work. And it may look very different when the plan is executed than you thought it would when you started off.

I was reading a blog post by Michael Hyatt the other day. He interviewed Alison Levine about her expeditions to climb Mount Everest. The first time she attempted it was in 2002 and she (and her team) had to turn back when they were 200 feet from the summit. Things did not go to plan. She took a team back to Everest last year and was able to complete the climb.

She had a plan. She set about the execution of that plan. However, she said in the video that even though they had a plan, there are times you have to take action based on the situation at hand and not necessarily stick to the plan. In her first climb the climate and situation dicatated that they turn back. There may have been major injury or death had they stuck to the plan.

I had to sit and think about the message she shared. A plan is just that a plan. It has to be put into action. It is what initially gets you moving. Once you are moving though, you have to be aware of what is going on around you. There may be things you didn’t plan for and you have to take action. Even if the plan isn’t brilliant, it can be updated on the go. The point is to get moving.

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What kind of love keeps marriages together?

You may know this about me, but I am going to say it again: I love being married to my wife. I am so thankful for her friendship and her love (and for a countless list of other things that would take far too long to write.) I don’t know where I would be (or who I would be) if we hadn’t found each other in the spring of 1998 and married the following January. We have been through a lot of things in our marriage. Some very good. Others not so much. We have stuck it through because we are the best of friends. Yes. My wife is my best friend. It works best that way.

I was reading through one of my favorite blog sites today and found an excellent post on this subject. Check it out. It was an extremely good read.

http://michaelhyatt.com/what-really-keeps-a-marriage-together.html

 

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