The Every Day Leader: What are you chasing after?

“A man without a decision of character can never be said to belong to himself. He belongs to whatever can make captive of him.”  John Foster

We all chase after something. That something may or may not be good for us or but there is always something that has our attention.

Sitting on the porch I watched our one and half-year old dog sit as close to the edge of the porch as possible. Up until recently she would run after whatever was walking by, regardless of my words of warning.  Now, as she is growing older she is finally beginning to get it.

She must practice self-control.

Some of us chase after fame, fortunes, and the next BIG thing. Some chase after the next technology gadget, fast cars,  or a new position.

As adults we may no longer chase after every whim, as we once did in our youth. We may not even chase after all the tempting things that come our way but, we still are chasing something.  Sometimes,  those things we chase are not always healthy for us and we need to show more self-control in all areas: emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, or spiritually.

Are we showing self-control when it comes to our physical needs? it may be we are not eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, or we put ourselves in situations or environments that increase our stress levels. Be intentional to live healthier and reduce the stress in your life.

Perhaps we need more self-control in the area of our finances: how we earn, save and spend our money.  It may mean being willing to work and do our very best at our job and holding off on the latest and greatest gadget or other things that we are chasing, until we have saved up for it or have a plan to pay for it. Be intentional to save for a rainy day.

How about our time? Are we managing our time well in order not to scramble at the last-minute?  When we don’t prepare or are always late we send the message that we didn’t care enough to be prepared.  Be intentional, prepare, be on time and lead so that others want to follow you.

What about our decision-making. Are we stuck in the mud when it comes to making the hard decisions? During times when decisions are especially difficult it is wise to seek the counsel of those you trust. A snap decision is never a good idea, rather make your decision based on facts, many counselors, and intentional thought.  Be intentional to get out of the mud.

Are we showing self-control in our relationships? Relationships, whether they are: business, friendships, or family, take lots of work. Choosing to invest in others takes time; it takes getting past the small talk.  It means showing up as a friend, a mentor, a confidante and not being distracted. It means being present and engaged with the person who is with you and taking time to ask questions about them. It means not thinking of the next thing you are going to say but rather listening to what is being said.  Be intentional in your relationships, practice active listening.

John Maxwell reminds us that when we are leading the person we must first lead is ourselves.  If we cannot control our own lives, how can we expect to model and teach others?  How do we lead a life of intention and influence those around us when we are unable to practice self-control first?

How are you at self-control?

I love that every minute we live is another opportunity to start fresh.  Do you have some areas you need to improve in? We all do. Take the first steps and identify the areas you need to work on.  Set some goals.  Start out with small things, celebrate the small successes and milestones.

Our willingness to practice self-control makes us better leaders.

The Every Day Leader, Living a life of intention; Choosing to be self-controlled in our own lives and modeling it for others.

The Every Day Leader: Hidden

What is it about white picket fences that we like them so much? Stories are written about them, little girls dream of growing up and owning homes with them and often times we are drawn to houses that have them. There is something special about seeing a pristine white picket fence around a house.

When we moved into our house, I was thrilled to have a little white picket fence around the back yard.  When I look at it,  I am filled with warm memories of growing up on a farm.

This fence looks beautiful from the back porch, all nice and white with a few plants growing along the side to enhance the look.

An up close look though tells a very different story.  When you look closely at some of the boards you will see that many of those boards are rotting and some are even broken off at the bottom.  If you push a little too hard, you might just push all the way through! 

What looks beautiful on the outside… IS NOT what you see on the inside.

This can be true of us Every Day Leaders too. We  often look fabulous on the outside! We have just the right look and talk, our actions seem to say we are leaders but what you may find on the inside is far different.  Our outside is nothing more than a facade, hiding our true selves.

 As Every Day Leaders seeking to live a life of intention, our lives should look the same on the inside as the outside.  If we claim to be someone with integrity… is that reflected all the time, even when no one is watching? Integrity is doing the right thing ALL the time. It is being who you say you are and doing what you said you have done, this includes on paper too.

If we say you can trust us, does this change depending upon the situation, the person we are with, or the opportunity presented? Trust is hard to get, easy to lose, and extremely difficult to get back. Customers are often lost over broken trust and employees are less productive when they don’t trust their leadership.

When we say that we care about someone, is it only for the moment or are we  willing to truly show that we care even if it means being inconvenienced? Words are easy to say but do our actions speak loudly that we do care about those we lead? Do we take the time  to show them by getting to know our employees and those around u?. Do we take time to help them work in their strengths to be more successful? Or is it all about our success and how they can help us achieve it? As a leader when you truly care for those you lead, you will do everything possible to help them be successful, knowing their success is your success.

If I am going to follow someone, I want to know who they are, not just who they say they are. I want to know they are consistent and that their words and actions are the same.

What image are you portraying to others? What things do you say and do to create that image?

The picket fence is a great reminder to us as leaders that looking good to others on the outside is not all we want to be or should strive for.  We should always strive to be the same on the inside as what others see on the outside.

Our character counts.  Not the way we look or dress, what we own, or even our position, but what really counts is that which is deep inside us. And that which is deep inside us will always define us. It is this character that is inside us that is the true influence on the lives of those around us. 

The Every Day Leader, living a life of intention, being our best selves – inside and out.



The Every Day Leader: Around the Table

Yesterday I blocked out an hour for a lunch meeting.   The hour lunch turned into a two-hour lunch, then into a three-hour lunch.   The same was true for my lunch the next day. In fact it seems when people stop and take time to break bread together something profound happens.

The time is never wasted.

There is something magical that happens around a table, whether food is involved or simply just a cup of coffee. When you intentionally meet with someone over a meal or coffee, relationships change.  The acquaintance becomes someone you get to know, a current relationship often grows stronger and trust starts to develop.

When I was kid, I watched my parents model this.  No matter what they were doing, if someone stopped in for coffee my parents stopped and made the time to sit down and build that relationship.  It was how neighbors kept in touch.  It is how you knew what was happening with your neighbor.  It was a different way of living back then.  Today, neighbors don’t usually stop in for a cup of coffee; and we are often too busy to invite them to.

Relationships are still built by gathering around together and one of the best way to do that is around the table. 

Every day leaders have to be intentional to seek to invite others into fellowship.  We have to be willing to take the time to build relationships. If you are in the business world it is important to connect with your employees and clients. In the non-profit world it is important to get to know those that partner with you, volunteer for you, and support you in a variety of ways is vital to your success. As individuals we can intentionally reach out to a friend or neighbor and invite them to come and sit around the table for a bit.

When was the last time you took a break from your busy day and met someone for coffee?  Maybe there is someone you know who is merely an acquaintance and you would like to get to know them better.  Perhaps it is one of your employees that you sense is struggling. Maybe it is someone who has helped you bring your dreams to life. A simple cup of coffee around the table, or the simple act of breaking bread can change that relationship forever – it will bring connectedness.

We as people long to feel cared about.  We long to feel connected.  We want those around us to really know us, more than just our name. Remember the TV show ‘Cheers’?  It was the place where everyone knew your name, just as the theme song pointed out.  Something each one of long for.

Every day leaders intentionally seek to build relationships around the table. They intentionally invite and break bread and add value to others.

The Every Day Leader: Dreaming

Somewhere over the Rainbow  Israel “IZ” Kamakawiso’ole 2011

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Ooo ooo ooo Ooo ooo ooo
Somewhere over the rainbow

Way up high And the dreams that you dreamed of

Once in a lullaby
Oh somewhere over the rainbow

Blue birds fly And the dreams that you dreamed of

Dreams really do come true
Someday I’ll wish upon a star

Wake up where the clouds are far behind me

Where trouble melts like lemon drops

High above the chimney tops

That’s where you’ll find me
Oh somewhere over the rainbow

Have you heard this remake of this classic song from years ago?  It is a beautiful remake! It is a reminder of a carefree life that allowed us to dream dreams and have our troubles melt away like lemon drops.

 Oh to have such a life!

 The song can take us back to our childhood for just a few moments, but then reality seems to jump right in front of us again.  Often that reality is filled with deadlines, people issues, us trying to do it all and be all that someone expects us to be. Life is often so busy where we constantly are juggling everything and trying to find a balance that seems to always elude us.

I wonder…where do our dreams fit in?

When was the last time you even really allowed yourself to dream?

Are we so busy that we have forgotten what are dreams are?  Often our dreams come from a passion we may have.  Our dreams often evolve from our true nature talent and desires that God has given each one of us.  It is what makes us unique.  Yet so much of the time the dreams we have get put on the back burner.  Life gets in the way, the noises of the day drowns out the still small voice that gives wings to those dreams.

Do you even remember your dreams?

What would the world look like if we each remembered those dreams and made a commitment to rediscover them, and then set out to pursue them with all we had… what we would be like as every day leaders? How different our lives would look.

Finding our dreams doesn’t just happen.  It requires us to be intentional.  We have to actively take the time to remember, rediscover or discover for the first time, and entertain the idea of “what if?”

When we as everyday leaders are in tune to what our dreams are, we begin to think and act in a way that makes those dreams come true.  We begin to tap into the way God made us and to be our best selves.  We begin to be what we were created for, instead of settling for the mediocre or what others want us to be.

Every day leaders take time to dream.

We need to take the time to dream and to reignite the dreams we once had.  We know that when we are doing things we love it shows.  When we are in our sweet spot others see that and are drawn to it and we can’t seem to get enough of it.  This becomes a great opportunity to influence those around us. Work never seems like work when we are operating in our sweet spot.

I want to be that every day leader that isn’t afraid to dream. I want to intentionally act upon my dream, tapping into all the beautiful and wonderful ways that I have been created.  I want to be my best.

I want to encourage others to dream and not be afraid to pursue those dreams!

Oh somewhere over the rainbow

Way up high

And the dreams that you dare to Why, oh why can’t I?

Oh somewhere over the rainbow Blue birds fly

And the dreams that you dreamed of

Dreams really do come true

The Every Day Leader, being intentional and dreaming to make a difference in the lives of others.

The Every Day Leader: Resourcefulness

re·source·ful (adjective): able to deal skillfully and promptly with new situations and difficulties

The old braided rug stays in the kitchen.  To most anyone else, it is nothing more than just that.  What I see is the memories of crocheting scraps of material all sewn together with my grandmother. We spent hours tearing up the scraps, sewing them together at the ends and rolling the long strips into a ball.  That took place before any crocheting began.   It is nothing more than a rug, but it symbolizes much more.  The rag rug was something made out of left overs.  Scraps, from things that would have been thrown away.

Like so many things back then, you learned to be resourceful.  If your shoes became worn, you used those shoes to play or work in.  If your clothes wore out they became a quilt or passed on to another.  We grew most of our food, and made sure that we canned and froze and saved for the winter months.  We did this because we couldn’t always afford to buy new things. 

 It was a different era back then.

Though our world is much different today, I learned valuable lessons from the days back on the farm. Lessons that have carried over throughout my whole life.  One of the most important lessons came from this rug, the lesson of resourcefulness and being a good steward of what has been given to us.

There are times in our lives when we will be forced to be resourceful. Times when things turn out different from what was planned and we are left with having to make a beautiful rug out of scraps. It is at these times that we learn who we are and if we have what it takes to make it and succeed.

When the unexpected happens do you panic?

Do you spend more time than necessary trying to deal with it? 

Do you take out your frustration on those around you? 

Every day leaders working to be prepared for new or unexpected situations; intentionally making a difference in the lives around us.


The Every Day Leader: Leading on Empty

I was leaving in a hurry, trying to make an appointment on time, and jumped in the car started to take off when I noticed my gas light was on.

My quick calculation was that I would have enough to make it to the appointment and back so thinking nothing more of it I headed out. As I headed home I took a quick glance and to my dismay I had enough to make it only 2 more miles with more than a mile to go!  I began to wonder why I had waited to fill the car and if I would make it to the gas station up the road. Just as I pulled into the gas station my car died. The car was empty! You could almost hear the deep sigh as I opened the gas tank.

 And then it hit me…

 Not only did I push my car to the limit, but I knew that I have also done that to myself.  I rearrange, I get up early, I stay up late…. all to work more and do more.

How often to we as leaders get to the place where we are running on empty? How many times have we ignored ALL the signs?

 We push ourselves to the point of fitting so much into our schedules that we forget to take care of ourselves.

How about you, do you push until you are empty?

As leaders we need to always live intentionally and think and do differently.  Just as the car cannot move without the gas, neither can we.  We must fill ourselves up – emotionally, physically, relational, spiritually and mentally.

We must as leaders intentionally live healthy.  This means to eat well, exercise, invest in our relationships, take care of our emotional well-being, Invest in our spiritual well-being by spending time with God every day,  and we need to always be looking for ways to sharpen our mental skills.

I want to be that every day leader that chooses to live differently, knowing that when I am healthy I have more to give.  We must choose to  live a life that never leads on empty.

The every day leader, living a life of intention.  Taking care of ourselves, making a difference in those around us.

The Every Day Leader: One is the Loneliest Number

I laid down beside my grandkids in bed, tucking them in for the night.  It had been six  days since their parents had left, and they were all feeling it. The two-year old was crying out for her mama, it seemed she especially missed her at bedtime.  At first her sister had asked her to be quiet. Yet as the little one continued to cry out, I watched something beautiful transpire. In the semi-darkness, I could see the four-year old reach over and offer her hand to her little sister.

The moments that followed were priceless.  The hands locked fingers, no words were spoken, but the silence was golden.  The littlest one seemed to understand that her older sister was there for her.  She was missing her mama and so was her older sister. In that moment of need, she knew she wasn’t alone.

She knew someone understood.

There are times that we all feel like my sweet little two-year-old year old granddaughter.  We wonder if we are alone.  We wonder if anyone knows how we might be feeling.  We feel isolated.  We keep our feelings stuffed down deep…what would others say?  What would others think? Almost always if we are a leader by position, it is especially a lonely road.

If you are in a position of leadership you often are in a place where you do not have the privilege to share openly your struggles, your frustrations or your fears…so we tend to keep quiet.  Sometimes we cry out in the quietness of our own solitude, where no one can hear us.

We all need that hand that reaches out to us, like that little hand in the darkness with my granddaughters.

We need to know someone understands us and someone cares about us.  We need to know that someone is there to listen, to comfort, to advise, and that we have someone we trust.

We were never meant to be an island, that lifestyle is only sustainable short-term. Success and longevity comes with having a strong trusted confidante who does not change or waver based on YOUR circumstances.  Someone who will speak truth into your life and not just tell you what you want to hear.

If you don’t have someone like that, you need to find that person, TODAY.

It is not enough to have that person, you must be willing to accept the gift they are offering. We must accept the gift of themselves to walk with you and to speak truth into your life, the gift of that hand in your darkest hour, their gift of support in your loneliest times, the gift of trust as you lead. God gives us the gift of others so we don’t have to walk this journey alone.

The every day leader, living a life of intention, making a difference in the lives of others by never walking the road alone.

Be intentional to find someone who will help you be the very best YOU that you can be!

The Every Day Leader: Who Is Shadowing You?

There is always at least one person that is in my life that I know God has placed there for a reason.  The timing may not always be convenient, it may not always be in my plans, but somehow it always works out.  Somehow God knows just what I need, just what they need.  And always, when I take the time to invest in that person, I get out of it way more than I put into it. 

                                       Happens every time.

Investing in the life of another takes time, effort and a huge part of me and it won’t happen unless I take the time to do it.  It means I have to be willing to sacrifice, I have to be vulnerable, and transparent to share my life with another…my whole life.  There are parts of my life that I am not so proud of, there are times of my life I had to learn lessons the hard way.  When I invest in the life of another, it means sharing those times too. It is truly sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly, because lessons can be learned from every area and all of our life experiences.

The funny thing about investing… those relationships you put your heart and soul into mentoring, they are the ones that never fail to teach me something new about me.  Of course, I sharpen my skills and learn patience and understanding as I learn to work with someone new.  But it is so much more than that.  True mentoring makes me take a hard look at me.  As I teach and share, I also have to evaluate, I have to intentionally seek to understand myself better.  I learn the why’s of the past and begin to  see things from a different perspective.

Most of all, I am taking the time to think things through instead of plowing ahead with the business of life. 

If someone is following in my shadow,  I need to look at the person they are following.  How am I really?  Am I doing all the things I say?  Do I practice what I preach?  Do I lead others in such a way that I am worthy for another to want to be my shadow? Am I patient in answering questions?

Have you ever tried to copy someone’s shadow and anticipate their moves exactly?  It is almost impossible.  It is a pretty big bill to fill to have someone look up to you and want to be mentored by you. You have to be selfless, patient, and giving, even when you are tired or busy.

I look at those who have and who are mentoring me.  I am so thankful for them, for the time they have taken to invest in me and to make me a better person.  They have modeled for me the importance to do the same for another.

Who has God put in your life?  Is it someone who has never had a mother?  A Father?  Someone who needs to learn how to run a business?  Someone you are teaching spiritual principles to? Or maybe it is just someone who seems to be always clamoring for your attention by asking questions about everything you do and have done. They seem to be so eager to learn and soak up like a sponge anything you share.

Mentoring does not have to be lengthy and involved. Do you have an hour a week, twice a month, or a month? Scheduled times of mentoring help focus but there are also many informal times that conversations are had and lessons are imparted.

There are endless ways we can mentor another and endless opportunities to do so. Don’t miss a  chance to invest in another, you just may be surprised at how valuable they are to you!

The Everyday Leader.  Living a life of intention.  Mentoring another, always investing in those around you.

The Every Day Leader: Your Attitude is Contagious

She sat down next to me on the bench, and out of nowhere began to share her story.  The line that stuck out to me was…“it was a blessing in disguise”.  She had lost everything including her home in a tornado. Yet, she could say it was still a blessing.  She was demonstrating an incredible attitude to me, a stranger.   I was no one she needed to impress, I was not someone in her circle of influence, and I was probably  not going to be someone she ever saw again.

I know her first name and really not much else, but in just those few minutes I spent with her she inspired me.  She was being an every day leader by her contagious attitude about life.  I didn’t know what she did for a living, I didn’t know her family background, her beliefs,  or her history, but what I learned in that short conversation had an impact on me that will last the rest of my life. I was reminded that our attitude is contagious.  She turned a difficult situation into a positive one and shared it with me.   I want to model that attitude.

This encounter was a great reminder to me that our attitudes play a huge role even in the most unexpected places!  I am amazed at the influence we can have on people we don’t even know.  We each have the ability to be someone of influence and that influence can be positive or negative…our attitude can be contagious!

YOU are that every day leader!

How easy is it for us as people to go about our every day lives, doing our own thing, keeping to ourselves  and not even noticing others or taking the time to speak to those around us. How many times have we been at a coffee shop sitting outside and not even say hello to those walking right past us?  Perhaps we never even noticed them. Think about all the opportunities we have each day to influence others – often times it can be as simple as the attitude we demonstrate or in how we react to our own circumstances.

We model to others by how we live our own lives.

What are you modeling?  What are others seeing? Do they see someone who sees the good in life…the blessings in disguise?  Or do they see someone who complains, wonders where the good is and who struggles with life issues?

Modeling a good attitude takes work and LOTS OF PRACTICE.  As every day leaders we must be intentional to model an attitude that is positive and contagious to those around us.  Doing this does not come naturally! 

Your attitude does impact those around you…even a stranger. 

Just like Diane sharing her story reminding me about blessings in disguise, I want to  be intentional in my attitude, making a difference in the lives of others.

An Every Day Leader, Living an intentional life.  Making a difference with my attitude.


The Every Day Leader: Freedom

Fourth of July celebrations are often rolled out in a grand fashion to celebrate America’s freedom all across the country.

Many times there is a local symphony that performs, with each instrument fine-tuned for their unique purpose and moment in time to play. The performers are musicians who show exceptional ability and technique, striving to be perfect in their performance.

Our lives are like that symphony.  We all have specific parts to play, with specific gifts and talents. When we excel at our gifts and our strengths, just like the musicians, we allow ourselves to be part of the bigger picture.  When we use these gifts and strengths as every day leaders to impact others, the beauty of our lives explodes in vibrant color and song like a 4th of July celebration.

For the lives we touch… freedom and hope is given.

There are endless resources available to help each of us to discover our passion, our gifts, and our strengths.  Once we discover these, it is up to us find the best places to use them. 

We must CHOOSE.  We must choose to discover who we are and where we fit in.  We all have a place to be used, our lives  to count and that special place in the symphony… the symphony of life.  There is nothing quite like knowing who you are and operating and living in your sweet spot!

Make a difference with what you love to do.

It takes all of us to make up that beautiful song, orchestrated perfectly to make a difference. Together.

The Every Day Leader, Living a Life of Intention. Choosing to find our strengths and talents living and operating in OUR spot in the symphony of life.  Making a difference in the lives of others.