The Every Day Leader: Don’t be a FROG!

We have all heard at one time or another the frog theory. This is the theory that says we are comfortable in our mess. A frog put in cold water will not jump out even when the heat is turned up slowly.  Instead,  they slowly adjust and get comfortable – never realizing the danger they are in. So it is often with our lives. We grow comfortable with our mess and see it as “normal” over time, when in fact it is anything but normal.

The frog could jump out of the water if he wanted to.  He could easily escape to freedom and live another day, but he doesn’t.  He chooses to stay in the water where it feels safe, where he has gotten comfortable and content.  He never notices that the water is heating up and the environment is no longer safe.

We as people are no different from the frog. We love to be comfortable.  We often dislike (should I say hate?) change, conflict, and hard decisions.  We stay in unsafe environments and claim they are safe. We justify why we are there and why we stay.  To most it FEELS comfortable, normal, and we have grown content even if we don’t like it all the time.  What we don’t often see is how the environment is slowly killing us, it has become toxic to our souls, our attitudes, and to our very being.

It might be the long hours at work

It might be us avoiding things we know we should deal with

It might be a toxic relationship that we have allowed

We are no longer being our best self, but rather simply surviving. We get up and live the “groundhog day” over and over again and have convinced ourselves this is a good life or at least an OK life.  In reality, we are dying on the inside and don’t  know it or won’t acknowledge it.  

These toxins in our lives have creeped up like the temperature of the water and made us feel safe because we have lived in the situation for so long.  It feels comfortable, it feels normal.

The frog didn’t have enough sense to jump out. 

DON’T BE A FROG!

Be intentional of the environment you are in and how you spend your time. Take time to evaluate the relationships you have and make sure they are healthy and not toxic to you. Be intentional to choose good friends and mentors to help you see clearly and point out the red flags of danger. LISTEN TO THEM! Know that they are there for your protection and best interest.  Listen when they say there is danger up ahead or speak truth into your life about something you have said or done.  Accountability from those we trust is a priceless gift.

Every day leaders choose to not remain comfortable; but wisely evaluate where they are at and their environment.  They do it to be their best selves. It is then that they thrive and have the most influence on those around them.

Have you settled into simply being comfortable?  Is your environment affecting you but you have not taken the time to even see it happening? Are you allowing toxic relationships into your life?

Every day leaders don’t settle, they seek to thrive to make the most difference with each day they have been given.

Every Day leaders evaluate their environment and relationships often, taking a check of what is healthy and what is not; they remove the toxins. They let trusted mentors and friends speak truth into their life and they LISTEN.

 

 

 


 

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Guest Post: Give THANKS with a grateful heart

Give thanks with a grateful heart! I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. A designated day to give thanks, a national holiday. What would happen if we gave thanks EVERY DAY– the days that were terribly hard and bad, the days that were full of fun and laughter, the days that we are just reflective and pondering, and all the other days?

How different would our lives look, when we intentionally seek out and find things to be thankful for? Giving thanks first changes us. It sets our hearts on the right path, it makes us eager to look for things to be thankful for, even the smallest of things. It makes us appreciate those necessities that we have that others don’t, like fresh water.

Giving thanks forces us to live a life of “wide open hands and heart” verses living with “closed fists and a cold heart”. Living a life of thanks allows us to invest in those around us and to model a grateful heart to the next generation.

Giving thanks even in the worst and most difficult times allows us to find some good in those times, it makes us search for it and it offers us hope that tomorrow will be better.

So TODAY as you start your Christmas shopping and battle the crowds, be respectful of those around you, smile, look for things that you can give thanks for, and share with us your experience.

YES, today we join together and give thanks with a grateful heart!

The Every Day Leader: Cowosophy

What would a farm be without cows?!   Bunches of them.  The dairy farm I grew up on was no different.  Turns out, cows need tending to daily.  If it rained the cows were muddy.  If they were out in the pasture they had to be herded in for milking.  Regardless, they needed to be cared for.

We were all expected to help.  If there was a blizzard, if it was pouring rain, or 100 plus degrees with a million flies around – the cows still had to be milked twice a day.  It didn’t matter if you wanted to go on vacation,  if there was a wedding, or a big event at school – the cows couldn’t wait.

Cows are like that.

I look back to the days of milking cows.  At the time, I didn’t like it.  Now, I am grateful for that life experience I had as a kid.  I am grateful for the lessons I learned about work ethic and responsibility.  And I am thankful for the lessons about caring for living animals, knowing they were dependent on you.

Life is like that.  The things we think are horrific at the time, don’t seem so terrible when we look back on them.  What we don’t see at the time is how those times are shaping and molding us into the people we are today.  It is during those hard times that our character is being developed.  These things help define who we are deep down.

It is almost as if I can hear my dad saying…”See, it wasn’t so bad!”

He would be right of course.  It wasn’t so bad.  I learned discipline.  I learned responsibility.  I learned the importance of doing what you said you were going to do.  I learned that if I didn’t – things and others suffered.  I learned to work as a team.  I even learned how to laugh together in the midst of the work. Flies and all.

These are life lessons I now cherish.  Memories I often wish I could have given my own children.  These are things I am thankful for.

We all have past experiences.  Have you forgotten?  Are you able to live in such a way to reflect what you have learned?  Those life lessons are a gift, a gift to be thankful for.  

Everyday leaders see and are thankful for life experiences.  Those experiences that were good and those that were difficult.  Everyday leaders intentionally live in such a way that their lives reflect  the gift of the lessons learned.

 

 

 

The Every Day Leader: Living Like There is NO Tomorrow

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive,,,,,

I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second….

(excerpt from Jason Gray’s “It’s good to be alive”)

I wonder how many times we have heard the phrase “make this day count”…most of us know it.  We may have even tried to apply it to our lives as best as we can – as we navigate through our busy days.

We have such good intentions to live like there is no tomorrow.  To love like we are on borrowed time.  To know it is good to be alive.

All to often we let life get in the way and our words just become lyrics on a page.

We get caught up in the business of the day.  The urgent.  The deadlines.  There are schedules.  There are clients and customers.  There are meetings.  And there are chores. 

But the hard facts remain, we will never live this day again. 

Each day is a gift that has been given to us. 

I long to make every second count.  I don’t want to waste another minute on something that doesn’t matter.

We are all leaders that have the opportunity to live like there is no tomorrow.  To love like we are on borrowed time.  To celebrate the moments of each day. 

We are given a gift each day. What will you do with yours?

Start today.  The past ended a second ago.  Each day is a gift, the new beginning of a brand new day.

Everyday leaders intentional choose how they spend their time. Making a difference on a live of another.

The Every Day Leader: Getting off the TREADMILL of Life

Do you remember watching the ‘Jetsons’, the cartoon about the future?  Meet George Jetson…Jane, his wife… his son Elroy…daughter Judy. And the most famous of them all the dog named Astro.  I have not seen the cartoon since I was a kid, but I will never forget the scene during the credits where Astro pulls George while he is on the treadmill.  George ends up going around and around the belt because he cannot keep up. Remember that?

Figuratively, we all get caught up in the treadmill of life.  We may jump on it thinking WE have control of the pace,  but eventually it gets going so fast that we simply can’t keep up. We can do it for a while but eventually, we wear out. 

The breakdown in our lives begins to show  in how we respond to others.  It shows in our decision-making.  It shows in our words, our actions, and even our health.

We must choose to change, to readjust, to intentionally go in a different direction.

Leaders  choose to control their schedules.  They choose to say no to some things in order to say yes to others.  They choose to schedule themselves on THEIR calendar knowing that if they don’t take care of themselves they can’t take care of others.  Leaders choose to ensure they have time for those in every area of their lives not just their teams and family.

What speed are you at?  Are you keeping up the pace or is your foot beginning to slip?  Are you afraid to slow down, enjoy the day God has given you and take care of yourself?

Only YOU can take that ownership…no one else will do it for you.  Quite the contrary, if you are willing to do things, others will ask and let you….and the pace just keeps on picking up. Learn to say “No”, learn to delegate, and learn to ask for help.

Be intentional to evaluate your schedule weekly and even daily.  Learn not to over commit. Learn to take care of YOU.

When we are our best selves, we are better at caring for others in our lives, we are better leaders, managers, and problem solvers.  We are not too tired or burned out to invest and influence another.

Everyday leaders control the speed of their lives.  They know that when they do, they are more equipped to make a difference in the life of those around them and those they lead!.

 

GUEST POST: A RARE Find

WARNING: This blog has been taken over for the day.

We live in a disposable age. We throw away tons of food, we have to have the latest and greatest gadgets and toss last year’s models that are barely used. We can’t wait 30 seconds for a light to turn from red to green, and we often treat our friendships the same way. We would rather stay in our own little world then take the time to walk the journey with another.

Life is busy we say, who has time to get to know someone. Life is messy we say, who has time to get involved with someone else’s life mess, let’s just keep to our little corner of the world. And then someone comes along… That blows all of our theories and excuses away.

They prove to be that friend “that stickers closer than a brother” (proverbs 18:24), they have seen you cry and walked the devastation of heartbreak with you, they have been someone you can share your hopes and dreams with. They are the one, when walking down the hallway in front of you, will do a silly “go-fight-win” mascot move just to get you laughing. You know they won’t abandon you when the going gets tough, they are there through the thick and thin.

It’s a rare find indeed to have a true friend in your life. David and Jonathan of the Bible had this kind of friendship. This friendship will stand the test of time because the commitment grows by each passing day. It is the greatest blessing in this world and its worth finding and fighting for.

A true friend requires us to be authentic with ourselves and the other person. It is putting the other person first, its being genuinely happy for their success and it’s not competing to be in the limelight, but, just being glad to be on their journey with them. Its being their greatest cheerleader, never tearing them down, but always building them up. Even in times of disagreement (always bound to happen!) it is not yelling or fighting but caring enough to discuss and see the other person’s view-point and always being quick to seek reconciliation.

Its caring enough to speak truth into the other person’s life and hold them accountable and giving them full access to barge in to your life and hold you accountable. Its saying I care enough about you that when I think you are going down the wrong path or making a wrong decision, I am not going to stand idly by, but I am going to intervene and speak up and get involved in your life because YOU matter most.

It means instead of grasping and controlling, you are releasing and giving.

You won’t see a true friend walking out when life gets messy and hard. They face those hardships with you. True friends are accepting of one another and see each other as the unique gift that God made both of you and they celebrate those differences. There is only one way for a friendship like that to last and be healthy and that is to have a strong foundation built on Christ. If He is not in the middle of the friendship it is so much harder to maintain.

One of the greatest gifts that can ever be given to another is the gift of friendship.

Who are you celebrating today?

Who do you need to thank for their rare gift they have given to you?

Take time to thank them TODAY!

TODAY I am grateful and honored for such a friend in Cathy Jo, the brilliant mind behind this blog. I just know her as C and she is by far the coolest person I have ever met.

Just over a year ago this Nebraska farmer’s daughter walked into my life and had me running to find a Nebraska to English translation dictionary to figure out what she was saying!

C is so creative, funny, and such a servant leader, she just oozes with compassion, and she far surpasses the patience of Job. It did not take long to realized God had hand delivered something rare and very special to me and her friendship is worth more than all the precious gems of the world combined.

I call her the “snake charmer”, she truly has this ability to draw people in and engage them in the world around them. She is the kind of person you just want to be around all the time!! You just know you are going to walk away a better person for having been with her. Her smile and laughter is contagious!

I have come to lover her mascot moves, sharing peanut M&M’s, a million coffee shop chats, a few donut shop talks, her homemade anything (especially toffee!), many hilarious texts, and her “on the way home” phone calls just to check in and say hi.

I am even getting use to her not using transitional phrases, though it can cause for some “unusual” conversations. Just like the one incident the other day, I thought she was telling me someone bought an outhouse in Nebraska and turned it into a house to live in! I really was starting to wonder what kind of place she came from!!

C, you are ADORED beyond measure and I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for taking time to mentor me, thank you for sharing your life with me, and for your gift of friendship – a truly priceless gift. Your passion for Christ challenges me to want to live more for HIM and deepen my faith. You inspire me to make a difference right where I am… because…life happens now.

Through all of the laughter and tears


Through all the questions and fears


Through all of the winning and losing and trying


I will be by Your side


Cause You and I are friends for life


(Geoff Moore and the Distance: Friend Like U)

Your #1 Fan

The Every Day Leader: Behind the Scenes of the Unseen

“Being unseen is not the same as unimportant” (Lance Witt)

I am not mechanically inclined. I have kids that are, but for some reason my brain just does not think that way. I do however, get the importance of assembling ALL the pieces to something, no matter how small. I get that a light fixture can look terrific – but if there is faulty wiring it changes everything.

The things that are not seen, the small parts, the wiring….they are important, even essential.

Our lives are no different.

Not everyone will play a role in the limelight, or be a leader by position. And if they do, it may not be lasting. Our culture says that being someone important is what life is all about; it is having an important title or position. If you are important you usually have money and status. Society says your life means something when you have these things.

We are drawn to what is seen, not the unseen. We are drawn to those in the spotlight. We are a nation that loves to watch the Royals, celebrities, follow Trump and Warren Buffet, and even follow and seek out famous worship leaders.

We equate “being a somebody” as important. And equally so, if you are behind the scenes you are a “nobody” and somehow you are unimportant. Many of us buy into that thinking. We think that since we have not succeeded in life in the limelight then we are just not as important even though we have lived quietly behind the scenes. The “seen” becomes the people of value and those sought after and the “unseen” people we deem as having no value to give.

I think about my parents. They have lived a quiet life. They have worked hard, been involved in their church and community – behind the scenes. They have spent their lives loving others whenever possible. They did it without thinking. They did not care about the limelight or if they mattered in the eyes of others. They did not buy into our society’s view of success. Life was not about what you did, but who you are.  To them, life was about investing in others quietly, without grandeur and announcing it.

My parents are every day leaders. I look at their life and see a life without a huge amount of material possessions, yet they have lived a full and happy life. Lives that have invested in many others over the years – kids, grandkids, great grandkids, their kid’s friends, their friends, their neighborhood, and their community.  They all love and respect them. This is a testament to a life lived well, a life that did not need fame, title, position, or money to make a difference.

They got it.. little things matter. Those things which what you can’t see… THEY MATTER.

It is this principle they have modeled to me my whole life. It’s what every day leaders do. They influence the lives of the people that they come in contact with and those around them.

What is your life about? Are you caught up in being a somebody of importance? Do you think your life is meaningless if you don’t have a great job, money, position, or title?

It is the behind the scenes people who often have a tremendous impact on others. Life is not about them – they don’t care about position or being in the center. They live their life in such a way that the limelight doesn’t matter. They get that stuff: their job, money, and more – do not equal success and likewise, without it does not equal failure.

They are comfortable in their own skin, comfortable in how God made them and how they are wired and that makes them successful in everything they do.

Every day leaders influence – sometimes quietly. They love quietly. They invest in others without attention to what they are doing. They know that what is often unseen, matters.