The Every Day Leader: A Year in Review

I just finished reading my last Christmas card…the day after Christmas.  I wanted to take the time to sit down in a quiet space and catch up with the notes and letters from old friends and far away family.

I read and wondered where the year went.  I thought about the many times I would get through some big event, only to have another something “big” ahead to tackle.  The days come and go seeming long at the time.  Yet, somehow the year goes by so quickly! 

The days are long, but the years are short

I couldn’t agree more.

This year, I am vowing to manage my time, just a little bit better.   Knowing that I am the only one who can do that.  I know too, that if I don’t, it affects every part of my life.  Each day offers many choices…and by saying no to some, it allows me to say yes to others.  I am learning that everyday leaders must be intentional in their choice.  I want my choices to be about making a difference, about investing in others, about being the person God has called me to be.

Today I had to make one of those choices.  I was looking forward to some time alone  and looking forward to the time to regroup.  Then the email came.  Someone needed help.  I longed to save my time for me, but also knew I would still have it.  It was an older gentleman, no food, alone, family was all away, no transportation.  Somehow, there was extra food from yesterday – even an extra ham to share.  When I stopped he was uncertain.  We talked and I gave him the items.  When I left, I had the privilege to pray with him.  I watched as he held his face with his hands, I noticed  the tears that slid down his cheeks. 

I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have been a strong provider, strong believer and yet now, finding one in a place of desperate need and feeling so alone.  I wondered if the next door neighbors had any idea, and if they did would they do something?  I wondered how his life got to this point.  I am reminded the gift we each have of time, of the opportunity to influence the life of another, to love one another.

The days are long – yet they never quite seem long enough to fit it all in.  We have good intentions, but the actions don’t always make it.  Before we know it the year is over once again.

How was your year? 

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Every day leaders savor the moments that we have been given.  We know that we must choose how we spend our moments, to balance it all out and to make our days count. We know it also means to take the time for the unexpected opportunities and the privilege to invest in another.

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Every Day Leader: ‘Tis the Season

The lights are twinkling, the tree is decorated, presents are wrapped…all the things we do at Christmas. There are parties and gatherings, all with a twinge in the back of our minds wondering where did the year go?

For may of us, this is a very busy time. Our days are spent trying to get everything done in anticipation of the holiday and the end of the year. We somehow mean to take time to reflect on what Christmas is about and about the year …. but somehow those intentions get crowded out with a long to-do list.

Tis the season…

I went to a barn the other night and watched the Christmas story acted out with live animals. Somehow in the midst of the smells: the sheep, donkeys and the manager, all the other things like the cookies and the sights of twinkling lights and presents did not seem to be so important. I was reminded to be still and know that I am God.

Be still.

Why is it so hard to do? Our minds continue to race even when our bodies stop to rest.

Every day leaders know that taking time to be still, to listen, to pray, and to reflect are all part of becoming better people. It is during that time each day where we not only quiet our souls, but we seek to know God, to really know him… not just a “30 second toss-up a prayer and be about our business” know him. We see His hand in our lives and we seek to hear His voice.

Be still and know that I am God.

Where are you? Are you frantically trying to get it all done? All the things that seem so important?

Take time today. Be still. Get to know God. Quiet your soul. Embrace the moments that you have been given. Be reminded of why we celebrate Christmas each year.

Every day leaders are intentional in how we spend our time. Knowing that the times of being still and seeking God equips us to make a difference in the life of another!

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The Every Day Leader: A Wonderful Life

“While it is true that most people never see or understand the difference they make, or sometimes only imagine their actions having a tiny effect, every single action a person takes has far-reaching consequences.” ~Andy Andrews, The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective.

The one movie that I watch each year at Christmas is the story of “It’s a wonderful life”.

The story doesn’t change, and I know the characters and the ending, but no matter how many times I have seen the movie I am reminded once again the difference each of our lives can have on others. Jimmy Stewart had the opportunity to actually see how his actions and words not only made an impact on those immediately around him, but the far-reaching effect of his town.

Most of the time we simply live our lives and go about our business simply doing the best we know how. It is in the midst of the every day moments that each of us are given opportunities to have a lasting impact. It is in the moments of doing life that we choose what matters. It happens in the middle of the day when we are working, caring for our families, even when we are stuck in traffic.

We can have a lasting impact simply in how we respond to another. We touch the life of someone by our words and our actions, we model to others in each moment. Our lives were meant to be lived in such a way that we are a reflection of our Maker.

As every day leaders we are intentional all throughout the day, knowing that each of our actions have far-reaching consequences.

Our kindness can encourage another – and just the opposite, if our words are rough, uncaring or hurtful – it can be far-reaching to another who has the weight of the world on their shoulders.

We know that how we live, day in and day out, makes a difference. Just like the movie – how we live matters.

How are you living your moments? Do you remember that the moments matter?

Every day leaders intentionally choose their words, actions, and responses knowing that it is in the midst of every day life that we make a difference.

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The Every Day Leader: Live Like That

Sidewalk Prophets have a great song that reminds me to live out what I believe….

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of those
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Don’t you just love those words?

I want to be recklessly abandoned, never holding back.  To live in such a way people see and know who I am.

It is the reminder that we are more than simply the words we speak: what is in our hearts matters,  our BEHAVIOR matters.

Have you ever heard the saying don’t do what I do, do what I say?  It doesn’t have much of a lasting impact, does it?   People are not wired to follow hypocrisy but we run hard after authenticity. We will follow leaders whose walk and talk is consistent and who live out their beliefs for all to see without compromising.

Actions ALWAYS speak louder than words.

This is true for our employees, our volunteers, for our neighbors, and it is true for our clients or customers.  It is true for anyone we have the opportunity to influence.

How do others see you?

Know what you believe without a doubt. Live it out LOUD.

Every Day Leaders live a life that others what to follow.  Being intentional to make a difference

The Every Day Leader: Mess STRESS

Have you heard of “mess stress”?  It is that stack of papers and books on the counter or general clutter about. It may not be in the dictionary, but I would wager that we all have felt the effects of it!

It is a term to explain how the messiness around you simply stresses you out.  It happens when the stacks of paper on our desks have grown out of control.  It happens when the house has dust bunnies all over the floors and stacks of mail everywhere  because we have been too busy to care for it.

Some mess cannot be avoided.  Paper accumulates.  Laundry and housework accumulate.  Dishes don’t get done.  Life can get busy. People should come first but balance is VITAL for survival.

There are times the mess gets out of control.  It is at that time we know we need to do something, we have to address the problem, we have to bring balance back, and we know we have to be intentional to make some changes.

5 Things to Do to remove the Mess Stress from your life:

Delegate:  Let others help you! Why do we think we are the only ones that can do it?

Organize:  Take a day off and start fresh.  Clean it out.  Get it organized.

Simplify:  Get rid of what you don’t need.  Donate it to a local charity!

Change your schedule:  Get up earlier; spend some extra minutes at the beginning of the day to take care of things.

Discipline yourself:  File things immediately.  Pick up after yourself.  Be proactive instead of saving things until the last minutes.  Be intentional  in how you spend your time!

Mess stress keeps you from being your best self.  It means that we spend more time cleaning up the messes that are causing us stress than doing what we were wired to do.  It means not having the freedom to spend our time making a difference in the life of another, because we are too preoccupied dealing with our messes.

Every day leaders know what to do.  They KNOW that being disciplined is a way of life that makes us better and gives us more opportunities.  They KNOW that eliminating stress as much as possible – is a key to being our best selves.

Every day leaders long to be their best, KNOWING that when they are at their best, they are better at making a difference in the life of those they lead and are around them!

The Every Day Leader: What are YOU saying?

It is a beautiful  day and as I sit out on the porch taking just a few minutes to enjoy it, a slight wind blows and then it happens…the nonstop barking of a dog.  I have no idea the reason he is  barking, but it doesn’t really matter.  All I know it that is just doesn’t stop.  The tranquility and much-needed quiet moments are no longer quiet and enjoyable.

The little dog is not much different than people we have met. We all know the ones who talk and talk and seem to get great enjoyment from hearing themselves utter words and yet have nothing really to say. They rarely have the intention of listening to others or even in engaging in a conversation.  It truly is all about them.  Because you can rarely get a word in, all you can do is beginning moving towards the door….

Even leaders have been known for their incessant talking, because of their position and because they can. May we, as leaders, be intentional in our speech. May we choose our words wisely. Our words should inspire those we come in contact with: our team, our family, friends, and even strangers we meet. Our words should be meaningful and honoring to those we speak to, always taking into account the audience we are speaking with.

We don’t have to be a Winston Churchill inspiring the masses to greatness every time, but our words should be intentional and worth listening to time and again. We speak not to get followers or gain approval, but to build-up those around us, to encourage, and to ignite their passions so that they may do great things.

What we say is HUGE, but what we DON’T SAY is even bigger. Our actions should always match our words. Your body language is the first thing seen and heard.  This happens way before your words and often times, THAT is what is remembered.

Next time you go to speak, stop and ask yourself: Are my words intentionally chosen? Do I have something to say or am I just talking?  Am I walking the talk and do my actions align with what I am saying?  Or am I simply being like that little dog… loud and obnoxious and turning off those around me.

Every Day Leaders intentionally choose their words wisely. They speak when they have something to say, but they listen far more.