The Every Day Leader: Keep on Walking

We just celebrated mothers day….I had a great day with my kids, talking to my mom on the phone, and enjoying the day.  It  was a day that makes me thankful for my family!

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Holidays and special occasions are also a time that can remind us that things may not always be as we have planned.  There are often subtle things that seem to jump out to say that life doesn’t unfold the way we expected it to.  This is true in my life – it has taken lots of turns that I never expected.

Maybe it is a broken dream, a broken relationship, things at work, or financial struggles; whatever it is…life is often unpredictable.

Our journey can be  filled with unexpected twists and turns along the way and the holidays often bring it to the surface.

What about your life?  Has it taken some unexpected turns that are hard for you to get past?  Are you stuck?

Like anything else, we have to intentionally choose.

We choose what we focus on.

We choose to see the positive instead of the struggle.

We choose to walk through the hard stuff, instead of run away.

We choose to keep going, knowing there is always an end in sight.

We choose, because we know that it is up to us.

We choose because we know that nobody else can do it for us.

We know that as we keep walking we are growing.  We are learning.  We are changing.  We keep walking to become better.

We choose.

When we choose, we know that with each step we take  it not only changes us, but it can make the difference in the life of another.

It’s the power of influence.  It is touching the lives of those around us.  It ‘s what we do as every day leaders.  Choosing.  Walking.  Growing.  Changing.  Impacting.  Even when the path has taken a different turn!

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The Every Day Leader: The Art of Listening

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I watched her as she thought about just how she was going to convince her mom to allow her to have another piece of candy…before dinner.  After all, it seemed rational since we had an Easter egg hunt in the yard earlier and found eggs filled with candy.  Her eyes seem to twinkle as she approached her mother with her reasoning. I also really enjoyed watching her face as her mother took the time to listen to her  ‘why’.

I was reminded of the importance for all of us to see the other person’s perspective.  It may not seem to be the right perspective to us; but the bigger picture is the message of what transpires during that time of listening.

My little granddaughter felt heard.

For that moment, she felt important and valued.  It didn’t even matter if she didn’t get the answer she wanted, because the message she took away was that her thoughts mattered.

Her mother had the wisdom to understand that.

It’s what we do as every day leaders.  We understand the importance of not only listening to someone when they are hurting, but listening to them when they are expressing their opinions – even if they are different from ours.

By listening, we send a message that we value them.

Listening takes time.  Sometimes, time is hard to give.  Every day leaders learn the skill of taking the time, hearing and listening; but also the art of boundaries when needed.

Most of all, we learn to give the message that people matter. 

We show this not just by our words,  not just by our actions, but sometimes by taking the time to sit quietly and listening to them.  This is true, even if it is a crazy idea like candy before dinner! 

How are your listening skills?  Have you taken the time to listen to another’s opinion lately?  Do they feel valued?

Every day leaders choose to listen.  They intentionally choose to make another feel valued, showing them that their opinion matters.  Every day leaders choose to influence – making a difference in the lives of those around us.

The Every Day Leader: Renewal

re·new·al   [ri-noouhl, –nyoo-] noun

1.  the act of renewing.

2.  the state of being renewed.

3.  an instance of this.

Spring is a time of renewal…the grass is turning green, the trees and flowers are beginning to bloom, the world around us is changing.  When the heat of summer comes, does that mean that the renewal is over?   I never thought so.

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Renewal is one of those words that seems like it should be a verb…more of a process than an end result.  It is as if one may be in the midst of renewal, but not really ever fully achieves being fully renewed or fully changed. 

There is always more.

In our lives it is true.  Renewal requires continual growth and change. 

It means that as every day leaders we are intentionally mindful of the process of growing and renewing ourselves.  We know that in this process of growth and change we have greater opportunities to influence the lives of others.

It mean being willing to  learn.

It means being willing to accept change. 

It means stepping out.

It can mean being creative.

It means being intentional.

It can be uncomfortable and stretch us.

It means never being willing to settle or get stagnate.

It means thinking differently to make the most of the gifts and talents and opportunities we have been given to make a difference. 

It’s the process of renewal that matters.

It’s what everyday leaders do.  Live each day to be our best selves!

 

The Every Day Leader: Peeling back the layers of Paint

I used to love to refinish furniture, when life was a bit slower.  It was messy and dirty, but when you could get through the layers and layers of paint, there was often a beautiful piece of wood just waiting to be discovered.

People are often like that.  

There can be years and years of muck on the outer layers of their lives, but inside there is a beautiful person waiting to be discovered.

But it is messy to get to that point to see the beauty.

It takes our intentional time and an investment and above all else, patience.

In the end, just like the piece of furniture, there often is something so beautiful that was just waiting to be found.

I have met so many different kinds of people along the way just like this.  Often I see the hard outer shell that has been hurt by the hardness of life.  The thick coating comes in the form of: sarcasm, gruffness, one that pulls totally inward and lacks trust, belittling of others, controlling, stubbornness, and always more attitude then is ever wanted or needed! All that coming from years of muck creating layer upon layer on their outside, much like the paint on the furniture.  Often there is a sense that there is no God or if there is one, he could not possibly be a loving one.

How do you handle the layers on the lives of those around you?  Are you someone who is unable to see beyond the outside coat, or are you someone who wonders what is beneath the surface?

Dealing with people can be messy and dirty – but invaluable. It can take time to get to who the person really is, it means building trust instead of walking away, it means speaking truth in love and holding them accountable and caring enough to not let them stay in the muck.

Every day leaders know that as a leader,  we have the ability to influence the life of someone carrying around the heavy layers. It’s about making a difference in the life of another.

We know that taking the time to care, encourage,  build trust and  develop relationships are a special gift that we can offer and it cost us very little but our time and in the end the reward is priceless.

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Guest Post: Singing Happy Birthday to YOU

On January 17th not so long ago the world was changed. It might not have been noticed right away but the world definitely became a kinder place. A sweet little girl was born.

A little girl was born in Nebraska to a dairy farmer and his wife and to four awesome sisters.

little c copyThis pure bundle of joy would go on to help disadvantage kids at school and later become one of the top nonprofit Executive Directors in south Atlanta.

139Thank you Cathy for all you do and for all you have done to make this world a better place. We are so proud of you. We are proud to call you friend. Thank you for your heart of gold, your smile and laughter that lights up every room, and for being there to help so many through such hard times. Thank you for having such a huge heart of compassion.

Today on this very special birthday your friends wish you tons of blessings but more importantly we pray God will use you in even grater ways:

That He will stir up the fire of passion within you to accomplish even greater things for Him

That the dreams He gave you so long ago will be fulfilled this year

That you would have even more of God’s anointing to fulfill His call on your life

That He would bring you out to even deeper waters of knowing who He really is and His love

That you would feel loved. Loved like you have never felt before

Happy Birthday to you!

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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

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!