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.

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.

 

 

 


 

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!.

 

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.

The Every Day Leader: Speaking Truth

“My best friend is someone who brings out the best in me” – Henry Ford

Have you ever had someone asked your thoughts on something and rather than answer politely you wanted to tell them what you were REALLY feeling? Yet, there is something in us that holds back.

Sometimes we hold back because we are simply reacting without thinking about it and realize it would be a big mistake to blurt out our reaction. Maybe we hold back because we are only filtering it through how it makes us feel. Perhaps we choose not to say anything because we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.

I am sure we have all had these experiences at least once in our lives. I would also venture to say that holding back is not always the best thing we can do. I don’t mean we should say whatever is on our mind without regard to the other person. Speaking truth in love is one of the greatest gifts we can give another.

The key is saying it with love. That doesn’t mean we say it nicely, soften it up and water it down, or tip toe around the issue. It means we speak truth to another because we care enough to take the chance. Speaking truth in love means we care enough to thoughtfully respond in love as an act of kindness.

I am a firm believer that being nice and being kind are two different things. The nice person skirts around things, never wanting to upset anyone. The kind person takes the time and invests in another – to challenge, to speak truth, to guide. It is what makes us better people.

It is a gift of a best friend.

It takes building a relationship of mutual trust and respect. It is what sets the every day leader apart. It is someone willing to be kind.

It is about speaking truth in order to make a positive difference – to speak truth because you care.

I long to be that person of trust and influence and am grateful for those who do this for me!

Every day leaders influence those around them. They build a relationship. They are kind and go the extra mile, they speak the truth with love first.

 

 

 

 

The Every Day Leader: Guarding YOUR heart

There are many things that can come from our heart.  We can try to hide things deep inside, but eventually they work their way out.  Bitterness, hurt, unforgiveness, hate…they are difficult to hide.

On the flip side the good things…love, kindness, joy, forgiveness are things that ooze out in a way that cannot be contained.

For those that know you, what would they say flows from your heart?

 Love?

Hate?

Kindness?

 Bitterness?

Forgiveness?

To be a person of influence Every Day Leaders need to know what is in our heart.  We need to know that we must be intentional to deal with the difficult things in life that cause heartache.  We also know all too well that left uncared for, these very things can fester and have huge consequences on everything we do.

Reflect. Search. Choose.  And know what comes from our heart is what can make a difference in the life of another. Every day leaders know that what is on the inside matters most.

The Every Day Leader: Courage

I remember watching the Wizard of Oz as a kid.  I was fascinated with the many different characters and the yellow brick road – the journey to Oz.  No one can forget what each character was in search of. What Dorothy was looking for made perfect sense to me, she simply wanted to go home.  Who wouldn’t want to get home? I can relate with her on most days!

What the others wanted was a little harder for me to grasp at such a young age.  Didn’t everyone have a heart and a brain? As a six-year-old, courage was the one that seemed a little different. I simply thought of it as being something you needed every now and then for the big things you  might face.

As I grew older I found those same things the characters sought are still things that many of us seek today.

 Many of us chase our roots, instead of home, trying to find where we really came from and how we belong.   Everyone has this innate need to feel and be a part of something.  If we don’t have that sense of belonging we continually search to find it.

Like the scarecrow, we know we need a brain and often seek after higher education – many of us becoming eternal students. 

How many of us search diligent trying to fill the emptiness we often find in our hearts?

For many of us we hope we have courage at the exact time we need it!

Courage is not just needed for big things but is really something we need each day!

If you are struggling, it takes courage to keep going

Courage is needed to take the first step

Courage is needed to hear your own voice in the crowd

Courage is needed to take a stand

Courage is needed to think and speak for yourself

Courage is needed to stand up for yourself and not listen to lies

Courage is needed to follow your dreams….

Courage is so much more than something needed in a time of crisis, and is required for more things than I could have ever imagined as a kid.

I now also realize that courage comes with understanding.  It comes with knowing who you are.  There are many times in our lives we have to be intentional to be courageous. 

It takes intentional courage to step our of our comfort zone.  It takes intentional courage to be a catalyst for change.  It is what we, as every day leaders, must be willing to pursue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Every Day Leader: Breaking out of the mold

I once gave a speech in high school that started out with this line…

“The statue of liberty is still standing. Of course everyone expects it to be”.

While I don’t remember the rest of the speech, I remember talking and thinking a great deal about expectations.

That was MANY years ago…Life experiences have taught me much more about expectations since that time. For one, we all have expectations for others, for our country, for our lives. Secondly, we all have expectations we think we need to live up to from others.

Sometimes the expectations are good and spur us on to do better and reach higher. Other times, the expectations we perceive for our lives can bury us, as we struggle to live up to them.

There are times that we may even put ourselves in a mold that we think we should fit into, based on the expectations we or others place on us.

Are you living your life based on the expectations of others? Or, are you living your life in such a way that you are okay to break out of the mold, to live the way you were created to live?

Are you using your gits, talents and passions in such a way to make a difference?

Breaking out of the mold:

takes courage

takes determination

A bold confidence to make a change

Knowing who you are

It means taking a risk

The choice is yours. We can stay in the mold that we are in. We can live a life based on the expectations of others. We can also choose to breakout, take that first step for a bold change, living every day with meaning and purpose.

Every day leaders don’t settle. They are willing to break out of the mold knowing that sometimes we have to step out and make a difference.

The Every Day Leader: JUMP

Do you ever have that feeling in the pit of your stomach, wondering how something is going to turn out, if your decision was the right one or even because of a pending decision you are trying to make?

It doesn’t feel so good.

In fact, I would venture to say it is a feeling none of us really care for! Yet, we all know it, and know it well. We have all experienced it at one time or another.

As Every Day Leaders, we know we can trust our skills, abilities and instincts. We know that we must be intentional to set aside the doubting and second-guessing.

Jump, the parachute will open.

It may be scary. It may even create that queasy feeling in the pit of our stomach. It may be overwhelming.

A leader knows they were trained and gifted for this moment.

The worst thing that can happen is to fail and that puts us in GREAT company!! Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Col Sanders, Warren Buffet and many other entrepreneurs lost everything at least once, before they experienced success.

Every Day Leaders know they have what it takes to navigate through making decisions, to launch that next great company or idea.

They are willing to step out, make their best decision and trust the future. They can be confident in their decisions and in who they are and how God made them.

so…JUMP!