The Every Day Leader: Tis the Season

The pile of graduation announcements sat on the counter, along with one for a baby shower and a wedding.  It is definitely the season once again.

The season of endings and new beginnings.

The season of change for many.

Two of those announcements are for my kids, one graduation and one baby shower.  This week I watched my son walked across the stage of his high school graduation, along with my parents in their eighties and my grandkids next to me in the bleachers.

It is a season of change for our family.

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I was reminded of how things sneak up and are gone before you realize it.  The days that can seem so very long are somehow gone in a flash.  It seems we blink and…..

our kids have grown up,

our body begins to age.

our parents have aged.

we have lost the windows we thought would always be there.

Everyday leaders know that time is fleeting.  So we intentionally choose to make our moments matter. 

We choose. 

Every day leaders know we must be intentional.  We choose to make the most of the time we are given knowing as we invest  we are making a difference in the  lives of those around us.

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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!

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: Anyway

I listened to her share her story.  It was almost as if I could see the heartache. I heard the desperation in her voice.  I saw the hurt in her eyes.  As she finished she trailed off with the word…

anyway.

It was as if she was ended it with:  “it  is what it is” and none of it really matters in the end.  The anyway implied that perhaps there was nothing that could be done about it, and even if there was something that could be done with it, she felt powerless to be the one to do it.  It was the hopelessness in her voice that I picked up on.

The anyway spoke volumes.

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Are you at a place in your life that feels like one of those anyway places?  A place where you are tired, a place that feels hopeless, a place that feels that you must simply stuff it all down and keep going, because that is what you have always done.  Perhaps it is what you sense everyone expects you to do or to be.

Maybe you just feel too busy to take the time to even know where you are.

As everyday leaders we begin to understand the opportunities that we have within the spheres of influence that God has placed us.  We not only begin to understand our roles, we also begin to more aware of how we are too.  We know that if we are going to be people of influence we need to be emotionally and spiritually healthy ourselves.

Everyday leaders intentionally choose to be the best that we can be in order to leave the greatest impact in the every day moments that God has given us.

What will 80 Look Like For You?

Today is my mother’s eightieth birthday.

She has never had a POSITION of leadership.

She had never had any great TITLES.  Yet, she has influenced thousands of lives over her lifetime.

My mother is a great example of an everyday leader.

She has touched the lives of many, simply by the way she has lived her life.

There has never been a time that she has not cared for a neighbor, that she has not modeled love to another, or that she wasn’t investing in her family.  Being the youngest, I not only felt secure and loved – I was taught all of the things that have made me who I am today.

Through her kids alone and her investment in each of us, there has  literally been thousands of lives influenced through women’s ministries, children’s programs, books written, conferences and programs.  That does not include any of the lives touched through her nineteen grandkids or twenty-six great grandkids.

How are you living today?  What are you choosing to invest in?  What will your life look like when you turn eighty?

No titles, no positions.   Just the farm. 

Choosing to live intentionally.  Choosing to live a life of influence.  Knowing that the  moments matter.  This is what the life looks like of an everyday leader.

Everyday leaders choose to make a difference in the HOW we live each day.

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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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