The Every Day Leader: Walking With Confidence

IMG_2110Growing up in the middle of  rural Nebraska the view often looked like this.  Regardless of which direction you looked,  there wasn’t much to see but roads that appeared to have no end, with no houses in sight.

As a kid, I longed to live in town and be closer to other kids and stores and swimming pools.   Now as an adult,  I realize just how good I had it growing up in the carefree world of the country.  I love the wide-open spaces and would jump at the chance to back there.  When I return now and see the never-ending roads, I am reminded of the roads we travel in our lives…..and the perspectives we have when we are traveling.

There are times when it seems like the journey we are on is so terribly long and lonely that we are tempted to look for a short cut or maybe to quit altogether.  I think these are the times we forget to reach out to others and ask for help or encouragement along the way.  We somehow think we need to carry our load alone.

When was the last time you asked for help from a friend?

Other times, we simply haven’t prepared well for the journey.

Have we taken the time to care for ourselves?  Are we in shape physically?  Have we eaten well?  When was the last time you slept a good eight hours?  What about our family relationships?  How about spiritually?  Even financially?  Taking care of us, means EVERY area of our lives. It means being our best selves to walk our journey and not having to worry.

Maybe, we simply get discouraged because we have forgotten how to be thankful for all that we have along the way – we even forget to look out the window and see the beautiful view.  I am amazed at how different I am when I take the time to be grateful for all that God has done in my life!

What are you thankful for today?  List them!  Do this everyday.

What is going on in your life right now?  Are you on a journey that is exhausting?  Are you stuck somewhere and not even moving?

Everyday leaders choose to take time each day to reflect, making sure we walk the journey with confidence – knowing we are given a gift to influence the lives of others each day along the  way!

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 Everyday leader: Your Story of Influence

What is your story? The story of YOUR life. We all have one.

Most likely your story is one that is filled with all kinds of chapters. Good times, bad times, times when you have been hurt or hurt another, times of failure, times of success, times of strength, even times of shame. All of those experiences make up YOUR story, the story that is totally unique to you. It is this storyline… the storyline of your life that has made you into the everyday leader that you are.

We have often heard our past shapes and mold us. Did you know that the way we are driven is often from the uniqueness of our own stories? It is this story that gives us an incredible understanding and compassion to see the lives of others in a whole new way. Our story serves a purpose and it is never in vain. This purpose empowers and enables each of us to make a difference in the lives of others. To hear and understand their stories in a way only we can after having walked that path ourselves.

Tragedies, celebrations, tears, smiles, regret, shame, broken dreams…all of these things make us who we are. These are the things that make our stories real and help us to connect and to inspire and influence those around us.

How often to you hear of someone doing something huge because of something in their past? How about the Adam Walsh story? Imagine the loss the parents experienced when they lost their son in the blink of an eye! They now spend their lives helping other families find kidnapped children and help to locate criminals. This tragedy was a chapter in their story that has driven them to be passionate in helping others that face similar circumstances. The stories of our past give us passion. They also make us the everyday leaders that can and do make a difference in the lives of those we encounter.

Do you have a chapter you would rather simply keep quiet about? Even those chapters that you would rather forget – are part of what make you, the unique you, that God has created.

Sharing your story means being intentional to help those around you. It means accepting your story and using it for the greater good. It may even mean embracing your story; knowing that God uses all things in our lives for a bigger purpose than we can ever know, even the chapters that don’t make sense to us.

The everyday leader, living intentionally, using our stories to make a difference.

I want to be that person. To embrace all of the chapters of my life. To use my story for His glory.

The Every Day Leader: Life in the Rear View Mirror

I love to go for drives…one of my favorite drives is in the mountains. Nothing compares to the scenery!  I find myself looking not just in front of me but often glancing to see what is off to the sides.  There is always so much to take in!  We all know that we are to glance in our mirror from time to time to be aware of our environment…but we know that when we do we might miss something ahead!

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When we look back we miss what’s in front of us

If we would spend all of our time looking at what’s behind us, we wouldn’t just miss what’s ahead, we would not be able to proceed forward!  If we did, we would not likely make it very far.

Funny thing is that we often do this in life.  We are so concerned about the past, dwelling on what happened yesterday, that we miss the beauty of today.  Much like in the car, it would be impossible to move forward when only looking back – in fact it would be disastrous.   If we spend more time looking behind us, we miss out on the blessings of today.

The flip side is if we totally disregard the past we will not learn from past mistakes.  We would not understand the effect the past has had – both good and bad on our lives.  We would not be the same person if we totally ignored the past.

Just like driving, looking in the rear view mirror helps us be aware of our surroundings.  A wise driver will look back every so often but not stay there.

How about you?  Where are you looking? 

Are you stuck looking in the rear view mirror – unable to move forward?  Are you forgetting to look in that mirror altogether maybe because of something painful you would rather forget? 

Being a healthy person means we take the time to see the past.  We are willing to  learn from it, deal with the hurts, delight in memories and be thankful for all that God has done.  It also means to be willing to move beyond it.  To embrace the present – really embrace the moments God has given us.  It also means to hoping for tomorrow, knowing God has our tomorrows in the palm of His hand.

Everyday leaders work on this balance – to be our best selves.  To be able to move forward, making a difference every step of the way.