The Every Day Leader: The Clacking of Time

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Somehow we always seem to think that time will never end…that it will keep on going and we have forever days.

When in fact, time has a definite beginning and ending.  We often take time for granted. We try to squeeze as much as we can into it or out of it. Other times we just waste precious moments – but we somehow always  believe that we always have more just up ahead.

But do we? 

None of us knows our tomorrow and what it will bring. 

We often hear and we even know deep down that we should embrace every moment.  We know that each moment will never come again, we cannot get it back once it is gone.

Yet, it just doesn’t seem to sink in.

Every day leaders know that each moment matters.  We know that each moment we have is a gift that cannot be squandered or foolishly wasted.  As kids the days seem to last forever, as adults they fly by each one getting faster than the other. Just ask any mother who has grown children.

The years are short, but the days are long. The moments disappear.  As much as we would like to think it is true, our time doesn’t go on forever. 

Every day leaders long to make the most of every moment that has been given to them.  They know that we each have limited days and the clacking of time passes all to quickly.

Every day leaders celebrate each moment making the most of each one of them to make a difference in the lives of others. They invest in those around them, seeking to leave a legacy far greater than themselves.

They invest not only in actions, time, words, but even in writing, knowing that through their encouragement to the next generation they are helping them succeed to do far greater things than they did.

Let us be Every Day Leaders who impart wisdom to those younger than us. Let us be intentional to mentor, guide, and encourage those that want our attention and time that we can mold them into the leaders that God intended them to be. Time indeed has an end and one day we will depart this earth but may our legacy live on in those we mentored.

The Every Day Leader: Sowing and Reaping

“What you do today, affects your tomorrow.  What you did yesterday is affecting your today”

It is such a simple concept, but somehow we don’t believe it is true. Growing up on the farm, I learned that the type of seed you plant is important.  Quality seed often yields a quality crop.  The same is true for our lives…what we sew each day and how we live our lives in those moments granted to us is what truly matters.

The Bible says it this way: We reap what we sow. 

What you eat today, will affect your health tomorrow.  If you are a good neighbor today, it will be remembered tomorrow.  How you treat your customers today will affect your business tomorrow.  What you are modeling for your kids today will impact their tomorrow.  How we choose to spend our time today, will affect our relationships tomorrow.  If we neglect those who love us and support us today and never invest in the friendships we have, they will be gone tomorrow. If we are unkind to another, they will remember it tomorrow.

It is a simple cause and effect principle.  Everything you do TODAY matters….

Every day leaders understand this.  Everything we do has the power to impact another positively or negatively.

How are you living your TODAY?  Are you living it in such a way that your tomorrow will reflect your intentional choices?

Every Day Leaders choose what matters


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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.

The Every Day Leader: Seeing the BIG Picture

All week I have had a cardinal trying to fly through my window…not just once but several times a day!   For the life of me I cannot figure out what it is that he may see on the inside.  It seems so futile…and on top of that, it seems that he would learn from the first few times of hitting the glass!

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I was struck with the thought of how much we can be like the Cardinal.  How often do we see something we want – or think we want – trying desperately to get it, over and over and over, but to no avail.

Could it be because we are so stubborn that we refuse to see what we need to see?  We keep trying the same thing over and over hoping for different results.  Wishing for change.  We are not willing to learn, to take the time to look at things differently  and change our course of action, so we keep hitting the glass.

Do you have something in your life now that you feel like you are hitting a wall over and over again? 

In our home, the door is right next to the window, but the cardinal is unable to look at the bigger picture and see the door as a possibility.

Leaders know that if something isn’t working we may need to try something else, look for another option and see the overall picture. It may take some time to study the situation, look for alternatives; and try another way.  We know that patience and diligence will pay off in the end. 

It’s what every day leaders do.

What wall are you running into?

Step back.  Study it.  Look for another way. 

It’s what Every Day leaders do.  Rather than get frustrated they are willing to reevaluate.  It may take time, but it is worth in the end…and not nearly as tiring!

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.

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: 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: 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: How are you?

I  ran into her unexpectedly.   It had been months since I had seen her.  I stopped, looked her in the eyes and simply asked how she was doing.  Returning the look, the first words out of her mouth were, “thank you so much for asking, and meaning it, you will never know what that means to me”.   

A simple question can speak volumes to how you care about another.

We never know what is going on in someones life.  We have no idea if  they are struggling with a:

Relationship issue

Family problems

Caring for a loved one

Financial issues

Discouragement

Lack of purpose

Hurt

We often don’t see the bag on their back filled with all kinds of heavy rocks that are weighing them down. Rocks of disappointment, discouragement, hurt, and more. We do know that a simple act of kindness, as simple as looking them in the eye and caring – can make all the difference in their world.

It lightens the load.

Knowing that someone cares, really cares, can make all the difference to some one who is hurting.  They no longer feel that they are carrying everything alone,  especially when it feels like they cannot take another step.

Are you being intentional to speak to those around you? To address them by their name and to ask how they are?

It’s what Every Day Leaders do. It means physically showing you care.  It is what makes a difference to those around us.