• Growing as a Leader,  Living as a Leader

    When Your Life Makes an Unexpected Turn

    2014-03-10 19.14.21-2Personal experience has taught that life isn’t one straight, smooth and effortless journey. There are patches of rocky road, exhausting up hill climbs, stretches of fog and darkness. Though life’s path can often be level, smooth, well marked, and brightly lit, those hard stretches can seem to go on forever.

    We shouldn’t be surprised by this state of travel. The overwhelming evidence is that we live in a fallen and bent world and we are broken and finite people.  The mixture of both create those difficult stretches we all experience in our lives.

    Rough patches can mean many things, sometimes we just need to get through them.  But other times there’s more to a difficult stretch of road than simply getting through it. Sometimes long stretches of rough travel is a signal that radical change is coming or needed.

    And this radical change is a redirection of our life, a turn down a different path to a new destination we never planned on or expected.  When this happens to us what we thought was so certain, what we worked so hard for, tenaciously planned and prepared for, prayed and dreamed about is suddenly gone, often in a flash.  We feel totally blind sided by these unasked for and unwanted changes.

    Yet, often, maybe nearly always, its these changes in our travel plans that lead to the better roads, brighter paths, and a more joyful journey.  Why?  Because most likely our former path had become the wrong one for us. Somewhere, unannounced to us was a much better road, one planned from the beginning of creation.  We just didn’t know it or see it. The hard road can push us to a new and better path only if we can work through the emotions of such radical and intrusive change.

    Which is why these directional changes are the hardest of all.

    Yet these changes , as unbearable as they can be in the moment, can also provide us hope that we’ll not only come through this rough patch but we’ll be on our way to a better destination, a new life. The real question is how we confront and deal with our new reality. Are we willing to walk away from our old plans and dreams and start to construct new plans to a new destination?

    These moments do not come often, so I’ve found the benefit of the wisdom, perspective and insight of a traveling companion, someone whose traveled before us.  First, it’s simply helpful to have a friend walk with us while on the rough roads.  Secondly, a companion, because they tend to be more objective, can help us evaluate whether a rough patch is the signal to change directions and head to a new destination or something to get through.

    Finally, I’ve found making sure there’s space for prayer, reflection and meditation are essential in working intellectually and emotionally through these segments of our journey.  It’s in these quiet moments that breakthroughs in perspective and clarity on direction so often come.

    So, if you’re in one of those places on your journey where traveling is difficult, seek wisdom from others as well as through prayer and reflection.  Determine if it’s just a rough patch to get through or a indication of a radical change in direction.  If it’s simply getting through,  keep walking.  If it’s a change in direction,  seek out a new destination and create a new travel plan that will bring you to a better place.  But either way, standing still is not an option, going back rarely the answer, instead look, lean, and move forward -it’s the only way through it and onto your new destination.


  • Marriage and Family

    So What Kind of Parent Are You?

    068In my last post we looked at four ways to lead others – push, drag, carry or inspire.  In the days since it’s occurred to me that these are also four ways parents can lead their children. But before moving to those ways let’s be clear on one idea about parenting.  I’m convinced after 24 years of being a parent that the key responsibility we have as parents, maybe the only responsibility, is to lead our children.  This may seem obvious but the truth is many parents don’t lead, either because they don’t know how to or simply don’t believe it’s their place.  But the truth is the very first social organizations in history were not businesses, non-profits, or governments but instead it were families.  And since healthy organizations require leadership, we shouldn’t be surprised that healthy families need leadership and that every child needs to be lead.

    So what are the ways a parent can lead their child?

    Parents have the same options available as a leader of any organization – they can push, drag, carry or they can inspire their children.  Maybe the only difference is that as parents, especially parents of young children and adolescents, it’s appropriate to use all four ways  more often than you do when leading/parenting adults.  As a result, the key to successful parenting is having the wisdom to know when to lead which way.

    Unfortunately this is usually where we make mistakes as parents.  We push when we should carry, we carry when we should inspire, we drag when a gentle nudge is all that is needed.

    And just like leading teams, parents (myself included) can fall into one way of leading because it worked so well at one particular moment or season in our child’s life.  The tricky part is to be able to recognize the need to move away from a specific way when the child’s ready to be led differently.  We’ve seen this in the parenting of our own children, who are now adults.  When they were children,  we often dragged them to piano practice, pushed them to eat right, carried them when life was beyond their capacity to handle.  But as adults our children don’t want nor appreciate being pushed, dragged, and most often not even carried.  They do love and want to be inspired. A new season in our children’s life requires a shift in the way we parent.

    How do we know we’re parenting the best way?  Our children should be accomplishing both our short-term goals (eating their vegetables) and our long-term goals (becoming people who don’t need to be pushed, pulled or carried).

    So this leaves us with the question we all face as parents – are we ready to give up our go-to parenting ways for the better way in this moment or season of your child’s life?




  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader,  Organizational Leadership

    Getting Positive Momentum Back

    Photo Jan 22, 7 28 14 AMMarch Madness just finished and one of the most talked about aspects of the tournament was the concept of momentum. Media analyzed teams by how they got, kept, and then lost positive momentum throughout a game and within the tournament. It seemed, at times, having positive momentum was the most important factor in the tournament.

    Over the last couple of posts I’ve explored the reality and causes of personal and organizational momentum. The question we all face at one time or another, just like the teams in the NCAA basketball tournament, is what do you do to get lost momentum back?

    From my experience there are four specific steps you must take to reverse the negative momentum in any situation, whether basketball, personally or organizationally.

    First, quickly acknowledge that you’ve lost momentum. This usually starts with believing the numbers. Numbers always tell you the direction your headed, not because they’re the whole story but because they’re the leading indicators of the story. Take it from a guy who’s made this mistake to many times – it is way too easy to ignore or explain away the numbers.

    Second, don’t over react to your loss of momentum. Make sure you understand the causes behind the numbers and the momentum going the wrong way. This is the most important step because it’s tempting to fire a shotgun to solve potential problems before you truly understand the root causes.

    Third, once you know and understand the root causes, decide on a course of action to change and get rid of these causes and redirect the course of your momentum.

    Finally, you need to change whatever or whoever will get stop you from doing what’s necessary to change the momentum. And believe me there will be things and people who will stand in the path of any necessary change. So this will sound cold, but you have to be willing to move out-of-the-way, anything and everything, including people, who will work to stop you. If you don’t, I guarantee, your best laid plans will whither on the vine.

  • Living as a Leader,  SpringHill Experiences

    Can People Truly Change?

    “Past performance is the best predictor of future performance.” I learned this fundamental truth about people back in my days as a corporate recruiter. It was drilled into me through the interview training I received and built into the selection processes we used, the same selection processes used in many organizations today.

    Yet, I have to admit, there’s been many times when I didn’t want to accept it as true. I wanted to believe people can change. That their past behavior doesn’t mean that’s how they will act in the future.

    I’ve, at times, ignored this truth, because I wanted to trust people when they said they’ve changed. But, almost every time I’ve turned my back on this truth, I’ve regretted it.

    Why? Because the truth is the truth – past performance is the best predictor of future performance – because most people don’t change.

    But can this be the only truth about people? Is this the last word about what we can expect from others, from ourselves?

    The answer is no, it’s not the only possibility. People can and do change. It’s rare, but it’s possible. But the second truth is this – people do not change by themselves. It requires something significant to happen to a person for true change to take place and cause a break from their past.

    That “something significant” needs to go deep and rattle a person down to the core of their being, and in that place, true transformation happens. And always, at the center of this “something significant” is Jesus Christ, because it’s God who ultimately transforms lives, who grants people a lasting break from their past.

    This is why I’ve committed my vocational life to Christian camping. Because Christian camps create those “something significant” experiences, where God steps in, goes down deep, rattles the core of a person, and leads them to a place of true transformation where the past is no longer a predictor of the future.

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