Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I believe in you

"It is amazing what a little belief in a boy can do for him" Jim Oliver

This was a statement in a recent Boy Scout adult leader meeting that was made by one of the participants. Jim is a Scoutmaster and although I had never met him before my guess is that he must be a pretty good one.

Jim gets it. He understands at a deep level the impact those of us that work with youth can have through an action as simple as a belief in the potential of each person. This belief is reflected by how we treat them and how they view us as Adults.

We must talk deeply to understand who they are, how they think, and what they deep down aspire to be.

We must give them the chance to lead and give them the chance to succeed. Along the way don't soften the standards or bend the rules. In fact, hold steadfast to these knowing the achievement is ever more valuable if it was hard.

We must allow and even celebrate failure. Why? Failures are the great teachable moments in life and it is so much easier to correct and change when the teacher says, "Okay you failed. Now what did you learn and what are you going to do differently next time." If they learn this now just imagine how much better they will learn to handle the failures that our bound to come in the future.

We must model in every way the kind of person we hope these youth will grow up to be as adults. This includes our own actions, words and attitudes towards other youth, fellow adult volunteers and parents.

Don't like the kids putting down others? Then stop doing it in front of them. Think some are lazy? Then let them see you out work everyone else. Not happy with negative attitudes? Then throw a smile on even when your day was just a total mess.

Most importantly as Jim points out believe, believe and believe again. You may be the only person this kid will encounter that accepts and believes not just for who he/she is now but also who he/she could be in the future.

Have you ever had someone believe in you when you did not believe in yourself?

Have you personally seen the power of belief change the life of another?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lessons from 14 years....

Yesterday was my 14th wedding anniversary. To say every moment of these 14 years have been nothing but sunshine and roses would of course not exactly be true. What I can say is that our one to one conflicts have been very few and mostly my fault when they do happen. I doubt if our 12 year old son has ever seen his mom and dad argue. Much of our marital success is due to our natural easy going style but there are other reasons that I think have made for such an enduring and positive relationship. I could write pages by now but here are just a few:

We started all in: I meet couples all the time in first marriages that keep finances separate. The thought of doing this actually never entered my mind. We are together as one in every way including our finances.

We don’t let the sun go down on our anger: Never let a point of irritation or conflict fester. We talk it out and work it out.

We pray and worship together: Church is an important part of our life and our evening bedtime prayer is a true moment that brings the family together.

We love each other publicly: No we are not one of those gooey PDA type couples that gross you out. However, we do share a little affection every day through word and actions. This is often in front of our son so he can have no doubt as to our commitment and so he can see a model for his own future as a loving spouse.

We praise in public: It just breaks my heart to hear a man or women talk down about his or her spouse. Water cooler talk about “here is what’s wrong with my wife” to me is never appropriate.

We talk about and support each other’s goals: My wife is much better at this than am. I love that she listens without judgment and when I fail (which is often it seems) she just encourages me to try again.

I am far from the husband I want to be and consider our marriage to be a work in progress. I know the future will hold many challenges. I am just incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful partner to walk beside me on the journey of life ahead.

What about you and your marriage? What have been some keys to your success? What are some lessons you have learned from your failures? I would love from you. Leave a comment to share with me and with others.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some weekend thoughts

This weekend I spent several minutes watching my neighbor struggle to mow his yard. He would slowly push the mower for a few lines and then after a bit would sit for a break before getting up and going after it again. He has been dealing with cancer now for many months and this once vigorous man is now frail and thin. I could see the exhaustion in his steps and yet I knew he was at the same time feeling very much invigorated by the activity. Part of me wanted to help but I knew better. His family usually mows the yard for him and my guess is this was a moment of determination to prove he could indeed do it himself. That he indeed still is a man. A man that can mow and do other things men do.

I know very little about this neighbor other than he is sick. Hard to believe this when you consider that we have lived across the street from each other now for more than 13 years. I have waved but he seldom waves back. We have invited him and his family over for neighborhood cookouts and they do not come. I really do not know why he chooses not to be friendly but have come to accept it as just the way he is and there are no hard feelings. I will say though that it has not stopped us from loving him. We pray as a family for his health and recovery often. My wonderful wife has taken brownies and other treats over as tokens to let them know we are here and we do care.

As he mows I watch, I remember, and I wonder. Watching has reminded me in a powerful way what a gift every day of life is. It was over 10 years ago when I too was battling cancer and experiencing the challenges Chemo and the prospects of life ending bring. I wonder if I have been worthy of this extra time the Lord has given me. I am human and therefore I seem to fail more often than succeed with my earthly ambitions.

I want to go through life with a step after step determination to keep pressing on hopefully making a difference for someone else sometime along the way. I am sorry for my neighbor and yet and the same time am thankful for the powerful reminder I have been given. It is certainly a wake up call.

What about you? Are you just walking through the day, week, and years? We are ultimately all terminal if you think about it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A lesson from riding

My road bike is sick and in the shop. I am hoping for a full recovery. I guess that is why I have been thinking a lot in biking terms these last couple of days. I thought I would share with you a segment of an e-mail I sent to a team member this week talking about teamwork.

(about cycling)

We ride in pacelines with each person taking a turn at the front to “pull” the rest. There is always pressure to:

Take a turn at the front—If you get a reputation as someone who never pulls, the group eventually will call you out for it and not want to ride with you.

Not go to fast—A lot of guys get up front and then just take off. These are the ones who don’t look back to make sure the group is still there. They forget the point of the pull is to take the burden a bit for the rest of the group and not to ride any faster than your slowest rider can handle.

Stay safe in the middle—I broke my arm one time in a race because a dude a few bikes in front of me clipped the tire of the guy in front of him and fell. I T-Boned him in his back and next thing I knew I was in a ditch angry at the incompetence of the guy in front of me.

Don’t get dropped—Once you get out of the line it is almost impossible to catch up since the group is so much faster than the individual.

Cyclists or trainers or managers or any kind of leader —Life is so much better when we are working together for the benefit of all don’t you think?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Values, My Purpose, My Compelling Vision

As promised, here is my Value, Purpose and Compelling Vision. I have it posted at my desk along with the photo. The picture serves as a nice reminder that my wife and son are looking up to me as a leader for our family. I can never forget this and must strive to always be a Godly example.

Hopefully you have taken some time to go through this exercise as well. If not, I encourage you to do so soon.

My value list

Closeness to God
Financial security

My purpose...

To serve God, serve my family and serve those around me.

My compelling vision statement:

I shall live a life grounded with a sense of integrity and of closeness with my God.
My values along with the Oath, Law and Motto will guide my choices along the way.

In my personal life I shall seek first to be a Godly husband and father and I will value those around me.

In my work life, I am committed to helping others experience success so they in turn will help others succeed.

I indeed understand that this life is but a breath in time and the impact I will have on others in service of Him is the most important impact of all.

Psalm 39:4-5 (New Living Translation)
4 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”