CELEBRATION OF THE SENSES DAY

When you start using senses you’ve neglected, your reward is to see the world with completely fresh eyes.

Barbara Sher

Most weeks on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question on Fridays. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

Today is Celebration of the Senses Day!  (Bet you didn’t know that.)  Today’s Ice Breaker is inspired by this special day of the year.

Question:  If you had to go without one of your senses (touch, taste, smell, feel, and hear), which sense would it be?  Explain your answer in the comments.

My Answer:  I like all my senses, and I’m definitely thankful for each of them.  If I had to go without one, I guess I’d go with the sense of smell.  I’m sure I would miss it when it was gone, but I’d rather keep the other four senses.

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.)  And keep Stretching!

101 ICE BREAKER IDEAS

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4 WAYS TO DEAL WITH THE BURDEN YOU ARE CARRYING

None knows the weight of another’s burden.

George Herbert

Over the weekend, Leanne and I were taking a walk along the Perkiomen Trail.  As we approached the base of the steepest hill on the entire trail, we crossed paths with a man who was running down the hill with a heavy bag held behind his neck.  We exchanged greetings, and I asked him how he was doing.  His response made me chuckle, “Tired.”

Of course he was tired.  He was running with a huge load on his back.  What does he expect.  If he had simply left the bag at home, his run would have been easier.  And he wouldn’t be so tired.

We kept walking, and I started thinking.

How many of us go through life with a heavy weight tied to our back?

I know I’ve been carrying around a couple of heavy loads lately.  I’ve lost sleep.  I’ve experienced other signs of stress and fatigue.

How would my life change if I let go of these burdens?

I wouldn’t be so tired.  I’d have more energy for other more productive things.  I’d be happier.  I might even have less gray hair.

We all have burdens to carry, but there are a few things we can do to lighten our loads:

4 Ways To Deal With The Burden You Are Carrying

  1. Ask for help.  Our pride gets in the way of asking for help.  We don’t want to appear weak, or we don’t want to let others into our world.  Sometimes we need help.  Plug into people who can help you when you need it.  This may be a small group or church group.  Or it may be a professional.  Several years ago when I was carrying a heavy load, I met with a counselor for a few months.
  2. Limit the time you carry your burden.  Either take care of the issue that is causing the burden as quickly as possible, or give yourself fixed periods of time to deal with the burden you are carrying.  A prolonged period of feeling overloaded leads to fatigue, ineffectiveness, and even depression.
  3. Let it go.  This is easier said than done for most of us.  Maybe the writers of the Disney “Frozen” song had something right.  We may need to simply drop the heavy bag from behind our necks and keep going.  This may not sound responsible, but it may be the choice you need to make today to get out from under the heavy load you’ve been carrying around.
  4. Give your burden to the One who can carry it no matter what.  Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”  Psalm 55:22  This is a promise.  The bumper sticker “Let Go And Let God” seems so cliché, but maybe there’s far more truth in it than we care to admit.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

What burden are you carrying?  What step will you take TODAY to lighten your load?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

ARE YOU A FATHER_

Being a father has been, without a doubt, my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person.

Naveen Jain

Our world needs fathers who are present, attentive, and intentional.  Our world is plagued with poor examples of fatherhood.  We see fathers abandoning their families physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

It’s time for a change!

I’ve been a father for over 18 years.

Fatherhood has brought me some of the greatest challenges in life and some of the greatest experiences of life.

My kids are wonderful, but I’ve wrestled through sleepless nights, paralyzing fears, car accidents, and a calendar that won’t give me a break.

On the other hand, my kids have given me the chance to experience victories on the track and cross-country course, emotional highs while listening to their music, and times to just be together.

18 years of fatherhood has gone by so quickly.  When I first started on this parenting journey, I didn’t feel like some of the early struggles would ever end.  Then I blinked.  Now, I’m ready to send my oldest to college.

When you become a father, you have two choices.  You can just let it happen.  Or you can be intentional with how you parent your kids.

I’ve tried to be intentional when it coming to fathering my children, but if I’m honest, there have been many times when I’ve just let it happen.

It’s easy to let the distractions of life, of career, and of personal pursuit get in the way of being the fathers we really need to be for our children, our spouses, and our future grandchildren.  We have a responsibility to provide for our families, but we also have a responsibility to be present for them.

If you’re a dad and you feel like you could do a better job, you’re not alone.  You need to know this.  You need to know that you can start TODAY to be more intentional when it comes to fatherhood.

Part of being a more intentional father involves hanging out with other fathers who want to make the most of their time of fatherhood.  You need this kind of community for ideas, encouragement, and accountability.  Trying to be a more intentional father without the help of others may work for a short period of time, but your efforts will be much more effective when you team up with other dads.

If you’re missing out on this kind of community with other fathers, let me know.  I’m in the early stages of planning a Stretched Dad Mastermind group.  I don’t have all the details yet, but I’m hoping to launch in September.  If you sign up below, I’ll get back to you with more information.

Happy Father’s Day!

VEGETABLES-1

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.

Doug Larson

Most weeks on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question on Fridays. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

Today is National Eat Your Vegetables Day!  Today’s Ice Breaker question is inspired by this special holiday.

Question:  What is your favorite vegetable?

My Answer:  My recent most favorite vegetable is Brussels sprouts.  I particularly liked them roasted with olive oil, sea salt, bacon, and lemon zest.  Here’s the funny thing:  I hated Brussels sprouts when I was a kid.  Now, I love them.  It’s funny how things change.  (I still don’t like tomatoes though.  I don’t think they’re a vegetable anyway.)

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.)  And keep Stretching!

101 ICE BREAKER IDEAS

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5 THINGS I LEARNED ABOUTLEADERSHIP WHEN THE DRESS CODE CHANGED

I was shocked last week when my boss forwarded an email to me from our area manager indicating that the dress code for managers and salespeople in our area was being relaxed for the summer months (June 1st thru September 30th).  I am no longer required to wear a tie Monday thru Thursday during this time period.  In his memo, our area manager stated that he had reconsidered his long-held stance on more formal attire after reviewing the acceptable social norms in the industry.

Ties have been a requirement for managers and salespeople for years, and I honestly did not expect this news.

Thanks to my area manager’s memo, I learned somethings about leadership:

5 Things I Learned About Leadership When The Dress Code Changed

  1. Leaders requires flexibility.  Our area manager could have kept things the way they have always been.  Instead, he adapted.  Flexibility in leadership keeps your business headed in the right direction especially when business currents change directions.  Don’t get so stuck in your ways that you miss opportunities to take your organization to a better place.
  2. Leaders lead best when they give and take.  Our area manager gave into a long-standing “tradition”.  In return, he got more respect from his team.  There are trade-offs in business when it comes to leadership.  If you want to take your leadership to the next level, learn to make these trade-offs.
  3. Leaders must be aware.  Our area manager was paying attention to the industry, and he noticed that ties were no longer the norm during the summer.  If you want to be a great leader, pay attention to what is going on around you.  Visit your customers.  Watch your competitors.  Learn.  And learn some more.
  4. Leaders understand how the little things matter.  A tie is a little piece of fabric that hangs around ones neck.  It’s a simple thing, but it meant so much to many of the employees impacted by the simple change to the dress code policy.  If you want to become a better leader, find ways to impact your employees through simple actions.
  5. Leaders listen.  Employees have been asking for a relaxation of the dress code during the summer for a few years, and our area manager listened.  If you want to improve your leadership, take time to listen to your team.

While my ties will miss getting out of the closet the next few months, I’m happy to give my neck a break.

What’s the dress code at your place of employment?  What changes would you like to see in the dress code?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Measure Your Words

June 14, 2016 — 5 Comments

MEASURE YOUR WORDS

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Nursery Rhyme

What a lie!

Words have tremendous power to lift people up and encourage them.  They have the power to inspire and motivate.  They have the power to paint a beautiful picture.  Words can take you to the places of your dreams.  And they can take people with you if used correctly.

But there’s also a dark side to words.

Words have power to tear down and destroy.  They have the power to mislead and misrepresent.  Used incorrectly, words lie and even kill.  Words can take you to very dark places.  And they can take people with you if used incorrectly.

There’s a lot of talk about guns and immigrants lately.  People want to bring control to these two areas.  This isn’t a commentary on these debates.

What if we started by bringing more control to our tongues?

Words matter.  Don’t waste them.  Don’t use them as weapons.  Instead, find ways to be constructive when you speak and when you write.

If you want to be a man, measure your words.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

How have the words of others impacted you?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

If you are interested in talking about issues like this with other men, consider signing up for my men’s mastermind list.  I don’t have all the details right now, but I’m looking to see who might be interested in a group to help you become a better father, a better husband, and a better follow of Christ.  Sign up below, and I’ll keep you posted.

GUATEMALA UPDATE 2016 Meet the Family

Building 100 homes in Guatemala is not a goal about “Let’s see what Jon can do.”

My goal of building 100 homes in Guatemala is about helping families one at a time.  Each of these families is made up of individuals who have names, skills, passions, and purposes.  And it’s our hope that we can give them a boost to help them survive, thrive, and live life on purpose.

Over the weekend, we received our first peek into one of the families we will be building for this summer.  We don’t know the mother’s name yet or the names of her children, but we’re excited to meet her, to play with her kids, and to give her the boost she needs by provides a dry house and comfortable beds.

Here’s a picture:

Guatemala 2016 Family for house 1

Please pray for this woman and her children.  Pray that we might be effective in helping her.

I look forward to sharing more as we get to know this precious family.

Stay tuned!

What would you like to know about this family?

 

 

THE PARABLE OF THE LOST BLUE WATER BOTTLE

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.

Henry David Thoreau

I have a blue water bottle.  It travels with me most places I go.  From the looks of it, the blue water bottle isn’t anything special.  I picked it up at Target several years ago for $5.  It’s metal, and it has scratches and dents all over it.  I’ve had to hammer out the bottom of the bottle several times, so it can stand up straight on a flat surface without wobbling.

I could easily replace the bottle, but I’m hoping it will stick with me for a while.  It has value to me.  It’s been to Guatemala three times so far.  It reminds me of my times there, and it also reminds me to be thankful for the clean water I have at home.  In some ways, I feel like I would be lost without my blue water bottle.

Friday night, I took my blue water bottle to Hannah’s graduation ceremony.  I took a few sips of water throughout the evening, and I tucked the bottle under my chair to prevent others from tripping over it.

At the end of the ceremony, we stood up and moved into the sea of graduates in hopes of finding Hannah.  When we found her, we embraced, celebrated, and preserved the occasion with pictures in the middle of the football field.  Eventually, we exited the stadium and headed to our car and home weaving through the heavy foot and vehicle traffic along the way.

As we pulled into our driveway, I realized I had left my precious water bottle under my chair.  I was crushed.  I knew I couldn’t go back for the bottle that night as I didn’t want to sit in traffic for another hour while our family waited at home, so I did the only thing I knew how to do.  I tried to move on.

Friday night, I tossed and turned in bed as I reflected on Hannah’s milestone, time with our extended family, the party coming up the next day, and my lost water bottle.

On Saturday morning, I woke up early to take care of a few things.  Then, I drove back over to the high school in hopes of finding my water bottle.  When I arrived there were a few people on the field stacking chairs and tearing down the stage.  I was hopeful that my blue water bottle would be found.  As I walked towards the chair I had been sitting in, I was saddened not to see any signs of my blue water bottle.

Next, I did the natural thing, and I started looking under all the other chairs.  I walked towards the stage to see if anyone on the tear down crew had seen my prized possession.  Luckily, one of the maintenance staff members (who thought I looked a little old to have just graduated) offered to help.  He drove over to the grounds building at the side of the field, and we looked through the area to see if my bottle happened to make its way over there.  No luck.

Then one of his team members rolled up in his gator.  We asked if he had picked up a water bottle from the night before, and his response caused my heart to leap.  He said, “You mean a blue water bottle?”  Within minutes, I was reunited with my treasured, blue water bottle.  I thanked both of the gentlemen and explained how much the bottle meant to me.  They were glad to help.

As I brought my blue water bottle back into the house, I proclaimed “The lost has been found.  All is right.  My blue water bottle which was lost has now been found.”  And we celebrated later that day with a big party under a tent in our backyard.  Actually, the party was for Hannah’s graduation, but I think I celebrated a little bit more knowing my blue water bottle was safe and sound.

Every time I find something I previously lost, I am reminded to what lengths the Father went to find me.  He sent His Son to pay the price for my sins and to make it possible for me to come home – safe and sound.  I am blessed!

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coin and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:8-10

When was the last time you lost something that meant a lot to you?  How did you go about searching for your lost item?  What did you do when you found it?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

GRADUATION

Most weeks on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question on Fridays. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

This week’s Ice Breaker is inspired by a significant event in our family’s life happening today.  My daughter is graduating from high school.

Question:  How are you experiencing a graduation or significant milestone in your life these days?  Explain your answer in the comments.

My Answer:  My answer is pretty easy.  With Hannah graduating today, I experiencing the end of high school education for my oldest and the beginning of college.  Hannah’s transition into adulthood has required a process of letting go.  While I know I’ll still have influence on her, Hannah is ready for this next step of independence.  On one hand, it’s sad to know we won’t experience this again with her.  The past 18 1/2 years have gone way faster than I ever expected.  On the other hand, it’s a happy time.  Leanne and I are trusting we’ve done our job, and we’re excited to watch Hannah move ahead in her life.  While graduation means the end of something, it also represents the start of something wonderful.

Today she graduates, and tomorrow we celebrate with family and friends.

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.)  And keep Stretching!

101 ICE BREAKER IDEAS

To get a FREE copy of 101 Ice Breaker Ideas (an eBook by me), sign up below:

Get 101 Ice Breaker Ideas

You’ll get the link for 8 pages of ice breaker questions when you sign up.

ONE WAY TO BECOME A BETTER COACH FOR YOUR TEAM

A month ago, I attended the Foundation Leadership Program with 22 other colleagues from North and South America.  (To read more about my experience, click here.)  It was the best week I’ve had in my 20+ years with the company.  One of my biggest takeaways from the experience relates to how I coach others.

Coaching others isn’t about giving the answers.

Coaching is about helping others discover the answers for themselves.

I’m a fixer, so I naturally want to dive in and figure out the exact steps necessary to overcome a challenge.  Here’s the problem:  Our team members don’t need a fixer.  They don’t need someone else to do the work for them.  They don’t need someone to do the thinking for them.  When we as leaders jump in to fix things, we take away valuable opportunities for our team members to think for themselves and to take action.

As leaders, we need to give our team members the opportunity to learn, to think, to take action, to succeed, and to fail.

To effectively coach our team members, we should use the GROW Model for handling the discussions with our team members.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the GROW Model:

The GROW model (or process) is a simple method for goal setting and problem solving. It was developed in the United Kingdom and was used extensively in corporate coaching in the late 1980s and 1990s.

There have been many claims to authorship of GROW as a way of achieving goals and solving problems. While no one person can be clearly identified as the originator, Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore all made significant contributions.  Max Landsberg also describes GROW in his book The Tao of Coaching.  Other similar models include collaborative helping maps in family therapy and Gabriele Oettingen‘s WOOP model.

This is what I learned in my leadership program:

  • G stands for Goal.  When coaching your team members start with the goal.  The goal may change as the discussion moves along, but it is the starting point for your coaching discussion.
  • R stands for Roadblocks.  It’s helpful to identify the things that are standing in the way of achieving your goal.
  • O stands for Options.  What options does one have to overcome the roadblocks that stand in the way of achieving the goal?  When discussing the options, it may become obvious that the goal needs to be re-calibrated.  When the goal shifts, we have to go back and look at the roadblocks standing in the way of achieving the new goal.
  • W stands for Will.  Is your team members willing to take action on the identified options?  If the answer is no, it’s time to go back to the drawing board (or end the discussion).  If the answer is yes, the discussion transitions into action.

Who are you leading?  Maybe you are leading in your business or place of employment.  Maybe you are leading in your community.  Or maybe you are leading in your home.

Whatever the case may be, it’s time for you to help your team members GROW (or STRETCH as I like to say).  Learn to become a better coach, and discover a path to greater success among those you lead.

What methods have you used to help your team members tackle their problems?  What step(s) do you need to take TODAY to help your team members?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

If you’re looking for more ways to STRETCH yourself, sign up TODAY for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge: