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    Call of the Wild

    This morning during my early morning walk, I finished my 2nd book of 2019, Jack London’s Call of the Wild. (My first book of 2019 was The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell.)

    Call of the Wild is a classic book which I had never read before this year. The book tells the story of a dog named Buck who gets thrust into a whole new world – a wild world – when someone steals him from his comfy home and sells him to dog sled drivers.

    Without giving the whole story away, Buck quickly adapts to his new settings and eventually gains a leadership role over a pack of sled dogs. A the story continues, Buck actually comes to realize his calling – a calling to the wild.

    Recognizing our calling can sometimes be easy but more often takes time, energy, and even failure from time to time.

    Last month, I shared Brian Jones’ definition of calling:

    Calling = Area of Skill + Area of Passion + Area of Opportunity

    You could say that Buck had a passion for the wild. He developed the skill for the wild. And he was given the opportunity to go into the wild.

    What’s your calling?

    As we kick-off 2019, it’s a great time for you to consider your calling. It make take some time to figure it out. I challenge you to pursue it. Go after your finding your calling with all you’ve got. You don’t want to waste your life never finding your calling.

    If you need help figuring out your next steps, I’d love to help you. Spots for the next semester of the Stretched Men Group are open and will fill up quickly. Go to www.stretchedmengroup.com now, and sign up for more information (you are not committing to the group just yet).

    Don’t let 2019 be just another year. STRETCH yourself. Get outside your comfort zone. Take that next step.

    Overcome Negativity in the World – Be Positive

    Have you noticed that there is a lot of negativity in the world these days?

    There’s negativity in the news.

    There’s negativity in the water cooler conversations at the office.

    There’s even negativity at the dinner table.

    All this negativity is dragging us down.

    We are better than that.

    What happened to “always look on the bright side of life”?

    What happened to the glass is half full?

    What happened to positivity?

    My wife and I were talking the other day about the importance of bringing a right attitude – a more positive attitude – into the New Year.

    While we know we will face challenges, we have decided to implement a practice of daily positivity. Each day, instead of asking ”How was your day?”, we will be asking each other “What were 3 wins for you today?”

    Can you see how this changes things?

    We started today when my wife arrived home from work (she’s a kindergarten teacher)?

    I gave her my 3 wins, and I’ll share them with you here:

    1. I got my cap fixed (temporarily). Over the holiday, my cap (my one and only) broke. I called my dentist, and today was the first day they were back in the office since the cap broke. They got me in for an appointment this afternoon, and they hooked me up with a temporary crown while the new one is built.
    2. I fixed the garage door opener. It was a simple fix really, but the key pad outside our garage hadn’t worked right for quite a while. After reading some instructions, I learned that there was a battery in the key pad. Thankfully, I had a new 9-Volt battery laying around. I grabbed a screwdriver and replaced the battery, and the keypad works like new now.
    3. While I was in the fixing mode, I decided to call the hot tub manufacturer about a problem I had noticed with the control panel for our hot tub. While I was on the phone, I realized that the control panel was actually still working fine. I just needed to order a couple on new light bulbs to provide the appropriate back lighting to see the control panel in the dark. It may not seem like all that big of a deal, but it was a win for me.

    Developing a positive attitude requires an intentional pursuit of finding the good in all things.

    As you start the new year, I encourage you to look for the positive. Go against the cultural norm, and be a light for the good in this world. A positive approach to your life can make a huge difference for those around you.

    What was one of your big wins today?

    Happy New Year 2019

    Happy New Year!

    2018 is in the books, and we officially begin 2019 TODAY!

    Many of us use the New Year, January 1st, to get a fresh start. We establish new goals. We make attempts at starting new habits. We pursue things like health, wealth, and happiness with more passion and vigor when the new year starts.

    I won’t lie I made some attempts at creating better habits and pursuing certain goals today, and I also already fell short on some of the things that ran through my head.

    The great thing is that tomorrow is a new day, and I get to start all over with a fresh start when my alarm goes off at 4AM on January 2nd.

    2018 was a pretty good year. I read lots of books. I traveled to some amazing places. I spent time with my family. And I took a lot of steps (and I mean a lot).

    As 2019 begins, I want to continue these things, but I also have aspirations for some other important things. I want to grow closer to God in 2019. I want to make strides in building deeper relationships with those around me. I want to go to Washington (state) again this year for a facilitators conference/retreat with Family Lines. I want to return to Guatemala and help build more houses. I want to host the first ever Stretched Men Live event. And I want to become a jump roping master (I’ve got a LONG way to go with this one).

    Above all else, I want God’s plans for me to be my plans. This will require an open mind, an open heart, and an all-out pursuit of Him.

    As 2019 gets underway, I pray God directs our paths.

    Who’s with me?

    Take Time To Review

    Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat and review what is good.
    Plato

    Friday night, my DIBs (Dudes In the Basement) men’s group got together for an evening of pizza and conversation.  After an extremely busy week at work, this time together was a welcome respite.  DIBs started a little over four years ago, and we committed to meeting together for twenty years.  Each year at the beginning of a new year, we take time to chose a word to mark our year ahead.  (This year, my word was “Long-Term”.)

    As we were sitting around talking, one of the guys (thanks Matt!) suggested we take time to  review around words for the past year.  It was a fantastic opportunity to review and reflect on our words and how they played out throughout the year.

    I shared about our long-term planning related to Guatemala.  I shared about our transition to the empty nest (which has gone well thanks to our long-term investment in our marriage).  I shared about working towards building my department at Siemens for the long-term through key hiring decisions and strategic organizational structure adjustments.  I shared about the “Year of Discipleship” with Isaac and our “Father-Son Rite of Passage Trip” (with Family Lines) to the Cascade Mountains in June.

    As we rapidly move towards the close of 2018, I encourage you to take time to review your year.  What went well?  What didn’t go so well?  What did you learn in 2018?  What changes do you want to make in 2019?

    Take time to write down what you’ve observed through your review.  I’d also encourage you to plug into community by sharing with someone else something you learned as a result of your review.  Start by sharing in the comments below.

    How was your 2018?

    It’s Time To Reconnect

    People cross our paths throughout our lifetimes.  Some people stay in our lives for a short period of time, and some people are a constant part of our lives.  Others come and go and come again.

    Today, I had the opportunity and privilege to reconnect with three individuals who I haven’t talked to in a while.

    My friend, Michael, and I connected via Instagram chat when I commented on one of his story items.  It’s probably a year or more since we’ve connected either on-line or in person.  The brief exchange laid the groundwork for a face to face meeting at the beginning of the year.

    Another friend, Tom, and I reconnected over breakfast at Panera Bread this morning.  We initially met through Toastmasters, and we’ve have helped to launch a new Toastmasters club in the King of Prussia area of Pennsylvania.  We haven’t seen each other for a few months.  Our conversation at breakfast went pretty deep as we shared some recent challenges we were facing.

    And finally, my friend, Matt, and I reconnected over the phone.  Matt lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, and we initially met through the blog world.  We have never had the opportunity to meet face to face, but we’ve had a few voice to voice conversations in addition to our comments back and forth on-line.  (I was also interviewed by Matt on one of his early podcasts.) Our time together was a blessing as we briefly caught up on our families before diving deep into more spiritual discussions.

    God has put people in your path.  Some of these people need your encouragement.  Some of these people are there to encourage you.  And some of them are there to walk side by side through the joys and challenges we all face.

    Today, I want to challenge you to reconnect with someone from your past.  Think about people who have been a blessing to you, and think about people who might need a friendly word of encouragement.  Then pick up the phone, knock on the door, or send a message.

    What are you waiting for?  Take time to reconnect right now!

    How did we meet?  Share your answer in the comments below (or send me a private message or email).  I’d love to reconnect with you!

    Finding Your Career Calling

    Tonight, I had the privilege of facilitating the mastermind group I lead for men (Stretched Men Group).  We talked about a lot of things tonight, and my heart if full.

    A lot of men struggle with a sense of fulfillment or calling when it comes to their careers.

    Do I fit in here?  Am I making a difference?  Am I wasting my time?  Could I be doing more?

    As we were talking, I was reminded of a formula presented by Brian Jones in his book, Finding Favor:

    Calling = Passion + Skill + Opportunity

    When your greatest passions line up with your skills and the opportunities in front of you, you’ve likely found your calling.

    As you get ready to head to work tomorrow, I pray you find yourself right where you are called to be.

    What’s your calling?

    What’s Your Priority?


    The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
    Stephen Covey

    Yesterday, I posted about wanting a Do Over.  I shared about my desire for a Do Over when it comes to blogging.  If you’re keeping track then you’ll know this is my second day of blogging in a row after a fairly long hiatus.

    As I was taking my morning walk today, I had a simple realization.  I’ve been walking every day for quite some time.  In fact, I’ve reached 10,000 (or more steps) every day for the past 230+ days.  In order to keep this streak alive, I’ve had to make walking a priority.  I walk in the dark, early morning hours of the morning many days, and sometimes I walk in the dark, late night hours of the evening if I’m running low on steps.  Sometimes, I go way over 10,000 steps, and sometimes I just barely make 10,000 steps.  Walking and reaching my daily step goal is clearly a priority.

    What is your priority?

    If blogging with consistency is my goal, I must make it a priority.  I may have to blog in the early morning hours.  I may have to blog in the late night hours.  I may have to miss out on other things that just aren’t as important but have occupied my time.

    When we say “Yes” to something, we must say “No” to many, many other things.

    What do you need to say “No” to today?

    But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33


    I Need A Do Over

    Mulligan – noun – (in informal golf) an extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, not counted on the scorecard.  (Google Dictionary)

    Have you ever wanted to start over?

    Have you ever made a mistake and wanted to erase that mistake?

    Have you ever gotten out of the habit of doing something good and wanted to get back on the right track?

    I feel this way about blogging.  I’ve been writing here on my blog for over eleven years, and I have fallen out of my blogging grove over the past several months.

    Yesterday, my wife told me she missed my blog posts, and I’ve had a few people check in with me to make sure I was okay after they hadn’t heard from me for a while.  (Thanks for checking in on me!)

    I don’t want to erase everything I’ve written in the past, but I sometimes wish I could start over with the same energy and time commitment to writing.  Some of this is in my control, but I also recognize that many things have changed for me over the past eleven years – especially over the past two years since I took on more responsibility at work.

    And so I come back to my blog and to you, my readers, asking for a “Do Over.”

    I want to get back on the right track, and I’m hoping you’ll join me on the journey.

    See you tomorrow!

    Do you need a Do Over?

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 5:17

    For ideas on how to get a fresh start, click here.

    Time for a New Perspective

    Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.
    Sterling K. Brown

    This morning, I decided to write while sitting at the “bar” (or counter) of the Starbucks where I usually write on Sunday mornings before church.  I typically write while sitting at one of the tables against the wall.  For some reason, it felt like it was a good day for a different perspective.

    From my current vantage point, I watch three Starbucks team members behind the counter busily serving their customers.  One young man is the barista.  Another is emptying the trash, warming up pastries, and loading the refrigerator with milk.  A young lady is at the register taking orders.  They seem to be working well together to meet the expectations of their customers.

    I’m thankful for the new perspective this morning.

    A couple of weeks ago, we held a meeting in our office for our field specialists.  They are the team members who make sure our products work correctly in the buildings where we are contracted to provide our products and services.  During the meeting, one of the specialists indicated he wanted a chance to do my job for the day – kind of a reverse Undercover Boss scenario.

    I’ve been mulling over this request for a few days.  What would it look like to have someone shadow me for a day?  How could I give them an appropriate perspective on my job without compromising my performance or the confidentiality that I must keep with some of the information that comes my way?  What is a reasonable outcome of such an experiment?  Would a “Boss for the Day” experiment be beneficial in the long-run?

    Life is about perspective and how you look at something… ultimately, you have to zoom out.
    Whitney Wolfe

    Honestly, I had never thought of such an idea before I heard it two weeks ago.  It’s a reminder to keep my eyes and ears open to the ideas, perspectives, and opportunities presented by others.

    Are you a person of routine like me?

    One of my Daily Stretch Affirmations is:  I take time to try new things.

    What new thing do you need to experience today?  What action do you need to take to get out of your comfort zone?  What step will you take today to get a new perspective?

    What are you waiting for?  Do it!

    See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:19

    How Can I Help?

    I want to influence culture instead of letting culture influence me.  Despite this intent, I’ve learned that I can’t live my life with blinders.  While I want to be influential, I need to be open to how I might be STRETCHED by the world around me – and that includes the culture.

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

    Romans 12:2

    This week, I was folding laundry while Leanne was working on grad school homework.  While I was folding clothes and sorting socks, I turned on a new NBC television show, New Amsterdam.  In the show (inspired by a true story), Dr. Max Goodwin (played by Ryan Eggold) takes over New Amsterdam, a not-for-profit hospital in New York City.  Dr. Goodwin introduces himself to the hospital staff by asking a simple question:  “How can I help?”

    The rest of this episode (Pilot) introduces viewers to various characters and their stories while watching Dr. Goodwin repeatedly ask this question.

    Believe it or not, this time of multi-tasking (folding laundry and watching television) had a profound impact on me.

    I’ve always tried to be helpful – especially as a leader.  But if I’m honest (which I try to be), I don’t always think about what others need.  I don’t always ask how I can help.  I sometimes become self-absorbed caught up in my own list of things I want to accomplish or attend to each day.  I miss out on the real needs of my team members.

    This is not good, and it’s not the way I want to lead.

    I want to have a “How can I help” mindset.

    On Friday at the office, I repeatedly asked this question as I interacted with my co-workers and customers.  It was refreshing.  I felt a renewed sense of connection with my job, my team, and my mission.  I rediscovered a new passion for my role as a leader in my organization.

    As you head into the work week, I challenge you to ask this question at least once a day.  And when you ask how you can help be sure to listen to the response.  Then go do what you can do to help.

    How can I help you?

    Seriously, what can I do for you?  How can I help you become a better person?  How can I help you stretch?  How can I help you?

    Leave your response below (or feel free to reach out to me privately).  I’d love to help you!

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