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    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


    Books I’ve Read So Far This Year (Part 3)

    The past two days, I posted a list of the first 20 books I’ve read in 2018 (click here to see part one of the list and click here to see part two of the list).  Here’s the next group of books on the list:

    The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work by Jon Gordon – I’ve read one or two other books by Jon Gordon, and I really like his writing.  He uses storytelling to teach business, leadership, and life principles.  This book shows you how you can change a lot by removing complaining.  [Note:  I read the Audible version of this book.]

    The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni – This is another book I picked up at our local library for 50 cents (or a dollar).  I read this book while I was camping in the Poconos over Memorial Day weekend.  I really enjoyed this book that has a similar feel to the Jon Gordon book above and the previous Patrick Lencioni book I read earlier in the year.  If you want to be an extraordinary leader, you just may want to pick up a copy of this book.  [Note:  I read the hardcover version of this book.]

    The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller – Everybody talks about this book, so I decided I should give it a try.  Gary Keller (of Keller-Williams) describes the remarkable difference we can make when we resist the urge to dilute our attention.  Honestly, I struggle in this area.  I’m too spread out in my focus, and this book was a great reminder of the importance of narrowing our focus.  [Note:  I read the Audible version of this book.]

    The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier – I have the opportunity to coach at home, at work, at church, and in my on-line endeavors.  This book was an important read for me.  I truly want to help people succeed, and this book packs a valuable punch by teaching a structure that will help you get the most out of your coaching conversations.  [Note:  I read the audible version of this book.]

    No Fail Meetings: 5 Steps to Orchestrate Productive Meetings (and Avoid All the Rest)  by Michael Hyatt – When I heard this book was coming out, I immediately pre-ordered it.  I knew this book at power to change the way I lead and participate in meetings.  (My second book on meetings this year.)  Michael Hyatt didn’t disappoint in this concise explanation of how to make meetings more productive.  [Note:  I read the hardcover version and the audio version of this book.]

    Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter – The Hamilton Craze has been sweeping our country for the past year or two.  I saw In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s earlier musical, and I knew I wanted to know more about Hamilton.  This book provides a unique look into the story of Hamilton, the man and the musical.  [Note:  I read the Audible version of this book.]

    Imperfect: An Improbable Life by Jim Abbott and Tim Brown – I’m a big baseball fan.  When I saw this for sale in the used book area of our local library, I knew I had to pick it up for my own reading pleasure.  I really enjoyed getting to know more about Jim Abbott, about his career, and about his life and struggles as told throughout the pages of the book.  Abbott overcame unbelievable odds and obstacles to make it to Major League Baseball.  [Note:  I read the hardcover version of this book.]

    Why Suffering?: FInding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale – When I was in college, I had the honor of hearing Ravi Zacharias speak at Intervarsity Urbana missions conference.  I knew I was listening to someone with a lot of wisdom.  I’ve experience some suffering in my life, but I’ve honestly been very blessed as well.  This book gave me a refreshing perspective on suffering.  [Note:  I read the Audible version of this book.]

    Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life and Learning by Derek Melleby – My friend, Sean McFeely, recommended this book when I told him about Isaac’s “Year of Discipleship”.  We read this as our sixth book, and it provided practical reminders for high school students getting ready to transition to life and/or college.  [Note:  I read the paperback version of this book.]

    Due to the overall length of this material, I will be breaking it up into a few posts.  Stay tuned for the continuation of my 2018 reading list.  I’ve read one or two other books, but I’ll wait until I get to book number 40 before posting the next post in this series.  Stay tuned!

    What book(s) have you read this year?  Share in the comments below.

    [Note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  If you make a purchase as a result of clicking on any of these links, I may receive a small affiliate commission.  This should not impact the pricing you see on any of these products.  Thanks in advance if you happen to purchase one of these books by clicking on one of the links above.]

    Your Name Matters

    Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

    Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People)

    At lunch time today, I walked across the street from my office to head to my Toastmasters International regular club meeting.  Due to scheduling conflicts, I haven’t been to the club for a couple of months.  Prior to my relatively brief absence, I was a regular member of the club for the past three or four years.  I even served as the President of the club for one year.

    I pride myself on making sure everyone feels welcome.  I try to introduce myself to guests and new members as they check out the club for the first few times, and I try to learn a little bit about each person.  I also try to remember the names of the people who come to the meetings.  Our club has added several new members the past few months which has made this a bigger challenge.

    Today as members were gathering for the meeting, I mistakenly referred to one of the newer members by the wrong name.  I had the best of intentions, but I completely botched his name.  I tried to laugh it off and even joked about it, but I really felt bad about my blunder.

    Last month, Isaac (my son) and I read through How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  (We’ve been intentionally reading through a book together each month as he prepares to make the transition from high school to college.  That’s another topic for another time.)  One of Carnegie’s principles for winning friends and influencing people is to remember people’s names.  People like to hear their name.  When you remember someone’s name it shows them you care and they matter.  When you use someone’s name you establish and strengthen a human connection with the other person.

    There’s a person at my church who is amazing at this.  Her name is Terri Stone.  Our church’s typical Sunday morning attendance is 1700-1800 which means there are probably around 2300-2500 who call our church home.  I would bet that Terri knows 75% or more of the names of these attendees.  Terri makes it a point to find out a person’s name when she meets them.  She uses their name at least a few times during their initial conversation.  The next time she sees the person, she goes out of her way to talk to the person she met a week (or longer) ago, and she uses their name every time.  Many people I know at our church would tell you that Terri Stone made them feel welcome, and they would comment on how she remembered their names.

    If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, take time to get to know them and to know their name.  As Dale Carnegie says, you will provide the sweetest sound to their ears.

    Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself, but you can bet I’ll get that guys name right the next time I see him at Toastmasters.

    What’s your name?  How do you remember people’s names?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

    If you want to take it a little deeper for fun, what’s your middle name?

    3 Things That Made Your Heart Sing

    When the day is over and your energy is spent

    Your feet are heavy like they’re stuck in cement,

    It’s time to reflect on the happenings of the day,

    To hug your loved ones, say what you need to say.

    Sure there were downs and ups throughout,

    But that’s what most days are all about.

    Did you hit your goals you set at the start?

    Did you leave some unfinished business in your cart?

    To close the day on a positive upswing,

    Write down three things that made your heart sing.

    For me those things included a morning walk,

    Time with my wife when we could talk.

    And finally, the thing that felt right

    Was the moment I had simply to write.

    What made your heart sing today? Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Holy Celebration

    Last week, I wrote a post called Holy Anticipation. I shared how much I struggled to sleep before a big event.

    Tonight, I’m experiencing excitement on the other end of a big event. For the past few months, I have been hosting/facilitating the Stretched Men Group every other Wednesday night. SMG is a mastermind group for men designed to help men “stretch” themselves as husbands, fathers, leaders, and men.

    The conversations we have in the group are inspiring. I have witnessed the growth of men in their marriages, in their careers, in their parenting, and in their faith. I am humbled that they would entrust me to be a guide for them on this journey.

    Tonight, we concluded the spring semester of SMG. During the semester, we talked about the traps men face. We talked about pride, possessions, pornography, people-pleasing, alcohol, and busyness. We were challenged to face these traps head on – to get the help we need – and to find ways to avoid these pitfalls in the future.

    At the end of each semester, we take the opportunity to celebrate what we have experienced. In a sense it’s a Holy Celebration. And this is what causes me to struggle with sleep this time. It takes some time to unwind from these uplifting and deep conversations.

    If you’d like to be part of this kind of discussion, you should consider joining the Stretched Men Group. I’ll be running an abbreviated summer semester starting on June 27th. If you’d like to learn more, go to www.stretchedmengroup.com. You can sign up for more information. I’d love to connect with you to answer your questions and to help you STRETCH.

    In the meantime, back to my Holy Celebration!

    Living on Purpose

    If we aren’t intentional, we’ll waste valuable opportunities to make a difference, to move forward, and to achieve a dream or goal. We have to live life on purpose.

    Too many people simply coast through life. They go with the flow in hopes they will end up somewhere decent.

    “Those who don’t make plans don’t make much at all.”

    I just finished reading The ONE Thing – The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. I was struck by Keller’s observations about purpose.

    It’s easy to get wrapped up in way too many things. I am guilty of this for sure. When we do this, we cheat ourselves (and others) of our very best. Keller suggests we need to focus on the one thing that will allow us to achieve our goal and will make everything else easier.

    We must first determine our overall goal. Then we must determine what we must accomplish in the next five years to achieve this goal. Then we must determine what we must accomplish in the next year to achieve the five year goal. Then we must determine what we must accomplish in the next month to achieve the goal for the year. Then we must determine what we must accomplish in the next week to achieve the goal for the month. Then we must determine what we must accomplish today to achieve the goal for the week. When we keep going, we must determine what we must do this moment in order for us to achieve our goal for the hour or day.

    When we break things down in this manner, we give ourselves a much better chance of making our overall goal happen. Big things happen one small step at a time (not all at once).

    We must be purposeful in our plans and our actions if we we want to do something big.

    What do you want to achieve in your life? What is the next step you need to take to make your overall goal a reality? Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Break Down to Built Up

    A break can be the thing you need to take your work to the next level.

    This weekend, I had the blessing of spending a few days away with some good friends. For the most part, we were without cell service which meant we were disconnected from the internet, from the notifications, and from the tendency to respond to every message we received (because we didn’t receive any messages).

    This was exactly what I needed.

    I sat around. I took a few long walks. I read. I fished. I enjoyed great food and fantastic conversation.

    As I shut down for the evening, I know I’ll be climbing back into the “connected” world tomorrow. I believe my time away is just what I needed to take the things I’m working on to the next level, and I’m excited.

    When was the last time you took a break? What benefits did you receive as a result of getting away? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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