For the past few months, I have been sending out a weekly email called the Sunday Night Stretch. I typically send the email out on Sunday night (although I may have sent one out on Monday one week).
These emails provide an encouraging message and more personal update from me. The emails have sparked more exchange between my readers and me.
If you’d like to get on the list to receive these weekly Sunday Night Stretch emails, you simply need to fill out the form below. I’d love to connect with you on a deeper level.
I’ll be sending out a new Sunday Night Stretch email tonight. Sign up now, so you don’t miss another one of these weekly messages.
Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God.Henri Nouwen
Last week, I was on a call with a couple of other colleagues from Mexico and the United States. We get together virtually once a month to encourage each other and to help each other navigate the leadership gantlet we all find ourselves in as leaders in our company.
During the call, one of the leaders confessed she was so consumed by her work that she had absolutely no life outside of work. She shared she was somewhat jealous of me, because of the active life I lead outside of my job. She has been an employee of the company for 25 years, and her work has become her identity.
It’s not uncommon for men to ask this question whenever they run into someone they don’t really know. What do you do?
Maybe you’re a doctor, a lawyer, a police officer, a preacher, an engineer, a businessman, an entrepreneur, a manager, or something else.
Here’s my initial answer to this question. I’m a husband, a father, a son, an uncle, a brother, an engineer, a manager, a leader, a writer, a speaker, a philanthropist, a Toastmaster, a Rotarian, a Pennsylvanian, an American, a friend. This list could go on.
What would happen if these things were taken away from me? How would I define myself?
When we define ourselves by our activities, our careers, our titles, our positions, our geographical homes, etc. we limit ourselves. This is not who we really are. We are more!
Recently, I saw Overcomer, the latest movie from the Kendrick Brothers. The movie encouraged me to look at my identity from a better angle. In the movie, one of the characters is encouraged to read Ephesians 1 and 2 to see who we really are through Christ.
Here’s what I discovered (or rediscovered) as a result of this exercise:
When your identity is found in Christ, your identity never changes. You are always a child of God.Tim Tebow
Let me ask you again. Who are you? How do you identify yourself? What defines you? Better yet, who defines you?
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Ephesians 2:10
“I don’t need a successor, only willing hands to accept the torch for a new generation.” Billy Graham
For the longest time, I felt like the young guy waiting in the wings for the chance to lead, the chance to be the “smart one”, the chance to be the champion.
I’m not saying I’m old by any stretch of the means. In fact, I still feel quite young in many respects; however, I’m beginning to realize that I am the one who is now in the leadership role. I’m the one who is somehow recognized as the “smart one” who must weigh in on all bigger decisions. I’m the champion for many who are now in my care.
In other words, the torch has definitely been passed to me. It’s my turn to run the race. It’s my turn to carry the burden. It’s my turn to bridge the gap between my predecessors and my successors.
This opportunity to carry the torch comes with excitement and trepidation, confidence and fear, joy and a fair amount of stress.
I want to do my best while I’m running my leg of this relay race of life. I want to move ahead in a way that leaves my team, my family, my followers in a much better place than before I took the torch.
This week, I had the blessing of driving out to Grove City College to deposit my son, Isaac, for his second year. He drove his own car out this year. This will make it easier for him to come home at break time and will give him a little more freedom to get away from campus when necessary.
For much of our drive from eastern Pennsylvania to western Pennsylvania, I took the lead. My car set the pace. I decided the direction. With two hours to go on our trip, Isaac took the lead. He navigated our path and set the speed for much of the remainder of our trip.
As Isaac’s car passed my car, I realized I was passing the torch to him. I was once a student at Grove City College. Now, my son is the one making the memories and leaving his mark on this beautiful campus. Over the past two years, I have begun to see places where my children are outpacing me. They are beginning to take the torch, and they are carrying it forward for their leg of the race.
As parents, we have the distinct honor and responsibility of passing the torch to our children. We set the pace for much of their early years. We would be doing a disservice to our children and to the future if we didn’t look for opportunities to pass the torch we have carried so long.
Passing the torch is an important aspect of life. I’m currently carrying a torch at my job, but I’m constantly looking for those who will take the torch from me and run the next leg of the race.
Who passed you the torch? Who will take the torch from you? What are you doing to prepare for the torch exchange?
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
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:
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.
Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat and review what is good.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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?
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
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
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!
[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.]
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.
If you want to take it a little deeper for fun, what’s your middle name?