Creating a value list

Many times the root of our personal inner conflict is the result of incongruent values. Do your words and thoughts consistently match you actions? Do the people you interact with have similar values? Does your career support or undermine the person you desire to be.

In this sense the things we find valuable are not necessarily material things. Instead you can think of them as emotional states or items that create states. Some possible values may be:

Personal growth
Family Time
Helping Others

You would not want to take a person who holds solitude as a high personal value to event where this person would have to interact with a large number of people over a long period of time.

For a career, a person who highly values risk and financial rewards would do well in a commission based sales job whereas a person that values security and might not be as happy. This does not mean that the security minded person would not make it as a sales person. Remember, here we are talking about inner value conflicts.

In relationships the person who sees adventure as a high value item may eventually conflict with a spouse prefers life at home. Very few of us bother to ask our potential mate to identify the things they value most in life.

Creating your value list

For the next five minutes brainstorm your own value list. Think about your life and the things that are important to you.

What values do you hold so strong that you will be willing to undergo some pain to keep them?

You may want to have your spouse or significant other complete this same exercise and then compare what you both created.

Afer you complete the exercise, share with us here how it went for you. Any suprises? What were some of your top values?

“Know who you are and then you will know what to do”

Yet another simple and yet profound statement from Craig Groeschel. Wanting to know who I am and why I do things the way I do has been a quest of mine for many years. I hate to admit it but there have been many moments alone with God asking, “Lord! Why have you made me this way? I know it is for your purpose but please help me to change”

The years have given me the wisdom to know the weaknesses that drive me are in many ways also my strengths. My inner awareness has helped me as a husband, father, and manager. Since I am aware, I can try to avoid situations that place me in a spot of weakness. I can also fill the gaps by surrounding myself with people who may be strong where I am weak.

Craig’s statement this week has some interesting timing. Just a couple of weeks ago I took some time to update my Value List, Purpose Statement, and Vision Statement. These serve as my inner compass as I travel through the day and I have them posted here at my desk. They give me something to strive for and a test for making decisions.

What about you? Have you taken the time to define your values, your purpose, and your vision?

If you have, let me challenge your to share your thoughts about them here with others.

If you have not, let me challenge you to do so this week. I will post a few tips that will perhaps help you along the way starting on Tuesday.

Family Traditions

I am a big believer traditions and think this is one of the best ways to create true lasting memories for your family. Think about your own past. What do you remember most about growing up? Is it the one time you went to such and such state park or perhaps the Saturday mornings when mom would always rouse you up early for pancakes? Chances are the pancakes are what you remember.
One example from are family is the Happy Birthday banner. (see pictures) We first put this up way back in 1996 and it has become a staple around here ever since. Even the dog gets a banner on her birthday and our house got a mention the day we moved in. It would just not be a birthday without the banner and a picture by the date. Of course the cool thing is also seeing the pictures and how we change over the years.
What about you and your family? Do you have traditions? If so, what are they? Also, what are some of your favorite tradition memories as a child?

Happy 12!

It is hard to believe that Conner is turning 12 today. It seems like just a blink of an eye ago I was throwing him in the air, changing diapers and taking naps with him cuddled in my arms. Much as changed and everyday I see him growing more and more into his own person. Sometimes I find myself staring at him trying to get a glimpse of the man he is going to be soon. I wonder what he will look like when he’s taller than his mom. I wonder how he will react the first time a girl breaks his heart. I wonder how strong he will be in his walk with God when the temptations of life get thrown at him. Most of all, I wonder if we have done enough as parents to set the early foundation for the challenges of life that is to come for him.

I see a boy that is growing into a young man of intelligence (straight As), character (thank you Scouts), reverence (thank you Lifechurch.TV/Church of the Servant), and good looks (thank you Mrs. Copeland). Really the rest is up to him. There no doubt will be some difficult moments to come soon as the covering of youthful innocence is removed. I am an imperfect father who has made and will make many mistakes. Clearly there is no magic formula for raising a child. My commitment is to be there as best of an example I can be.

Happy Birthday Conner. I hope that no matter what happens in the life to come that you will know how much I love you and believe in the wonderful plan God has for your life. I am honored and blessed to be your dad.

There are Mustangs everywhere

“My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose—somehow we win out….”
Ronald Reagan

A few weeks ago Conner and I were pulling out of the neighborhood and a sparkling new bright yellow Mustang Shelby Cobra passed us by. As men do, we talked about what a fast car that must be and how cool it would be to have a Mustang. Seconds later another Mustang passed by. Soon we approached the stoplight and boom there were two more. I asked Conner to start counting the number of Mustangs we would see for the next few minutes of our trip. I don’t recall the exact end number but it had to be more than twenty.

Conner exclaimed, “these Mustangs are everywhere! Ford must be making a ton of money”. I saw this as great opportunity to teach Conner about the Law of Expectations. Basically the Law of Expectations states that we tend to get what we expect. Conner expected to see Mustangs and suddenly they were everywhere.
I told him it is the same with people. Those who expect others to be good tend to see good in everyone one they meet. This is in stark contrast to the bitter person that thinks negatively of others and sees faults in everyone. This is the type of person that is always trying to be taller by making others smaller.

I owe an attitude of positive expectations to so many great things in my life. I expect people to be good and tend to like most everyone I meet. I have expected to be successful in my daily job and when things seem challenging I tell my co-workers not to worry because things “always work out for me”. No I am not relying on dumb luck it is just things indeed seem to always work out.

How do you look at life? Do you expect the best or are you always looking for a reason to see the worse in people and in situations?

Look at the bright side of things I you might just be surpised at what you find.

I show up

“The world is run by those who show up”

August is back to school for kids around the country and for many of us it also represents getting back into full gear with volunteerism. My passion is Scouting and I have been serving as an active volunteer since my son joined as a Webelos in the fall of 2006. I can say these years of serving have been a real source of joy in my life. Don’t get me wrong. It is not easy, usually thankless and has involved not only time working with the youth but many days of adult training and behind the scenes work. The BSA has some of the best leader training programs of any non-profit and most of the front line work is done by Volunteers.

When I talk to others about getting involved the typical response is “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have the skill”.

Don’t have the time?

Whew who does really! Most if the people I know who volunteer are people of great responsibility in their work lives as well as their personal lives. Funny how it seems at times the most effective volunteers are those who are already living some of the busiest lives around. These folks tend to be master planners that have learned over time to prioritize activity around work, family and serving. The key is balance and to not let things get too out of whack in any category. Are you already at soccer anyway every week? Then do some work while you are there! Same goes for your church and other organizations you are frequenting anyway.

Don’t have the skill?
Really this starts with passion and most of the time the skill will come. I have in the past volunteered with great passion in some areas and then quickly realized that it was not a good fit for my personality or skill. This sometimes comes with some disappointment but I have come to realize these times were a kind of training on my way to find my real fit. The key here is to realize soon that you need to move on before getting stuck in a role that does not excite you.

Why do it? The Pareto Principle tells it that 80% of the work in any organization is done by 20% or less of the people. By choosing to be in that 20%, you are enhancing the lives of others and making a difference in this world. Yes, there are people who truly do not have the time. Give these folks the gift of yours. The single moms, struggling family, kids at soccer, seeking visitors at church, and the world will be better because of YOU!

Find something that excites you and get involved!

Tell us your passion. What organization(s) do you volunteer for and why? Maybe your comment will encourage someone to get started.

Time to renew

I recently had the wonderful opportunity for a full week of vacation with the family. I am a bit of an obsessive time off kind of guy and work to plan as much as a year in advance. We keep our away time simple and relatively cheap. Also, as a lover of the outdoors and adventure, the wife and son can pretty much count on some hiking or other activity that gets us out alone with nature. No TV, no phone, and no contact with the outside world.
Taking this time off is not easy. My job has a lot of responsibility. Since I manage people in multiple locations, there is an element of complexity that needs close attention daily. However important my position might be my team is not curing cancer and no one is going to die if an e-mail goes unread or a question does not get answered for a few days.
I also try hard to empower fully whoever may be my point of contact while I am away to make decisions on my behalf. I tell these folks that I trust their ability and will support any action that may need to be taken in my absence.
I understand fully that this time with Conner and Michelle is an invaluable investment in us as a family. I do not want my son’s childhood memories of dad to be the guy who was always on conference calls or constantly checking e-mail even when supposedly enjoying time off. I see many people doing this and it always breaks my heart.
What about you? When was the last time you stepped away to recharge, renew, and refocus your life? When you are with your family, do you strive to be fully present and shove aside whatever may be going on back at work? I can guarantee you that doing so will indeed improve your life as a spouse, parent and employee. Take some time this week to plan out a way to disconnect so you may in turn reconnect. You will be happy that you did.
Leave a comment and let other’s know what action you take to truly relax with the family.

The first and the last

July 4th was the first time my son has ever really had the opportunity to shoot off fireworks. In his own words it was “freakin’ awesome”.

I personally relish in the firsts and wish there were more. I remember fondly my first car(see picture), first date with Michelle, first day in our house, first day of Conner’s life, first day of school for Conner, and on and on.

This is in contrast to the lasts. We have many of those in life as well. There was the last time I saw my mother before she died of cancer, the last day of high school, the last day of college, the last day I would see a good friend, the last time Conner would play in a park, the last time he would hold my hand in public, and heck the last time I would not have any gray hair and on and on.

The lesson to me is that we must relish the firsts, the lasts, and every moment in between.

I hope you take some time in the next few days just to stop and enjoy the moment. No matter what you may be doing–that moment will never happen again. It is a first and a last indeed.

Some Fathers Day Thoughts

I grew up without a dad. My mother and father divorced when I was really young and then he died shortly thereafter. All I have of him are a couple a vague memories and a few faded pictures. There were no times tossing a ball, fishing together, going to camp, talking about girls or any of those father/son things all of my friends seemed to have. To say I grew up bitter about this and angry at God for my predicament would be a bit of an understatement. It seems like I blamed most of my youthful problems on not having this magical person called “Dad” to give me Yoda like guidelines about life.

I was fat. Why? No dad
I was shy with girls. Why? No dad
I was angry inside at the world. Why? No dad
I was angry at God. Why? No dad
And on and on…

The funny thing about the plans God has for our lives is that we don’t understand them at the time but usually it turns out He is preparing us for some greater purpose.

I was fat—Now, I love to run, ride bikes and hike
I was shy with girls—I met the love of my life through a blind date and now have enjoyed a wonderful 13 year start to a lifetime together.
I was angry inside—Now, I hate to see others in emotional pain and have a passion for serving others.
I was angry with God—Now, I know He wired me this way for positive reasons I still seek to understand.

I grew up without a dad—Now, I do all that I am capable to be a good father to my son and to be a good influence to boys/adults I serve in Scouting.

I hope as this Father’s day approaches you will take a moment to look at your gifts as a father and/or as a son. Are you striving to be the best God has wired you to be? Are you growing and learning even as you make mistakes?

Your actions today will impact generations to come. Make the most of it while you can.

Where is Superman?

My son loved Superman when he was younger. So much in fact that when he turned three several years ago we decided to have a Superman theme party. Let me tell you it was something. We scoured the Internet until we found almost every Superman item we could. Hats, a tablecloth, cups, cake, you name it we bought it. The heck with the college fund.

At the party it was exciting to have the plan come together. All the kids showed up along with the parents. Each had arms full of stuff that I knew I would be tripping over later. His favorite gifts were a pair of bright blue Superman underroos and a cape that a neighbor gave him. I loved watching him run around yelling, “I’m Superman! I’m Superman!”

A few days later we went for a walk. Conner of course insisted on wearing his underoos outfit and a pair of tall black rubber boots. I walked behind him as we traveled through the neighborhood and thought about this fascination that most young children have with superheroes. I can remember being that way myself at one time.

To Conner, he was Superman when he had that costume on. He could do anything! He was faster than a runny nose and able to leap large puddles in a single hop. Unlike most of us adults, he had yet to discover the limits of life. Every day was a learning experience and every moment an adventure to be had. Heck, as the picture shows, he did not even care about walking around the neighborhood in his underwear : )

Conner is eleven now and things are not as easy. Dreams of superpowers are gradually being replaced with the reality of life and of middle school. No more superman or superheroes. His cape has been replaced with the latest brand of clothing that all the other tweens are wearing. His rubber boots replaced with some brand of funky shoes that I have never seen before. Time spent text messaging, hanging out with friends, and swapping notes with girls is gradually replacing the simple joys we used to share together as father and son. Such is the way of life.

I am excited to see him growing up and yet at the same time I am sad to know the kryptonite we all experience as we grow up is waiting for him sometime in the future. My only hope is that his church, his Troop, his mother and I are indeed preparing him with the strength and wisdom to conquer the battles that are to come.

What about you? What are you doing to prepare your family and yourself for the battles of this world? Are you ready?