Embracing Solid Routines

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Do you ever get ideas in your head and they just don’t go away?

I’m in an interesting spot in my life at the moment. I feel like I’m spending more time trying to decide the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. More specifically, I want to be someone who is always learning, always stretching, and always progressing. Not for the sake of knowledge, but for the sake of growth.

I have a deep desire to develop leaders. But as I age, I never want to stop growing. I want leaders around me to be challenged and inspired because of their interactions with me.

So, how do I accomplish that? I don’t have a solid answer, other than knowing I need to build some routines into my life.

For example, at the beginning of 2019 I started something called The Miracle Morning. It has helped me add structure to the beginning of my day, and is possibly one of my favorite parts of my day. It’s become a solid routine.

In 2019, I also set a goal to finish 36 books, with a healthy mix of audio and physical. I was able to accomplish that goal, but I actually never established a routine. To this day (I’m about halfway to my goal this year), reading is still not part of my routine.

But there’s a danger to routine. Routine, when we allow it to be done mindlessly, quickly becomes a rut. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Routines allow us to grow. So, what three routines in your life help you grow? How are you intentionally building those routines to set you up for the future?

If you want a refresher, I actually wrote about Routines vs Ruts two years ago. You can read those posts here, here, and here.

Stick around for Thursday, and I’ll talk some more about the dangers of routines turning into ruts.

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The Conductor

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I’m going to deviate today. Thank you for indulging me.

If you’ve been around here very long you know that I value very highly my farming heritage. I have shared close to 30 lessons from the farm along the way.

The reality is I was fortunate to not only have a father in the ag industry, but a heritage of it. Both sets of grandparents lived (and worked) agricultural lives.

That meant holidays were spent more often than not in the country. Summer trips at my grandparents were a staple of my childhood, and something that now I am incredibly grateful to have experienced.

One of my favorite memories, and one I couldn’t wait to share with my daughters as they grew older, was going to my paternal grandparents. Hot cocoa, grilling over charcoal, German shepherds, Louis L’Amour books, vintage couches, hot tubs, feeding cattle off the tailgates, and unwanted (and unwarranted) naps merely scratch the surface in summarizing my favorite memories at “the ranch”.

Except for the best memory. And that was the trains.

My granddad loved model trains. He loved them so much, in fact, that he had a “layout” that took up a two car garage. (Side note: I don’t know if “layout” is the right word, but it was basically the world created by his trains, complete with buildings, cars, mountains, carnivals, railyards, cattle, trucks, forrests, and rubber roads. This wasn’t a train running a circle around a tree. It was massive.)

And to any young boy growing up, trains are a magical experience. The roar of the engine running until the power stops. The aroma of electricity surging through the miniature machines (Yes, electricity has a smell, and it’s not toast). The sheer imagination of towns coming to life, and the hours on end that could be spent getting lost in a world so different from our own.

And there stood my granddad. The conductor. The orchestrator of it all. It never occurred to me that my granddad loved to play with trains. They were just there. He was the one in charge. But he was the one who loved to share the experience with me. It was a shared experience for us. It was one of the first things I showed my oldest the first time we visited his house. And something my girls still know about him.

The conductor passed away this week. As I sit and reflect on my memories of him, I’m humbled. I’m overcome with emotions. I’m heartbroken. I’m grateful.

He was not a perfect man. No one is. But he was my granddad. And he will be missed.

The Horizon of Possibility at Work

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Last week we hosted our Summer Camp alternative. At the beginning of June I got word the camp we were going to attend had cancelled, so we started making plans for an alternative. Instead of trying to find a place to go, we decided to try to bring camp to us.

Enter one of my favorite concepts, the Horizon of Possibility.

I was fortunate enough to have a team to help brainstorm and plan the week, and so we set out to make it the best we could. Taking tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way, we took some of the best *scheduled elements of camp (I would happily argue the benefit of camp comes in the unscheduled elements–conversations in the down times specifically) and put them into a day camp format.

We did 3pm to 10pm each day for four days.

We had a good mix of Bible study, rec and celebration, small groups, worship, and a fun activity to end each day.

The best part of the week, however, was watching the responses. The first day was rough, as the first day of camp generally is. But we hit our stride on the second day. Then, the conversations started. We started to hear “this really feels like camp”.

My favorite part may have been on the final day as I taught the Horizon of Possibility to the students who were in our leadership track. When I asked them what their expectations for the week were, they admitted they were low. And rightly so. We weren’t going to camp. It was an adjustment.

But that’s where the Horizon of Possibility enters. As a leader, I was able to look at the horizon and see what was possible. I knew we could never replace camp, but I had a hunch we could create something that would not only be a great event, but it would help fulfill our mission and purpose.

As the leader I was the first one to see the possibility. The challenge from there was including others in the movement forward and pulling it off.

As leaders, we have to be willing to look ahead and examine the horizon. What’s possible? What might could be? What’s holding us back? What are we waiting for?

What possibility are you seeing on the horizon now that no one else can see? What are you willing to do to accomplish it? Who are you going to bring in to help you accomplish it? Take a step today.

When Something Wins

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A couple weeks back I was talking with a friend and had a thought. We were talking about the delicate balance of ministry (and any activity, really) during our current COVID reality. Our debate centered on how much should we be doing in comparison to a normal year.

More specifically, how do we find the balance between doing too little and doing too much. We wanted to be smart. We do not want to be reckless or careless. And we want to be present. It’s all a very difficult balance. Then, it hit me.

Something is better than nothing, but everything is not always the best thing.

I’ve written in the past about how getting started is often the most difficult part for me. And I think in our current context, the struggle to begin and not overthink remains.

But at the end of the day, just because I’m doing something doesn’t mean I have to do everything.

The same is true for you. I’m going to guess you are probably living in the tension of activity vs inactivity. You’ve had to cancel key events, or decide altogether if they were going to happen at all. Your calendar does not look remotely close to what it was 365 days ago. The things you were anticipating have either been significantly altered, or cut altogether.

And so you’re left looking at what’s next.

Something is better than nothing, but everything is not always the best thing.

We have an incredible opportunity at this point in our lives. We can cut some of the fluff and focus on the meat. We can make the most of the day and age in which we live, or we can lament all that’s been lost or altered.

Make a move today. Plan something. Do something. But rest in the knowledge that it’s okay for that something to be less than everything. It’s okay to trim the fat.

You can do this. Now, go lead.

Happy 365

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This post is my 365th post on Three Question Leadership. I have written somewhere north of 120,000 words over the past 3+years.

Five years ago I never would have dreamed I would be someone who blogs. The concept in and of itself is so foreign to me. I’m a terribly private person, so the thought of putting my thoughts on the inter webs is actually terrifying. But I’ve done it. And I’m going to continue to do it.

And I want to share my secret recipe. The majority of what I write about can be boiled down to one simple thought. Are you ready?

What’s the leadership principle I can learn from this situation?

There you go. There’s my secret. Maybe I should trademark it.

From that thought, I have written a Day by Day in a Year calendar worths of posts. Some haven’t been so good. Some that I feel embarrassed to post, resonate the most.

But the question remains the same. I want to grow. I want to learn.

But more than that, I want YOU to grow. I want YOU to learn.

My greatest joy in writing here is not the way it helps me process past and present situations, but instead when I see how you interact with it. When you like, comment, share, reference it in a conversation, or shoot be a word of encouragement.

I cannot express how grateful I am for the time you give me to read my roughly 300 words twice a week. And my greatest desire is the time I spend will help you expand your leadership influence.

So if you’ve been with me for a while, thank you for sticking with me. If you’re new, consider subscribing to get this in your inbox, or liking the 3QL page on Facebook so you see posts as they arrive.

But at the end of the day, learn to ask yourself “what’s the leadership principle I can learn from this?” You never know what could happen as a result.

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