Final Thoughts on 2019

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In August of 2018 I was on vacation with my family in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was flipping through some files and remembered I had set a goal of reading x number of books. Unfortunately, I had forgotten and fallen behind.

I started reading in August with the intent of catching up to my goal, somewhat, and made some progress. But in December of 2018, I realized something: I had sabotaged myself.

I can chase a lot of rabbits at this point, but let me just say I don’t buy into New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve set them, and failed at them, like almost everyone else.

I do, however, believe in the momentum that January brings. I took a little time 12 months ago to set some 2019 goals and reaped the benefit. I simply used the momentum and excitement of something new, and allowed it to push me past the start line.

I spoke at a retreat for a friend right before New Year’s day. One of the things I did was give the group a single sheet of paper and time to fill it out. It only had three questions, but not these three questions. In preparing for the talk, I did a dry run of the sheet and realized a few key things about my life in 2018. As a result, I made a couple changes.

First, I wrote down my goals in a note on my Evernote account. I had four areas, with a specific goal in each. A couple of them had to do with a number (36 books this year), the rest were about rhythms and routines. But I decided it was going to be something I checked regularly because we move toward what’s in front of us. If I wanted to meet my goals, I had to be reminded of them.

The time I spent on that sheet was minimal, but the difference has been incredible. As long as I don’t lose my mind between today and January 1, I will have lost (and kept off) close to 40 pounds in 2019, established a solid morning routine (thanks to The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod), and exceeded my goal of 36 books (12 read, 24 audio). These may seem small, but the reality is I was able to enter the year with focus, and each of the goals tied together–one of the first books I read in 2019 helped me establish a morning routine that has given structure to my year and helped me be more consistent than ever in my life!

All of that to say: tomorrow, 3QL subscribers will receive the same worksheet that set me up for one of the most incredible years of personal growth I’ve experienced, even in the midst of one of the most challenging emotional years I’ve had. I hope you’ll take the time to use it and I sincerely hope 2020 becomes the best year ever. But you have to be willing to take steps. And it starts today.

Thanks for joining me on this journey, and I look forward to where 2020 takes us together!

2019 By the Numbers

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Well, we are wrapping up 2019, and I wanted to spend today hitting some of the 3QL highlights. I’ve gone through three pretty significant changes in my life this year: losing my Father-in-law, moving (& starting a new job), having my first born transition into youth ministry, and losing my Father-in-law’s father.

Life has a natural ebb and flow to it, but it’s interesting to look back over the past year and reflect on the ebbs and flows. So, here are the highest clicked posts for each month. Read through the list, and if you see one you that peaks your interest, check it out!

January – It’s All About Perspective

February – Support Counts (This was the most viewed for 2019); Grief and Joy was a reflection on the passing of my Father-in-Law.

March – How the Day Ends was written in the middle of my move from Bronte to Kerrville

April – Lessons from the Farm: Dirty Hands was the highest viewed of my third Lessons from the Farm installment.

May – Defining Small Town & Leadership

June – Communicating Expectations is one of the things I personally return to most often in leadership

July – Mindset Makes the Difference (followed closely by Lessons from the Farm: The Right Tool)

August – The Father-Leader Paradox, which actually posted the end of July, so August’s new post high was Naming Leadership.

September – We had a low month and three posts tied, but my favorite of the three was Getting Corrective Lenses. You can read the other two here and here.

October – We All Need to be Reminded

November – Powerful Leadership

December – Leaders Show Up (which originally posted in November), so the most viewed December post to date was Mastering the Ask.

Closing thoughts: My favorite post of the year is one that, very recently, has popped back up and served to remind me of a key weakness in myself — Mistakes mean growth.

If you’ve stuck with me for the full year, you’ve undoubtedly noticed a shift. I’m not posting about developing student leaders as much as I did in 2017 and 2018. Part of that has been a natural by product of the shift I’ve gone through. As I started a new position, I’ve spent more time trying to develop adults and grow myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t have students who are leading, or that I’m not investing in students, it just means when I’ve sat down most mornings my thoughts have been on how I’m growing.

I believe with all I am that if I don’t grow as a leader, I cannot help those around me grow. This blog has been a great place for me to process the changes I’m experiencing. With the exception of November, I’ve remained extremely consistent to sit down and share my thoughts, and plan to continue that for 2020.

I do, however, think in 2020 we will slowly start to shift back to posts about developing students. I’m hoping to introduce some student leadership elements into our vision and programming, and it’s going to be interesting to adapt what I’ve known for a new context.

Thank You so much for joining me through this journey, and if it’s been a while, be sure to refresh on the 3 questions. Amazing things happen when we empower those around us to not only lead, but grow in their influence. That’s why I’m here, and I hope that’s why you’re here as well.

Also, if you aren’t already, be sure to subscribe to get 3QL posts in your inbox. On Friday I’m sending out an evaluation tool to email subscribers to help you reflect on 2019 and to make 2020 the best yet!

Preparing, But First

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The closer we get to the new year, the more excited I get about picking up some natural momentum. But first things first.

If I want to prepare myself for a great 2020, I first have to pause and evaluate 2019. Last December I wrote a post (you can read it here) that, at the time, I had no idea how beneficial it would be for me.

In it, I outline a way to evaluate the previous year and prepare for the next. I wrote the post, then created a companion worksheet to go with it. I took some time to actually work through the worksheet, and it opened my eyes to some changes I wanted to make, and it really did set me up for an incredible 2019.

I’m not trying to skip Christmas, as I think it’s an incredible season and time of year, but the underlying message of Christmas is the new beginning. It was a new beginning for Joseph and Mary. It was a new beginning for the Shepherds. It was a new beginning for Israel. And each year, Christmas reminds us of the new beginning and new life we have in Christ.

But what are you doing to prepare yourself for 2020? Do you remember your biggest takeaway from 2018? What was a goal you achieved? What was something you accomplished? What if you had a way to make sure in 12 months from today you have a way to answer the same question about 2019?

Next week I am going to spend some time evaluating my 2019–a year of changes, seen and unforeseen. And, if you’re subscribed to get the 3QL blogs in your inbox, I’m going to be sending you the end of year worksheet. So be sure to subscribe, and encourage those around you to do the same.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I’m looking forward to what’s next.

The Horizon of Possibility Revisited

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Over the Thanksgiving break I was reminded of something: many of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in my life have been in the Texas Panhandle. Growing up just off the Rolling Plains, I spent many evenings on a tractor watching the sunset. To this day, few things speak to me like the colors that pop on the horizon as the sun goes down.

Over the past week, I’ve been reminded of one of my favorite concepts–the horizon of possibility (I’ve written about it here and here). The horizon of possibility boils down to simply being able to look at a situation (or person), and see what could be.

My family has had a rough past four weeks (I may write about that next week or so), and over time I allowed myself to get a little discouraged about some things. I value routine, so when my routine is upset, I feel it.

Thankfully, there’s always a horizon in front of us. Regardless of where we are coming from, there is always more ahead. The sunsets every where I have lived. I may not always see it or notice, but it is a constant.

There is always potential in front of us. Let me challenge you today to find the positive possibilities in what lies ahead. Focus on the good that could be, and work to make it happen.

Are you looking for a way to evaluate your 2019 and prepare for 2020? I will be sending out a simple evaluation tool next week to email subscribers designed to help you win, so be sure to subscribe and get 3QL in your inbox so you don’t miss it!

Mastering the Ask, pt 2

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Yesterday I posed a question: Is it better to recruit anyone for a specific position, or a specific person for any position. You can read it here if you missed it. If you didn’t comment, go ahead give me your thoughts.

The more I think about this balance, the more I think it creeps into the realm of “Human Resources”, but still leadership. But, for the time, here are my thoughts in terms of the three people I ask to join the team.

  1. A person who is willing to meet a specific need. I may not have much of a relationship with this person, but either they showed an interest or I saw something in passing and thought they would be someone who might want to join the team. Making decisions off of glimpses can be dangerous, but I’ve learned over time that I can usually get a good sense of someone initially, and then as I get to know them, I can put the pieces together (like not letting someone’s character surprise me). Also, in this category, are people who have said “I’d love to help do ________”. With these people, the task determines the answer. If it’s something they want to do, they say yes.
  2. A person who is willing to help with whatever. These are the Swiss Army knives of team members. Their heart is more about setting up the ministry/organization to win than meeting a single need. They are willing to do whatever is asked. The challenge here is avoiding burnout and helping them find a good balance. I had an adult at my former church who modeled this incredibly. If I needed someone to go on a trip with me, he would go. Someone to teach a lesson? He would do it. Help me plan an event? He was there. Lead a small group? He hit it out of the park. He was invested in the ministry and wanted it to grow. With these people, the question determines the answer. In other words, if I ask, they say yes. Again, being aware and looking to find balance for them is key.
  3. A person I want on the team. There are some people that I think, to use the language of Jim Collins, I just want on the bus. They may not be motivated by the task or the ask, but at the end of the day, because of my relationship with them, I know that I’m a sharper leader because of them. With these people I’m willing to say, let’s create a spot for you to serve where we are fulfilling your gifts. Their skill set may be different from mine (perfect!), or it may compliment mine. Either way, they make the room better. The downside: the invitation is even more critical. Because they’re not being asked to accomplish a clear task, and they may not be invested in the overall success like the second group, casting a clear picture is a little more difficult. At the end of the day, however, being honest (and sensitive to where they are personally) makes all the difference. And a little bit of salesmanship.

Let me be clear about something: I don’t have all the answers. In six months I may re-read this post and delete it. But, at the moment, this is how I strike the balance between asking anyone to accomplish a specific task or asking a specific person to accomplish any task.

So, one more time: what are your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Am I missing something? I’d love to hear from you!

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