Memories, Good and Sad

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Two years ago today we had a memorial service for my Father in Law, Andy Hill. To say his absence is still felt is easily classified as an understatement.

In reflection of and in the moment, I wrote a post titled “Grief and Joy”. This morning, as I was starting my day, I kept seeing pictures from the service pop up on my photo memories, and thought it only fitting to share that post again.

I’ve included a clip (and one of my favorite stories of Andy) below, but you can click over to read the whole thing. The reflections are still true today.

With the passing of my father-in-law, I lost an advocate. Every birthday card he gave me was addressed to “No. 4 Son”, and he meant it. I was not a son-in-law. He saw me as part of the family.

As my wife and I were approaching our first anniversary of marriage, she was talking to him one day and made a statement to the effect of “You know, when Wes and I fight, I usually win most of the time” (time warped interpretation, but that was the gist of it). Andy replied as only a father can, “You know sweetie, sometimes it’s just easier for the husband to let the wife think she’s right.”

Click here to read the full reflection, and thanks for sticking with me.

Take Responsibility and Grow

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Nobody carries the burden for your leadership more than you. And rightfully so.

I love writing these posts, I really do. I’m even more grateful for those of you who read them.

But if we’re being honest, this blog is largely a mutually selfish exchange. I write because I think I have something worth sharing and something that will be a great benefit to you, but at the same time it gives me a place to process what I’m going through.

You read these posts for a combination of two reasons: you find them helpful and beneficial to your setting OR you see it as a way to show support and encouragement to me.

But at the end of the day, I carry the burden for my leadership and you carry yours.

That’s why it’s so important to find ways to expand your leadership influence. Read about and implement the three questions. Remind people why you do what you do, and then remind them again. Look for inspiration in the most unlikely places.

But take your leadership growth seriously. Make a plan, execute, and adjust accordingly. When you step up and take ownership of your burden for leadership, you’ll begin to see some pretty amazing results.

Beware the Dangers of Shared Language

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Earlier I wrote about the Power of Shared Language. I really do believe having phrases that we repeat often can unlock some incredible potential.

But on the road of developing shared language, there are a few speed bumps along the way. Today, I want to talk about two specific speed bumps to consider as you try to create and implement shared language.

LANGUAGE THAT ISN’T SHARED IS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Our church hosted a Family Camp over the New Year’s Holiday. In the course of planning it, I contacted the camp facility (where I have only been a couple of times). During the course of conversation, I realized there was a breakdown in our communication. I didn’t know everything they thought I knew, and they didn’t know everything I thought they knew. Even things as simple as names of buildings and locations didn’t make sense to someone who had yet to memorize the map. The result? Frustration set in.

Names of buildings are great, but if you don’t understand, then what’s the point? This is why in small towns you get directions in one of two ways: locals talk to each other about the “Jackson house” or “church” street (which isn’t a street name but a description, #truestory) because everyone knows the story behind the names. But locals give directions to outsiders based on landmarks – turn right at the second stoplight, cross the tracks, and turn in at the gate with a water buffalo.

As you seek to create some shared language, always ask yourself first – does my audience understand what this means? If not, explain it and enjoy shared language!

SHARED LANGUAGE CAN CREATE AN US VS. THEM CULTURE

Have you ever been part of a conversation with two other people who are best friends, but you only know them casually? Did you find yourself getting lost in the cracks of inside jokes and only partially told stories? How did you feel?

This is the other danger of shared language. If we are not careful, we create an us vs. them culture. We know the meaning of the secret phrases, but they don’t, so they don’t matter.

As a leader, take it on yourself to become an educator. Invite new people to join you by explaining the things that may not make sense. Build into your culture ways for people to find their place and belong, and watch what happens from there.

Shared language is a powerful tool when used correctly, so learn to use it correctly and watch what unfolds!

Here’s a Great Investment Tip

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I’m not talking stocks, bonds, or guitars (my preferred financial investment strategy).

In 2018 I bought a One Line a Day Journal. The premise is simple: you journal about a sentence every day for a year, then repeat the process for 5 years.

I bought the journal in 2018, but didn’t start using it consistently until 2019, and I’m about to finish up my 2nd year with it.

Here’s what I’ve learned from using it *almost every day (and making up the days I miss).

  1. Perspective helps tremendously. I love tracking data, and so this October when I was dealing with frustrations, I was able to immediately see where I was mentally in 2019 and found some footing to move forward. It’s hard to explain, but trust me–the journal paid for itself in that moment.
  2. I have a terrible memory. They say that time rounds off the edges, and I believe it. I don’t want to remember every pain I walk through, but it is nice to be reminded things weren’t as rosy as I think they were.
  3. It’s exciting to see progress I’ve made. In 2019 I started practicing The Miracle Morning, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’m looking forward to January 2021 as I read the thoughts I had as I began my journey.
  4. I now have a documented (brief) history of 2020. In March and April I will be reminded of the shutdown and how I grew during that time. I will also, hopefully, be grateful we’re not in the same boat!
  5. One Line a Day takes hardly any time at all, so if I miss a day or two, it’s easy to remember and make it up!

I generally don’t try to make broad, sweeping statements, but if you’re not journaling already, this may be the single best investment you could make for yourself 5 years from now.

Head over to Amazon and check it out!

Do You See What I See?

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Some people look at nothing and see nothing, while others look at nothing and see what could be.

This past summer we canceled our traditional week of camp. We decided our best bet was to pivot and do something different.

The news that we were canceling was not well received, and I was not surprised. Based on my own sadness and disappointment (the first time I haven’t gone away to camp in somewhere around 30 years!), I completely understood.

Then came the leadership opportunity. Mourning our loss could not be the end. We desired something to celebrate. So I went to the white board with our interns.

Because I could see the writing on the wall in May, a backup plan found roots before we made the official call. But, as I’ve written before, I’m great at thinking up new ideas, but sometimes struggle to execute.

Enter the principle of the Horizon of Possibility. Simply put, a good leader is able to look at what is and see what could be–the Horizon of Possibility.

My goal with our camp alternative was to bring the best parts of camp to us. And throughout the week, we got comment after comment about how well it went.

This isn’t bragging on my prowess, because it didn’t happen because of me–there were lots of people making it happen and making it great.

But, it started with my own ability to see the Horizon of Possibility. To look at a lost summer, and see what could be, and then to mobilize people to help execute the future.

What “nothing” is staring you in the face today? What do you see on the Horizon?

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