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!

Ready. Set. Grow.

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When I started this blog four years ago, I had years and years of thoughts stored up, so writing was pretty easy. Now, many of my thoughts are real time reflections on what’s happening around me.

That’s why on Thursday, after writing about the secret super power, I chuckled to myself when I heard John Maxwell say the following: “Experience isn’t the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher.”

This is true all around us.

I’m a better communicator when I evaluate my teaching.

I’m a better parent when I evaluate my parenting.

I’m a better event planner when I evaluate the events I planned.

I’m a better leader when I evaluate my leadership.

I started writing this blog four years ago because I believe the youth ministry world needs adults who are investing in student leaders, and raising up student leaders can be simpler than we think.

I keep writing this blog because not only do I believe in the power and potential of student leaders, but because I believe everyone around us benefits as we grow from leadership.

So, here’s my question for you today: what experience are you evaluating? How are you growing?

Fill in the blanks for you: I’m a better _________________ when I evaluate ______________.

Ready. Set. Grow.

Here’s a Secret Super Power

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I think evaluation and forward progress may be my love language. If I can sit down with someone and evaluate something we’ve done together with the intent of making it better, then I’m able to live in my happy place.

But, if I’m going to be honest, as much as I love evaluation, it takes effort. Simple evaluation (i.e., self criticism) comes naturally, but true evaluation requires more brainpower and energy.

And I think this is true in leadership. if we want to grow, we need to learn to evaluate truthfully and effectively. But it’s a difficult habit to build and maintain.

So today, here are three reasons why I think evaluation is worth the effort:

  1. It makes the mistakes worth the cost. Have you ever done something perfectly the first time? No? Yeah, me either. If I fail to evaluate, the chances of me making the same mistake again are significantly higher. So doesn’t it make more sense to spend time evaluating and deciphering how to eliminate the mistake and replace it with something better? The best mistake launches us toward growth. Evaluation helps the transition.
  2. It helps me remember what we did. I have a terrible memory. In youth ministry, I pull off annual events, but so often they are separated out by 12 months. So when I sit down to plan the next one it’s been at least 9 months since I thought about (10 or 11 if we’re honest about my own planning process). So, when I write out an evaluation, it helps me remember why I made the decisions I made, it helps me remember the mistakes I made, and it helps me remember the great idea I had that would have been lost otherwise.
  3. It makes the event better the next time. This is the greatest benefit of evaluation for me. Whether it’s an annual event, or a regular weekly happening, my effort produces greater results when it’s paired with evaluation. I have an event coming up in March that we did for the first time last year. Because I spent time evaluating, when I start to take steps to plan based off the evaluation I did, I know the event will be even better.

Alright, so how do I evaluate? I work through three questions (but not the three questions you might think). They are simply this:

  • What We Did
  • What Worked
  • What to Do Differently

That’s it. Bullet points are my friend, and they will be yours too. Take 10 minutes today and evaluate something. It could be a project you just finished, an event that concluded recently, or fixing a Thanksgiving meal. Unleash the power of evaluation. I think you’ll be glad you did.

The Best Decision Making Tool

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I have a significant issue in my life. It plagues me constantly. It’s effects consume me. Some of the people around cannot stand what it does to me, while others have learned to appreciate it.

My issue is this: I can argue both sides of most situations. I have an uncanny ability to clearly see the argument from both sides.

At the end of the day, I believe this is part of my super-power. It gives me incredible perspective for most things. But there’s a downside–it takes me a long time to convince myself to make a decision.

Think about it. Not only can I make a case as to why I need yet another guitar, I can also make a case as to why I don’t need yet another guitar. And the battle wages constantly.

That’s where guiding principles come in.

To finish the thought on guitars, my guiding principle is simple: there’s always room for one more. (Well, maybe not…)

In all seriousness, though, I don’t want you to miss the next statement.

Guiding principles make us better and more consistent leaders.

Indecision in leadership can be incredibly harmful. So many times when I can’t make a decision, knowing my guiding principle gives me strength to move forward. Whether it be a program decision, an event to plan, a relationship to build, or so many other things. When I have spent time clarifying my wins, the decisions become less turbulent.

What decision are you trying to make today that could benefit from a guiding principle? Take some time to work through the big picture, and then see if that decision doesn’t become a little easier down the road.

Two Repeating Threads for Leadership

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I’ve got two pivotal leadership thoughts bouncing around in my head today, so I thought I would try something a little different. Instead of trying to rewrite the thoughts I’m having, I’m going to intro the concept and link to posts where I wrote a little more in depth.

  1. The Redundancy of Leadership – I’ve come to realize leading is less casting the vision and moving forward and more casting the vision followed by casting the vision and casting more vision. This can be disheartening, but there’s something about embracing the redundancy of it all. You can read more about redundancy here or here.
  2. Communicate Expectations – I wrestle inwardly with this concept more than most (thus the 5 links below). Learning to not hold people to a standard I only have in my head has allowed me to extend grace to those I lead, and honestly helps limit self-generated frustrations along the way. You can read some of my thoughts on this topic here, here, here, here and here.

If you have time today, go check those out, but go ahead and brace yourself: you may see a fresh post on them before too long, talking specifically about how to put these concepts into practice.

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