Enjoying the Journey

A story of happy accidents.

Do you have something you are passionate about but maybe are not the most talented in that area? For me, that is running. I started running almost by accident. One year, after moving to a new school, I found out I had missed football tryouts. Instead of sitting out of sports completely I decided to look for another option. That’s when I found out the Cross Country team doesn’t have tryouts. They will take anyway willing to suffer a hilly trail, blisters on their feet, and constantly sore calf muscles. While running through country roads, winding paths, and quiet downtown streets I fell in love with running. It was a hobby birthed almost by accident.

If only all accidents had a happy ending.

Most times in life an accident means trouble, pain, or at least a change of plans. I wish they were all happy accidents, but most of the time they are not. I heard the sticky note was created by accident. I wish I had more accidents like that. Most of my accidents would lead to me giving up on creating, not creating something that changes a company for the better.

Have you ever had an accident slow you down?

A New Goal

Last year I set the goal of finishing a half-marathon under two hours. About six months later I finished a half marathon at 2:00:44. I started slow and missed my goal by 44 seconds. I wasn’t exactly happy about this, but at least I was getting close. It seemed inevitable that I would break two hours at the next half marathon. When the next race came a few months later I finished at 2:00:04. Four seconds people!

At that point, I wanted to throw my running shoes over the nearest powerline (ala Marshawn Lynch) and give up forever. I would let my running dreams hang over the neighborhood by their treacherous laces as a reminder to all who saw them to never run. Running will break your heart.

One More Try

Instead of giving up though, I doubled down on my efforts. I found a partner who was a Boston Qualifier, aka much faster than me. I went back to the gym and committed to a cross-training plan. I showed up early mornings at what I call the unforgiving circle of torture or what you may know as the local track. I put in the work. I even took it easy when I got too soar. I did everything right, and you know what. I was running much faster than a two-hour pace.

Everything was working according to plan until another accident found its way into my plans. Seven days before my race where I was almost destined to obliterate my two-hour goal I allowed my momentum to carry me down a hill too fast and twisted my knee in an awkward way.

I wouldn’t be able to run my race. I wouldn’t make it to my goal.

Another Disappointment

What really upset me was that I had never worked so hard, been so consistent, and invested so much time towards a running goal. So many times I got to the finish line and know I didn’t do my best in preparation. This time I had. I truly did my best but wouldn’t get the satisfaction of finishing. It felt like something I paid for was taken from me right as it almost touched my fingertips.

But was there any lemonade to be made from these lemons? The thing that caused me the most pain, the amount of time I had invested in this goal, would ultimately by my saving grace. When I really thought about it, yes it was a sacrifice, but getting up early to run and going to the gym to workout was its own reward. I was healthy, had lots of energy, and felt good about myself. Making new friends and growing in relationship with old ones all came as a result of the journey to get to that under two-hour mark.

An Unexpected Destination

I didn’t make it to the finish line, but that was always only 1% of the experience anyway. If you can’t enjoy the other 99% of the process than you probably aren’t investing in the best thing for you. When I looked back over the time leading up to that disappointment I can happily say that I enjoyed the experience of preparation. The final destination was not the two-hour half marathon expected through. Instead, the journey took me to a place that taught me a new lesson in enjoying the journey.

Life is full of unfinished business, unrealized expectations, and unfulfilled dreams. If we measure life by destinations then we ignore the lessons and pleasures of the journey to those destinations. Many times God is not just leading us to somewhere or to do something but to become someone. I want to be someone who enjoys the journey and helps others do the same.

Moses CEO Part 2

4 Steps to Lead Your Team Out of Dysfunction

Moses returned from his executive retreat to find his organization in total disarray (Exodus 32:9-10). You can see the four decisions that lead to this disaster in my previous post. The results of Aaron’s passive leadership led to the group getting off mission, internal corruption, and dangling on the edge of total destruction.

How Moses responded to this dysfunctional situation shows us how to problem solve and lead in an organization. I read this story in Exodus while I was also going through the book, The Five Dysfunctions of Team. This caused me to wonder what Moses would do if he was the CEO of a corporation, church, or non-profit. You do not have to be an executive to learn from Moses’s example. You can make difference in any position with these 4 steps,

Take responsibility (Exodus 32:10-11)

Moses was not willing to be promoted at the expense of his team. Instead he took responsibility for something that was out of his control so his team could succeed together. He didn’t blame others. He looked for the best version of his team and refocused on their original vision (the future) instead of focusing on their failure (the past) or current circumstances (the present).

Be proactive instead of reactive (Exodus 32:19-20)

When Moses returned from his leadership retreat and saw that things were in disorder, he immediately took action. Moses did not sweep the situation under the rug and move on. He didn’t take a vote to see who wanted to keep the detestable golden calf. He addressed the root of the issue. He made sure a crack in their foundation would not compromise the integrity of the team, even if it meant a painful immediate adjustment.

Prioritize what is right over what was popular (Exodus 32:25-26)

Moses was willing to step away from what was popular in order to prioritize what was right. Sometimes groups can do more wrong than individuals. When no one speaks up, we all assume everyone else is in agreement. The reality is many times others are just waiting for someone else to speak up. Who is waiting on you to prioritize what is right over what is popular and stand with you?

Be loyal (Exodus 32:30-32)

Behind closed doors Moses was for his team. He was not in denial that they had made a mistake, but was willing to honor them when their behavior could only be seen as a liability to him. Not only that, but Moses also honored up by seeking God in this situation instead of taking matters into his hands.

Moses was not a perfect CEO, and he did not lead a perfect team. However, he did many things right and does have a special place of honor in the hall of faith. Ultimately we look to model Jesus in everything we do, and we can see Christ in how Moses led his team.

What is Your Gold Calf?

The gold calf is present in every team and organization, even the most healthy ones. It represents the one things that obviously needs to change, but we dance around it or are unwilling to admit it. We can make a lot of little adjustments, but until we find our golden calf and are willing to confront the weaknesses in our own leadership, little will change.

What lessons do you see in leadership from the story of the Golden Calf?

What are Jesus style leadership traits that seem to contradict worldly wisdom?

Which of these four traits are a weakness for you.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Be the first to get the next one by subscribing here.

If you are interested in a great leadership fable that talks about pulling together as a team checkout The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Moses CEO Part 1

Aaron COO: 4 Leadership Mistakes

Moses took over a failing corporation that had a brilliant founder, but was plagued by internal discord. After delivering some miraculous results that impacted the world, these people found themselves under dictatorial leadership. Moses comes in to lead them to the Promise Land but not without some resistance and lessons we can all learn from along the way.

What Went Wrong?

Before we look at what Moses did right let’s see what Aaron the COO did wrong. Moses was away at an executive retreat with his assistant, Joshua. Meanwhile Aaron is left to lead the organization, and we see he makes a few common mistakes right of the bat.

He didn’t honor up (Exodus 32:1)

When the people complained against Moses, Aaron didn’t step up to honor his leader with a defense. Instead of guarding Moses’s leadership, Aaron gave room for complaints and tried to be the solution to the void people saw in Moses’s leadership.

He didn’t practice sacrificial leadership (Exodus 32:2-3)

Aaron had the people bring their best to him instead of him giving them his best. Getting to the top is not about having the most people serving you. Filling a leadership role is about being in the best position to serve the most people. The top of the org chart is not for those who want to prop their feet up.

He put a spiritual skin on a selfish ambition (Exodus 32:4)

It is very easy in church environments to mistake grand plans for God’s plan. We must be careful to not call something God that didn’t originate with Him. We shouldn’t dress up a need to be noticed with a good cause. God’s plans always draw people closer to Him, before they lift up the false idols of success, competition, and popularity.

His was reactive instead of proactive (Exodus 32:5)

Aaron waited for the problem to occur, and then chose a solution that would be the most popular over the most effective. We must lead with foresight and learn from hindsight. Reactive leaders display passivity in moments of need, and prioritize stabilizing the boat instead of plugging the hole.

Conclusion

The result of Aaron’s leadership is that his team drifted off mission and began to crumble from the inside out (Exodus 32:7-8). He lost the leadership battle by allowing his position to become about him, and then protecting that position by pleasing people. Reactive leaders see pleasing people as the solution, while proactive leaders know protecting people is the priority. Reactive leaders don’t want to compromise their popularity, while proactive leaders don’t want to compromise the values that protect people and the vision that keeps the mission clear and secure.

This is part 1 of 2 of Moses CEO. Next up are the four things Moses did to turn this situation around. Be the first to get the latest post by subscribing here.

If you are interested in a great leadership fable that talks about pulling together as a team checkout The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Pushing Through Your Fears

3 Answers to the Problem of Fear

In my previous post I talked about not failing before you start. Sometimes we have voices that come to embody the fear that keeps us from trying. When we listen to them we fail before we even start. If this sounds like something you have faced then you may want to check out that post.

In this post I wasnt to discuss how to answer the fears that cause us to question taking a step of faith. What do you do when doubt keeps you from doing something different from what you see other people doing? Here are three ways I keep fear from derailing my momentum.

Inspire the prisoners

When dealing with the fears that come with writing in a vulnerable and authentic way a friend of mine encouraged me with this thought, “Wright to the prisoners; not the guards.”

Instead of trying to convince those who may disagree with us look for those in need of inspiration. Don’t be afraid of those guarding old paradigms but also don’t waste your time trying to convince them to give up old ways of thinking. You’d be better off giving hope to the prisoner looking for a way out and watch the magic happen.

Remember why the bird sings

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” This quote is most often attributed to Maya Angelou who also said, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Simply put there is a song inside of all of us that must be let out, not because it is an answer or because it will get unanimous approval, but because it is what we were made to give back to the world. It is more of a burden to keep that in then it is to face the fear to let it out.

What were you created to create?

Tell the truth

When I first started blogging over 10 years ago I most often chose to take the position of an expert. I would pontificate in a  sermon-like style telling other what they should do and how they should live. I wasn’t telling the truth. My insecurities caused my to write as if I had all the answers because I was afraid of admitting the areas where I still had doubts. I never got a big response from those posts. Hmmm…. I wonder why?

Eventually I wanted to change that. So every time I sat down to write I challenged myself with one simple but difficult task – tell the truth. Those three words changed how I wrote. When I would begin to hide behind my expertise I would either throw that post out or begin to tell the truth of how I wrestled or was still wrestling with a topic. That changed everything.

These are three answers I give my doubts when they keep me from writing. I love encouraging people to tell their story through writing but that’s not the only way to face your fears. What is something fear is keeping you from trying that you need to step out and do? What answers do you give fear when it causes you to question your calling? I’d like to hear from you!

Don’t fail before you start

Finding Success in the Face of Fear

My failures are not found in a lack of achievement but rather in a lack of trying. This fear of trying is a pattern I can trace throughout my life. Can you say the same? Do you ever wonder what you would be capable of if only you had tried?

Writing is something I hesitated to do for a long time even though in my heart it felt as natural as eating or breathing. When I finally did start sharing my most vulnerable thoughts in a public way there was a great response. I wondered what took me so long.

The answer is simple – fear. I didn’t try because I was afraid of what people would think about me. I imagined voices saying, “Who are you to think you have something to say?” or “What have you accomplished that gives you the right to ask others to read what you write?”

The Voice of Fear

One day in particular sums up the voices that kept me from writing. I was in a meeting with a few other people when I mentioned I wanted to one day write a book. One of the other people immediately made a face like they had just stepped in dog poop and said, “You?! Wight a book?!?” And then laughed uncomfortably.

Similar voices sometimes (almost always) haunt me when I began to work on a book or blog. “You?!? Write a book?!?” Each time these thoughts surface like shark fins in my sea of creativity I have a choice to make. Am I going to listen to the lies, the ghosts of insecurity, or am I going to believe the truth about who God says I am? In other words, am I going to fail to try or at least fail trying?

Become Who You Were Made to Be

You don’t become who you were made to be by waiting for universal approval and unanimous permission. You must discover that something inside of you that wants out for the benefit of others and find the best way to set it free.

For me that’s writing. For you it may be somethings else. Maybe it’s curling in the Winter Olympics or starting a non-profit. The “it” doesn’t matter. Just find “it” and dig up the courage to begin doing “it.”

When we are brave enough to embrace our calling or purpose we will not only bring God the most glory, but also experience a closeness to him we would not know otherwise.

What is your it?

What voices have you been listening to for far too long that you need to be hurdles you hop over instead of dead ends to your journey?

What are you capable of that you’re not even aware of because you have failed to try?

Would you rather be someone who failed to try or at least tried and failed?