February 26th, 2012
I spent some time recently thinking back on my successes in life and took notice, not one accomplishment was solely based off of my efforts alone! How about you? Are there successes achieved in your life that only you made the contributions too? Or, are there people out there that deserve some credit for mentoring you?
Most of us wear many different hats, handling many irons in the fire all at once. If you have limited yourself to one mentor (or none at all), you are limiting yourself!
As daunting a task as identifying a mentor may seem, I believe we should have a mentor guiding us in all critical areas of our lives. People typically seek out mentors in regards to their career paths. While this is wise, one is not enough. There are multiple areas in which we need growth and accountability: career, financial, spiritual, intellectual, family, physical and social. Life is enough of a struggle on our own. As much as I enjoy the characters of John Wayne and Rambo, that is exactly what they are; characters on screen. We are not designed, nor are we asked, to handle life on our own. Of all the resources I have had the privilege to read, not one of them defines a man’s or women’s statue by “how many problems they are able to solve on their own.”
Do you want to shorten the learning curve of what lies before you? Would you like to minimize the impact of the hurdles you will be facing? If your answer is yes, then I encourage you to seek mentors…
Some benefits of being mentored are:
It is wiser to learn from the mistakes of others than to repeat them ourselves.
Mentors know what questions need to be asked.
They help us avoid the trial and error method of learning.
They help to hold us accountable and focused on our original intention – the goals at hand.
Mentors expose us to different perspectives.
They identify skill gaps.
Mentors understand the milestones we overcome and celebrate.
They help us see what we ourselves currently don’t see.
Mentors are knowledgeable about the sources of opportunities and pitfalls.
They help to rejuvenate feelings of self-worth.
Mentors provide constructive feedback.
My wealth in life is not measured by my level of intellect (fortunately for me), it is measured and accumulated by those whom I surround myself with.
If after reading the above benefits, you realize that there is someone in your life who makes a significant difference acting as a mentor, please take fifteen minutes this week to compose and send a handwritten “thank you” note.
I realize we live in a world of great technology, but the human spirit still celebrates and appreciates the human touch.
December 20th, 2011
How about you? Is there something you have been working on or trying to accomplish, for what seems like “forever?” Can you identify with passengers on a plane, circling above the airport for hours at the mercy of the air traffic controller, waiting for the approval to make the final approach for landing at your destination? I recently gave an update to a group of our community leaders regarding the progress since winning the Edison Project for the most innovative product of 2011. I made the statement, “I feel like this project is taking forever, and there is very little progress,” the entire audience sighed and chuckled out loud with a tone of familiarity. It was their way of initiating me into the world of entrepreneurialism as if to say, “Welcome to the club.” Most of these men and women have built and sold companies and could easily empathize with my statement and assessment.
So how DO we get through the seasons in life when we feel as though no progress is taking place? After much research and discussion, here is what I have learned and am applying to my personal situation:
1. Look at your situation from a 30,000 foot level. In other words, are you further along your path than you were a year ago, six months ago, even a month ago? Don’t bog yourself down by looking at your situation from a day-to-day or even week-to-week outlook. Incremental progress is good, even if it’s not at the pace we wish it to be.
2. Continue your research. If you are not reading, you are not growing. Truly become an expert of what you are desiring to accomplish.
3. Keep notes or a journal documenting your milestones, challenges, etc. Being able to reflect back on notes will give you greater clarity of where you are today and what you truly have accomplished.
4. Talk with mentors. We can become desensitized to the true impact of what we are accomplishing. Speaking with others helps to confirm and reaffirm why we are doing what we are doing.
5. Reflect. Carve out quite time for thoughts, prayer, or with sharing with others who have been on the journey with you. Recalling where you started and where you are today is important.
6. Step out of your head. Are there opportunities to serve? It is amazing the powerful feelings we experience when we help others. What we get in return is immeasurable.
7. Ask to be held accountable to someone you trust and admire. This is an impactful lesson. The regret I repeatedly hear from entrepreneurs is that they lost sight of the importance of their family. They poured themselves into their project, instead of those who needed them resulting in irreparable destruction.
I wish you much success in your journey because it truly is that-a journey. Mostly though, I wish that this Christmas holiday will be a time of rejuvination for you and those around you. I will close with these words of wisdom…
History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually
encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed.
They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.
Bertie C. Forbes
Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to
accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.
The time will pass anyway; we might just as
well put that passing time to the best possible use.
August 6th, 2011
I absolutely enjoy living in a house of all girls. No seriously! Don’t get me wrong, I am sure I would have thrived having a son to teach “guy things to,” however, there is something very special about raising girls. I will never forget my oldest daughter’s first question to me when my wife and I announced we were having a baby girl, “Dad, do you know if our fish is a girl or a boy?” Puzzled by her question I stated, “Not sure. Why do you want to know?” Her reply at the age of six… “Do you realize that Amy is a girl, I’m a girl, both dogs are girls and Lola (our cat) is a girl ? Now you guys are having a baby girl. You are the only boy in the house! As my girls get older, this realization becomes more and more obvious. All the feminine toiletries in the bathroom are certainly enough of a reminder…
I get my fill of the male species and the testosterone we egotistically believe we must share with the world, each week as an instructor in the karate dojo. I really do have the best of both worlds: I get to remain physically fit, toughing it out with younger men and shortly thereafter, I get to come home to hugs from a family of loving girls.
Back to the title of this blog, living with a bunch of girls does require one to have a nice selection of tools to keep the house running smoothly. I have a different answer however to the question, what tools must a man have in his garage in order to be considered manly? In my younger years, I would have grunted like “Tim the Tool Man Taylor,” stuck my chest out, and proudly rolled off a list of expensive items such as a table saw, craftsman wrenches, cordless speed drill, air gun, etc. To complete this younger man’s fantasy, I would have envisioned my girls standing behind me as I stepped off the plane from a year- long tour of duty overseas protecting our country. My girls would say things like, “Dad, only you could have built a doll house so beautiful.”
However, it has come to my attention through much experience and more importantly the wisdom of age, that the only tool a father really needs to keep his family of women happy is – needle nose pliers. (And you better be able to get to them within a moments notice.) There is no project, no house hold emergency, or no crisis more important than the one that requires you to perform surgery on - a piece of broken jewelry for your girls. That’s right, I become Super Dad and Super Husband by wielding a pair of inexpensive needle nose pliers! These pliers are magical. They are the key to salvaging a necklace or earing that seems broken beyond repair. Now mind you, I have remodeled bathrooms, laid tile, fixed cars, landscaped and Not One of these manly skills that require manly tools make a girl age 5 to age 43 smelt, like a man who can fix a piece of “favorite costume” jewelry. Oh, and guys, every piece is a “favorite” piece! The sooner you realize and except this truth, the sooner you reach manhood.
So brothers, feel free to borrow my ladder, my chainsaw or lawn mower. Just know that my needle nose pliers are off limits.
June 19th, 2011
While looking through some old mementos in the attic this past Fall, I discovered a folder that I thought had been lost. It was my adoption folder that my parents handed over to me back in 1999. My parents had always told my sister and I that we were adopted since we were babies. Other than when doctors ask me for my family medical history, I really haven’t had an urge to open this folder and discover my biological parents. This has puzzled my wonderful wife since we have known each other.
My belief has always been, “Your parents are those who raised you. Any guy can father a child, but not every guy can learn to be a dad.” The discovery of this folder was extra special. We had recently experienced our fourth miscarriage, and I had been struggling with trying once more. As a matter of fact, the night before finding this folder, I broke my wife’s heart when I informed her I couldn’t take the pain of trying again. So, in a moment of discovery, I opened the folder for the first time in 41 years to a wonderful surprise. While I learned what my biological last name was (much to the excitement of my wife), I found a much more important discovery. As part of the adoption process at that time, the adopting parents had to supply a personal letter as to the reason why he/she wishes to adopt. I found a four page typed letter that my dad wrote describing his childhood and the importance of him getting to adopt me.
While I am passionate about being the best husband and dad I am capable of being, I realize all dads have their faults. My dad was no exception. Yet I still look up to him even though he has passed. The memories I have of our time together, and the life lessons he instilled within me are a treasure to me. They are a gift that I now get to pass on to my daughters. It was amazing reading his letter which he wrote in his early twenties. I helped me reflect on how he lived out his principles throughout his life. What I found to be remarkable, was my Dad’s choice of words and spirit. It was as if the letter I was reading was something I had actually written. Which means dad, you were successful in teaching me and handing down to me, what was important to you. Your legacy lives within me… And if I can be as great of a dad as you were, then tat means my daughters (your granddaughters) will receive your legacy as well.
Being a dad is no easy task, especially when you realize that being a dad is typically the first example and comparator children have of God’s love. While this is a monumental and worthy task, God’s grace, the love our our dads and the support of our spouses certainly serve to guide us in the right direction. Happy Father’s Day.
May 18th, 2011
This is a topic that rears its head from time to time, especially following a news story of a student gone wild. My 13 year old daughter and I recently returned from a mission trip to Guatemala. Ever since she was little, I have dreamed of taking her on a mission trip with the intent of giving her a good perspective of how great the opportunities are in our country. However, as my daughter has grown; she has remained level headed and appreciates what life has put before her. Therefore, I wasn’t sure what kind of impact a trip like this would have on her outside of building memories with “Dear old Dad. ”
I am convinced that too often humanity falls short in pushing itself. After my trip, I am pleased to report good news. I am impressed with how much a person (my daughter, Savannah) grew in just 7 days. I witnessed a child who just last year (at age of 12) whimpered for 30 minutes because she was too scared to empty the pool straining basket. She was scared because she could see dead bugs and a frog floating inside of it. For seven days, this same child lived and worked in conditions most would consider more physically challenging than “roughing it” or “camping.” We experienced two days of travel to a remote mountain side where I’m pretty sure not even National Geographic maganize has been! The surprising part – even to me, her own Dad, was that by the end of the trip she still wasn’t ready to come home.
So it begs the question, why aren’t all students required to donate a week or a month of their time for service to others? Time spent would not necessarily have to be abroad in a foreign country. I am sure we have plenty of homeless, natural disasters and needs to be nurtured right here in our own country and most likely in our own back yard. Certainly we have plenty of people, organizations, and school career counselors that would be eager to step up with the implementation.
I would be curious to learn if there is an opposing view?
April 24th, 2011
Consensus Does Not Equate To Leadership…
I was pleasantly surprised to all the responses I got back from this rare Facebook post I placed a few weeks ago. To support what I was posting, I used the modern day quote, “When was the last time you saw a statue of a committee in the park?” Evidently, this caused people to stop and think for a moment. Isn’t it true we all want to be part of something bigger, yet at the same time be able to express our individuality without being scorned or shunned? We want others to know we truly are compassionate, yet at the same time desire to express our thoughts regarding the craziness we witness - craziness others want to claim to be the norm.
While I certainly do not claim to have above average intelligence, I am very blessed to have strong and broad relationships with those who do. Maybe its because I have lived in so many places or possibly it results from my thirst for knowledge. My relationships and interactions span from blue-collar to white-collar, from country living to city life, from manufacturing plants to Fortune 500, etc. I am fascinated by other people’s accomplishments and curious by those who have talent and choose to do nothing with it.
Going forward, I hope my blog will be a forum that accomplishes three things: 1) Provides a place where people can express their thoughts freely. 2) Provides an open door: Ask me questions on just about any topic, and I will provide summaries as to what the experts say – some of you reading this will fall into this category. 3) Shares “A-Ha” moments we experience in our daily lives. Check out my wife’s posts on “The Ponytail Blog“ for consistent laughter regarding “A-Ha” moments.
I would enjoy your feedback on what you would like to gleam further insight on. Some examples I have already received are:
- How to approach your employer, and let them know you are leaving.
- Why is it so hard to pray with your spouse?
- How do gas prices really get set?
- Why is it my family members won’t spend their money like I do?
- How should an employer respond to a good employee who is resigning?
I am off to Guatemala with my 13 year old daughter where I am sure we both will experience a “Break Through” to be shared in a future blog.