Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How to be a great leader without being a bossy boss.

I will always remember my fourth-grade teacher who left a lasting impression upon me because of her red hair, temper and a ruler she used to enforce her way of doing things. I’m not sure whether I was scarred more emotionally than physically when she would use her lethal weapon to slap the back of our hands when we forgot to put the line underneath the dividend. It was in the fifth grade that an older gentleman used a paddle with holes drilled in it to put the fear of ‘god’ into us to modify our unruly behavior.

Today I catch myself often going back and forth between aspiring to be a servant leader who influences by example instead of being a bossy boss that screeches too often. My hope is to be an influencer and change agent that leads by example and not through intimidation. I had a fascinating conversation with a close friend who is very tall guy but has a very gentile personality. Different from another friend who is built like a tank and too often uses his size to push people around and unfortunately confuse intimidation for leadership. We discussed the ingredients of being a leader.

I’m fortunate to be around a lot of college students and graduates who seek to be change agents. I’ve had the privilege of being able to guide and mentor many over the last decade. What stands out isn’t what a person says but how they choose to live their lives. It’s not how loud your voice happens to project that matters but more how your heart connects with others. A person’s true self is what connects or resonates with others to see life get better. The difficulty is that it’s too easy to confuse being bossy and loud with being a leader or change agent.

I grew up in a military home where my father was an officer in the Air Force who flew B-52’s. What stands out to me was that my dad could have very easily have been a screamer that demanded attention by his rank and presence. Yet, my dad was always a very gentile individual who touched me most by his actions not by what he said or screeched. I will never forget during my Jesus Freak days talking down to my dad and his response taught me so much about how you approach people and never assume that you know more or have life figured out. Yes, later I ‘repented’ about my youthful indiscretions toward my dad.

My Starbucks I frequent daily just went through a major paradigm shift with my close friend manager leaving and a new person taking over. Clearly the way in which this unfolded didn’t make sense and left the baristas and many customers at a loss. The new manager initially rubbed me the wrong way because they were bossy and didn’t give much interest in being a friend or understanding why I cared. I must be fair and admit that over the last few weeks I’ve seen less of the bossy side and more of a jump in type of leader manager.

I know that many would say that to be a good leader that you must have been a good follower at some point in your life. If you claim to be a great leader yet don’t have anyone listening or following than you are clueless about leadership. So how does one become a good leader except through following someone who is a great leader. I’m fortunate to have a couple of older friends, my grandmas and grandpas, who have touched me by their life examples. Grandma Bernice is someone that has a heart of gold but has chosen to be involved in a hands-on way in my life. She leads by what she does, says and also doesn’t say. I’m humbled to have her in my life after both my parents are now gone.

I totally see how learning about leadership can happen both through reading some incredible books from real leaders but more often it happens through servant leader type who recognizes potential in you. I’ve been so fortunate to have a few older friends who have been that to me.

I know that leadership is messy, exciting and challenging because it reflects real life. I’m also aware of the fact that on occasion great leaders, like Jesus, do express themselves with what appear to be bossy boss moments.

So aspire to lead first by what you do for others than a loud voice!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thank your mom and don’t take advantage of her kindness!

I know that one of the challenges in today’s society is that moms are supposed to be a combination of superman, Mr. Clean, Einstein and a Teddy Bear. The difficulty is that moms are in theory tasked with doing literally everything and are seldom given credit or time out to let their hair down. I was so fortunate to have the supermom type for my mother! She was a stay at home mom who was able to instill in me the notion of respect, hard work pays off, show kindness to all, no work was ever beneath a man and always say thank you and I love you.

I know that a generation forward the majority of moms have full time jobs and careers but are still expected to know everything, be in multiple places at once and have multiple graduate degrees to help with homework and still raise their husbands too. I have that kinda of wife who is an incredible mom to my kids, our grandson and now over the past 30 years been that type of person to many in the churches we have shepherded and kids and teens that are part of Barrio Nuevo today. The sad fact is that seldom do I truly show my appreciation to my superstar Anne! I can remember when we were first married almost 44 years ago joking about that because she wasn’t my mom I didn’t have to celebrate Mother’s Day.

My mom has been gone almost 10 years and at times I catch myself all teary eyed because she is still a real part of my life. I wouldn’t be a good cook if it weren’t for my mom! I wouldn’t care about having a clean house and doing laundry if it weren’t for her. She is the one who taught me about being honest, credible and real. She’s the one that would take the time to force me to talk about my day. At times, I didn’t like my mom because she was always too honest and frank about life ‘stuff’.

The legacy she has left me has impacted the way I live my life today in working with at risk youth and now being a grandparent. Please see that every day is Mother’s Day! Clearly most of us take advantage of our moms, aunts and grandmas. So please find time today and every day to pray for them and show them that you have learned from their example!

Miss you Mom!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Everyone dies but not everyone lives!

Everyone dies but not everyone lives!

I forced my wife, my bestie, Anne to rise at 2:30 am today to get to work early so we could drive the rest of the day to New Mexico. Our purpose is to attend the funeral of a good friend the following day. Death is a fact of life so even though I’m shocked at how many people close to me have died the bigger message is whether I am CHOOSING to LIVE today!

I noticed on a recent FB post that a fellow community activist had been hit by a truck while riding her bike early in the morning. Here was someone that truly loved life, sought to protect the rights of those less fortunate but someone in a big truck didn’t see her on her bike. The result is 4 kids that will grow up with only a memory of their mom. The real story is that this mom, Cyndi, lived her life to the max. She was someone that was always outspoken for those that had been left behind by family and society.

Why is it the case that so often we waste so much of our lives waiting for life to happen? Sadly, you might say we are a culture that’s waiting to die! Why? What defines us often is thinking that the grass is greener on the other side and if I only had the latest greatest high tech toy my life would rock. What happened to enjoying the incredible sunsets in Arizona? I love walking our dogs on our canal or seeing that lone Coyote running through the neighborhood. Yet, I too often allow my life to be defined by everything that has little to do with living.

I can remember a recent conversation with a young pastor who is planting a church. I made the soulful confession that too often I measured my life by how many attended church or now as a nonprofit how many donations had come through the mail or online. It’s horrible that we are so quick to miss the moments we have with our kids, special friends or that stranger who is looking for answers.

I confess that I still love rock music after growing up in the 60’s so the lyrics to the band Supherchick’s song ‘Cross the Line’ hit the bull’s eye when it comes to real life unfolding:

Go with the crowd, surely somebody knows
Why we're all wearing the emperor's clothes
Play it safe, play by the rules
Or don't play at all, what if you lose?
That's not the secret, but I know what is
Everybody dies but not everyone lives

So why not MAKE YOUR LIFE COUNT 24-7? Why do I want someone else to be the leader of my life band? Why am I fearful of taking a risk and become the silent spectator in the crowd? Aren’t you tired of being a cheerleader instead of being someone other’s cheer on as you come to the finish line? What’s holding you back?

Just live!! NO MORE EXCUSES!