Bad Things Will Happen

When I was young and cocky, I would brag to others that when I was pulled over by the police, I would always get out of the car. I didn’t like them standing next to the car talking down to me. I felt like it was insulting. Then there was a time when I was pulled over and I got out of the car and the policeman, with his hand on his weapon, ordered me to get back in my car.

Sure, I had options- I could ignore what he told me. I could argue with him. I could bargain with him. But then I saw his hand was on his weapon. I knew things would not go well if I didn’t listen to him. So, I got back in my car as he instructed me to do.

I am sure that he was thankful that I complied. I am sure he didn’t want problems. He wants to go home after his shift to his family. Being a policeman shouldn’t be a standoff. There should not be the thought that you can just push back and disobey. They are doing a very difficult and dangerous job and we should respect them for their service to the community.

If others in the news would have listened and complied with the police instructions, I suspect that we wouldn’t be where we are now. When you argue, slow walk or blatantly disobey direct orders from a policeman things just don’t go well. This decision provides an opportunity for things to escalate and get stupid. When you are told not to do something and you still do it, this disobedience trips a trigger in all of us. Think of how you feel when your children directly disobey you. It makes you angry, doesn’t it? Things just go better when you do what you are told to do.

This current attack on police authority will only embolden others to disobey police. This will likely have the exact opposite result in trying to prevent injuries and death during police interactions. A complete disregard for law and order will lead to MORE problems. If you disobey the police it’s likely that bad things will happen.

I have learned from decades of service that bad policies from emotional responses often result in very harmful unintended consequences. You hurt for those who are hurting. You want good things for them. You want progress. You want to see change. But emotional solutions rarely lead to effective results if you fail to consider the potential downstream consequences. This current attack on the police is destroying the lives of all law enforcement and potentially taking away security from the communities that need it most.

The statistics confirm a relatively small number of problems (15-25 unarmed deaths depending on the source of statistics in 2019) compared to millions of law enforcement interactions. About the same chance as getting hit by lightning. This is the “science” of the issue. Yes- there are bad actors in the police. Yes- we need to be better. We must make changes. But you don’t burn down your house to get rid of termites. Let’s seek out the bad actors and remove them from service. Let’s stop encouraging disobeying the police. Let’s stop the mob violence. Let’s support our police and let them do their job. They are our neighbors AND our family!

So what do you think? Are we helping thIS ISSUE or just causing more problems? Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

This is what happens after the riots

That’s a picture of me sitting on the front porch of our very modest house on the west side of Detroit in 1964.  This was a typical working class neighborhood of story and a half houses- autoworkers, policemen, construction workers, mechanics- a classic Detroit blue collar neighborhood.  This was a vibrant time for Detroit.  The auto companies were booming and Motown was at its peak.  The streets were filled with kids playing baseball, riding bikes, playing tag and laughter.  I loved our neighborhood.  There was always something fun going on.  It was a safe place and I had a lot of friends.

All of this was disrupted by the riots that occurred in 1967 in Detroit.  I was six years old and I remember the fear that swept through our neighborhood.  Even though the majority of the unrest was in other sections of Detroit, my parents were concerned about letting us out of the house.  The following year, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series and I remember the uneasiness in the car during a trip downtown to celebrate the victory.  We took security for granted and my parents were not prepared to deal with this uncertainty.

Shortly after the riots, my father made the decision to move out of the City.  After a search for a new home, we moved about 25 miles north of Detroit into the suburbs.  This decision was not an easy one.  We loved our neighborhood and the area where we lived.  We were close to much of our family.  We were close to shopping and parks and all the things that we liked.  But the area did not feel safe anymore.  

So my family joined in the exodus to the suburbs along with countless other families and businesses.  After the riots, the political leadership shifted more progressive and what followed was a series of administrations characterized by corruption and mismanagement.  The exodus of people and businesses and poor leadership destroyed the City that I remember.  Detroit is now a shell of what it once was.  Over a hundred years of success and wealth left the City, mostly to the suburbs.  Detroit was once a beacon of prosperity and the fourth largest city in the country.

I worry about the effects of the current unrest, political division and the anarchist groups in our country.  There are already reports in real estate publications of an exodus to the suburbs in New York City fueled by the current unrest and the COVID situation.  If given the choice, security is something most families will not compromise.  When people and businesses leave, the tax base erodes and this starts a financial spiral downward that is nearly impossible to stop.  Additionally, in today’s business environment, most folks are no longer forced to live or work in a particular area.  We are now extremely mobile.  We can pick up and move.  For many of us, we have found that as long as we have an internet signal, we can work.  There are no concrete reasons requiring that you stay in the city.  

This also has ramifications nationally. If the country takes a turn towards socialism and the central government balloons in both size and control (along with taxes), we may see another exodus.  This will be an exodus out of the United States.  This shift would be a result of a lack of financial security and a loss of the personal liberties that have been the trademarks and success story of the U.S.  We have seen this occur in our hemisphere with Cuba and Venezuela as they shifted to communism and socialism. During these changes, countless businesses and families left their homes for security in the U.S.  There are also plenty of U.S. ex-pats all over the world that have made the move to other countries for various reasons, so this option has been proven to be realistic.  In today’s world and global economy, The U.S. is now competing with other countries for the residency of our U.S. citizens and businesses.  Security is not something to mess with.  Families and businesses will not tolerate conditions that are either unsafe or insecure.  

So what happens after the riots?  The exodus.  You can’t expect people to tolerate insecure environments when they can find peace and prosperity somewhere else.  Let’s hope and pray that the current unrest and uncertainty ends so we can avoid the downward spiral that has historically followed these events.  

So what do you think?  Do you think history will repeat itself to see an exodus if security is in question?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

All In!

Are you a better employee if you put in super long hours and spend most of your waking moments at the office?  Is this the best measure of your worth and your engagement?

petri-r-1403845-unsplash

Photo by Petri R on Unsplash

One of my mentors early in my career was always the first in the office in the morning and the last to leave each night.  Worked EVERY Saturday and some Sundays.  This put incredible stress on me to try to work what would appear to be reasonable hours in comparison to this guy who was a freak and also my boss.  I lived about 45 minutes to an hour from the office depending on traffic which added additional stress to the equation. He was only 15 minutes to his house.  I was not adverse to putting in the hours (clarify salary position) but I always felt that it was never enough.  I came from an hourly tradesman position working outside and I worked nearly every Saturday in order to make up for rain days or short days.  I needed to get a full paycheck.  I had a family and bills.  I was conditioned to work the hours and “pay my dues” as folks like to call it.

Shortly after leaving the company I found out that my mentor was getting a divorce.  I’m sure there was a story to this with lots of moving parts but I know that his work hours were a big contributor to this outcome.  He was an absent husband and father.  He poured his entire life into his work and spent nearly all of his waking hours in the office.

After this event he abruptly changed his work hours.  Too late for his marriage, however, he began to work more normal hours and abandoned the “all in” appearance that had defined his past work history.

So what does “all in”  look like to you?

Are you judged in a large part by the hours that you put in?

Do you think hours are a true measure of your performance or engagement?

Can you be “all in” and still work normal work hours?

I’ve witnessed a variety of viewpoints on this subject.  Some folks use work hours to measure value, commitment and engagement to an organization.   It’s an easy measurement.  Either you are sitting at your desk or your not.  I had a report years ago who never showed up on Saturday and my boss was convinced that they were not engaged and lacked future value based on the lack of Saturday attendance.  I approached this employee and suggested that they begin to come in on Saturdays and make sure that they were seen by the boss in order to get “attendance credit”.  Almost immediately there was a change in attitude by the boss.  He felt that there was a big change when it was simply window dressing.

Then I have seen employees who lay down the law early and makes sure that everyone knows what comes first in their lives- family, kids, church, charity work, hobbies, etc.  It seems like they can get a pass if they make it clear early on and stand firm.  They can be successful in the organization and still leave at 5:01 every day.  In a very strange way it doesn’t seem fair- does it?

So what’s the point here?  I don’t believe you should rate your employees performance or engagement based on work hours.  Base your judgement on the production of quality work product- period.  If they are able to produce in standard work hours then be content and happy for them.  They will have a better life and work balance will make them a better employee in the long run.  Putting pressure on them to work longer hours and take on an unrealistic amount of work will eventually lead to burn out.  And probably an empty seat.  My instruction to employees who work a ridiculous amount of hours is:  GO HOME!  See your family.  Have fun.  Unwind and relax.

You are not a slave- you have a life.  The work will be there when you return.

What do you think?  Have you seen someone burn out due to crazy hours?  Do you think time at your desk is an accurate measure of worth?  Click on “leave a comment” and let me know what you think!  

 

What Easter Means To Me.

So what is Easter?  The start of spring?   Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.  Baskets filled with candy?  What a strange group of things bloomed out of a holiday of faith.  I guess Christmas is not much better.  Santa Clause and Christmas trees?  All of these have a history and although they are probably harmless, they tend to water down and distort the true basis for the holidays.

 

So what does Easter mean to me?  A few facets of my faith and feelings about Easter without the churchy talk:

Easter gives me purpose

If it was not for my faith, I would live, gather and die like everyone else and that would be it.  My goals would be focused on the relatively short period that we inhabit the Earth and would concentrate on accumulating, enjoyments and self-focus.  However, I know there is more.  The Bible says that we are wired for eternity.  We know there has to be more.  While this life can be great at times, there is also a lot of pain that goes along with it.  We live in a world without real order.  Without things being fair or honest.  A jumbled up mess.  I am looking forward to order and justice.  A place where everything is right.  Easter reminds me that there is a place that is right and this is but a stop along the way.

Easter helps me belong

I belong to the largest family that has ever existed.  A family of people who think alike.  A family with a vision of what true life is all about.  That takes care of one another.  That helps you when you are down.  A family that puts others ahead of themselves.

Easter means all things are new

Easter is like the morning.  A new day has begun.  Yesterday was tough.  I screwed up.  I made some stupid mistakes.  But then the sun comes up.  And it is a new day.  A new start.  The old is gone and the new is here.  Easter washes away the dirt of the past and makes all things new.  Like a shiny penny.  The way it should be.

Easter gives me focus

The opportunity to get my mind off of myself.  To really see others and their needs first.  To love others more than myself.  Easter gives me an orientation where I am no longer the center of my universe.  I can focus on others and I can stop thinking about my situation, wants and needs.

Easter is peace

I can relax in the realization that I do not need to worry.  I do not need to try to do it all.  I do not need all of the answers.  I can trust.  I can let things go.  I do not have to guide and control.  I can relax.  It will be fine.  I will be fine.  This is the basis of faith.

I will admit that I am still a work in progress.  I still struggle sometimes, but I know when I look back I see progress.  When I look forward, I see a path.  The Easter message is one of hope.  It is a message of love.  And purpose, belonging, renewal, vision and peace.

I hope you can see this and truly grasp the power of the Easter message.  

And to you and yours- Happy Easter!

Don’t forget to hit “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!  

So Who Are You Really Thankful For?

Kathy and I have been serving in a new homeless ministry (new for us) near our house for the past few months. Tuesday during a discipleship study at the mission while discussing thankfulness, I reached a conclusion regarding this subject.

IMG_3640

We all have things that are blessings in our lives. Our families. Our jobs. Our home. Our security.  Our things.  While many of these may be connected to to us due to choices we have made as we have lived our lives, the root of the blessing is the same.

We need to thank the Lord as he is the originator of all that we have.

This may be a great discussion for the thanksgiving table among your family. Do you really think that YOU originated all of these blessings or was it just luck?  The miracle of life, our amazing bodies and intellect, our strength and courage, our ability to love one another and take care of each other, the amazing and unexplainable things that have happened to all of us. Could luck really result in the what you have and your many blessings?

If that is the case we should call it Happy Luck Day!

As you go around the table and share what you are thankful for, ask your family who brought you this thing that you are sharing? Where did it come from? And where did this holiday (pastor called it by its original definition- holy day) come from?

By definition “thank you” is a response to a person.  You don’t thank a tree.

Everyone loves Thanksgiving. Everyone has things in their lives that they are thankful for. Our job is to remind them who is the author of all of these blessings!

Happy Thanksgiving!

So what are you most thankful for?  Do you understand who is the author of those blessings?  Click on “Leave a Comment and let me know what you think!

Give it Away!

One of the principles that I have learned as I have gained experience and wisdom is that the answer is often hidden or the opposite of logic. This realization has led me to second guess my observations and solutions and this has been very enlightening as I examine the issue from several angles and often get conflicting solutions.

AFRICA 2009 - WESTERN PROVINCE 174

Africa 2009- Sunset on the Zambezi River

As I have coached and built-up leaders through the years, I have used this second guessing as a test on how I look at leadership and management styles and their effectiveness. For the most part I have concluded that, barring abusive behavior, as long as they are effective then their style is usually acceptable. People are somewhere between very tough to impossible to change. You work with what you got.

The outlier to this theory is how we give power to our leaders. I believe there are some pretty rigid rules in how you build a powerful leader. Much of this is common sense, yet few really follow the rules here.

The source of the power that exists in the leaders of your team comes from you! If you see a person as a weak leader, its is often a result of not being given the power and authority to do their job. You have to give it away. This narrative of weak leadership may actually be the voice in your head giving you the authority to meddle in their affairs and undermine their authority.

There are many damaging actions that thwart authority and lead to a weakened leader. Here a a few of the biggies:

Chain of Command: When you do not respect the chain of command you are undermining the authority of your leaders. If you continually direct people downstream of others you are sending a message that their leaders instructions are not important. Although you are the “big boss” and you can do whatever you want, this disregard for the authority of those you have placed in charge is damaging. Very damaging. Don’t do it.

Micromanagement: Getting in the weeds on issues and overanalyzing is damaging to authority. Accept that mistakes will happen. This is the only path to growth. Stay out of the weeds.

New Ideas: Don’t shoot down new ideas because they are not yours or they involve risk. Be receptive to new ways of doing things. This is empowering your leaders to think. To be relevant. To make a difference.

Hiding your Leaders: Celebrate and promote your leaders in the business world. Some folks will be fearful that by promoting there leaders they may loose them to another company. I say that hiding them will lead to the same result. Promote your leaders. It will strengthen your organization.

Limiting Decisions: By limiting the authority of making decisions you are also limiting their power. Give them the authority but make sure they know they own it. They will have to clean up the mess if it goes bad. This is also a path to growth.

Too many times we deduce that weak leadership is the result of a character flaw or the limited abilities of the leader we manage. The truth is that their power comes from you!

You can either build them up or tear them down. It’s your choice. If you want a strong organization you need to give your power away. Let it flow downward. Will there be problems if you let go? Yes- always. However, you will have a group of strong leaders below you and this will be a huge advantage in cleaning up the mess.

Wind them up and let them go. You’ll be happy with the results!

Your Fooling Yourself!

Do we deceive ourselves into thinking that we ARE what we are NOT?

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

 

The mind has a way of legitimizing and reinforcing our behavior. We think that our motivations are pure. We are acting in a righteous way.  For others.  Not ourselves.  We are selfless.  But is this really true?

We also have a way of running an interior narrative that reinforces this reality.  We can truly convince ourselves that we value something when the facts actually completely contradict this belief.  The complete opposite of what we think.

The difference is reality and reality is found in action. We will DO what is important to us.  You can’t fool action.  You can tell people that you value or care about something, but what are you doing about it?  If you are not acting it’s just talk.

Folks run their mouths about helping the poor and donate absolutely nothing. The environmentalist drives a Suburban. The wife says she loves her husband but spends more time talking to her girlfriends and keeping up her super mom image. The husband who says he is a devoted dad but spends his weekends playing golf.

Examine your action VERY carefully.  What do you do?  What are your actions?  Day in day out, what is your true motivation?  You may disguise it as altruist, charitable, for others- but is it really?  Often, its really all about you and what you truly care about.

The way that you look to others.
Your image.
Your reputation with others.

There is a passage in the Bible that talks about praying loudly on the corner and praying silently in a private place.  The public display is all about you.  You have received your reward.  The private display is the only pure motivation.

Is your action about the return?  Even what looks charitable or caring?  What I GET for my GIVE.  Will I get something in return for my actions?  Will people think i’m just so amazing for what I did?

You can fool yourself into thinking all of your actions are for others.  Pump yourself up. But you are lying to yourself.  Examine yourself closely.  Are you doing it for your image? Or for your pride!

Do it in private.  Do it for someone who doesn’t think you are amazing.  Do it for someone who doesn’t even show ANY appreciation for it.

If not- you might be simply fooling yourself!

So what do you think?  Do we tell ourselves a story that may be completely false?  Can we truly fool ourself?  Click on “Leave a Comment and tell me what you think!

Boring Freedom

I have always liked the 4th of July for what it is.  A day of celebration of family, good food and a reflection on how we have been blessed as a nation.  A day at the beach or the pool is usually in order.  Relax and watch the waves or spend some time on the boat enjoying family and friends.  Nothing really spectacular or unique or cool.  Some fireworks and good food.

The 4th is the celebration of freedom, right?  We all enjoy the gift of living in the United States and probably take freedom for granted.  Freedom is an amazing gift but like any other good thing it can be abused.

I feel like we are losing our grip on the simple and boring.  We do not celebrate this kind of thinking as a country anymore.  If you have simple and wholesome values, you can actually be ridiculed now for being boring and normal.  The fringe is what we celebrate.  The unique and sometimes even outrageous.  If you are a quiet and average American you are not cool.  So what is so wrong with normal?

We have become a nation that is obsessed with freedom for the edges and the fringe.  And what we have lost along the way is innocence and a respect for the simple and good.  This obsession over cool and edgy has been the breeding ground for a generation to grow up too quickly. The self-indulged “right” to express yourself however you want. The change of a complete generation’s life goals from “raise a nice family” to power and money.

We have transformed as a nation into one giant, never ending, self-centered argument. We have lost the ability to communicate.  We only yell at each other.  We’ve completely lost any vision to see the other side.  In this noise, there is no celebration for the boring people who go to work each day and try hard to raise a family and maintain some semblance of normalcy and reality for life.  Trying to shield our children from the nonsense.  This celebration of the outrageous.  The “big show” going on around us.

I think we need to get back to our roots.  Review our values.  Be frank about what we have created.  Review our commitment to the next generation.   Can we do it?  Or is the genie out of the bottle?

This 4th of July, I celebrate freedom for everyone including the boring people.  They want the opportunity to live without being cool or edgy.  Just have a great day with family and friends and be thankful for the blessings.  Nothing spectacular.  Nothing epic.  Just another boring 4th of July!

What are you living for?

Kathy was browsing in a gift shop near our home last week and struck up a conversation with the lady clerk. This is not an uncommon thing for Kathy. She has a gift of being able to connect quickly with people. This lady was originally from Columbia (South America not South Carolina) and she has been in the United States long enough to really “get” our culture.

nvgwp_hw1iw-joshua-jackson

We are so arrogant here. We are convinced that this is where everyone in the world wants to live. We have such great opportunities to make money and it is a safe place to raise a family. These things are important and special, but they are not everything. I believe we have sacrificed some really critical things along the way. We have made choices that have warped our culture. Unconsciously, in our pursuit to be the best, we have changed the way we live, our goals, and our priorities. And I am also guilty.

The lady began to share about her family and her life back in Columbia. She aligned with Kathy’s experiences from Costa Rica. Emphasis on family, friends, relaxation, community.

She shared, “In the U.S., you live to work and back home we work to live.”

Whether intentional or not, we have placed WAY too much emphasis on work and making money. Our lives are wrapped around our work and our careers. Not the other way around. This may not be your choice. You may feel like you want to work less and live more, but can you really do it?  Can you really shift your focus away from making money?

Will you be able to pay your current bills?
Buy the things you want?
Can you really live with less?
Can you really do it?

Our culture has raised the bar on expectations so high that we run crazy hard just to try to keep up. Building bigger barns. In the meantime we have lost community. Lost our connection. Our ability to really LIVE together and enjoy life. We’ve lost our focus on taking care of each other.

Where are you?
Are you living to work or working to live?
Can we go back?  Do you know how we can get back to where we came from?
What needs to change?  What is messing us up?

Click on “Leave a Comment” and lets share ideas!

Five Tips For Parents (Without Time Machines)

Gosh- if only we had a time machine.

imagejpeg_2[1]

A place where you could go back in time and fix things that went wrong. I love some of the movies that do this. Back to the Future. Hot Tub Time Machine. Somewhere in Time. The Terminator. Go back and fix the wrong and change history.

But for now with raising kids you get one chance. ONE CHANCE. So don’t screw it up!

I certainly could have done better. More books- less sports. More one on one. Put more emphasis on the “soft side” of life. Better faith leader. More time less work.  I had MANY unflattering moments where I lost my cool, lacked self-control or did something incredibly stupid that I wish I could have taken back.

The problem is that you can’t start over. They can’t unforget things.  We can’t change time like the time travelers.

But we did do some things right. And these things had an impact on our kids lives. They really made a difference.  And it helped form the way that my children see the world. We were not perfect, but have some things that went well.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Hard Work: The only place a child will learn (at least in the U.S.) to work hard is at home. My father taught me that lesson and we did our best to teach it to our children. You need to work to get what you want. Nothing will be handed to you. You have to work for it. This requires sweat and effort. Get your kids off the couch and make them work. If they understand what hard work looks like, they will be a contributor. They will be a good citizen.  They will be able to make a difference in the world. It’s your responsibility- not theirs.

Value of Money: The best thing we did for our kids is to have little money.  This was really a circumstance- but it had great power.  They did not get everything they wanted. They understood that wants are not needs. We raised them in a very modest lifestyle that allowed them to see that money is earned and not picked off a tree in the backyard. Kathy would gather the pennies and roll them and take them to the bank. They knew about the value of money. They learned how to save.  I don’t know how you can raise children in an affluent houshold and get this message across.

Good Grades: We instilled a culture of excellence in school work. I did not give my kids the choice to go to college. Why in the world would you do that? Ask a child if he wants to continue the seeming misery of school work? Seems like most would take the easy route. That’s not parenting. We had our own grading system and we rewarded good grades and good reports from school. Just like the workplace- right? Why would you NOT do this for your kids?

Tradition: We always worked to create things that were uniquely ours. Family traditions. We created traditions that were only ours. Don’t overlook the power here. Children love this. They crave structure and predictability. They thrive in it. Create a rhythm to their lives. Give them something that is uniquely for your family. Even silly stuff. They will remember even the smallest details. Make it your family’s own. Big power here.

Competition: We encouraged our children to compete in sports, arts, activities and other areas. The world will make them compete. By sheltering them or ignoring this fact you may be setting them up for failure. Competition can be ugly and daunting for a parent. But YOU need to get them ready. This is your job.  No one else will do this.

There are more to this list but this is a few majors. The point is- you have to be an active parent. It’s not an easy job. But you can’t jump in the time machine. You can’t change it once it’s done. Don’t have regrets. Do the very best you can. Push your children. They are not your buddies. They want instruction. They want structure. Give them what they need to thrive. You can’t go back. No “do over” here!

So what do your think?  I know many would love the time machine but we can’t go back. One time.  One chance.  Do you agree?  Click on “Leave a Message” and tell me what you think!