There is no safety in safety

I have been confronted recently with the reality that safety is really an illusion.  We gather, save, protect, reinforce, double up, and anticipate in an effort to be safe and secure.  Yet, with all our planning and protecting- life will still throw the curve ball at us.

Africa 2009- Sunset on the Zambezi River

Africa 2009- Sunset on the Zambezi River

I have a friend who just found out her mom has cancer…again.  She fought breast cancer years ago and she just found out that its back.  I’m sure her mom has “insurance”.  So what?  Does health insurance, life insurance, annuities, trusts, or savings really help her situation much? She still has cancer.  And it hurts.  Really bad.

So what if you just said- the heck with it!  Live for the day and worry about the problems later.  Irresponsible would be the typical response- right?

I remember hustling downtown to an inner city friend’s house to make a meeting after work.  I was late.  Crazy busy day.  Continual chaos, giant problems and burning wreckage- the day of the construction manager!   Driving into the neighborhood, I immediately see life.  Men relaxing playing checkers on the porch laughing and enjoying the day.  I see a woman talking with her neighbor smiling and enjoying the company.  Kids playing outside with their siblings.  These are people we would say are “in need”.  So who is really the smart one here?  The folks in the neighborhood have little “safety”, however, many live with less stress, less clutter with stuff, and have the opportunity to enjoy a simpler life.

So where are you?  Are you on the porch enjoying the beautiful day or are your running 100 miles per hour trying to save, store and protect?  Are you filling up barns or living life to the full?

Here are a few ways to regain some REAL safety in your life:

Quit your job!  I read recently that the worst thing that you can do for your health is to sit at a desk all day long.  Maybe its time to abandon the big career dream that may be slowly killing you?  Go back to something that makes less money that you enjoy and keeps you more active.

Sell your house!  How much does a four bedroom house weigh?  I think most breadwinners would be able to tell you.  Trying to provide the “dream” is a tremendous thing to carry.  Maybe its time to downsize to something more manageable?

Dump the assets!  Put your money into building the next generation.  Start a trust, pour into young people, give until it hurts.  With wealth comes responsibility and headaches.

Don’t store up stuff!  We are brainwashed consumers who are obsessed with buying things on sale.  We eat way too much.  Food gets old and spoils.  Buy fresh food as you need it and eat healthy.  Buy organic when you can and use the higher food cost as portion control.  Live simply and stay away from the mall.

The pursuit of wealth and safety can cost you your life.  REAL life.  It’s not worth it.  Take care of your body.  Don’t dwell on the accumulation of stuff and live a life free of clutter.  Gather things that matter- friends and family.  Dump the junk that holds you back.  We start with nothing and leave with nothing.  Store up YOUR treasure in heaven!

Do you have strategies to simplify and streamline your life to give you real safety?  Do you think I’m crazy?  Click below on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!

Copyright © 2013. Leading by Serving- Leadership is for Everyone!. All rights reserved.
Advertisements

Do as I say- Not as I do!

I think we’ve all heard this expression.  Generally used to back peddle from a sticky situation with your children.  My question is:  Does it really work?

 CR- bromiliads

You can’t avoid learning from what you see.  Extreme example- The most amazing accomplishments that occur in life happens in the first two years .  In this very short period of time you learn the structure of life, “the lay of the land”, purely through observation.  You learn to laugh, cry, sleep, walk, touch, talk, right, wrong, hot, cold, more, less, fun, good, bad, etc.  This is primarily learned through minimal use of language.  Much of the learning is subtle and accomplished without realizing that you are learning.

As I have watched my children grow I can see some of my characteristics in them.  These include work ethic, education, and excellence.  These are things learned through observation.  They watched me work on the house in the yard and at work.  I made them participate in my work.  They learned what it meant to work hard.  They watched me go to night school to complete my degree.  They watched the way I would reject poor quality work.  These were taught not by lecture or instruction- they observed how it was important to me and it became important to them.

How do we teach the next generation of leaders?  Model the behavior that you seek.  Walk the walk and forget the talk.

Yes- this is a tall order.  We all slip sometimes.  We have things we struggle with.   Things that you really don’t want them to learn.  Just remember- they are watching you.  You don’t get a break on this one.  Go ahead and do the lectures and the instruction, but don’t forget the most powerful teaching tool.

Simply model the person that you want them to be.

What are some practical ways to model to lead?  What happens when you mess up?  Press comments and tell me what you think!

 

Copyright © 2013. Leading by Serving- Leadership is for Everyone!. All rights reserved.

Do The Work!

Years back, Kathy and I visited my Grandfather when he was sick in the hospital and his health was failing.  During this visit, my Grandfather was of good energy and he shared a quick snapshot of his life and some of his best life lessons.  One thing that he shared was that he believed that you really only have until a child is eight years old to mold them and teach them to behave and be a good and successful citizen.  After they reach eight years old, he believed, you now have a small person who has essentially figured out the world and changing them is very difficult.  Kathy and I were young when this conversation took place and we were in the process of raising our kids.  I am thankful for the advice.  While we were young, we took child raising very seriously.  We disciplined when it was necessary and taught our children to behave, get along with others and excel in their work.  We were not perfect but worked hard at it.  It’s not easy and you can get lazy sometimes.  But with children, you have to do the work!

Morning 004

I have often said that it would be great if they gave you an Owner’s Manual when you leave the hospital.  But instead you are handed this amazing miracle of life all wrapped up in a blanket and off you go!  You may have some babysitting experience and you will certainly get lots of advice from your family on what you’re “supposed to do”.  And… you are likely equipped with the life baggage of knowing what not to do.  And you are way young and just trying to process everything and figure it all out.

You absolutely want the best for your kids.  That is a given.  So what does that look like in the inexperienced parent’s mind?

  1. Provide For Your Family:  I work really hard to give my children the things that they need.  I spend much of my time on my career and work really hard to give them financial security.  Is that what they need or do they need you to spend more time with them?  Is money the best thing you can give your child?
  2. Be Their Friend:  I want to spend every minute that I can with my child and I keep them connected at my side at all times.  Is this providing an environment where you are teaching, leading and parenting or are they really just filling a need that you have?  Have you noticed serious separation anxiety when you leave your child with someone else?
  3. Wrestling Buddy:  I want my boy to be a man and be good at sports so I love to wrestle with him.  Is this really something he needs or is it something you need?  Are you raising up a little bully by getting him “toughened up”?
  4. No Daycare For Me:  I don’t want my child to be watched by anyone else but me.  I don’t trust others- I have had bad experiences in the past.  Is this really a good thing?  Are there social skills that your child may be missing by isolating them from other kids?  Do they know how to interact with other kids?  Can they share toys and play with other kids?
  5. He’s A Good Kid:  My child is a good kid so it’s OK to give him what he want.  If he wants chicken nuggets every night of the week that’s OK as long as he is being quiet and not misbehaving.  So who is eventually going to tell them no?  Who is going to erect boundaries?  Who is the boss?  Too tired is not an excuse here.
  6. We Are Always On The Move:  My kids love visiting others and being up late.  They are used to eating on the run.  They love the adventure!  Really, kids like structure.  They need a schedule.  They want to know the rules and what is expected.  They need sleep.  They need to be able to process what’s going on.  They need calm and normal.
  7. I Never Spank My Child:  My kids don’t need punishment.  They are different than the other kids.  Are they learning that there are consequences for their actions?  Although you may be against spanking, are you teaching your children that bad behavior can lead to big trouble in later years?

Raising children is hard.  It is a full time job.  You must fight the urge to get lazy.  Children are like clay when they are young.  Yes, I believe they are born with unique characteristics, but kids need leadership, structure, direction and boundaries.  They do not do well in chaos.  They need to figure out what the world is all about and chaos does not provide the framework for growth and understanding.

Have you ever considered what a child learns in the first two years?  They are like little sponges.  So what are they learning?  Are they learning that there is order to the world?   Are they learning about authority?  Are they learning about consequences?  Are they learning how to interact with other kids?

I know this.  Good parenting does not come easy.  When done correctly, it will be the most fulfilling project you will ever undertake.  It’s a long and tiring process.  But just remember- you have to do the work!

So what do you think?  Do you have any good parenting advice?  Please press comments and tell us your story!  

Copyright © 2013. Leading by Serving- Leadership is for Everyone!. All rights reserved.

Fight The Urge!

I was invited to join a group of friends, just men, for a cookout tomorrow.  I have decided to go.  This sounds like an easy decision on the surface.  But really it’s not that easy.

My inclination would be to stay home and relax.  See, I’ve had a difficult few weeks at work.  Traveling, problem solving, frustrations.  It’s been a real basket full of junk.  I have plenty of really good excuses to skip out on this one.

But I know that I really need to be there.  Not because they need me to be there.  There will be plenty of guys that will attend.  No, the reason I need to be there is me.

My flesh is telling me that I deserve to stay home and relax.  But I know that I need to stay in community.  I need to stay connected.  I need to fight the urge to isolate.

Men are generally experts at isolation and coming up with excuses to be alone.  But this is unhealthy and dangerous.  The enemy loves a man in isolation.  He knows he’s got us right where he wants us.  A wise lady told me “Oh that devil, he’s been around for a long time.  He’s got a big bag of tricks.  He’s knows exactly what works on you.” I think we forget that fact.  We think we will be fine by ourselves.  Independent.  Self-reliant.  American individualism.

So off I will go.  I know I will enjoy the company.  I know that I will be glad that I went.  It will be good for me.  Better than sitting on the couch with a book which would be my first choice.

Sometimes you need to fight the urge.  The urge telling you that you deserve something.  The urge that tells you that you come first.  The urge that tells you that you it’s ok to be alone.

Deep down we know what we need.  What is pure.  What is good.  What will build up.

Relationships take work so fight the urge to isolate.  Reach out and connect.  Someone has to make the effort.  Why not you?

Do you struggle some times staying connected?  Click on comments and tell me what you think!

Warm Bread: Irresistable!

Back in the early 90s,  Kathy and I particularily enjoyed a restaurant that had an appetizer specialty called teacup bread.  The bread would arrive warm and still nested inside of a teacup.  This was a really special treat.  The bread was light and soft and had a sweet flavor.  You really could eat this bread for dessert.  We loved the food at this place, but really, the bread always brought us back.  We would get several servings.  Warm, sweet bread.  I really want some right now!

Slices of French Bread

Warm bread is a great way to invite guests into your restaurant.  The smell, the taste- every sense gets bathed with great bread offered as an appetizer.  I remember several restaurant experiences where the most memorable part of the meal was the bread.  Warm and inviting.  Something really special that leaves a lasting memory.

I have also had the pleasure to meet people that I would say have the characteristics of warm bread.  Upon meeting them you are immediately enveloped in warmth.  You can feel the love ooze from them.  Like the bread, they leave a lasting memory.  You can’t help but think about them.  They are like the teacup bread- you want to go back for more.

What makes a person that you meet like warm bread?  What makes them irresistible?  Here are a few observations:

Focus:  They are completely focusing on you.  They look you straight in the eye as you begin to talk to them.  You are the only person in their world.  They have the skill to shut off everything else.

Smile:  They start with a smile and have a way to continue to smile throughout the conversation.  The smile is a powerful tool.  A smile disarms.  A smile invites you in.  A smile tells you that they are enjoying your company.

Genuine:  They are genuine in every way.  They want to know about you.  They are humble and authentic.  There is no agenda.  The focus is personal.

Listen:  They are skilled listeners.  The questions are based on getting to know you.  They do not lead you in a particular direction for their benefit.  They allow you to tell your story and let you enjoy doing it.

Connect:  They are skilled at connecting the wires between you and them.  They will seek out common characteristics and interests.  You will share ideas, struggles and experiences.  You will feel like you have known them for years.

Easy:  They have a way to navigate through a conversation that makes it fun and enjoyable.  No awkward quiet moments.  No challenges.  You will have the opportunity to share a little or a lot- your choice.  Time flies by as you talk and connect.

Have you been there before?  Can you think of someone you have met who is unusually warm and engaging?

OK- confession time.  I am not that person.  I would characterize myself as crusty rye bread- not tea cup bread!  I struggle with focus.  I tend to be serious, so I typically have to remember to smile.  I tend to talk only when I need something.  I am content to sit in silence.  This is my nature, however, I am aware of it now.  I have to make an effort to be the warm bread.  It doesn’t come natural to me, but I am learning and I recognize the power that warm bread has.  My typical nature is selfish and I know it.  However, I am getting better- much better!

We often overlook the effect that we have on others.  A smile goes a long way and it is such a simple gesture.  Are you a warm bread person? Do you focus on others instead of trying to get out your story?  Are there areas that you can work on as you interact with others to make yourself inviting?  Like the tea cup bread, once you master the skills of warm bread you will bring them back over and over again- a warm and sweet relationship!

Do you know someone with these skills?  Share your story by clicking on comment below!