Want to listen in on a conversation with people who built a remarkable company and changed a city?
Kate and Sandy Dodge (The NP Dodge Company) are two of the most amazing people with whom I have ever conversed.
The above will link you directly with the audio, but it is also available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, etc.
Sandy is a quiet and thoughtful man so he can be a little tough to hear at times, but the little bit of extra attention required is worth it to glean his wisdom. Kate is brilliant and has a voice that resonates so she is pretty easy to hear.
Together they offer an extraordinary amount of virtual mentoring to anyone interested in growing as a leader…and quite frankly, as a human.
Give this podcast a listen and check out the rest of the season.
As always, please subscribe to the blog and/or connect on Facebook.
No, I am not talking about seeing Jesus’ face in the cracks of the concrete or the tracks of the snow blower like the people who see his face in their food.
I saw God in my driveway yesterday, because a man was Jesus to me. A neighbor sacrificed his time and energy for me in snowblowing my driveway out of the kindness of his heart.
God’s love was on display through God’s creation. A free gift was given to me that I did not earn and am not asked to repay…although I plan to buy him a 12 pack.
I could certainly write about being Jesus to those around us and probably will at some point, but for now I think it is best to start at seeing God and helping others see God.
I think there are four basic steps. We need to:
Open Our Eyes To The World Around Us
If you are like me you spend plenty of time looking at a device of some sort. That is fine, but we all need to remember that what you see on there is not hard and fast reality. Too much device time creates an individualistic mindset…it has the potential to create a world view that says to us “this world is curated just for you” and embellishes the importance of what gets us excited/worked up.
We need to break out of that for the good of ourselves and those we love.
We need to see the people all around us. The world is in better shape than Twitter might suggest. Good people made in the image of God are all around you.
Remember That God Created People In God’s Image
When we remember this fact we are more likely to appreciate the people around us for what they are vs. what clickbait wants us to see.
Of course, our human resemblance to God’s image is most often the equivalent of a disfigured Picasso impressionist portrait…but God created us and remembering this is crucial.
Enter Each Day Looking For Blessings
Start each day expecting to see God in your fellow humans.
If we expect to see pain, suffering, and evil…we will struggle to see good. Your worldview drives your perceptions. Choose a positive worldview that reflects that God created and you will see the beauty in God’s creations…his people.
Use confirmation bias to your advantage and choose to see good.
Humans love stories! Tell your family members, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances about the good you see in the world. You will shape their worldview so that they can see God too.
The more we notice good in the world the less we will dwell on the negatives constantly fed to us via our devices/social media.
Train your brain to see good and help those you care about to do the same.
They will thank you for it!
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How do you get a street named after you when you weren’t a city “father”, a major philanthropist, a company founder, a celebrity, or the person who once lived on the developed land?
Put another way, how does an “ordinary” man get a street named after him (and another street named after his grandson)?
I am becoming obsessed with the stories of people who aren’t famous but make a significant impact on people and communities. Fortunately for me, I grew up with an uncle who was just such an “ordinary” man.
This is a story of Denny Darnold, a not-so-ordinary man, and four lessons we can learn from the way he lived his remarkable life.
Until a couple years back when you Googled “Darnold”, you didn’t get many results…the Darnolds aren’t exactly the Rockefellers or Kardashians (thank God). Of course, distant cousin Sam recently elevated our Google prominence and taught people how to pronounce our name.
We Darnolds aren’t generally headline seekers, we are more folks who sit on the end of docks with our grandchildren. Thanks to Uncle Denny (and of course my Father), I understand the beauty and power in a humble strength approach to living though their example.
Lessons on Living From Denny Darnold
1. Live With Great Integrity
While eulogizing my Uncle the Mayor of Hudson Wisconsin listed Denny’s many accomplishment and awards (see a nice story about Denny’s accomplishments here). However he also emphasized one word, integrity. I think he said it ten times. And for good reason…integrity, and care for family, were the values most enacted in Denny’s life.
The Mayor told a story about a man who interacted with Denny on a regular basis professionally. That man told the Mayor upon my Uncle’s recent retirement that he was happy Denny was retiring because he could now buy Denny a beer.
He was a city planner and he wouldn’t allow vendors, contractors, etc to even buy him a beer because he feared it would mar his reputation for integrity!!!
The Mayor also told a story about the only time he saw my Uncle lose his temper. You guessed it, someone challenged Denny’s integrity.
Denny understood that in his role, one of public service, he must never be seen as beholden to anyone but the citizens. He knew that if his loyalty to the people was clear he could be effective for them and that he and his family would never be embarrassed by some negative story that would come to light.
“A Man of Integrity”
I believe we are all called to live with great integrity. Claim the right values and align your actions with those claimed values!
2. Value Function Over Form
I drive a Honda Accord because of my uncles (Tom factored in here as well) and I probably will until Honda messes up their value proposition.
In my opinion, the only reason to own something is because it meets a need (broadly defined). If an attribute of a thing doesn’t cause it to better meet a need, why pay for it. The logo doesn’t add tangible value…only symbolic value. Some needs are met by symbolic value…not very many of mine.
Denny modeled this for me at an early age.
Buy Function Not Form
I remember when Denny first saw me pull up in my Accord. He was proud! At the time I found this strange. Now I believe he saw this as a sign that I had grown into a man who valued the important things. In his view (and mine), Honda Accords have the features you need and they function efficiently…they just run. The things that are important in a conveyance for an office worker.
Honda has become the symbol for me – contradiction intended – of valuing function over form.
3. Have and Share Personal Passions
Denny was a man of many passions.
Denny was a childhood athletic prodigy in a tiny town in Southwest Iowa. He loved the communal nature of sports. He played golf almost literally until the day he died. Many golf buddies came to his funeral and were some of the most sorrow filled non-family members in attendance.
He used his passions as means to build relationships. He was on the shy side so I believe that having connections to people through common interests was especially important to him.
Denny and I both went to Iowa State and he loved to follow Creighton basketball as well. He and I connected through these common interests. But more importantly, we connected early in my life through golf. This is odd because I don’t think we played more than a few rounds together in my entire life. I only remember one.
We connected because he brought me along as a caddy. I went to visit him for about a week most every summer and he would take me along to some tournament. I did nothing but hurt his chances of winning. I know for a fact that he was distracted because of me during a match play final (match play is where two players are going head to head). However, he never got angry with me and had me caddy for him again the next year and the next.
I loved this in real time and in hindsight this was amazing! I learned so much about how to relate to people at these tournaments and I bonded with my Uncle.
I wasn’t the only one who experienced this.
Denny bonded with his in-laws by becoming a huge Packers fan when he moved to Wisconsin.
Denny bonded with his father in-law through fishing.
And most importantly, he bonded with his children through their interests. He coached their youth sports and shared his love of art most especially with his son.
Don’t be selfish about your passions. Use the energy they provide to build relationships and influence others.
4. Be a Person of Few Words
Meaning > Multitude
I am still trying to live this lesson.
My Uncle lived with a humble strength that allowed him to make an huge difference in the world.
The people of Hudson valued the way he lived his life as much or more than the zoning decisions he recommended.
I believe humble strength is how an “ordinary” man gets a street named after him whether it be literal or metaphorical.
I think we all need to be mentored by these “ordinary” people through their stories. I aim to tell these stories in a way that helps others grow. I wrote about my Grandfather in “My First Minimalist Management Mentor” and I am proud and humbled to pay tribute to my Uncle Denny in this post. He was a remarkable man!
He is one of the many additional people I should have discussed in my TedX talk if it weren’t for that pesky time limitation.
Who are your “ordinary people” and what life lessons can you learn from them?
With all do respect to my pastor at Papio Creek Church and my father who are both wonderful teachers, the message in the video above is probably my favorite “sermon” ever.
In my humble opinion, this discussion of the life in Christ is dead on. Please give it a watch (check out the hilarious fake political ads toward the end).
Key themes that really hit home for me:
Harmony > Disharmony
Inclusion > Exclusion
Hospitality > Rivalry
Jesus Followership > Superficiality
Jesus Followership > Politics
Jesus > Than How You Vote
Jesus > Fitting In
Jesus had time for all people, so should we.
Don’t waste time worshiping false gods.
Jesus wants you to live a meaningful life in Him!!!
Give over your “work” to God!
You were made for more!
Please give this video a watch.
2nd, A Good Friend
My family met up with my friend Alan and his family at church. They then came out in the bitter cold to watch my son play soccer…they brought me coffee…good friends indeed.
We were chatting on the sideline during the match and he mentioned to me that I was an important character in the story of his faith journey. He was wrestling with faith questions in college and we had some amazing talks about faith in Jesus in our dorm rooms.
Our conversation reminded me that my “work”, in the most broad sense, is to point toward Jesus.
Jesus will do far more to help people live more purposeful lives than I ever will.
There are points in every person’s journey where they get to decide who to point toward, I am going to do my best to point toward Jesus.
How about you?
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I love it because it is rapid fire. Seven speakers, seven minutes each, seven unique leadership focused subjects.
I thought it would be helpful to share some of my take aways from this powerful evening. My take aways are not specifically attributable to any one speaker, they are themes that emerged across speakers.
1. Context Matters
A theme that emerged across nearly every speaker was that context matters. First, you as a leader need to find or create a context for yourself where you can utilize your strengths…you need to find fit. If not, finding success will be especially difficult. It is already difficult enough to lead (a bonus theme/take away).
Second, you need to create a context for your people where they can find success. They need to understand what winning means for your organization (e.g. business, not-for-profit, family, team) and need to know how to help the organization win.
2. How You Communicate Matters
It appears to me that many people believe that simply sharing information equals communicating well…not so.
You need to communicate for effect. What is the outcome you desire from your communication? What do you want people to take away? What is the headline you would want to read in the morning regarding your situation?
You need to communicate with the proper tone. Sometimes you need to be dead serious, sometimes humor is appropriate. However, when you use humor you must be thoughtful about it. What is the goal of the humor? Will humor help or harm?
3. Authenticity Matters
Be authentic and allow your people to do the same.
“Covering” at work is very harmful to self and to employees! The act of covering up your true self is exhausting and will lead to under performance and burnout. You need to hire great people and let them bring their whole self to work. You as a leader need to do the same. If not, you will suffer and eventually your people will see through the act.
4. A Learning Orientation Matters
Learning occurs in many ways, the key is that you strive to learn.
You learn through research. You dig until you understand the truth of the matter and the root cause. In doing so you can fix the true problem and avoid reoccurrence.
You learn through experience. Be ambitious, take risks, don’t be afraid to try new things so you can learn and grow.
You learn by seeking and listening to feedback. You need to utilize your strengths, but you also need to understand your areas for future growth. What news tools do you need to acquire?
5. Connections Matter
Leaders need to see and create connections.
You need to understand how the work gets done through your people. Who works with whom to create value. You need to help those folks set aside their self interests so that your organization can flourish.
You also need to understand who should be connected in order to create or seize new opportunity. Understand the people in your world so you can introduce those who will work well together.
6. Nurturing Talent Matters
Great leaders nurture talent.
You need to understand how to best pour into your people. You need to help them develop skills that will benefit the organization, but you also need to enable people to develop and live out their passions (family, community, hobbies) beyond your organization.
That said, you must also fill your own cup. What do you need to grow? What interest do you need to pursue? Which loved one do you need to spend time with? Your cup must remain full in order to be able to pour into other’s cups.
7. Community Matters Can Be Organizational Matters
You need not sacrifice organizational outcomes to help the community. Find the intersection of interests. How can you meet an organizational goal while also meeting a community need?
Understanding the needs of those around you is the key. When you understand people’s true needs you will know how to effectively help and can determine how to align organizational interests.
In the end, by connecting community and organization both those you lead and the community will benefit.
It was a fantastic event and I hope this post conveys a bit of the wisdom that was shared. Make sure to check it out in person next year!
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If you want to understand Minimalist Management living and leading, this blog, and to a large degree…me… give this a quick watch. I hope it is helpful to you. The key themes are purpose, mentorship, self-reflection, faith, gratitude, wisdom, leadership and of course minimalism. I am honored to have shared the TEDx stage with so many amazing people. Check out tedxcreightonu.com!
Don’t pretend you have it all together. Others will learn from your humanity. Be open to letting others learn from your weaknesses. Let people learn along with you.
People who know Father well, myself included, were astonished and blessed by his openness in this video. We grew.
This is what elevated him to hero status for me. I have many heroes and he is now among the people who have shown me God in a way that sets them apart.
Recognize God’s Presence In Daily Life
See God in all things…and all people. Treat all things and people as God’s creations. When you live this way you can’t help but strive to love other people for who they are and you can’t help but strive to treat God’s earth and its creatures with respect.
You catch a glimpse in this video, but I, and thousands of others, are blessed to see him live this out daily.
Live Like You Won’t Die, But Knowing You Will
Live life in love for one another and don’t worry about the afterlife. Love this life and live it to its fullest in service to God. Do this by finding your purpose and striving to live it out.
But remember, while service to God in this life is how we are called to live…it is only the beginning. The fullness of the gospel is living well on earth and remembering our eternity in Christ.
Thank you God for letting me live for a while around Father Hauser. I know you will enjoy your time with him when he arrives home.
It hurts bad when you let yourself down! Especially when it affects people you value.
I was in a meeting with organizational leaders…a common situation. It seemed like it went fine. I knew that I had misspoken a couple times…I wasn’t flawless by any means. I read enough body language to know that I had missed the mark on one particular comment, but I was assured that it wasn’t a big deal and that everything had gone well.
Through informal back channels I learned that my mistakes were bigger than I perceived. To most people the mistakes were innocuous, but they were mistakes and they were MY mistakes. A few people were appropriately bothered.
Reflection helped me understand what went wrong, who was harmed, and why.
I apologized for my mistakes to the people affected, now it’s time learn and grow.
I didn’t adequately prep. I was too casual. Some people like that I am casual, with preparation I believe I can maintain that feel while making sure that my word choice and anecdotes/examples are more appropriate.
Only through careful preparation can we uncover the unconscious biases that might emerge in our language. While I believe certain things, from time to time I contradict those beliefs through the examples and words I choose. I can avoid these missteps through preparation.
I generally know when these situations are coming. I need to make sure I carve out adequate preparation time. I need to make sure I give my thoughts/plans enough time to bake so that I can refine them…fully bake them. I find that when I do this I realize things that I have missed. The cake gets better to stick with that analogy.
We all need to be willing to take feedback/criticism, reflect, learn, and grow.
None of us are above this if we want to maximize our potential and fulfill our purpose.
I am grateful for this lesson and I pray that I will be better in the future.
The foundation of both growth and leadership is self-awareness…not coincidentally. I am now more self-aware and am better prepared to pursue my purpose moving forward.