An acquaintance of mine passed away recently and his community subsequently celebrated his life. I cannot help but reflect on the celebration service and his life.
I wrestled with sharing in this case because I don’t want anyone invading the family’s privacy, but I think we can all learn from this man’s example. Those in the community will know who I am writing about, but I won’t identify.
This man was referred to as the type of person everyone wants to know…a rare person indeed. Beautiful and beneficial themes surfaced that point toward why he will (and should) be remembered so fondly.
Don’t wait to:
He was a role model for this…
In remembering our mortality we are reminded to embrace each day.
Be in community
We all engage in activities with people, but are we truly in community?
Are we kind to everyone? Are we getting to know the people around us? Are we allowing others to know us? Are we role modeling, teaching, and learning? Are we waiting for those we have beaten at the finish line to celebrate the race and congratulating those who beat us to the line? Are we helping others improve even when it might mean they could surpass us in the future? Are we helping up those who have fallen?
Put simply, are we for and with those around us?
Don’t judge people based on their worst moment(s)
We all make mistakes…some are quite harmful to others, sometimes even to people we love. We must not judge people based on their worst moments. Jesus doesn’t. He sees us as people he loves and died for…
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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.
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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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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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If you want to learn more about my journey and philosophy please watch my Tedx talk.
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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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I find that back to school season is a great time to reflect. Mostly because I can’t think until my kids are back in school. Heading into this particular summer break I felt particularly fried. I was busy all summer, but didn’t feel productive. Maybe you can relate.
When the kids headed back to school I reflected on the summer. I tried to make sense of my lack of measurable output. I barely wrote at all. I kept the balls in the air at work, but didn’t really score many goals.
I truly came to terms with the fact that my progress stalled. I bet you have felt this way a time or two.
I realized I never really took a summer break this year. We took some long weekends that were sandwiched between work travel, the daily grind, and youth sports, but I never really took the time I needed to relax, refresh, recharge, and refocus.
That was a big mistake!
I came to realize that the sprint I made in the spring left me empty in many ways. I was submitting manuscripts, recording a podcast, trying serve my team, teaching a new course, and delivering a TEDx talk. In many ways last spring culminated in a mountain top moment for me. But we all know the problem with being on a mountain top…
My metaphorical finals week left me drained despite earning good grades.
For those of us who are parents, teachers, coaches, etc we can all see this in the children and young adults around us. They lose focus, their tempers get shorter, they make more mistakes…just like all of us when we run out of juice. If you can’t relate, congratulations, you are super human.
I needed a summer vacation to relax, refresh, recharge, and refocus.
At the beginning of any good summer vacation – whether it is a week, a month, or the whole summer – you just need to relax. Kids need to swim, run through sprinklers, play games, watch movies, and eat ice cream with their friends.
I personally need some serious kayak time, preferably with fishing involved. I need a few good camp fires with my wife and friends…and of course a few beverages help the cause.
What do you need to relax?
Unless you give yourself some time to decompress you won’t release the pressure that has built up. This will eventually lead to an explosion!
However, summer break cannot just be about decompressing if we are going to use it as a time of growth and refreshment. We can’t live on ice cream alone…some of you might debate me on this point.
As we begin to release pressure we need to take time to strengthen ourselves through nutrition and exercise in order to thrive in our next. Many of us, myself included, can get into some bad eating habits when we are stretched too thin. Don’t even get me started on my exercise routine when I am in the worst phases of the grind.
Kids eat and exercise naturally as long as we provide a conducive environment. The key for them and us is the conducive environment.
Breaks allow us the opportunity to focus on what we need to strengthen our bodies and to reclaim healthy habits.
What habit do you need to reclaim/start to strengthen your body? What needs to change in your environment to keep your body strong?
Physical nourishment isn’t all we need refresh, recharge, and refocus.
At the end of my last sprint my mind was a pile of goo suited for little more than Candy Crush and running errands…
Fortunately breaks allow us time to feed our minds what they need to grow. Our brains are especially receptive when not cluttered with the day to day.
What do you need to learn? Do you need inspiration? Do you need to dream?
Books, documentaries, the theatre, lectures, podcasts, and conversations with thought partners can all provide what we need. We must use our breaks to learn and grow as thinkers and dreamers.
I find that campfires are catalysts for great conversations.
As a Jesus follower I also need breaks to help me get back in touch with my creator and God’s creation. I need time to reconnect with Jesus and to reflect on what he wants for my life.
I often neglect prayer, study, and reflection when I get busy. Although busyness is not an excuse, once I am out of the habit I need time to get refocused. Without reconnecting, refreshing, and refocusing spiritually I don’t feel well directed to move forward.
What do you need to do to reconnect and refresh your soul?
We all need breaks to relax, refresh, recharge, and refocus, but then we need to return.
Refueling is a waste if you aren’t going to burn that fuel. By the end of summer I can always tell that it is time for my kids to go back to school. They are stir crazy, bouncing off the walls, focusing their energy poorly…it is time for them to get back to work.
The same is true for us. I believe we are all called to work while on this earth. We should refresh, recharge, and refocus with the aim of returning to serve our people.
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!
Stuff … stuff … and more stuff … I am amazed at how much stuff comes through my front door.
Junk mail, papers, tchotchkes, candies, toys … the clutter keeps piling up. And this stockpiling of stuff doesn’t come only in the physical form – there’s also the mental stuff. The emails, the priorities, the inner dialogue, the to-do lists… this type of mental clutter can be just as taxing as the physical.
That’s why, earlier this year, I set a goal to get rid of the mental and physical clutter that prevented me from achieving the goals I had set for myself — the clutter that had been staring me in the eyes for years, daring me to go toe-to-toe with it.
While this goal was certainly nothing new to me, the time and intention I was willing to invest in it was.
You see, I seem to go through a cycle of decluttering every few months or so, only to find myself back in the very same place I started. The cycle goes something like this …
Stage 1: The Overzealous Purge
Nothing is safe or sacred at this point! I’m determined to get rid of all the items I haven’t touched in months and to clear my agenda of any activity that doesn’t help me achieve my goals.
Stage 2: The Rational Purge
Ok… let’s be reasonable. I can’t be irresponsible by getting rid of things that would cost money to replace. I bet I’ll use these in the future, or even better… maybe I’ll save them for a garage sale.
Stage 3: There’s No Time to Purge
Sigh! I’ve run completely out of time, and now all my items and thoughts are scattered. I’ll quickly put them back in their place and get rid of them next weekend.
So, this year … I was (and still am) in the process of doing this differently. How?
Enlisting the help of my husband and children.
Typically, my decluttering activities are a solo sport. But this time, I thought it was important for us to participate in it together. Because we all have different reasons for keeping particular items or doing particular activities, I wanted to ensure I wasn’t placing judgment on things they valued.
Now… some of you might be thinking, “How in the world does your whole family have time to declutter life together? We can hardly find time to eat together.” Well, we had to get creative.
While I had increased my time commitment to this activity, not everyone in the house had that same luxury. So, I made sure to actively involve them when I could, and I set key items and questions aside for them to review when they had the time.
Being more intentional about ‘how I decided’ to get rid of stuff.
I was never good at getting rid of items I haven’t used in a year; after all, we don’t always keep possessions because of their practical use. We keep them for deeper reasons, as well. So, rather than repeating the same old thought process, I decided to apply the five purposeful questions shared in a previous Minimalist Manager article.
I asked myself …
Does this bring me joy?
Does this help me live out my values?
Does this help me employ my strengths or mitigate my weaknesses?
Does this help me fulfill my purpose?
Does this help me execute my strategy?
Asking these questions made the world of difference! Especially when it came to items that I saw as ‘junk’, but my husband saw as ‘joy’ (or vice versa). Or activities that some thought were a ‘waste of time’ and others thought were ‘helping them employ their strengths.’
By understanding each other’s perspectives, we stopped complaining about the things ‘we needed to get rid of, but never did’. Instead, we saw their value for what it was… meaningful in its own way.
Prioritizing the most important and realistic areas to declutter.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of taking on too much at once (a common theme you’ll notice in future posts). Because of this massive undertaking, I tend to move the ball slightly forward on a lot of things rather than fully forward on a few.
Having recognized and acknowledged this personal tendency, I decided to prioritize the most important areas of my life that I needed to declutter. I achieved this by noting the way particular rooms, activities, surroundings and people made me feel.
Then I asked myself … “can you realistically improve this?” If the answer was ‘yes’, it made the list. If the answer was ‘no’, I moved it down the priority list until something changes.
I also used the five questions above to guide which activities were most important. While I might want to clean out my fridge, clearing out junk in my office is more likely to impact the success of my goals.
Where are you?
We are all on separate paths to decluttering our lives. Whether it is the physical junk that has been sitting in the corner of our room, mental clutter that blocks our creative thoughts, or activities that keep us from what is most important, we all have different ‘stuff’ we need to tackle.
Whatever ‘stuff’ is holding you back from fulfilling your personal goals, I encourage you to think about what you can declutter to get yourself back on track.