Learning Lessons

All this back to school talk has me thinking about lessons we learn in life.  As we’re wrapping up this month’s discussions and thoughts on leadership, I thought we’d discuss a few of the lessons life, and leadership, teaches us.

Leaders practice what they preach. The leaders who haven’t been in the trenches are few and far between.  You could look back at leaders like Mother Teresa, the Wright brothers, President Roosevelt or Sam Walton and see that they all did hard work along with ushering in a new perspective on life.  Observing leaders can help us all get our lives in shape and start taking our own advice.  I know when I’m around good, passionate leaders I’m inspired to go home and work on some dreams I have.

Leaders learn how and when to say goodbye.  Saying goodbye is one of the most difficult things in life, yet, as Dickens says, life is full of meetings and partings.  Sometimes you don’t get a chance to say goodbye to someone, other times you finally realize you should have said goodbye long ago.  That’s one of the lessons I learned a few years ago and still means a great deal to me.  I had been thinking I should leave one of the jobs I was working because I didn’t agree with or respect the boss, but I decided to hang in there and ended up leaving several months later on not the best terms.

Finally, love is hard.  No matter who you are, love is the best and hardest thing.  But everything in life becomes richer when you add love.  Adding love is like whisking the clouds away after weeks of rain, or adding seasonings to meat or veggies.  There’s just something about love that has the power to transform life, and some of the greatest lessons are learned from experiences with love.  Even better, love is one of those lessons you never quite finish learning; it’s always got something new to teach you.

What about you?  What have you been learning about life and leadership lately?

Strength for Leaders

This month we’ve been talking about leadership, because we’re at a point in time in our world that we need good leaders.  We can all work on ourselves and become better leaders, and we can encourage those in leadership positions to get more training, lead right and learn from mistakes. But there’s another aspect of leadership that I was reminded of this morning as I checked my email: leaders need help too.  Psalm 16:8 says:

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Today no one is invincible, nor should they be.  It would give them an unfair advantage, and something would definitely go wrong if a human were invincible.  Until Jesus returns it’s important that we all accept our weaknesses and learn how to turn to others for help.  This verse from Psalms is filled with hope and peace because David, the writer of the psalm, promises to keep his eyes on God because he knows that God will help him stay on the right path.

Was David perfect? No, of course David made some mistakes and did some things wrong, but focusing on God meant that David could learn how to make decisions that honor God and will be healthy for himself and those in his life.

For you and I, this verse means that the tough times will come, but if we look to God for help, He will be there and support us.  What help do you need from God today?  Just ask Him, He’s ready to listen.

What’s Your Dream?

On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in Washington DC about a dream he had for the world.  His dream awoke the dream that was buried deeply in others and reminded them what it was like to feel again.  Each time I hear the words “I have a dream…” I’m reminded of my own dreams and inspired to awaken dreams in others.

So today I thought I’d ask you what your dream is, and is it alive in your life?

Do you have a dream to create a hot coffee mug, cure for cancer, new internet technology, write a best selling book, transform businesses, run a coffee shop, empower people who have been abused or just share a message of hope?

Once you’ve got the dream, the only thing you can do to keep your dream from killing you is try to make it come to life.  The thing with dreams like Martin Luther King Jr. had are that they have to be shared and fulfilled, or else they’ll just eat away at you.

Maybe you’ve got a big dream like that.  I know I do.  Part of that dream is being here with you every week.  Often, that dream will reveal to you what your life purpose is, or at least give you a good enough glimpse that you can figure it out from there.

Not only are big dreams of our own important, it’s also important to help others realize their dreams.  Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t march on Washington alone or have a dream about freedom for just himself. No, he had a dream that called over 200,000 people to Washington DC, and countless other people around the country were involved.

So what about you?  Are you living your dream?  Are you helping others fulfill their dreams?

Mother Teresa’s Mission

Today we’re celebrating two August birthdays, those of Julia Child and Mother Teresa.  These two women have made an impact on our world in ways we’ll always be grateful for and learning from.  Mother Teresa, as we’ll talk about here, made her impact in life through her words and actions towards other people.

One of Mother Teresa’s greatest gifts was her ability to love others unconditionally.  This ability to love allowed her to see past people’s faults, mistakes and appearances, to see them in the greater scheme of things and allow herself to open up to who they were inside. Quite simply she said:

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” 

In life Mother Teresa made it her daily mission to show anyone and everyone she could that they could, and should, be loved.  Yes, she did work in the areas of physical need, she helped feed many people and spoke highly of organizations and people who were meeting the needs of people around the world.  It’s a great thing to be able to make that kind of impact on people in the world.

But what Mother Teresa did was more than that.  At the end of the day Mother Teresa didn’t just lead with her actions, she inspired with her words.  She didn’t just set an example for us to follow, she told us how we can make a difference in someone’s life no matter who we are.  You have power with your words and your words do make a difference.  You can share an encouraging word on Twitter, send a thoughtful note to a friend in need, or be kind to the flustered stranger behind you in line at the store.  You don’t have to be Mother Teresa or have a national spotlight to make a difference.  You can show that you love to anyone and everyone you come into contact with.

Who will you share love with today?

Let’s Relax

Did you know that August 15th is National Relaxation Day?  As I was thinking about that I thought about all of the different things we do to relax and the different emotions we experience as we relax.  I know how hard it is for some of us to relax because we’re so busy and have so much going on, or we’re stressed about a situation in our lives.  So I thought, as you’re preparing to relax, that I would remind you of the emotion that is the goal of relaxing: peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

We will face many stresses and experiences in our lives that will challenge us.  The world is full of things that change and unpredictable people that we have to deal with, but the good news is that we have two things we do have control over and reassurance in: ourselves and God.  You have the ability to control your reactions, to set aside time to relax and release the problems of the world that are all on your shoulders.  You also have God who is right there ready to support and love you at a moment’s notice.

Today, take a minute to relax with God and experience His peace, it will be the best thing you’ve done in a long time.

2012 in Words: Leadership

This month we’re talking about the concept of leadership.  Before you decide that this post isn’t for you, think again.  If you interact with people on a daily basis you are in a position to influence people, and a good portion of leadership is influencing others.  So no matter what your job title at work or position in life, you can be, and are, a leader.  Today we’re going to talk about one of the most important aspects of being a leader.  Jim Rohn says it well:

“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.”

One of the reasons good leaders are successful is because they have learned how to fully give their attention to tasks and people.  They know that to show others they respect, value, appreciate and love them they need to not be doing multiple things at once, especially they’re working on something really important.  Now, we’re all guilty of multitasking, and sometimes it’s OK.  But if you’re working on a relationship or really trying to accomplish something, the best thing you can do is give it your full attention.

But not only does this show respect, and help build your leadership status, it also is a great tool for you.  Focusing on just one thing can greatly reduce the amount of frustration you have, help you accomplish more, and help you do more quality work.  It also helps you set aside quality alone, quiet time for recharging and personal development.  You deserve your full attention just like those around you.

Are you a serial multitasker?  What areas of your life would improve if you started focusing on one thing at a time?

Watching our Steps

My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you.
Psalm 17:5

The choices we each make each and every day are like a path for others to follow.  Remember when you were little and followed your friend’s footprints in the snow or sand?  Life’s just like that, we each leave footprints in our wake for others to find and follow.

The big question is, where are you leading?

We should be sure that each step we take leaves a footprint we want others to follow.  If you’re doing your best to live on the path that God has set before you , you’ll lead others to God and encourage them in their lives.  If you’re still trying to figure out God’s path for your life you’ll have some great sets of footprints, and others that are hard to follow or don’t lead to great places.

The good news is that there are other footprints you can follow too.  You’re not alone in your journey, rather you’ve got many other people who can help you learn about the path you’re on and how to navigate it.  The Bible helps you learn about your path in daily life, and there are lots of pastors and teachers online who can help you learn how to be a better path-maker.

It’s not easy to be the person out in front making the path, you’re bound to make some mistakes.  Ultimately it should be your goal to follow the path that God gives you, and do the best you can.