Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 steps to being a player

I see these license plates everywhere that say "#1 Steelers Fan" or "#1 Penguins Fan."  I don't personally have one and it doesn't bother me if you do.  But I think it says something about our culture that we are all so eager to be fans of "our" teams.  There are a lot of differences between being a fan and a player.
  • Fans gather with friends when "their" team plays.  Players get prepared and focused.
  • Fans cheer when "their" team does well.  Players feel the since of pride that comes with accomplishment.
  • Fans celebrate when "their" team does something extraordinary.  Players create a legacy that goes well beyond their lifetime.
  • Fans get upset and sulk when "their" team loses.  Players bear the burdens of their teammates.
  • Fans go home after "their" team team loses with little affect on their life.  Players sometimes feel like they let their team down.

What about the team that you show up for every day?  Your family.  Your co-workers.  Your friends.  What's your role on that team?  Are you just a fan or are you a dad?  A mom?  A provider?   A spiritual leader?   A teacher?   A business owner?   A best friend?  A son?

There are 3 steps to being a player:

  1. Commit to being on the team, not just being a fan.
  2. Define your position on the team
  3. Work to be the best at your position

A good player finds ways to make themselves better so that the team is better.  A good player learns how to encourage when things go wrong and celebrate when things go well.  A good player doesn't make excuses.  A good player cares more about the team's success than their own.

You're already on the team.  So my challenge to you (and me) is to do the 3 steps above.  Commit to the team, define your position and work to be the best at it.  Oh, and if I can add a 4th step, quit worrying about how everyone else is playing their position and just play yours.

So stop screaming from the sidelines and get out there and start playing.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The cost of appreciation

I'm guessing that we've all been guilty of not giving appreciation when we should.  From big things like forgetting to say thanks to a friend that took time out of their day to help us with a trouble of our own to not passing along our gratitude to the chef that made us the best steak that we've eaten in quite awhile.

The thing with appreciation is that it doesn't cost much.  It costs a few seconds of your time in most cases.  In some cases it may require us to swallow our pride and say, "Thanks.  I couldn't have done it without you."

But the reward is monumental.  If someone has ever expressed true appreciation to you for something that you've done, you know what I mean.  It's encouraging to hear that you've done something that made someone else feel good.  It has the power to change someone's day or even their week.

If done correctly, appreciation costs little and gives much back to the world.  Tell someone thanks today.  And most of all, mean it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My take on Mother's Day

Another Mother's Day has come and gone.  I'm not against flowers, cards and compliments when it comes to Mother's Day.  It's just that I don't think it's enough.  The flowers smell great... for a week, at best.  The card, which was most likely written by someone else, gets put in a box or in the garbage.  And the compliments boost your spirits for awhile, but slowly fade.

We, as husbands and children, need to do better than that.  Given the jobs that mother's do, you couldn't afford to pay a mother the salary that she deserves.  How much does a personal chef make these days?  How about a cab driver that takes you everywhere you want to go and waits on you while you're there?  What about a maid?  Or someone that's on call every hour of the night and day to take care of the kids when they're sick?  None of us could afford the services that Mom's provide.  The good news for us is that I don't think Mom's want paid with money when we can give them something far more valuable and long-lasting.

Buy the flowers and cards again next year if she wishes.  There's nothing wrong with that.  But, on top of the tangible gifts, give them what they really deserve.  Get up extra early in the morning and make her coffee.  Stay up extra late and take care of the dishes.  Offer to get up in the middle of the night when the kids are sick.  Take the kids off her hands for a few hours so she can relax.  Make her an appointment to go to the spa... and make it possible for her to keep it.  These are the things that I think Mom's REALLY want.  They want to know we care.  They want to know that we realize how much work they put into making everyone's lives run smoothly.

There are three more groups of people that have a special place in my heart:

  1. Single Mom's: Regardless of what led to your situation, you have a tough road.  Hang in there.  Keep your head up.  Keep making the tough decisions.  We as a church need to do more to help single mom's.  If you know a single mom, do something to help.  Do it today.
  2. Those that have lost their Mom: I lost my grandmother a few years ago on Mother's Day.  It was a very bittersweet day.  For my Mom, it had to be heartbreaking.  Take the emotion that you have surrounding that situation and pour it into someone special in your life.  You won't regret it.
  3. Those that want to be Mom's, but can't: My heart truly aches for you.  Mother's Day must be especially hard.  But don't be disappointed by your situation.  Being a "Mom" is not simply a matter of biology and genetics.  Being a "Mom" is a mindset.  It's a passion for caring.  There are thousands of kids that need a mom, both through adoption and programs like Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  Don't let your disappointment steal your passion.  Be a "Mom."  The real kind.  The kind that comes through hard work and not genetics.  And be proud of the people that you touch.  You are loved.

Mom's, we can never afford to repay you.  Words are not enough.  May God bless you richly for all that you do!

Friday, May 11, 2012

They're not getting you anywhere

Your complaints, that is.  And neither are mine.

I don't need to stop complaining because you're tired of hearing it.  I need to stop complaining because it's not getting me anywhere.  Complaining is the first step towards total stagnation in your relationships, business and life in general.

And we don't get a free pass for justifying our complaints.  Justified complaints are.... well... still complaints.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Let me see your report card

Report card time is a blast for kids... some times.  We're quick to look over their report card and point out their good and bad, but are we willing to have them do the same for us?

How about making a list of the things that are valuable to your loved ones?  Your list might consist of family time, getting chores done on time, keeping promises, keeping in touch, etc.

Then, if you're brave enough, have the people you care about give you a grade.  It only works if they care enough about you to be honest.  (If you're ultra brave, let children grade you.  They will have the guys to be honest!)

It may be hard to face the facts about your grades, but like we always tell our kids, good grades take work.  Are you willing to be graded and put in the work it will take to improve?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Solar Power 101

No, this isn't a nerdy blog about electric cars and solar panels.  It's about the power of the sun.

We've had some sunny days lately and I realized how excited I am to wake up in the morning when the sun is shining through the windows.  But, why?

I know there's this whole Vitamin D thing, but I think it's bigger than that.  I continually let outside influences affect my internal condition.  The sun.  The attitudes of my kids.  A grumpy co-worker.

If the sun works to pick you up, enjoy it.  But don't wait on those external factors to determine your mood.  Decide your attitude when you wake up in the morning and don't let anything shake it.

What attitude did you decide on today?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It doesn't matter if you're wet

He was walking to school when I saw him and it was pouring down rain.  He wasn't running.  He wasn't frantic.  He didn't even seem to care that it was raining, so much so that he was carrying his jacket instead of wearing it.

This young man appeared to be about 10-years-old and I realized that I have a lot to learn from him.

He had options.  He could have been running to avoid the rain.  He could have stopped under one of the many business awnings.  He could have been frantic.  He did none of those things.

When I wake up in a storm in my professional or personal life, I don't often handle it as well as this little guy.  I overreact, or try to take shelter and wait for it to pass.  Sometimes I pretend it's not storming by trying my best to find a place to hide.

The difference between this boy and myself was that he never lost sight of his singular goal.  The rain did not in any way divert his focus away from that goal.  He was going to make it to school and whether he was wet when he got there didn't matter.  He was still going to get there.

If you're in the middle of a storm today, don't change your focus.  At some point in your life, you knew what your goal was.  Maybe your goal is to have a strong family.  Maybe it's to start a business.  Maybe it's to reconnect with your kids or an old friend.  Whatever that goal is, ignore the rain.  Keep your focus.  Keep moving forward.

It doesn't matter if you're wet when you get there, just get there.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Maybe I got it wrong today

Some days (like today) I don't know what to write.  Before last year, if I didn't know what to write, I didn't write anything.  But, taking advice from Seth Godin, now I write anyway.

I think we take this approach with a lot of things in our life.  It's just another form of procrastination.  We don't know the answer so we choose not to answer at all.  Maybe we don't know the words to say to a hurting friend.  Maybe we don't know how to go about finding a job after we just lost ours.  Maybe we don't know how to afford a new car after ours stopped running.  So, instead of "writing anyway" we put off the decision.

There may be something that you don't know the answer to today.  Try anyway.

Maybe I got it wrong today.  Maybe you don't like what I've written.  And maybe you'll get it wrong today too.  The good thing about trying is that I can do it again tomorrow.  And so can you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

14 1/2 minutes...

I read today that the average family spends 14 1/2 minutes per day intentionally talking and listening to each other.  I don't know whether or not that number is true and quite frankly, it doesn't really matter.

I think we can all agree on the fact that connecting with technology is becoming more important than connecting with our family to many of us.

We'd rather update our Facebook status than help our kids with their homework.  We'd rather Tweet our latest adventure instead of seeing the look on our kids' faces when we experience it together.  We'd rather check our [fill in the blank: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., etc.] than actually connect with family and friends through real conversation... and it's ruining us.

We took a walk last night.  We left our phones at home.  We stopped and talked to a good friend.  It was the best 45 minutes that I've spent all week.

You can have thousands of Facebook "friends", but if you're not listening when your family talks to you and you're not engaging in real conversations with your kids and spouse on a daily (or at least, weekly) basis, you're missing it.  We need to do better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

4 Steps to a Simpler Life

Our family has been so busy over the last few weeks that it's really starting to take a toll on me (and the rest of the family, I'm sure).  I've finally had enough.  So, what next?

Here's one way to simplify your life:

  1. Define what's important to you.  For me, it's God, family, health and finances.  An easy way to get started is to list the top 3 things that relieve stress for you and the top 3 things that cause you stress.
  2. Make a list of everything you've done over the last month. Everything.  I use a planner so this was fairly easy.  If you don't use a planner, just make the list as comprehensive has you can.
  3. Rank your activities. This is where the nerd in me kicks in.  I ranked each of the activities by determining how each related to the things that are important to me.  I assigned a value between -10 and 10 to each activity in each category like this:   "Activity = Family time: God = 7, Family = 10, Health = 0, Finances = -3  (since we sometimes spend money for family time it gets a negative number) , for a total of 14 (7 + 10 + 0 - 3).
  4. Stop doing anything that has a value less than 3.  It's not worth it.  It's not valuable based on what you've determined to be important in your life.  Don't stop tomorrow.  Stop today.
This exercise may take you a little time to complete, but it's worth it.  Your schedule will be freed up to spend time doing the important things instead of being caught in the "busy with life" tornado.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Good + Bad = ???

I tell the kids all the time that there are things that you can say and do that you can't take back.  It's true.  Sometimes we hurt people and there's nothing we can do to fix it.  It's up to them to forgive us... or not.

The flip side of the coin is also true though.  If you do something good, you can't undo it by doing something bad.

Give yourself credit for the good things you do and don't beat yourself up over the bad things.  Learn from your mistakes for sure, but don't weigh them heavier than they need to be.

Your good deeds cannot be undone by your failures.  So forget about where you've failed, get back up and go do something good today.  Because that good can never be taken away.