Personal Growth

The First “Back to Work” Monday of the Year

One of the most formative days of my life came on the first Monday in January 2008. 

The year prior was supposed to be — and in many ways still is — the best year of my life. I got married. Sarah and I went on an amazing honeymoon to Hawaii. We moved into a beautiful suburban home. We were launching into life. 

Yet, that year was also the year my grandfather died in February, and I came back to the post-honeymoon reality that I didn’t have a full-time job. Until that point in my life, I’d always believed that hard work was rewarded. To that end, I’d earned an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and completed all of my coursework for a Masters in Education from DePaul University except one final course. This course — a capstone course whose only requirement was a full-time teaching job — was all that stood between me and the degree. And as our moving truck headed to the suburbs, I thought that finding this job would be a no-brainer given my relationships and the 3.99 GPA I’d earned in my coursework. 

I was wrong. 

Questioning Everything About My Life

Not only did I NOT land a full-time teaching job, but I also had to unroll from the capstone class because “substitute teaching” didn’t meet the full-time teaching requirement. And to make things worse, the only work I DID get was substituting in the district where I grew up. There I was —my fancy college education in tow — walking back into the high school I’d proudly left just six-and-a-half years prior. 

While I didn’t voice this out loud back then, I must humbly confess that I felt like a loser. Note: All these years later, the more mature me realizes that there was a LOT of dignity in the work I was doing. But I was blind to that reality then. I’m being brutally honest about how I felt then, not what I think now. This clarification is important because I now realize how much value substitute teachers bring to the education system. More on that below

As Sarah has recalled, in years since, I spent many nights that fall questioning everything about my life. I was angry at God for not providing the job I wanted, depressed over my inability to “pull myself up by my bootstraps,” jealous of my wife’s full-time teaching job, and nursing my broken pride over the fact that my wife was the “breadwinner” in our household. 

Returning from Holiday Break

At this point, you may wonder what the first Monday in January has to do with this story.

At least in the US, the first Monday after a big holiday break is a day when teachers are virtually mandated to be at their school. Barring some kind of crisis, the expectation is that they are supposed to be there. 

And this year, on that first Monday after the holiday break, I had no work. 

My wife got up, got ready, and left. 

I got up, sat alone, and wept. 

Ok, so I didn’t weep first. First, I took a walk. It was a cloudy Chicago day. It was about 40 degrees out, there was no snow on the ground, and it was dark. It was the exact kind of weather a movie director would call for had they been filming my first day in January. 

As I walked through our neighborhood, the puzzle pieces of the previous year started coming together. All the emotions I’d felt began bubbling to the surface. I know this will make me sound crazy, but I started talking out loud to God. Before long, I started arguing. As I unleashed my pent-up frustration, depression, and anger, I didn’t feel much in return. I didn’t hear “God’s voice” or anything like that. 

I simply heard silence. 

But it wasn’t a lonely silence, but an oddly comforting silence.

That’s when the tears came. And I am brave enough to own it. 

As I pulled myself together, a few things crystallized in my mind. But before I share them with you, let me explain why I am telling you all this on the first day of January 2024. 

I know a few things.

I know that the last few years have been hard for most people reading this blog. 

I know that some people who read this blog are leaders of businesses that have not met expectations.

I know that almost everyone’s life is harder and more complex than just a few years ago. 

Therefore, as we enter a New Year, why don’t we start with perspective and hope? My invitation is to lean in right now and let these lessons saturate your soul. 

What I Learned

Here is what I learned: 

First and foremost, I learned that work is always dignified. Oddly, it was on that fateful Monday morning when I was walking through our neighborhood that I realized the work I’d been doing as a substitute teacher was holy. Yes, holy. It mattered to the teachers I was substituting for and the administrators. It mattered to the kids (well, at least a few of them!), and it certainly mattered to their parents. This moment shaped my view that as a leader, I need to remind every person on our team that they matter, and so does their work. I am deeply passionate about this because the first person I had to remind of this reality was myself.  

Second, I learned that every Monday matters. Every one of them, but especially that first Monday in January. I promised back then that I would always go back to work on the first Monday in January with renewed hope, passion, and perspective. Thank you, Lord, for the work I have to do! It is thank-God-I-have-a-job-Monday. Amen! 

And last, I learned that God‘s purposes for my life are deeper and greater than my current circumstances. All I wanted during that time of my life was for someone to hit the easy button for me so that I could land a teaching job and realize the plans I’d made for my life. While this pursuit was meaningful, I learned several months later that God was calling me elsewhere. These were not my plans, nor were they Sarah’s. They were His.  

That year — 2008 — wasn’t an easy one. It was a year of opportunity, meaning everything was disguised as hard work! But, it was work. And with the help of mentors, one of them who reads every one of these posts, I launched into a different life at Hoffer Plastics. 

The Gift of the First Monday in the New Year

It is once again the first work Monday of January. 

What a gift! 

May God bless you and yours this next year. 

Thank God we have work to do! 

Start, Stop, Continue

Earlier this fall, I had an interesting thought: What would I stop doing if I retired at the start of 2024? The idea behind this thought was that there may be things I could stop doing at the beginning of next year even though I’m not yet retiring! 

Like many of my thoughts, however, this thought soon began to morph into deeper territory. What do I really think about retiring? Besides those things I would stop doing, what things would I continue doing? Would identifying those things help me gain perspective that I’m on the right path? (Spoiler alert: it did.)  And finally, what would I start doing? 

A Work in Progress

This is admittedly a work in progress — and for the sake of brevity, I’m not sharing everything. But I’m sharing some of my thoughts because my hunch is that this exercise will be helpful to you as well, regardless of where you are in your career. 

Also, let me clarify: When I’m talking about retirement, I use that word in the traditional American way — the thought of stopping my current role/ work. In a sense, I think of it more as a transition in that I would likely transition from one role to another versus stopping work altogether. In other words, when I say “retirement,” I mean that I am no longer doing my current work. 

So what’s next? What would I stop, start, and continue?   

Stop

What would I stop doing? 

  • I would stop interacting with my professional work email.
  • I would delete 98% of my personal emails without ever opening them.  
  • I would stop getting up before 7 AM. 
  • I would stop keeping an office at Hoffer Plastics. Instead, I would come in and use one of the remote workstations. 
  • I would stop keeping a planned schedule, which means that my activity would be run much more by the Holy Spirit than the weekly planner I currently use! 

Start

What would I start doing? 

  • I would take a cooking class with my wife (with a focus on grilling.) 
  • I would start making time for longer walks in nature. 
  • I would start spending time with young leaders, asking questions, and focusing on how to build them up. 
  • I would start walking the golf course more with a caddy to slow down on the golf course.
  • I would start taking the time to build into a younger person while playing golf. 
  • I would start allotting an hour of the morning to slowly read a physical book. Doing this multiple times a week would greatly impact my life. 
  • I would start popping into my local church with the primary focus on building the young leaders there. How can I encourage them? How can I support or help them? 
  • I would start being the “supporting cast” and not the “lead” in all areas of my life. As the above indicates, I want to support, build, and encourage. 

Continue

What would I continue to do? 

  • I would continue to focus my travel on spending time with Sarah. 
  • I would continue to read my Bible first thing each morning. 
  • I would continue to pray nightly with my wife. 
  • I would continue to work out a minimum of four days a week. 
  • I would continue to meet with an accountability partner two times a month. 
  • I would continue to listen to leadership podcasts.  
  • I would continue to read content that would help me learn. 
  • I would continue to play golf — the same amount in summer, more in winter!  
  • I would continue to write this blog. 
  • I would continue to travel and visit business relationships when invited/needed to.

What I Learned

What did this process teach me? 

  • I need to create more limits around screen time, given that much of what I’d eliminate is related to email. 
  • There are easy things I can incorporate in 2024 that would positively impact my life. For example, I can make time now to meet with younger leaders to encourage them. I can also start slowing down by walking on the golf course instead of always riding in a golf cart. Come to think of it, I need to invest more time in walks outside in general, as that emerged as a theme. 
  • Finally, there are many things I am currently doing that I would continue to do. I should celebrate this. 

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn! I urge you to spend some time this week going through this exercise. I think you’ll find that it will help you reap positive benefits going into 2024. 

The Power of Stepping into Your Discomfort Zone

Yesterday, I had a frank conversation with our new VP of Operations, where I asked him to provide me with honest feedback — and he delivered. And even though his feedback nudges me outside of my comfort zone, it’s the only thing that will help me become a better person, leader, and even golfer! 

I believe we must be willing to be uncomfortable to truly improve — we have to be willing to actively ask for and receive feedback. And my goal in sharing the feedback I received is to challenge you, the reader, to also step into your discomfort zone so you, too, can improve.  

Example 1: Work and Leadership 

I’m blessed to be developing a deep relationship with our new VP of Operations — we speak to each other openly and with vulnerability, and the honesty in our meetings is refreshing. With that in mind, I felt comfortable asking him to point out my blind spots — what do people perceive about me that I don’t know about myself? And while my ego would rather not share his feedback, I’m stepping outside my comfort zone in the spirit of vulnerability and growth.

  1. I may not be as approachable as I thought: Our VP shared that the people on our production floor recognized that I was very visible and on the floor daily. But outside of the day shift, he noticed that some of our workers were intimidated to talk to me. Others would talk to me but only tell me what they thought I wanted to hear. He shared, “This probably isn’t fair to you because I can see you’re trying to be approachable, but you probably need to go the extra mile in seeking their input.”
  2. I should be firmer in my expectations: My VP’s feedback was that he noticed I could be direct in meetings and then would try to be nice afterward, which could come across as “inauthentic.” This was tough to hear, as authenticity is my goal! He suggested that “…sometimes the team needs to see you are upset. Be respectful, but be direct.” This feedback was a helpful reminder that one of my blind spots is seeking the approval of others, which is why being direct without trying to “soften the blow” can be challenging for me. 
  3. I should give feedback directly to the source: He clarified that he also struggled with this, given that we have nine production plants. For me, he suggested I give plant appearance feedback directly to the specific plant manager rather than lumping my observations into a more general message all plant managers receive. 

Example 2: Golf Lesson 

The evening after my feedback meeting with the VP of Operations, I was taking a golf lesson with a new instructor. This was my second lesson as I attempt to improve my golf game after plateauing at a six handicap for the last few years. After seeing me hit a few shots and filming my swing, my instructor (someone who I specifically sought out due to his status as a “top 100 teacher”) asked me, “How open are you to change?” I responded, “That’s why I’m here.” 

He told me I was doing things well, considering I am a six handicap. However, he can see why I have plateaued. What was wrong? 

  1. My right-hand grip was too weak.
  2. My upper body turn was “nonexistent.” He asked, “Do you work out or do cardio?” I replied that I have been working out with a golf-specific trainer for two-plus years. He said, “Well, I can see you are strong. But you aren’t incorporating mobility into your swing—it’s nonexistent.”
  3. Finally, he pointed out how my right knee sometimes flares out on my backswing. I told him a former golf pro I’d played with had also pointed that out and told me I couldn’t be good until I fixed that.

    “Well, they’re right,” he said.  

OUCH. 

Alone with My Thoughts

This instructor is so booked that his lessons only run 30 minutes, so it wasn’t long before I was driving back home alone with my thoughts. 

Is this even worth it, I wondered? 

“No wonder I suck at golf!” was what I blurted out getting back on the highway. 

And even deeper in the recesses of my heart, a faint whisper said, “…And you aren’t that good at work either.” 

The Next Day

I woke up the day after my lesson and my first thought was a personal declaration: 

I am open to feedback, and I want to get better. 

Frankly, the work feedback was much easier to hear than the golf feedback. 

But — and here is the kicker — in the deep recesses of my heart, I know that both the work and golf feedback were accurate. 

Discomfort is Unavoidable

If my goal is to get better, I cannot (and should not) avoid discomfort.

For example, writing this post is uncomfortable, but I find value in documenting the process — and I am inviting you to join — IF you want to improve. 

If you don’t…you don’t have to be open to feedback. 

If you do…welcome to discomfort. 

Welcome to the pursuit of improvement. 

Lessons from My Fall Golf Trip

Earlier this fall, I took a golf trip with a few friends, and I learned a few things in the process. In the spirit of sharing (and giving thanks!), I’m going to share those lessons here; perhaps there’s something that will resonate with you.

Be thankful for the time you have with those you care for: We planned our trip more than a year in advance due to the business of our collective schedules. There was definitely a spirit of thankfulness throughout.  

I don’t need to schedule every day: My friends have a carefree nature about them that I admire. Their relaxed nature was striking to me. There’s something to be said for taking the day as it comes. Ask yourself, when was the last time you had an unscheduled day?  

Slow down: Similar to the last lesson, I noticed how hurried I am as a type-A leader. I always have things to accomplish and don’t want to waste time. On this trip, I learned, however, that it’s good to take the time to stand on the tee and enjoy the sights (insert a picture of the golf course)  

Admire nature: Speaking of enjoying the sights, our trip coincided with the start of fall foliage. On the morning of our departure, I stood outside and simply admired the changing season. 

Feel feelings: I say what I am about to say with absolutely no judgment because I realize every person is on their own journey. During our trip, one of my friends was experiencing grief—and he admitted that he hadn’t yet felt the sadness. My prayer for him is that he does. Feeling our feelings is the first step to healing. 

Keep your eye on the hole: After a season of putting frustration, I started looking at the hole while putting on this trip. The ball started rolling in a way I hadn’t seen in years. I could write an entire post on this, but I will sum it up this way: Sometimes, you have to get out of your own way mentally, trust your ability, and let it roll.  

Home is where the heart is: Throughout the trip, I just wanted to go home. And I realize that saying this may offend my buddies! To be clear, I love them — I really do. I just love being home with the people who are there. The trip would have been complete if Sarah and the kids had been with us. Since they weren’t, my heart was at home. 

A Final Note of Thanksgiving

Certainly, I had a lot of fun on my trip — it’s something I will be thankful for in the future because there are no guarantees that I’ll be able to take another trip with that group. There are no guarantees in life. 

To that end, I want to close with a somber note. As I think about Thanksgiving 2023, I want to publicly say how thankful I am for John Myrna’s impact on my life. He was a subscriber to this blog, a friend, and a coach of mine. John passed away back in September, and he is someone I will miss. In fact, his love for his wife and family is something I will think about this week as I break bread with my loved ones. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are reading this post! 

Negative Glasses or Gratitude Glasses?

You get to decide this week which glasses you want to put on — your Negative Glasses or your Gratitude Glasses. But before you choose, let me tell you a little bit more about the unique selling points (and potential pitfalls!) of each of these products: 

Negative Glasses

Product features: These frames help you see everything in the worst possible way. 

Potential side effects: Cynicism, hopelessness, negativity, pessimism, fatigue, stress, and anger. 

Gratitude Glasses Product Features

Product features: These frames help you see everything in the best possible way. You see provision when it rains, wonder when it snows, and bountifulness in the summer. 

Potential side effects: optimism, positivity, energy, peacefulness, joy, and possibly annoying grumpy people.

Your Perspective, Your Choice

Is the sun shining? 

Or is everything bleak? 

It’s your decision. 

You make your choice. 

bald in business symbol

Who Defines Your Identity?

Stop defining yourself by what you think you aren’t. 

Start defining yourself by who God says you are. 

Scripture says: 

  • “So God created mankind in his own image…” (Genesis 1:27) 
  • “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..” (Psalm 139:14)
  • “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
  • You are utterly secure in God; “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39) 

How Will You Define Yourself?

Here is the deal:

You can define yourself by what you think, what the world thinks, or in a lot of other ways. 

Or you can redefine yourself with what scripture says. 

Your identity. 

Your choice. 

Just make a decision.

A Message of Encouragement

Earlier this year, I had an extremely difficult day. I won’t go into the details but suffice it to say it was the hardest work day in 2023. I definitely could’ve used some encouragement that day — and when I awoke the next day, this message was at the forefront of my mind. I’m sharing it with you now in the hopes that if you find yourself needing encouragement, these words can offer you some solace and hope: 

Don’t give up.

I know we have all heard that too many times before. But it still applies. 

  • Your heart may tempt you that your circumstances need to change. 
  • Your eyes may tempt you via social media that others have it better. 
  • Your brain may tempt you that you do not have what it takes. 
  • Your soul may tempt you that you need to give up. 

Welcome to life. 

  • Change yourself. This makes a bigger impact than changing your circumstances.   
  • Celebrate others’ highlight reels while also realizing everyone has moments they would rather not publish on social media. 
  • Believe better is possible. Reopen your brain for business! 
  • And remind yourself of who and what has gotten you to this point. 

Dancing on a Monday

As I write this, Monday is approaching — and I cannot wait. 

Bring it on, and let’s dance. 

I am not a good dancer, but we are dancing on Monday! 

Why? 

Because we are alive. 

So, let’s act like it. 

My invitation is to embrace this message. 

Accept this challenge. 

You can dance too.

One More Question for a New Year, New Perspective

Last week I shared three questions that I am using for reflection to start the New Year. After posting, however, I realized that there is an additional question that I want to share. The three questions I shared last week — 

What do I need to forget? What do I need to remember? And what makes me joyful? — are designed to pull back the layers of my heart. In essence, they help me lead myself. 

Today’s question, by contrast, is a perspective-setting question about situations external to you. In fact, I came to this question after realizing how negative I was getting toward other people or situations. 

It’s the kind of question that could change the tenor of our public discourse. In fact, if I ruled the world, this would be the first question I would ask every political candidate about their opposition. 

It’s this: 

What’s the BEST thing you can say about the other person (or about the situation you are in)? 

Here is how it works. 

Situation: Someone cuts you off in traffic. 

“That person is may be in a hurry for an important reason. Perhaps, there is an emergency. Or, perhaps, they are just oblivious and did not mean anything by cutting me off.” 

Situation: My least favorite QB of my least favorite team makes a public statement I don’t agree with. 

“It is clear that they passionately believe in the cause they are commenting on. I respect their passion, even though I respectfully disagree with their take.”

Situation: Joe Biden or Donald Trump is shown talking on TV. 

Everyone I know has an opinion of these two people. I imagine that you had a response just reading their names above. So, what positive thing can you say about both of them? 

Keeping the Door of the Heart Ajar

This question does not resolve all the angst, conflict, and stress present in the current day. But it does begin to give you some perspective. Further, it keeps the door of heart slightly ajar to love. Think about it like this: if you can’t say anything nice about someone, how can you love them?

Maybe love is not your goal. But for the Christ follower, like me, love is not optional. A lot of the readers fall into the same category, so I am poking here. I’ll repeat, you cannot love someone if you have absolutely nothing positive to say about them. You do not have to agree with their stances, but you are commanded to be loving in your disagreement. And above everything else, Christ died for ALL.  

Your Challenge This Week

Coming full circle, I challenge you to ask this question at work this week. If you work with other human beings, there is probably a human (or two!) at your place of work that you struggle to love. What if you began asking this question? How differently would you see them if you did? How much different would things begin to look in general at work if you did? 

Next week, I am going to pivot back to the False Self Series with the 6th installment. The questions I shared last week and today will be applicable, because next week’s post focuses on beating yourself up over mistakes you have made in the past. In fact, maybe the question you need to ask is, what is the best thing you can say about yourself? More on that next week!

My New Year Promise

As 2022 came to a close, I found myself in a rut — I was irritable and tired, with nothing left in the tank. I realized I wasn’t the kind of person I would want to follow. So I started thinking about what had gone wrong. 

On the surface, 2022 was not a tough year. Business was good, the family was healthy, and life generally went smoothly. But below the surface, life was different. The year started with a close friend moving away, compounded by organizational changes, and ended with me struggling to maintain positivity amid increased stress, sickness, and frustration. 

The Questions

Do you see the pattern of what stress created? Realizing what was happening, I needed to regain perspective. To that end, in the new year, I’ll be pondering these three questions every day. I’ll share them below, then explain why I chose them. 

Question 1: What do I need to forget? 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He (God) removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 

Question 2: What do I need to remember? 

“But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which He swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” Deuteronomy 8:18 

Question 3: What makes me joyful? 

“The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Why These Questions? 

The only way I know how to proceed is to be brutally honest…I am incredibly hard on myself. In the wrong state of mind, I dig far back into the past and scrutinize things I did wrong — which denies the power of the Cross. I have an almost continual state of mind that critiques my every word, decision, and action. The lack of grace I give to myself denies what I believe and makes me unloving to others. 

Can you relate to any of what I am sharing? Are you fixated on some ability you lack, some circumstances you cannot change, or some hurt you experienced in the past? 

This is why I am suggesting we (and I include myself here) start with the question of what we need to forget. Could it be that we are carrying something God never intended us to carry? 

This question struck me one night in November when I just wanted to quit, give up, and call it over. My anger sizzled that night. I was so frustrated. But the angrier I got — and I know this sounds weird — the more I could hear a soft whisper deep within me saying, “I never asked you to carry this.” It was time for me to forget my mistakes (again) and trust in God’s forgiveness. 

Just doing that, however, doesn’t accomplish much. Remembering who God is, His character, and for me, His reality, shifts me from wishful thinking to reality. “Remembering” is mentioned throughout the Bible because, perhaps, we humans so easily forget. Or is that my struggle alone? 

The Bible is honest about life’s difficulties, the destructive path of life separated from God, and the reality of pain and suffering. Yet these realities are exactly why we need to remember! We need to remember the hope we feel when we hold a new baby, see the first snow of the season, or hear the waves crash onto the beach. 

Life is hard. We will die. These are the facts of life. Yet, God remains good both now and into the future. One day He will set things right. I am not being trite, but we have to wait and remember for now. 

And this is why we can be joyful! We can be joyful because we no longer have to carry what we were never meant to carry. We can be joyful because we can honestly assess the reality of the world while remembering the future hope we cling to. This frees us up to meet each day anew. We can be thankful for that day, and joyful in that day, because it is the only day we have. 

How I Got Here

Here is how I came to these three questions: I lacked joy in 2022 because I failed to remember what Jesus did by being fixated on my own mistakes and junk. 

I cannot put it more plainly than that. 

This year, I promise to: 

Forget

Remember 

And find Joy

Will you consider doing the same?

Forget Balance. Aim for Rest

No human being has ever continually progressed upward and to the right. Yet, if they tell the truth, most leaders expect to. Something inside us expects progress, so we work to that end — even when working to that end hurts us. It would be bad enough if it stopped there, but this hurt usually extends to others, both our followers and loved ones. 

Work/life balance continues to be a hot topic because the “Information Age” has made the cessation of work nearly impossible. So instead, we aim for “balance.” Balance implies that we can somehow manage both work and home stressors in perfect symmetry — but the reality is more a feeling of trying to balance atop a narrow balance beam while simultaneously juggling a child, a laptop, and quite possibly an enormous kettlebell-sized amount of work stress. 

I propose that not only is balance impossible, but it isn’t the solution we need. Instead, the solution is something so simple we miss it. 

The solution is rest. 

As I’ve shared, my family and I went out West this summer. We usually gravitate to summer beach vacations, but we chose something entirely different by going to Yellowstone and Montana this year. Instead of playing golf and sitting on the beach, we hiked and saw wildlife at Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons. It was definitely a more active vacation. Yet, I came home refreshed. This made me ask the question: why?   

Four Types of Fatigue

As I reflected, I realized that not all fatigue is the same. In fact, I think there are four main types of fatigue: 

  • Physical
  • Spiritual 
  • Mental
  • Emotional

I then observed something about myself that you may or may not relate to: I usually characterize my fatigue as being physical because physical fatigue is easily felt. But I rarely consider spiritual, mental, and emotional fatigue as being a culprit. 

In hindsight, it is clear that I went on our vacation with a lot of spiritual, mental, and emotional fatigue. Here are some examples to help clarify the differences: 

Spiritual: My trust in God’s Sovereignty had waned. How do I know? I found myself becoming hopeless regarding the darkness of our modern World. 

Mental: I was becoming angry when the demands of work — legitimate demands — came to my desk. I was becoming someone not to follow! 

Emotional: Inside me, I felt a real sadness about some of the changes that have occurred during the past six months at work. 

Of course, I was also physically tired. My body felt it, but it also felt all the above! 

Every day that passed on our vacation, I found my energy returning, despite often hiking around 7 to 8 miles with three kids, sleeping without air conditioning, and eating National Park food (You can call me a snobby foodie if you like — let’s just say the food wasn’t the highlight of the trip!) This happened because I was immersed in nature, reminded of God’s creation, and freed from Wi-Fi, work email, and work in general. 

It was legitimate rest. 

Suddenly, I could see the sun again, and it was gorgeous. 

Putting Insight Into Action

So what do I do with this knowledge? Admittedly, I can’t go back to Yellowstone whenever I feel like it. I am writing this post about five weeks after returning and already feel the need for another adventure! Here are a few ideas I am considering to help me stay restful. I am sharing in hopes that they spur you on to lead yourself in the pursuit of rest. 

First, I am recommitting to observing the Sabbath. Jesus found time to go away, pray, and rest. I, too, can find time to rest one day out of seven. The Sabbath is a gift because it is the weekly reminder that I am not in control of time, destiny, or even my own progress. Sure, I need to work hard the other six days. But that is not my problem, and if you are reading a blog about leadership, I would imagine it is not yours either! Rather, resting is our problem. I can rest because progress is not up to me. The same can be said of you! 

Second, as I have shared, I am going to do less, better. I do not intend this to become a mantra but rather a reminder that I cannot do it all. I need to clarify what constitutes the best use of my very limited time and energy I have. Often, the problem I face (and I imagine many of you face) is that I try to do enough, good enough. There will always be more to do. So what’s the best use of your time and energy? 

Third, I am going to commit to getting outside this winter. As Chicago winter approaches, I am not going to become a hermit. As I learned during my vacation, a positive return of energy — physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental — comes with being outside in nature. It reminds us of our place in the world and that there is a Power far greater than us behind it. And even though things are not as they are supposed to be, we see glimpses – if we look for them – of how things will inevitably be restored.