Personal Growth

Choose To See The Sun

It is a cold, sunny November morning as I write these words. It will be January before this post is published. Another month, another year. 

Three things are on my mind as I contemplate 2022:

  1. I write these words precisely one year after our friend’s daughter lost her battle to cancer. 
  1. I write these words two weeks after attending a conference where one of the exhibitors did not get out of bed in the morning. 
  1. I write these words as I enter my fifth decade. 

Time moves quickly. And there are no guarantees we, or those we love, will be here tomorrow. 

Time will march on nevertheless. 

So, the question then becomes, what are we going to do? Are we going to celebrate because “life is short but sweet for certain?” Are we to hunker down and do work that matters? Or, are we to leverage the time we have with the people we love? 

Yes. 

I point out the brevity of life to invite you to contemplate what matters. 

There has been a lot of STUFF infecting the limited time you and I have the past two years. 

Political divisiveness. 

COVID-19 commentary.

Mandates. 

News. 

Social Media.

Entertainment. 

Alcohol.

Drugs.

Consumerism. 

The list goes on. 

No lecture forthcoming. But, what jumps out to you? Has any of the above robbed you of the necessary headspace to live intentionally and well? 

What is important but not a priority? 

What is both unimportant and emotionally taxing? 

Do any offer a positive ROI on energy spent? 

No lecture. I trust you to decide. 

I have discovered that most of the items I have gotten worked up about are not worth getting worked up about. Further, most of the “fixes” do not offer the ROI required.

And I have discovered that time marches on regardless. 

So, here I am back on that November morning. I’m aware of the brevity of life. I am aware of the pain around me. I am aware that the clock is ticking for me too. 

I feel alive. 

I feel hopeful. 

Scroll back to the top. What did you notice in the first sentence? November? Cold? 

Or, did you notice that the sun was shining? 

The sun is shining.

It is still November, which means it gets dark too early in these parts of the country. 

It is cold, which is self-explanatory. 

So, 2/3 of the equation is negative. 

I am seeing the sun regardless. 

Are you? 

The clock is ticking. So, this month I am going to share thoughts on intentional living. Whether it is our individual lives or our leadership lives, intentional living is paramount in its importance. 

Intentionality starts with setting a direction. 

Next week I will dive into that. 

In the interim, choose to see the sun.

Take a Moment to Reset

This is the first post of a New Year. A Happy New Year, if you choose for it to be. 

This month I will share thoughts about the importance of intentional living, how to decipher where to go in the New Year, and how to discover what your real goals are. But first, I want to invite you to reset. 

Yes, reset. 

Isn’t it American of us to blow past the holidays, celebrate the New Year, jot down a few resolutions, and keep going? 

I am type-A plus, so make no mistake that this blog will MOVE this year — emphasis included! 

But, not yet. 

We need to take stock first. 

To that end, here are some guiding questions:

What is the most important thing you accomplished in 2021? 

What are you most proud of? 

What course correction do you need to make in regards to how you lead yourself? 

What did you learn? 

How will you use what you learned to live differently in ‘22? 

I could easily write more questions, but I want to keep them manageable in length. My invitation is to STOP. Before you resolve to go forward, understand the road you have traveled to get to where you are currently. 

To be someone worth following, you need a clear understanding of yourself. Without that, you cannot positively influence other people well because you, yourself, are lost. 

To get you started, I will model these questions. As you will see, the answers do not have to be long. They just have to be authentic. 

My answers: 

What is the most important thing you accomplished in 2021? 

My marriage with Sarah is as strong or stronger than it was going into the COVID pandemic. This is the most important human relationship I have, and I am proud of where we are. Praise God! 

What are you most proud of? 

I am most proud of how I showed up for my kids’ events in the midst of an extremely busy year at the office. This was not true pre-COVID, but I have intentionally shifted some things to prioritize this limited time with them. I am proud of this. 

What course correction do you need to make in regards to how you lead yourself? 

This will go hand-in-hand with what I learned below, but I need to be more gracious to myself. There have been too many anxious Sunday nights (post coming later in the month on this), and I have wasted too much energy on non-consequential things. 

What did you learn? 

One lesson I learned over and over this year was that my leadership flows out of my abundance, meaning I cannot give what I do not possess. This sounds lofty, so allow me to unpack it. What I mean is that I cannot give love to others when it is lacking inside myself. When I am stressed, anxious, and bogged down by extraneous issues, I am not a good leader of others. Therefore, I need to pay attention to the limits I have as a leader. I need to rest. I need to practice detachment from the non-consequential things. I do not have to have an opinion of everything. Instead, I need to be centered in Christ, whole, and content in Him. I need to live with the realization that in “this world, there will be trouble. But take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world” (John 16:33). This world IS messed up (emphasis mine). So, I have to be detached from the reality of its messiness and focused on my mission. When I operate this way, I have the power of God to bear all circumstances.  

How will you use what you learned to live differently in ‘22? 

I have rewritten my Key Results Area (KRA) for 2022 to begin with, embracing my calling. It is clear to me that the future of work is human and that impacting humanity is work’s highest calling. As a Christ-follower, I am called to full-time ministry right where I am. This means that I need to lead in a way that uplifts, encourages, and dignifies others. What’s clear to me is that our business is successful due to the hard work of OTHERS. The best and highest use of my time is in encouraging, inspiring, and incentivizing their hard work. They are the indispensable ones. 

A note to the reader: Admittedly, not everyone shares my worldview, and I am okay with that. My covenant to you this year is that I will not hold back. What I wrote above is real.

Who Wants It More?

I was not the best basketball player by a long shot, but as someone that grew up during the heyday of the 1990’s Chicago Bulls, I knew the role I was supposed to play on any team I was on. I was definitely not Michael Jordan, nor was I supposed to be Scottie Pippen. I was there to do the things that no one else wanted to do, which meant I was supposed to be Dennis Rodman without the tattoos, piercings, and colored hair. 

I prided myself on diving for loose balls. In fact, by most seasons’ end my knees were so many colors that my mom could not even look at them. She tried to convince me to wear knee pads, but there was no way I was letting any girl see me wear knee pads. I was willing to get my knees bloody if that is what needed to be, but I was going to do so on my terms!  

My basketball career may have been short lived, but I look back on it fondly all these years later. All the elbows, floor dives, and running, prepared me for the reality of “the real world.” Much of life comes down to the things our basketball coach taught us many years ago: fundamentals, toughness, and “who wants it more?” It sounds cliche, but it is not. 

I am asking myself a few simple questions as fall progresses into winter that I will share with you: 

Given that life has not been easy the last 20 months, and that my body is tired, am I willing to keep running? 

Am I willing to outwork the opposition? 

Am I willing to still dive for loose balls? 

Am I willing to get my knees a little bloody? 

It is time to look in the mirror and recommit. 

December is often the most busy time of the year. But, I challenge you to make time to reflect on these questions right now.

It is almost time to sign back up and do it again for another year. 

Are you in? 

I am. 

Sadness, Annoyance, and Anxiety. Just Me?

The last few weeks I have observed a few thought patterns of my own that are worth sharing. I am constantly reflecting on my attitudes, thoughts and beliefs because they all shape my character as a person and a leader. Frankly, as I write these words I feel tired, agitated, and in need of some rest. 

The first thought pattern that I have been pondering is more of a question that I am asking myself. The question is whether I (really) believe in leadership development? I know the correct answer. But, we recently have had a team member leave to pursue their dream job. And, I have to be honest, it is a dream job in many respects. I am admittedly happy for this person. Yes, happy. My happiness is genuine and not B.S.  At the same time, however, I also feel a sense of loss and sadness. I love this person. I have seen them grow, develop, and what they are going to do is going to be absolutely awesome. But, I am sad because they won’t be doing it here. At least not yet. I have heard some of the naysayers tell me things like, “this is what happens with young people,” and that comment infuriates me. It makes me want to go Mike Ditka on a wall (punch a hole in the wall) because it is demonstrative that we have people in our organization that do not get leadership development. Have I mentioned that I am agitated?  And no, I have not hit anything. I have only worked out a little harder lately… 

Going back to the question which I seem to be dodging …………… Do I believe in leadership development? I have come to realize that the sadness I am feeling is part of the journey. It is inevitable. But yes, I believe in leadership development. Yes, I will keep investing in building into our people. Yes, that will lead to more loss. Yes, it is worth the risk. So, as I say often, onward.

Next, I have to confess that I have been annoyed with people problems lately. While our business results are really good (praise be to God), I would not characterize our culture as healthy. I suppose I am not supposed to put that in writing, but I am not going to get fired by doing so. The biggest problem with the culture is me. I have the wherewithal to not put up with the griping, side-swiping and gossip. So do my sisters. While our problems are not major league in comparison to some of the other leaders I chat with, they are annoying enough to produce frustration. Perhaps, frustration is inevitable after twenty months of changing health guidelines, political divisiveness, supply chain madness, and no one applying for jobs. (Given that list, it IS frustrating!) But, leaders are not the kind of people that become victims to their external circumstances. So, I am not going to. 

I am going to start with me. My job is to show up and work with people. Period. That’s the basic level of leadership. My job is to also set clear expectations and hold people accountable to those expectations. At the risk of getting defensive, I feel like I have done that with the business (i.e., results indicate we are healthy and improving). In regard to culture, however, I have not done as good of a job in 2021. I will step up this part of my game. This reflection is helpful in getting started.  

I know some people from our team read my posts, so I will say one more thing. We are one family. Let’s start expecting the best of each other again. We don’t need a major course correction, but we do need a little one. It starts with all of us expecting the best in others. It starts with us helping, serving, and unashamedly loving (doing for others what we would have done to ourselves). I will start with me because that is the only thing I can somewhat control, but I need your help. 

Finally, I want to confess my anxiety. I can’t even put a finger on why I feel anxious. In fact, I have talked with my doctor about it and the only thing I can point to is what I refer to as the “collective residue of all the crap of the last twenty months.” I have no idea why I put that in quotes. Then again, my golfing buddies call me Doc these days because the kid in the halfway house at the golf course mistakenly called me Dr. Hoffer for half of the summer. So, maybe I am one? 

Kidding aside, my (real) doctor says there is a lot of that going on. By “that,” she is referring to a collective build up of stress. 

Unfortunately, I do not have some magic pill to offer, or any new advice to give, but, I am acknowledging it publicly because I am not hiding from its reality. 

In fact, one of the Biblical principles that has aided me is bringing internal struggles to the light (i.e., talking about them with others, writing about them, and not allowing them to wallow inside).  It seems as though they become less powerful when they are brought out into the light. So, there you go….my anxiety for the world to see. It is there, I feel it, and I am learning to live with it. Now, the question is what do I do next? Since I have acknowledged it, I no longer have to wallow in it. Onward again. 

Ironically, after writing all of this I feel different. Thank you for being my sounding board. 

I do not write these posts to be popular, or get a book deal. I probably started out four years ago with the intention of doing both, but I don’t care anymore. I don’t mean that negatively, I’m just trying to keep it real. To that end, expect more of this going forward. And, do me a favor, gently call me out when you feel like I am faking or being inauthentic. Call me out when you think my writing is showing off, or making things sound either better, or worse, than they really are.  My goal here is to keep it real.

No real good way to end this, so I’ll wrap up with this:

Make it a great day! Choose for the day to be great. 

It is the Doc’s orders.

Why No Speech Should Last More than 20 Minutes — and How I Learned This (Again!)

Last week I gave a leadership talk at the MAPP Benchmarking Conference. I prepared and rehearsed my talk, but I did not like how the talk was received. What follows is an honest self-appraisal. I reflect out of the hunger to improve, but that process would not necessitate me blogging about it. I am sharing my reflection publicly to model one way of reflecting to other leaders. I do this by asking myself three questions:

What did I do well? 

I liked the energy that I brought. I was willing to be vulnerable in the beginning of my talk by talking about how I had lost my way earlier in 2021. For example, I shared that my doctor had me consider taking antidepressants at one point. This connected with the audience (measured by the instant feedback I received after the talk was over, and the messages I received later). I also was prepared. 

What did I learn? 

My talk was not as effective as I hoped because it was way too long. Instead of sticking to my belief that no talk I give should be more than 20 minutes, I expanded it to 40 minutes. While this was to fill the time allotted, I learned (again!) that the audience could not stay with me for all 40 minutes. A 40 minute time slot is probably best suited for world-class speakers like John Maxwell! Regardless of who is speaking, the speaker should aim to get off stage five minutes too early, rather than five minutes too late. I was about 15 minutes too late. 

What will I do with what I learned? 

This was my first LIVE talk since pre-Covid. Therefore, this lesson was somewhat necessary as it reminded me of how I can be at my best going forward. To that end, I will embrace my TED learnings by limiting talks to as close to 20 minutes as possible. For example, I could have filled the 45 minute time slot with a Q&A, or simply allowed attendees time to get caught up on their own work. After all, my goal was to encourage them and serve them (rather than show up and give some kind of commercial about our company or myself). In the future, I will do a better job of that. 

Note to the reader: I do not know who deserves credit for the questions I used above. I first heard them from golfer Ben Crane. He used (perhaps still uses) them to appraise a competitive round of golf. I have found them helpful for appraising all kinds of performance. That said, my encouragement to use is to simply reflect in one way or another. 

gauge measuring volts

What I’ve Learned From Watching Elon

Elon Musk is one of the few people walking the face of the earth that can simply be referred to by their first name. Like most public figures, opinions about Elon Musk, and his companies, range the spectrum. The point of this post is not to expound on these opinions, but rather to learn from the man himself. I believe that leaders should learn from other leaders and Elon is without question someone others follow. 

In many ways, I see the world much differently than Elon Musk. That said, what he has accomplished is extraordinary. My respect for his leadership style is tied to three characteristics that all leaders should emulate. 

Elon’s most striking characteristic is his vision. Tesla aims to solve climate change by breaking the human addiction to gas-powered automobiles. SpaceX aims to help humans inhabit Mars as a backup plan to earth. Both visions literally are out of this world. 

Many of the weekly readers of this blog are in Director-level, or higher, positions in their respective companies. The question these people, and myself, have to ask is whether the vision of our company is big enough? Does it inspire those that we lead to shoot for the stars? 

Like Elon, as leaders we need to take accountability on vision casting. We need to learn from people like him, develop a vision, and cast it to our team members.   

Secondly, Elon has unmatched tenacity. As I have studied him, he was present when his engineers were troubleshooting Falcon Rockets at 3 a.m., he stayed the course after his first three SpaceX launches literally blew up and failed, and he risked his entire fortune on both Tesla and SpaceX. This is what “all-in” looks like. 

I have come to discover that phrases like “all in” are ones that most people agree with. For example, I would imagine there is not one professional football player (NFL) that would admit to not being “all-in.” Yet, some work harder, last longer, and do the extra work. This is what I mean by tenacity. 

Before going to bed tonight, ask yourself if you are all-in? If not, either course correct or find something that you can be all-in on. 

Life is too short to live a dispassionate life. 

Finally, Elon persevered. Some mistake perseverance for tenacity, but it is different. As I mentioned above, tenacity is being entirely all-in. Perseverance is getting off the mat after you have been knocked out for the third time in a row. It is the ability to overcome the voices around, and inside, and still keep going. 

Elon Musk failed, failed, failed, and then succeeded. His grandiose success blurs our vision to all his failures, but they could have easily derailed him. SpaceX, and Tesla, could have easily fizzled away.  

At one point around 2008, when SpaceX was zero for three in launch attempts and running out of cash, Elon had about 30 million left in cash reserves. His advisors, and family, implored him to kill either Tesla or SpaceX, so that he would not lose the entirety of his fortune. 

Full stop. 

What would you do with 30 million? 

I cannot answer that question for you, but I can for me. 

Without a compelling vision, I would not have the tenacity to persevere. Nor, would I have the tenacity to risk my (much, much, much, less) net worth! But, Elon had a compelling vision. Thus, he had the tenacity to persevere. He risked the 30 million and he eventually succeeded. He could have put his feet up, and lived the supposedly “easy” life. But, instead he did something he believed in, risked everything, and persevered until it became a reality. This is why I respect Elon Musk. 

Our vision might not be for the stars, but let it be something worth being tenacious about and let us be the kind of people that keep going after it no matter the risk or the setbacks. 

I am Not What I Do – and Neither Are You

My Executive Coach encouraged me to read Terrence Real’s, I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression. The post that follows is indebted to this book. 

There is desire inside me that craves being fed. Reading the latest book satisfies it. Writing a blog post does as well. Exercising is another way to earn a check mark. 

Such is the reality of performance-based esteem. 

Ever relentlessly check your email? 

Ever fail to officially stop working? 

Do you rationalize that this is what you have to do? As if what you do is not replaceable? Take it from me. You are replaceable. I know I am. Hoffer Plastics had one of its best months ever the month that I was in the hospital for a week and gone for two more. This realization is not depleting. It is actually freeing. 

I do not have to hide. I am not what I do. Neither are you. 

The things that we do to conceal the inner-self, the addictive defenses, are often shields. But what are they shielding? 

All the “to-dos” that I do, especially the good ones, what are they hiding? 

Perhaps, nothing? 

Perhaps, everything? 

Shame?

Why is it that when I hide my true self I am tempted to show grandiosity externally, and yet feel shame inwardly? What am I hiding? 

My inner-self wants to hit delete rather than “post” this right now. It feels like the plank is coming to its end and it is time to jump. But, where does the jump lead? Does it lead to the deep end? Is the deep end safe? Or, is the preoccupation with being safe the problem? 

What is the point of all this anyway? 

Why do I care so much about what others think? Acceptance, and popularity, actually never satisfy. 

So, I will ask again, what is the point of all this anyway? 

My self-critic just said that is what you all, the readers, are probably wondering, “what is the point?”

Am I the only one that has a self-critic inside my head? I doubt it! 

I was not depressed when I started reading this book, but it uncovered something. Maybe this post is doing the same for you. 

If so I am sorry. 

Ok, maybe I am not sorry. 

I have discovered that much of my doing is nothing more than a vain attempt to placate the noise of my self-critic. The reality is that I am self-critical and at times shameful. I am more aware of my inner-dialogue now. Some say this is enlightenment. 

Perhaps. 

It feels like there is a lot more discovery that needs to happen for that word to be used. Maybe that is the self-critic winning again. But, this is a start. 

As I peak inside, there is also pain from the past. Some of it brought on by my own decision making, some brought on by others. 

Lord Jesus, help me forgive both myself and others. 

Help me be restored. 

Help me find peace in you. 

Help me realize this peace comes from “being” with you, and not “doing.” 

Help me stop. 

A final note. 

Wherever you are …….. stop. 

Ask yourself where you are on the continuum of shame and grandiosity. 

What are you hiding? 

Anything? 

If not, just be. 

If so, what is it? 

Next week we can go back to focusing externally, but for now, have the courage to look inwardly. 

I feel the discomfort too. 

Let your emotions out. Get help if you need it. Discover you, the authentic you. 

The point in doing so is not to end there, or even to be fixated there. But rather to be begin living outwardly, focusing on others. 

It is brokenness to wholeness to otherness. 

It is the start of healing. 

It is the process of self-leadership. 

Doing the Hard Work

To be someone worth following, you have to first be healthy yourself. While the physical part of your health is critical, I want to focus this week on the emotional state.

What follows are questions I am asking myself so that I know the state of my inner being. I have listed a lot of questions below. The expectation is not to answer all of them, but only those that stick out. Be honest. Do not hide. This is difficult, but worthy work. 

Before diving in, I would encourage you to talk through selected questions with your support groups. For instance, I am talking about them with my Executive Coach, Accountability Partner, and group of men I meet with twice per month. I would also be inclined to get professional help if it was needed. There is no shame in this. The goal is to get real, know yourself, and heal. 

These questions are listed in no particular order. 

What about my past am I embarrassed by? 

What event do I want nobody to know about? 

How often do I think of that event? 

Is it something I should talk to someone about? 

How do my childhood dreams, if I can remember them, compare to the life I am currently living? How does this make me feel? Really?

Who wronged me in the past? 

Who do I need to forgive? 

Who have I wronged? 

Have I forgiven myself? 

What, or who, sets off my anger? 

What does that anger look like (imagine you were just observing it)? 

How does that anger probably feel to others? 

What am I really angry about? Is it really the situation I described above, or is there something deeper going on? If so, what? 

Is anger what I really feel? Or, is some other emotion present (sadness, fear, anxiety, or something else?). If so, what is it? 

What does my eating say about my emotional state? 

How often do I self medicate? 

Do I turn to alcohol, or other mind-altering drugs, for an escape? 

Really? 

Could I live without my drink of choice for a year? 

Do I need to talk to someone about my drinking? 

How much sleep do I get? 

Is it restful?

Is it enough? 

What would enhance my nighttime routine: Less screen time? Going to bed earlier? Setting the alarm later? 

Do I sleep through the night, or wake up many times throughout? 

Is sleep positively, or negatively, impacting my emotional health? 

Do my credit card statement(s) tell a story about the state of my emotional health? 

Am I buying things unnecessarily? 

Do my thoughts turn frequently to positive experiences, or things, that I could purchase? 

Do I search google for the best deal so that I can justify the need for buying whatever it is that I am buying? 

Do I search Amazon at odd times for odd things? 

Do I buy things when I am also engaging in some other activity like drinking? 

Am I in debt? 

Do I have a plan to get out of debt? 

Do my eyes turn frequently to social media? 

Do my posts portray an inaccurate version of my life (either good or bad)? 

Do I evaluate the posts of others in comparison to my life (their “highlights” to my “lowlights”)? 

Do I get angry, anxious, or sad while looking at social media? 

Have I setup any time limits, or safeguards, around my use of social media? 

Would this be helpful? 

Do I show up to work with energy? 

Does my hard work mask some insecurity? 

Am I judgmental of the success of others on the team? 

Am I secure enough in myself to give others credit? Really? 

Do I want the best for my coworkers, or do I secretly want to be number one? 

Does my work get the best energy I have to offer while my spouse and kids get what is left over? 

Or, is it the other way around? 

Do I have a real stop to my work, or does it just gravitate back to home in the evening? 

Have I informed my mind of the stop time? 

Do I resent those that do not work as hard as I do? What does that say about me? 

Will I be able to really retire? Or, is retirement predicated on some sort of external factors that aim to bring a lavish lifestyle? 

Would I be okay just being? No experiences or toys, just being with others? 

Am I afraid to die? 

Have I come to grips with my own mortality? 

Is this something I should talk to someone about? 

What are my thoughts about what really matters in this life, its origins, God, and salvation? 

Have I decided? 

The list of questions above are not easy. My goal in asking them is to get the readers of this blog to know thyself. Like everything else I write about, I am spending 2021 asking myself these questions. 

It is hard work. 

But, it is necessary. 

To lead others you have to first lead yourself. 

These questions are part of that journey. 

In a Funk? Shift Your Focus.

I have been in a little bit of a funk lately. I have felt more anxious than normal. My sleep has been less than desirable. I am tired. I feel like I am sort of at the end of my rope. And, I also feel like my emotions range from depression, to happiness, back to feelings of sadness all over the course of a twenty-four hour period. 

Before I get a bunch of emails, I have talked to my doctor about all this. I have also relied heavily on the social support systems I have built over the past decade: a couple’s community group, a devoted accountability partner, and a group of guys I meet with every other Thursday to talk about life. If you can relate to anything I have already shared in this post, but have not talked with your doctor and/or your social network, please start there. These are very important steps. 

Continuing on with my story, I discovered that the more I focused on myself, the more anxious I felt. The same could be said for all the emotions above as well. The doctor even prescribed medication to help me stabilize my moods, but to no avail. For me, and what I was experiencing, medication did not help. 

In my daily time of prayer and silence, I was reminded to get outside of myself. My Bible reading plan was going through the Gospel of John, and among other things, I was constantly being reminded of the One whose primary objective was to lay down his life for all. 

The disparity struck me. Jesus gave his life, while I sought, and even clung, to mine. While I do not fully get how it works, my life has been a reminder that real life comes when I let go of it. 

“Letting go” can sound too spiritual for application. So, here is what I mean: 

Rather than focusing on myself, I start looking for others to serve. 

Rather than looking to feed my ego, I look to encourage others. 

Rather than sulking, I look for someone to give love to. 

Rather than hiding, especially when that is what I feel like doing, I lay down that preference and engage with the community around me.  

Rather than seeking measures to reduce, or even take the edge off my pain, I sit inside my grief, fear, and sadness. 

Rather than run, I sit and rest. 

This is all counter-cultural. For, we live in a world that puffs up, explains away, and promises that happiness is on the other side of following your heart. 

My life suggests that following my heart has often led to me losing any sense of life altogether. This does not mean that “dreams” and “aspirations,” are wrong. Rather, it means that “dreams” and “aspirations” rooted in the exultation of self are tricky at best, and dangerous at worse. So, proceed with caution. 

I have rediscovered that “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24). For, the extent I focus on loving and serving others is often the measure of peace I have in my soul.

You might not be a follower of Jesus. All this talk might have you wondering what this blog is even about. It is about encouraging you to live your best life, be someone worth following regardless of your position, and to find peace in doing so. 

We seem to live in a selfie, me first, world.  

The invitation is to live for something bigger by loving others first.  

Join me in doing so. 

Together, let’s brighten the days of those around us. 

Give Yourself Some Grace

I write these words towards the midpoint of another year. A year that was supposed to be easier than the previous one. It is not. It is hard, and the challenges may be different, but they are still present.

I have noticed a shared fatigue setting in with our team. Burnout is real. People are often on edge. I think this is because we were not created for sustained long-term stress. In short, nothing about life is easier today than it was a year and a half ago. So, the tread on the tires is showing. 

I see the tread when I look into the mirror. My face looks tired. I am aging. Of course, I am always aging. But, I am in the express lane right now. 

Last week I had a good talk with my doctor. It was just a check-in. They asked about my experience during this whole deal, and talking about it was almost out-of-body. There has been a couple deaths, a hospital stay for me, and various business challenges. And that only takes the story up to last October! 

The doctor looked at me and said two things worth sharing. First, he said that the mental toll of this ordeal is far greater than anyone presently realizes. Second, in this doctor’s opinion, we are collectively experiencing “post traumatic stress disorder.” 

I have to be honest with you. I have yet to take full stock of this reality. Last year, I gave myself a lot more grace and despite the hard challenges mentioned, was better for it. This year, on the other hand, I have gone back to being hard on myself. The result? I am more tired, anxious, and stressed, than I care to admit. I share this because many of the subscribers to this blog are similar to me in being “Type-A” driven leaders. 

Together, we need to give ourselves some grace. 

Ponder that for a minute. 

Let this sink in: 

Give yourself some grace. 

And here is the personal realization that led to me writing this post. It is a truth that you and I need to own in order to move forward in 2021. 

The most important muscle right now is our “showing up muscle.” Regardless of how hard things are, we need to keep showing up. People like us show up for people. People like us show up to love those people. People like us dust ourselves off when we fall down. We even put a band-aid on the scrapes and cuts. But, we keep showing up. Day after day, we keep showing up. When we are sad, we show up. When we are anxious, we show up. When we are joyous, we show up. We just show up. 

This is what counts these days. In twenty years, we won’t remember all the intricacies of 2020 and 2021. But, we will remember whether we showed up. So will those who follow us. 

So, go easy on yourself. Simplify your expectations for what can, and even needs, to get done this year. But, above all else, keep showing up. 

It is the most important muscle to flex in 2021.