This summer my wife and I traveled to Ukraine to finalize the adoption of our daughter, and one reason my blogging slowed significantly.
Our adoption required not only a trip around the world but also multiple “high speed” trains across the countryside. Each time we boarded a train we were taken back to a different period of time. By that I mean the U.S. doesn’t rely on trains like it once did. We missed all of the years of watching the train depart/arrive with our loved one’s on board.
The train stations offered a relatively cheap long distance traveling option, while also delivering life to a city.
After enjoying this position for years, a seismic shift occurred. The automobile. An alternative arose that solved problems. You could leave when you wanted, go where you chose. You could create your own adventure, while enjoying independence.
Railroads were forced to adapt and evolve.
Now locomotives are high tech, and fuel efficient. Now they mainly haul cargo.
Are you part of an important shift? Are you involved in something larger than yourself? Is it time to evolve and adapt?
Today is your chance and my chance to do something worth while.
What is one way you believe we can make a shift or adapt when it comes to making a positive impact?
Look across the world, and you will see wars in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. People are fighting for control. Not long ago there were demonstrations in Hong Kong. All the efforts revolve around ideologue, choice, and voice.
Today across our country is a date to vote. Today is an opportunity to voice your opinion on what you would like to see in your local communities, your state, and representatives to the federal government in Washington DC.
Imagine wanting to vote, and being unable to do so because others threaten your polling location. Imagine having candidates from only one thought process. Imagine your ballots simply disappearing, or hundreds of thousands of new ballots appearing.
This is what takes place around the world.
It’s easy to take today’s process for-granted, but don’t. Cherish an enormous role and responsibility you have to yourself, your family, your community, and to those watching around the world.
Take time to vote today.
Are you doing what you’re great at? And what you love to do? And you’re paid a living wage to do it?
And – a hugely important consideration – you’re serving others well while you’re doing it?
I believe that’s the ultimate sweet spot for each of us. Yet sometimes we settle for less than all four of those important elements.
When we settle, we may put a cap on our own joy – and on our ability to contribute to our company, family, and community.
If we find a career doing something we’re good at and are paid fairly for, but aren’t doing what we love and aren’t serving others well, we’re not going to be happy in the long run. Nor are we likely able to be our best every moment.
If we finds outlets – volunteering in your community or YMCA, for example – that let us engage in activities we’re good at, love to do, and serve others well but get little compensation for, that’s a good thing! Activities like these may be a small portion of our week or month (several hours, maybe), but they feed our soul. We’re grateful for these inspiring hours.
What, though, if these inspiring, engaging activities don’t offset the many more hours you spend in an unfulfilling career? What then?
We can choose a different play, a different stage, and a different role – one that does fulfill us daily.
The path won’t be easy. But it may be worth the time, energy, and risks to find that inspiring sweet spot.
Two acquaintances shared with me recently the stories of their spouses who embarked on very similar mid-life transitions.
One was an architect. She’d earned an architecture degree, gained her license, and joined the AIA. She found a well-paying job. She was successful. But she didn’t love it; she didn’t feel she was serving others as well as she could.
After fifteen years in the field, she quit. She went back to school to study to be a registered nurse. She earned her nursing degree and has found a great job. She loves what she’s doing. She feels she’s serving people beautifully. She’s found her sweet spot.
Another friend’s spouse was a successful sales person and sales team leader. She was well-paid and successful over a twenty-year career. And, she didn’t love her work. She couldn’t tolerate going through the motions so she applied at veterinary school. She was accepted and quit her sales job. She headed off to school this month.
She’s so excited she can hardly stand it. She can’t wait to finish her doctoral program and serve animals (and their owners) in a veterinary hospital.
You may not be in a position to quit your job and go back to school for your “perfect,” inspiring job. But you may have a good idea of activities that could be a source of inspiration for you.
If your job isn’t in your sweet spot, engage in activities that nourish your soul and serve others well. Pay it forward – those you serve will be inspired by your actions.
What job or activities fall into your unique sweet spot? In what ways do you nourish your soul and serve others?
Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams. Since 1995, he has also served as a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies. Chris has delivered over 100 keynote speeches to audiences as large as 5,000, and guided his clients to consistently boost customer satisfaction and employee engagement by 40+% and profits by 30+%. He is the author or co-author of six books, including “Leading At A Higher Level” with Ken Blanchard. His next book, “The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace” will be published by John Wiley & Sons in September 2014.
This post originally published Monday, January 27, 2014 at http://www.grealeadersserve.org
I met my wife in 11th grade; we were in Trigonometry together. I’m glad I was there; however, I shouldn’t have been. It became obvious fairly quickly that I was in over my head. Our first ever conversation occurred while looking at the results of our first test. I made a 16… Donna made a 96! She asked me how I got a 16 – I said, “I think they gave me points for getting my name right.”
Thankfully, she took pity on me that day. This year we celebrated our 31st year of marriage. Obviously, many things have changed over the years, but perhaps nothing more dramatic than the way I view learning. In 11th grade, I was a lousy student. Today, I believe my success as a leader hinges on my ability to learn and grow.
I’ve been asked on several occasions to share the greatest insight in my career – there have been many. However, one of them is:
Your capacity to grow determines your capacity to lead.
That’s the big idea behind a book I wrote with Ken Blanchard, Great Leaders Grow. The best leaders are students for life.
My encouragement to you is to become predatory regarding learning. Learn all you can about yourself, your people, your company, your industry, your competitors and your chosen profession – for many of you, leadership is your job. Learn all you can.
Here’s a great question to start asking your colleagues: What are you learning? After they respond, they’ll often ask you the same question. What benefits might you enjoy if conversations about learning became the norm in your culture?
My commitment is to continue to share what I’m learning on my leadership journey. If I share what I’m learning, will you? Who are the emerging leaders you want to serve? How can you help them learn? Every time you help another leader learn and grow, you’re putting another brick in the monument known as your legacy.
Today, unlike 40 years ago, I am a fully engaged student. If you’re a leader, I hope you would say the same. By the way, Donna is in charge of our checkbook – I could never get the numbers to add up.
Have you made the decision to be a student for life?
Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else. In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.
The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret releases today September 2, 2014.
Worry has a way of trapping us. Worry steals our present and can rob us of our future. Yet we allow it to have power over us day after day.
If you’re tired of this process, you can break the cycle. One tool at your disposal is a newly written book by missionary Caleb Suko. He fully uses nineteen chapters to help his readers learn how to kill worry once and for all.
One of my favorite quotes in his book is:
More than anything, worry saps of our faith and depletes us of our trust in God.
I have recently been faced with worry. One thing I have noticed is when it comes to worry, I am at my worst because I feel like things are beyond my control. Truthfully, I am never really in control – I just feel that way. When my mom passed away my brother and I stood by her side trying to encourage her. All we could do was watch and pray.
While difficult, painful, and challenging, situations like my experience are vital in life. We can either stop, acknowledge our need for help, or grow bitter and angry.
We all worry. If you want an invaluable resource to help you change your life and kill worry, then you need to check out Caleb Suko’s book, “What if…How to kill worry and anxiety before they kill you!”
What is your favorite quote on worry? What do you think you could learn from Caleb’s book?
“Often our attitude is the only difference between success and failure.” John C. Maxwell
I was shocked when I read that author Andy Andrews and his manager Robert D. Smith endured over 50 rejections for a book they really believed in. There is no doubt in my mind that countless others would have quit.
Their attitude of belief and a no quit work ethic was the difference between getting published or not.
The same is true for our current adoption of children, including one who is blind. Nothing about the adoption process has been easy. Further, each time we made plans or believed a phase was complete – something would change.
In addition to this the country has undergone a revolution, annexation, and a partial disintegration.
To say we have been anxious and uncertain would be an understatement.
Yet we still remain confident that we have been called out as a family to embrace all of our children. If our attitude was any different we would have quit numerous times.
What are you committed to wholeheartedly? Are you convinced and convicted to push through the challenges that await you? Leave a comment below.
Over the last several weeks my wife and I spent time in Ukraine completing paperwork associated with adoption. While we greatly enjoyed our time there it was incredibly difficult to leave without bringing our children home.
Five days after we returned to the States, my mom passed away at the age of 57.
International adoption is emotional. Losing family is difficult.
Life has been chaotic.
We have been elevated in prayer which is a tremendous help. We’ve learned a lot about the culture of Ukraine. And we had a trip of a lifetime.
Yet, here we are – where we have been for years: waiting, praying, reflecting, learning, and hoping.
During this time, it is clear: we are not in control. As much as we want to be, and as much as we think we are – time after time, we see the crystal clear picture that we are not.
It’s a valuable lesson that helps us remember just how small we really are. It helps us recall previous life experiences where God’s plan and timing were better than our own.
What have you experienced in life that reminded you of the fact that ultimately you are not really as in charge as you thought you were?
In a previous post, I shared a quote on character from Andy Andrews in his book The Noticer Returns, “Character is actively doing what is right.”
According to Webster’s Dictionary character is defined as moral strength and self discipline. Another way it is described is reputation. If this is the case, then how is your reputation determined?
Applying Andy Andrews’ definition we could say that your reputation is based upon what you are actively doing.
What are you actively doing? On a day to day basis are you aware of your actions as well as what your actions say about your character? In the morning what defines you? afternoon? evening? Is it work, your commute, your family, something else?
In order to improve our reputation anywhere we can take three steps.
- Do the right thing. We always have choices to make, we can do what’s right or not. When we actively do what’s right we demonstrate to others that we are worthy of their trust and confidence.
- Take responsibility for your actions. We can make excuses, blame others, or simply accept responsibility for our own choices, and the consequences of those actions. Others will appreciate your honesty and maturity when you take credit for things that work out well, or things not working out so well.
- Avoid the blame game. Anyone can identify a problem and assign blame. Similar to number two, when you refuse to blame others/circumstances you demonstrate to others that you are different.
What are ways you strive to develop/demonstrate your character in public and privately? What one thing would you add to the list to someone improve their reputation?
How do you define character? (Leave a response below)