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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

“Leadership Courage” by David Cottrell and Eric Harvey

The following excerpt from the book “Leadership Courage” by David Cottrell and Eric Harvey has been passed along by Jackie Marcum. It'll make you want to go buy the book and read it. It's now on my reading list. Enjoy...

A common requirement of leaders at all levels is having the courage to make tough decisions and take difficult actions. Courage is frequently discussed in meetings, rated in performance appraisals, and listened for in promotion interviews. Almost all would agree that it’s an important element of successful leadership. Yet, becoming a courageous leader involves a lot more than talking, rating, and correctly answering interview questions. The dictionary definition of courage is “the state or quality of mind and spirit that enables one to face danger or fear with confidence and resolution; bravery; valor.” But what does all that mean in the business world? How can it be measured and quantified?

Perhaps the best way to understand courage is to define its opposite state. Some would say the antithesis of courage is “cowardliness” … avoiding (or succumbing to) pressure, difficulty, and danger. Others would say “fear” … being afraid to do the right thing when the going gets tough. Certainly, both of those answers are logical and appropriate. But there’s another description of the opposite of courage – one not as commonly thought of, although equally valid. That description is “conformity” … letting things be the way they have always been because of the high price associated with changing them.

As a leader, you need courage to do what needs to be done … to do what you know is the right thing. There will always be those who tell you you’re wrong – even when you’re thoroughly convinced that you’re right. There will always be some tempting you to take an easier and less resistant path. And, there will always be those who – either unintentionally or purposefully – create obstacles that will challenge your mettle. Even the very best leaders must regularly pass the courage test. Courage is about having the guts, nerve, and heart to do things that foster and support progress. And that begins with the realization that:
1) improvement won’t be found on the path of least resistance known as conformity, and
2) status quo is the archenemy of progress.
When you think about it, “doing things the way we’ve always done them” requires no leadership at all. What is there to lead to? How can others follow someone who’s not going anywhere? That’s why “leadership” and “courage” must be viewed as synonymous concepts.

To become a courageous leader, you must have an undeniable, indisputable, unwavering commitment to be the best you can be. The true measure of your leadership is the ability to look in the mirror and know that you had the courage to do what you felt was the right thing to do. The people you lead are counting on you. Don’t let them down.

For every person in every organization, there comes a moment when he or she must have the courage to step forward and meet the needs of the time. Regardless of whether your moment is now or sometime in the future, you must be ready.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jack's Baby Dedication


Yesterday we celebrated God's gift of life by having Jack dedicated at church. It was a fantastic morning for Rochelle and I, along with Cori, Megan, Emily, Mema, Grandpa and Grandma Tregellas, and members of our Life Group at FNC. A special gift came from a great friend. Jimmy Rifenberg wrote and sang a song for the special day which can be seen and heard on Rochelle's blog http://rochellefouts.blogspot.com (I know, I know, but I couldn't figure out how to get it to my blog). Jimmy is truly gifted of God as you'll be able to tell once you view the video.
Our pastor and friend John Donnerberg challenged us as parents to raise Jack up in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord and then charged our family, friends, and church to assist us with his nurture. It is great to be a part of a wonderful church family, and to have the support of our family.
To be given the gift of parenthood is an awesome blessing and responsibility. My faith and reliance upon God grows everyday as I watch 3 beautiful daughters take their individual places among their peers. Now it is time to raise Jack to take his place and help lead others as well. My daily prayer is that God would enable me to be the husband Rochelle needs each day and the father Cori, Megan, Emily, and Jack need during each phase of their life journey as well. As parents, may you share a similar prayer.
Lead Strong, your family needs you (and so does mine).
Shawn

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Choosing the "BEST" Pathway for Your Life

Where has the time gone?? Jack is 10 weeks old as of yesterday and I don't think I've even thought about this blog during that time. But here I am.

Last night at church during our prayer service I was reading through the Psalms and came across a verse that must have meant something to me at one time or another because it was highlighted in my Bible. As I re-read it the verse came back alive for me all over again. Psalm 32:8 says, "I (the Lord) will lead you down life's BEST pathway. I will guide you and watch out for you." Wow! What a powerful verse of scripture. If you're anything like me you've tried to force a lot of things into place at one time or another during your life. Or maybe, like me, you have chosen some things that you just knew we're ordained of God somehow. But I am so glad that when we are in relationship with God, and that is the key - a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ-that He wants to lead us down the BEST pathway for our life. Not just any pathway, or an easy fix pathway, or a well paying pathway, but the BEST possible pathway imaginable for our lives. That's totally amazing to think about!

But I think that goes farther than just us when we strive to be leaders. Remember, Leadership = Relationships + Influence. Just as I am in relationship with God and He leads me down the best pathway for my life, as I am in relationship with others I also need to help influence them to choose the best pathway for their lives. That's an incredible responsibility and privilege.

Who in your life today could use a little godly influence to help them choose the best pathway for their life? Build those relationships every day and influence them. In so doing your leadership equation comes to life and grows exponentially.

Lead Strong,

Shawn

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Leadership 1 Corinthians 10:31 Way

Amarillo College is offering a 9 month Ethical Leadership Institute bringing together some of the best local authorities on the subject in the Texas Panhandle. This morning we invited 3 respected leaders in our community to come and speak as a panel on Ethics in Leadership. The 3 were comprised of a sheriff, an attorney, and a professor. Without fail each referenced their faith in helping to form their ethics and the sheriff told the class of 31 that at each staff meeting he tries to influence his department to practice ethical leadership by practicing 1 Corinthians 10:31: "...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." How amazing and bold that a sheriff would not only believe and practice this Biblical principle, but that he would encourage his department to do the same. Leadership really is that simple, that profound, and that powerful. Simply, do what is right and do what is right all the time.

Lead Strong,

Shawn

Friday, September 18, 2009

Life with a newborn!!

On September 9th, 2009 at 6:18 PM (18:18 military time; notice all the 9's in this?) life as Rochelle and I know it all changed. Hmm, life as Rochelle and I as well as Cori, Megan, Emily, and everyone in our daily sphere of relationships changed as we know it. Even Coal Miner, our dog, life changed. Jackson Cooper changed our world's forever, and non of us would have it any other way. And with Jack's entrance into our world and our lives new responsibilities immediately entered our world as well, responsibilities that I take very seriously as a new (old) father.

As I have watched 3 beautiful daughters develop into reflections of God and impact their worlds, now I have a tremendous opportunity to help Jack develop into a reflection of God to his world. My timeless advice to the girls "don't grow up to be stupid" has worked so far and I hope to pass that same advice on to their little brother. But more importantly I hope to pass on to Jack to "love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength" as well. As I hope that I helped the girls to understand what it is to be a daughter of God and what to look for in a real man, now I hope to teach Jack what a real man is, versus what society has made men out to be.

It has always been a goal as a father to not only teach but to model the way. Not that I am finished with Cori, Megan, and Emily by any means. But now I have another opportunity to improve as I do the same for Jack. As a student of leadership, I am convinced that the greatest lab for leadership development is in our own homes. And while Jack is not a specimen to be experimented on, he is my son with whom to pass on my values, believes, and passions as he develops his own.

Ok Jack, I'm ready if you are. With your mom and sisters by my side we welcome you into as non-normal a family as you'll find, but a family that welcomes God's gift of new life into it with as much joy and love as anyone can imagine.

Lead Strong...

Shawn

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pregnancy Sympathy Pains (Pangs)?

Ok, Rochelle is a bundle of energy! She is due in less than 2 weeks and she has been a crazed Energizer Bunny for a month or more now! It is sickening I tell you! Me on the other hand? I don't have an ounce of energy, and the meager amount I do have lately seems to dissipate faster than I can replenish it with the pot of espresso I'm downing every morning, ugh! (Yes, espresso, that regular java stuff has no effect any more!).

I'm taking my vitamins, eating well, exercising, sleeping, you know, living right. Hmmm, I wonder if I could start taking Rochelle's prenatal vitamins? They seem to be doing phenomenal things for her. I don't remember all this going on with my 3 daughters, is this normal? Of course I wasn't 44 with them either, but I have always been the energetic one, up at 5:30 AM ready to charge into the day. Now I drag out of bed ready to down a pot of coffee.

I'm chalking it all up to sympathy pains or pangs, lol. The fatigue, leg cramps, back aches (that's all me, not Rochelle) will surely go away once Jack gets here, right? Please tell me it's so! I'm not complaining mind you, I simply don't have the energy to complain. I'm just sharing my journey, you know, that whole misery loves company thing. I just hope I have enough energy to be awake when Jack does get here.

If any of you have some energy boosts please let me know. I not only need it now but I know I'm going to need it in a couple weeks!

Lead strong, whether fatigued or not.
Shawn

Friday, August 7, 2009

Practicing the Leadership Equation

Our pastor asked me to fill the pulpit next Sunday (August 16 at First Nazarene Church - Amarillo. If you're not doing anything that morning come join us, I could use the moral support) and Rochelle and the girls asked me if I knew what I was going to preach on? I told them "of course I did." Not believing me that asked for Scripture texts, a short snippet, etc. Not ever being the one to share my sermon too early (hey, if I did they wouldn't come, lol) I respectfully declined to share anything with them. So, not believing I had given it any thought they pressed me further so I told them I was preaching on the power of relationships. "Big surprise" they all said! But isn't that a good thing? They know me and they know my life message. Leadership=Relationships+Influence. I am glad they weren't surprised and that they know me that well. But since then it has ramped up to where I am having to put into practice my life philosophy of leadership (did I tell you it is Leadership=Relationships+Influence? Just checking).

At Amarillo College Dr. Matney has asked me to help facilitate a project that seems to have come to an impasse. It's had really good people involved until now and the project has been asked for by area business and industry, so the need is there. From all appearances it has become a people issue... you guessed it, relationships. Not that the relationships are bad, but when you get several strong willed personalities together sometimes personalities can overshadow the task at hand. I enjoy working with all the people at the table and I love facilitating projects, so of course I am ramped up about the task! More exciting to me is practicing and proving (at least to myself) that the philosophy of Leadership=Relationships+Influence really works.

Everybody has their own unique personalities and qualities, and seeing them lived out in relationships is exhilarating and a little intimidating at times. But out of these relationships come great opportunities for growth, productivity, collaboration, and new friendships. Appreciating our differences, building on our commonalities, and using our strengths to overcome our weaknesses allows for incredible things to happen.

I'm looking forward to the task at hand. Take every opportunity to engage in relationships. Yes they can be intimidating (you can use whatever adjective you want), but the rewards are so much greater. Prove the equation wrong if you can, but I firmly believe that true leadership at all levels and in all situations stems from relationships and the influence you bring to those relationships. Of course, you can't remove yourself from relationships and you have to choose the kind of influence you want to bring to those relationships as well.

Leadership=Relationships+Influence...

Lead Strong,
Shawn

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lessons From the Road


It's no secret, I love to ride. I've owned Yamaha's, Kawasaki's, Honda's, 2 Harley's, and now I'm on a Suzuki Volusia (love this bike!). I've never really ridden with a group before, more of that "Lone Wolf" mentality that seems to fit my personality. But recently I've started riding with my pastor and friend John Donnerberg, and our church has formed a rider's group that meets often to, well you know, ride. This has been good for me as I now pay more attention to others around me on their bikes, what they're doing on their bikes, and how we all interact with each other at 70 miles an hour. But the greater benefit is how riding with a group is causing me to be more concerned about others and how my actions, or lack of appropriate action, affects the other rider(s). Hmmm, there is a leadership lesson in there and it accentuates my basic leadership equation that Leadership=Relationships+Influence. It really is that simple. All relationships (whether on a bike or not) impact each other, even if for a brief moment. Once I recognize that I pay more attention to how I may be influencing those relationships. Every relationship, no matter how brief the interaction, allows me an opportunity to be a positive influence, and thus be a leader. What about you? Are you fully recognizing the relationships in your life? Are you taking the opportunity to be a positive influence? We really are all leaders.
Hmmm, I think I need another ride...
Lead Strong,
Shawn

Friday, July 17, 2009

Time is Short

Wow, approximately 54 days and counting till little Jackson Cooper enters the world. I have to say approximately because after 3 daughters I have realized that the due date is really the doctors best guesstimation. I wonder if being an older dad will make me a better dad? As I look at 3 great daughters, all unique in themselves, I wonder what kind of influence I have ultimately been? Have I lead them closer to Christ? Have I taught them the value of relationships? Have I showed them how to make their journey through life joyful and thus successful? Have I instilled a sense of responsibility in them to take the initiative and be leaders in all of their interactions (remember, my philosophy of leadership is Leadership = Relationships + Influence? One thing I do know is that I have created 3 biker dudets! That is worth something, right? And, I already have Jack's first leather motorcycle jacket picked out. Since Rochelle travels the ear ring and tat will come when she's out of town (jk Rochelle, but it would send a shock wave through your family that would be felt several states away, lol).

I can be a leader at work, in my role in the church, and other areas, but if I am not first a leader in the home I am no leader at all. Rochelle needs me to be, Cori, Megan, and Emily need me to be, and in less than 2 months Jack will need me to be. Christian, husband, father, leader have to come in that order.

Wow, so much responsibility - but greater privilege. Hmmm, I think I need a motorcycle ride to let it all sink in. I wonder if I could find a car seat to fit my bike?

Lead Strong,
Shawn

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lessons from a tomato plant...

First, let me tell you right up front that I never claimed, nor do I pretend to be a gardener, or for that matter know anything about gardening (hey, I grew up in Flint, MI. We make cars, not vegetables). Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, my wife Rochelle (who by the way grew up on a ranch in Booker, TX, so you would think should have a working knowledge of this gardening stuff) decided to plant some tomato plants this year. Humoring her I went along with the idea. After all, I may not know how to grow them but I like to eat them non-the-less. It’s now been about 6 weeks since those plants have gone into the ground and the plants themselves are huge, measuring over 4 foot tall and about the same size in diameter. They look good and have a lot of “green” tomatoes on them, so in my impatience I keep asking, “when are they going to be ready to eat?” Rochelle just laughs and tells me that it takes time (although in reality she is just as impatient as I am, if not more so). What we're learning is that the fruit has to have time to grow, be nourished, and ripen. When the fruit is ready we’ll have all the tomatoes we can eat.


As I keep thinking about the lessons I am learning from our tomato plants I realize just how relevant they are to what each of us do everyday. Regardless of what we do each day, our lives are filled with relationships, and each of those relationships needs time, attention, and nourishment. As Rochelle and I are learning, “when the tomatoes are ready we’ll have more than we can eat.”


Some of relationships in our lives need a little special care and attention today. Keep nurturing each of them. And when they’re ready they’ll produce more than we can eat. That’s really what leadership on all levels; personal and professional, secular and spiritual are all about, nurturing relationships with people, being patient, and reaping the harvest of our labors. We are half way through another year. Now is a good time to stop and think about each and every relationship in our lives. Do any need a little special attention today? There's no time like the present, let’s keep building those relationships, nurturing them, and reaping the harvest.

You’ll never look at a tomato plant the same…



Lead Strong...


Shawn

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Losing our focus

I've been really struggling lately about how quickly we can lose our focus and forget our original mission. When you are struggling to get your message out the passion carries you and literally propels you into the world, proclaiming what you know needs to be heard. But when that message is, not only heard, but sought out by others it seems our passion can wane and the mission can become business. And unfortunately business can soon supersede our mission and even begin to dictate how others are being affected by the message.

Personally, I'm wrestling with what to do with this in my own life as I have been disillusioned recently by a longtime "hero" of sorts in my own world. Now, whether it was actually him or the business that his mission has turned into I don't know, but ultimately doesn't he still control the business which blossomed out of the mission? But, this is no different from what can happen to any of us who find success in our mission.

The challenge to myself and others is to not lose sight of the mission in the face of business; personally, professionally, spiritually, or otherwise. Hmm, I wonder how this affects Christianity in America??? Do we really want to go there???

Lead Strong,

Shawn

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Even leaders resist change

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. All social networking tools that have invaded our culture and are now invading business life as well as personal life. Truth of the matter is that those of us in business or who are responsible for organizations cannot avoid the inevitable truth that these three social networking giants are now social marketing tools. No longer is print media, or even print and radio/tv enough. Today's market is driven by social networks, and Twitter is alarmingly popular.

Now I'm fairly conversant in Facebook having worked in college life for so long, so I have little problem navigating Facebook and can see its value in marketing your organization. I have 3 daughters so texting is not an issue, but Twitter takes texting to the Nth degree. The Twitter phenomenon is amazing and probably holds the most value in social marketing of the three. LinkedIn is a powerful professional social network that has great possibility as well, but this Twitter thing remains to me the most curious and possibility laden.

With Twitter I can post something relevant (or not) and all who follow me can read it. But understanding that Twitter is still a "social network" and not a strictly marketing tool seems to be difficult for some. Twitter is used to draw people to yourself, to build relationships, and to inform. As I increase my Twitterability I notice more and more skipping of the relationship building stage and jumping right to trying to "sell" something. I know that approach turns me off, no matter how good a product your marketing.

I take you back to the premise that Leadership=Relationships+Influence. I cannot influence you without building a relationship first. Twitter is another tool in doing that. I know new technology is frightening, but I keep running into leaders, strong leaders who reject the trends. I contend that we either adapt to new marketing techniques or we get left behind with our businesses or organizations. Old school marketing will get you old school results. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn offer alternatives that people are adhering to for the moment.

Trends seem to come and go, but for the time these three social networks are here, and they appear to be here for the long haul. My advice to leaders... learn to use these. Build relationships and embrace the future. Besides, it's kind of fun.

Lead Strong through Social Networks,
Shawn

Monday, May 18, 2009

Make your home in Him, John 14:23

Our pastor has been preaching from John 14 and yesterday he taught on the Holy Spirit. As I was listening I started reading ahead and noticed this wonderful truth in John 14:23 (sorry John, I really was paying attention yesterday).

John 14 is an awesome passage of scripture in which Jesus is teaching us about the Holy Spirit. Within this passage is a small passage that if not careful can be quite honestly, but completely overlooked. "we will come to him and make our home with Him (John 14:23 NIV)." Jesus is teaching us about knowing the Father because we know Jesus the Son. He's telling us that he will not leave us as orphans, but leaving is for our benefit because He must leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come in all His fullness. And, Jesus is telling us that if we obey His commandments He will abide with us and we will abide with Him.

But what is so striking is that Jesus says, "we will come and make our home with (some translations say... make our him in...) Him." We? Who is this We Jesus is referring to if not Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit and us making our home in God the Father. Wow! Where is your home made today?

Some folks make their homes in the abundance of their wealth. Some in their toys or their home. Some make their home in the careers or even their families. But Christ teaches that if we obey his commandments we can make our home in God the Father. That is where I want to make my home, with and in God.

Now, granted, I have not taken the time to do a complete exegesis on this little passage, but the simple truth seems to stand on its own... to make our home with and in the Father. What an awesome realization that is ours because of our faith in Jesus and His presence in us through the Holy Spirit.

Where are you making your home? Something to think about this week.

God bless your faith journey,
Shawn

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wow, am I tired!

I know, I know. We all feel tired on occasion and "burn the candle at both ends" from time to time. My fear is though that if we do this for too long we run the risk of not just falling behind, but completely "dropping the ball" on important people and projects in the process (my greatest fear is dropping the ball on important people).

In the scheme of things I probably do not have any more "irons in the fire" then you do (you just have to love all these metaphors, don't you?) but this last weekend finally caught me. It was a great weekend with my brother, whom I hadn't seen for 4 years, watching Emily play some of the best basketball I have ever seen her play, touring the Amarillo area, hitting the Cadillac Ranch, Big Texan Steak House, The Cross in Groom, and Palo Duro Canyon. Not to mention church and enjoying family. Maybe it was staying up till midnight and 1:00 am that really did me in, especially since I am usually in bed by 10:00, but yesterday I could hardly function. Today is better, but I've been reminded that you really cannot manage time, you can only manage yourself within the time allotted.

I am determined that if anything has to "fall through the cracks" (there's another metaphor for you) that it will not be people in my life. How about you? Tired? Are you trying to manage time instead of managing yourself within your time allotted? This past weekend got my attention, and while I would not trade it for anything, it did remind me of the need to better manage myself.

Okay now, work, family, church... Rochelle, where did I put that law book I was reading for class?

Lead Strong by beginning with yourself,

Shawn

Monday, April 27, 2009

Don't think that you don't influence others...

If you know me, or have looked at this blog at all, you know my philosophy of leadership is very simple, it is written like a mathematical formula: Leadership = Relationships + Influence. It really is that simple and that complex.

Yesterday I competed in the OKC 1/2 Marathon with 6,500 other 1/2 marathoners (19,000 total runners in various events). It was an extremely humid day with 30 plus mph headwinds. And, not being familar with the course I did not realize that the last few miles (okay, the last 5 of the 1/2 marathon) were run on an uphill grade). Now any one of these three elements I can handle by themselves (just like most runners) but when you put all three together the dynamics change considerably.

Let's take the day from the beginning. The race started at 6:30 (AM). Rochelle and I left the hotel (yes, I made Rochelle go with me... thanks honey) at 4:30 and drove to downtown OKC. About 5:00 AM we attended the church service at the "Survivors Tree" and then I made my way to my respective chute (my goal was to run a sub 2 so I entered the "masses" at that entry point). The marathoners and 1/2 marathoners were all in the same location (about 6 city blocks... literally a massive wave of humanity). Trust me, you built relationships quickly, whether you intended to or not. Which proves my point that if there are at least 2 people together you have just become a leader and influencer... as long as someone is watching you you have become a leader. At 6:30 AM (I can't stress the AM part enough) the gun went off and a little over 3 minutes later our grouping finally began to move.

Everything was great, especially after the pack started to separate around the 2 mile mark. People found other runners to pace themselves against and observe. I chose a couple that I thought I could keep pace with. When they moved around traffic so did I. The first 8 miles were great and I kept an 8:45 pace consistently. I had chosen the right people to pace myself against. Then it all changed. Heading into the 9th mile we hit the "HILLS" of OKC. And not just the hills, but the 30 mph headwinds as well. The smaller clusters of runners got even smaller and people started falling away. I lost my pacers in the hills and just focused straight ahead best I could.

But this is where I think my leadership philosophy was proven true. I started paying attention, undue attention I'll add, to other runners. And even though I felt pretty good I noticed them struggling. And guess what? Yep, I started to struggle too. My 8:45 pace fell quickly to 9:30 and the hills and wind and humidity started to take their toll.

Reflecting back a day later, however, and I can now see that the hills, wind, and humidity (while elements of the race) did not have as much affect on me as my paying undue attention to the other runners. You see, they were unknowingly influencing me and therefore leading my approach to the race. We were already in relationship because of our participation in the race, and now we started to influence one another throughout.

Leadership = Relationships + Influence, hmmm. Now, this all happened unwittingly. And we all encouraged one another to finish strong (see, there's the Leadership equation at work again), but I wonder if I might have finished stronger if I'd have been able to keep my focus on different runners? I wonder if I unduely influenced other runners to slow down and struggle?

Lesson learned; pay attention to who I am focusing on and therefore allowing to influence me. Also, pay attention to my own actions that might be influencing others.

Oh, and if your interested? I finished with a 2:00:44 (an overall 9:45 pace). I felt good considering the conditions. By the way, according to the news last years men's marathon winner was 5 minutes off his pace and last years women's marathon winner collapsed 1:40 miuntes into the race.

Next time (yes, I'm going to do this again) I'm going to be more cognizant of my philosophy. Both for myself and others.

Just something to think about,

Lead Strong...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Handling the STORMs of life...

Wow! Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a seminar hosted by Amarillo Area Foundation. Ron Archer was the guest speaker (his life story would be enough to warrant buying his books or seeing him in person) and he shared some powerful truth about life... here's a short synopsis:

First; our world is facing what he calls the "4 C's of the 21st Century"
*Overwhelming Complexity
*Increasing Competition
*Unintended Consequences
* Accelerated Change

These "4 C's" can create incredible STORMs (Significant Trauma Overwhelming Reasonable Minds) and how we deal with these STORMs determines our life response and focus. Consider the Wizard of OZ. Of all the great characters, the storm is the real star of the movie because it altered everyone's life. Consider the responses to the storm:
*Dorothy lost her way for a while
*The Tin Man lost his mobility (literally rusted stiff) and was stuck in a rut
*The Scare Crow lost his mind and couldn't think clearly
*The Lion lost heart
*The Wizard chose to live in a facade

Now the truth of the matter is that we all face and will continue to face STORMS in life. The question for each of us today is how we will respond to the STORMs of life? Will they make you Better or Bitter?

Just something to think about, especially in light of today's economic unrest.

Lead Strong in the face of the STORM,

Shawn

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life is busy, to say the least...

Wow, I cannot believe I haven't posted for so long. When your daughter tells you to update your blog you know it's been too long. So, Megan, I am updating...

Despite the economic downturn, we are extremely busy at Amarillo College in Workforce Development. Organizations are trying to find creative ways to educate their workforce, not downsize any more than they need to, and retain the employees they have. It is amazing to me that in today's tight economy employees are still jumping ship for .50 cents an hour more some where else(?). The trouble is that for some as soon as they jump ship their new employer goes under and they cannot return to their previous employer. Thinking things through is not every one's gift evidently.

Rochelle and I are busy with our Life Group, trying to birth a new Life Group, our Sunday School class, and generally trying to support and advance the work of the Kingdom through our local church.

Rochelle is busy traveling, and at the same time trying to maintain our home (which she is exceptional at), and prepare for the coming bundle of joy in September. And I have started law school, which may be the most challenging educational endeavor yet.

Cori and Megan are busy at SNU. Cori graduates next December and is thinking of just staying in OKC this summer to work full-time. Megan is preparing for her trip to Lagos, Nigeria, Africa this summer and is busy enlisting support. Emily is running track, playing golf, competing in UIL Public Speaking (the benefits of a small school is that you get to try everything), and staying very active with the youth group at church.

So, maybe this explains the lack of blog posts. But all in all, life is great!!

God bless,
Shawn

Friday, February 20, 2009

Focusing too much attention on the unimportant

You've heard that old saying "making a mountain out of a mole hill?" Wow has that been true around my workplace lately. Things that really are (at least seem to me) insignificant have dominated peoples attention lately. And not that in some fashion these things are not entirely without merit, but they are things that could and should be handled with relative quickness and ease.

I think we are in trouble as leaders when we focus too much attention on fairness and equality and not enough attention on equity. Sorry to be the one to break the news to you but life simply is not fair sometimes and not everyone deserves to be treated equal. But we can all be treated equitably. Sometimes leadership is just tough and calls for that little extra something that leaders seem to possess (don't ask me to articulate that little extra something... you just seem to recognize it in some people).

I wish everyone could be treated as an equal but truth be known I don't even treat my kids like that and if you're honest, you probably don't either. People require more at some times than others. It is not fair, and it is not equal treatment, but it is equitable based on their needs and what's going on in their lives at the time.

And in those same regards, someone once said that you could tell the health of an organization by the size of its policy manual. The thicker the policy manual the unhealthier the organization. Unhealthy organizations are built on fairness and equality so everything has to be written down and policies have to be made. Healthy organizations understand that circumstances change and although situations might be similar, the circumstances surrounding those situations can be radically different, thus the need for equity vs. fairness and equality.

I know I'm ranting but I challenge each of of to focus on the important, base decisions on equity and not completely on fairness and equality, and lead people to the desired horizon. Leadership is not easy and not everyone will like or appreciate your decisions all the time. Shoot, you might not even be liked sometimes, but leaders are lead by vision and purpose, not by the whims and likes and dislikes of people (which can get us into trouble).

Ask yourself, where have I made decisions that have back fired because they were based on the idealization of fairness and equality instead of equity? How can I do better next week?

Lead Strong...

Shawn

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Catching up...

Boy, I have been bad lately about posting. We got to see the baby again last night. 173 heartbeats per minute. The kid was running a marathon in its mommy's tummy. The pictures from the sonogram were cool and if you flip them over it looks like 2 faces (I told Rochelle it looks like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. She didn't think it was near as funny as I did). Emily got to go with us and I am not sure she knew what to think of it all? God is so good and modern technology is awesome. We are so blessed and growing more and more excited everyday!

The only bad part about last night is that the technician would not let me take any pictures like the previous tech did... something about hospital rules and stuff. Oh well, always the rule follower I complied.

Thanks for your prayers, God bless!

Shawn

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ok, the news is out...


Well, the news is finally out. No more hints. No more subtleties. Yep, people know and it is kind of a relieve not having to keep it to ourselves anymore. Oh, in case you're not "in the know" let me inform you too, Rochelle is pregnant! The little "flutter" as the radiologist called it today is due September 8th or 12th (how's that for picking a definite date?). The heart beat is strong at 153 beats per minute and it is, well, shaped like an alien or something still. But it (he or she) is ours and we're excited.

Cori, Megan, and Emily are all excited as well and have been anticipating this for almost a year now. Every family meeting they just knew we were going to announce a brother or sister, but no, according to them we just gave them underwear, or told them we were going skiing or some other random bit of news. I'm so sorry we disappointed them all this time.

Anyway, the news is out so join us as we celebrate our coming son or daughter???

And yes, we have tentative names picked out (well, I have names I've agreed on with Rochelle but I am not so sure she is set with them yet. And having grown up with a name I have absolutely hated for 44 years I am very picky on what we call this kid... so, for those of you who want to make suggestions, thanks - but NO thanks:-)... Ok, you can make a suggestion but don't be surprised if I ignore you).


Keep us in your prayers...



Shawn

Friday, January 23, 2009

Orange and Blue go with everything, right?

Ok, I like orange and blue. I think they're bright colors that are easy to coordinate other bright colors with. Denim on the other hand is not on my top list of favorites (sorry honey), black leather on the other hand... just kidding. Hmmm, now the yellow walls as a base with orange and blue accents (curtains, pillows, bedding...) sounds ok.



So, what to do you think of that mix. I think anyone would be comfortable in a nice bright room like that, don't you. And the room has some great windows with lots of sunlight from the south/southwest. I can see it in my mind, looks cool to me (but I am not always the best judge, but I know what I like and especially what I don't). This is harder than we thought, but we'll figure out in time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I didn't know I was carrying stress?

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites us as His disciples to swap burdens with Him. Those things that seem so heavy and unbearable to us He welcomes and says He will give us His yoke which is easier to bear.

I honestly didn't know I was so heavy laden until last night. Rochelle and I had been a little stressed this past weekend (actually, I thought Rochelle was stressed and I was handling it well; being positive and encouraging and all), but last night I just felt completely exhausted. Not because I was carrying a load, but because I felt the load lifted. You know that feeling you get after an intense workout? Your exhausted but you know that something great has just happened. I knew God had lifted a burden from my shoulders (really, a burden I didn't know I was carrying to the extent I was). My exhaustion was my bodies response to having the weight lifted and being free from it. That weight was now on Jesus' shoulders and I was now carrying His sense of peace and confirmation that He was in control and all things were under His care.

The confirmation of that actually came earlier in the day, but the release came last night and what a release it was. For the first night in several I slept all night long and woke up refreshed and eager to face the day. Thank you Lord for the offer to exchange burdens. Thank you for answered prayer. Being reminded of how great it felt I am going to be more attuned to others carrying burdens and see if I can make theirs a little lighter as well.

Who could you and I help this week carry their burdens? Keep your eyes open to just such an opportunity.

Lead Strong...
Shawn

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Is life getting busier or are we busying up life?

"WOW," that was the response I received yesterday from a great friend and brother in the Lord. He was responding to all that is going on in our lives right now. Rochelle travels a lot with her career which keeps us busy, my career is as full as I can make it (I get bored easily), we are at all of Emily's basketball games (I can't help it, I am proud of her starting on her varsity team as a sophomore... it's a dad thing), we teach Sunday School, lead a Life Group, oversee the Life Group ministry and are starting a new Life Group in February and then I had the bright idea of going to Law School to get my JD (I already have my doctorate... 1 is never enough). Add to that 2 daughter is college... maybe I should say "WOW!"

To me, it really doesn't seem like that big a deal, we just go with the adventure. Life is busy, and if it is not busy enough we just add to it (there is that ADD thing again, and I think Rochelle's is worse than mine). With all these things taken into consideration, I have a sneaky suspicion that we haven't seen the half of it. I am betting that we are about to ramp up to the height of busyness! All things consider, I'm ready for it... Bring It On!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don't Bring 'em Down in 2009

Attitude is everything... at least it is a major part of leadership. You see it in business, family, sports, and church. When a perceived leader develops a bad attitude it seems to infect the entire organization. I work with businesses everyday, some better than others. But the one thing that sets the better than average apart is not the amount of revenue they generate, the quality of their product or the brilliance of their staff, it is the attitude of the people, especially that of the leader(s).

I see it in my daughter Emily's varsity basketball team. They started the season 7 - 1 with high hopes of winning their district. Since then they have fallen below the 500 mark and I think it can be traced back to attitude. Cockiness on the part of some of the seniors became laziness on the part of those seniors which has become heartbreak for the team as the underclassmen have been working their butts off to try and salvage the season (by the way, Em is a sophomore, not a senior). Now we have 2 seniors hurt which might turn out to be the best thing that could happen in the long run as the underclassmen are assuming starting roles and instilling a new attitude in the team.

The worst place I see attitude affecting the organization is church. In Matthew 18 Jesus is teaching us that to truly understand who God is and what our relationship with Him should be like we have to become like little children.

Children, small children, are trusting of everyone. My doctoral work was in human development. Until the age of 3 most children are like superhighways, traveling in all kinds of directions and to the chagrin of parents will run to anyone with open arms. They simply trust! Have you noticed how new Christians in your church are so trusting, but those of us more "mature" try to warn them to stay away from so and so, or worse yet, we say to ourselves, "they'll learn." How sad.

Even more disheartening is how eager new Christians are to serve, and again, those of us more "mature" sit back and say to ourselves, "they'll get over it" instead of encouraging them and letting their enthusiasm inspire us. Small children love to help. As a parent it is the time when we see them wanting to do dishes and clean their rooms and pick up after themselves (I wonder what happens?).

Jesus teaches us that we must become like these little children; trusting and eager to serve and love and reach out. He also warns those of us more "mature" that when we cause them to sin, I think He means lose their childlike characteristics, then it would be better for us to hang a stone around our necks and drown ourselves. Wow, that is severe! But that is how adamant He is about stealing the childlike characteristics away from others and passing on our bad attitudes.

I think there is a whole sermon in this, but for now I challenge you to make it a New Years Resolution to "Not Bring 'em Down in 2009!" I know I am going to be very careful about my attitude and how it affects others. I don't want Jesus to tell me to "go jump in a lake," I don't like the connotation!

Just sayin'

Shawn