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Friday, November 5, 2010

Never underestimate the power of relationships

The more I read the more I realize that there really is nothing new being said about good leadership. Sure, we repackage it and give it new stories. We exemplify new models to pattern ourselves after, and we love to tell stories of success. But at the end of the day, leadership, at least to me, still boils down to relationships.

Now don't get me wrong, I've said it before and I'll continue to say it. Relationships are difficult, time consuming, and fragile. They take effort and hard work, time that many leaders just are not willing to invest. However, I would still advocate that for long term success there is no other way.

Here's an example. First a disclaimer, this is not a political leaning one way or the other, just an observation. Not long ago our president built a platform of change and hope. A platform that grabbed the American people, especially young people. He, in a sense, built a relationship with people that most felt was genuine. And the powerful thing was that his relationship seemed to transcend the presidency and cross over to congress and the senate. What happened? In this weeks election the American people, although fickle, lost faith in the relationship that had been built and in large numbers went back to previous relationships on the other side of the political spectrum. In my estimation, that was a quick reversal. Yes, America has seen some tough times. And let's be honest, regardless of who is and has been in office, things were doomed to be difficult. However, America has seen other tough times. What's the difference, relationships. Whether realistic or practical, the president's campaign looked different than his practice while in office, and that has rubbed off on his political party (again, I am not a poly-sci professor, just an average American voter with a vested interest in our country). The relationship simply was replaced by the urgency of business.

That's an extreme example, but I think it speaks to the power of staying connected to those who support you and in a sense got you where you are. In reality, there is no way the president could lead the way he campaigned, and Americans should have never expected that. But we do. However, most of us can lead with relationships in tact. My world of relationships and responsibility is not millions of people, let alone global in scope, but it is equally as important and fragile. People are expecting that the relationship I had with them yesterday is the same relationship I will have with them today and tomorrow. And, if that relationship has been damaged, it is my responsibility to work damage control and try to re-establish that relationship.

I'll say it again, leading through relationships is tough. But the rewards, personal and professional, far outweigh the effort. It is through our of relationships that we both influence and are influenced. And when influence through positive relationships begins to take place the possibilities for everyone involved are endless.

Something to think about...

Lead Strong,

Shawn

Monday, October 11, 2010

"For Such A Time As This"

"...And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Over the weekend we went to OKC to visit Megan and Cori. Yesterday we went with them to church at Bethany First Church of the Nazarene where pastor David Busik was finishing a sermon series on great stories from the Bible. His message was from the book of Esther and by his own admission was a story that most of us knew from childhood Sunday School lessons. But then God stepped in and made the old new again, and the story as told by a master story teller became relevant for all of us in the sanctuary.

I won't spend time telling the story here, although I do encourage you to go and read it again, for the first time. However, the gist of the story is that God had placed a young lady in just the right place at just the right time. Although the circumstances were difficult, difficult to the point of potential death, and she was the least likely of heroes, she was reminded by her guardian Mordecai that "who knows but that you have come to this place (royal position) for such a time as this."

That's a powerful statement, one that has had my attention since Pastor Busik read it aloud. The end of the story finds Esther bringing justice to an unjust situation and lifting others, Mordecai and the Jewish people, to a place of security and peace. Without her intervention, Mordecai and all the Jews in that region, including Esther, would have surely perished. Now, make no mistake, this was no easy task and meant getting involved in a situation that was horribly fearful, and rightly so. But through prayer Esther believed Mordecai was right and that God had indeed placed her in that very position at that very moment, for "such a time as this."

I don't know where you're at in life. I don't know if the waters you're traveling are rough, or if the sea is smooth right now. But I do agree with Pastor Busik in that each of us has, is, or will face "such a time as this," some of us many times over. Could it be that we need to stop for a moment and reflect on the circumstances of life and ask if God has indeed placed me in this position "for such a time as this?"

We tend to want to run, leave it up to someone else, ignore it, or complain, none of which honors God. Mordecai's challenge to Esther may be God's challenge to us. You're time in that circumstance may be short or many years in developing, but to know that God has entrusted you with "such a time as this" is an overwhelming feeling.

I've been praying about my own life since yesterday morning and wondering about "such a time as this." What are you doing with the time you've been given. As Gandolf said in Lord of the Rings, "it is not up to us to decide the time, but to decide what to do with the time we've been given." Sounds to me like J.R.R. Tolkien had read the book of Esther.

What are you going to do with "such a time as this?"

Lead Strong,

Shawn

Friday, May 21, 2010

Catching Up...

Ok, first off, you know you're not very good at blogging when you have to reset your password every time to even get into your own blog! But, I'm in and I've written my new password down somewhere, I just hope I can remember where for the next time I feel inspired, lol.

Life is busy but I wanted to play a little catch up:

  • First off, the new job (5 months old now) is great, love coming to work every day!
  • Rochelle is starting a new job next week. She is working under a grant through University of Texas (that is killing me as a Texas Tech Red Raider) at Amarillo College. She will work with AC students enrolled in Early Childhood and who currently work in the day care industry. She serves as a tutor to help these students graduate and learn to teach. She is so excited and she'll be off the road! Praise God!!
  • All the kids are doing great. Cori is actively looking for a teaching job in the OKC area but still working at Le Petite. She is learning much that will aid her as a classroom teacher someday. Megan leaves Monday to work summer youth camp in OK. She's excited and I'm proud of her for giving of herself all summer. Emily finishes school next week and will be a senior, wow! Jack is growing like a weed and doing so many fun things.
  • This month has also had its challenges. Rochelle was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and will have surgery to remove her thyroid June 1. God has been so good though, our family doctor has been so great and we love the surgeon! Even with Rochelle switching jobs we will only need to carry COBRA for 1-2 months and her new insurance will pick up July 1, so God has been faithful. We are surrounded by wonderful family, great friends, and a wonderful church. Besides, you can't keep Rochelle down and she is too excited about her new job to let this set her back. Out mantra, I have cancer but cancer doesn't have me! We love that TV campaign and know that with a positive-fighting attitude and God's healing power this is "just a thing."
At first glance a casual reader might wonder what any of that has to do with leadership. I contend it has everything to do with leadership. Leadership starts within, stays close to family and extends to career and beyond. With life's daily ups and downs, sometimes all at the same time, leadership is essential. It is a positive leadership philosophy that helps keep me grounded on a firm foundation. Granted, I believe my leadership philosophy is also my life philosophy, which is grounded in faith, but it helps me so much. If you have taken the time to write down a well thought out - prayed out life/leadership philosophy I encourage you to do so. It is the first step in developing your leadership capacity.

This whole blogging thing is therapeutic, but also amazingly beneficial for me as a reflection tool (which if you've read my leadership philosophy you know is an element of it). And fun things happen too. Pearson Publishers is using one of my blog posts (the basic premise of this blog: Leadership = Relationships + Influence) in an upcoming text book. I'm honored, but what I know about leadership I owe to so many others. I have never said anything new, I only hope that I keep finding ways to say truth in ways that connects with people.

Any way, enough rambling. I hope I'm catching up on news now. Thanks in advance for your prayers for Rochelle!

Lead Strong....

Shawn

Monday, March 15, 2010

Irregularity

I wonder if there is a laxative for blog posting irregularity? Oh, I know that's gross, get over it. Looking back at my posts it seems that I have a monthly blogging syndrome; posting on a monthly basis whether I need to or not. It's not that I'm not interested, it's more that I am having to choose what gets my attention. Work is great, but the new position is crazy busy. I actually didn't know you could cram so many meetings into one day. And because I have responsibility on two different campuses and most meetings seem to be scheduled on the Washington St. campus I find myself in transit a lot. Rochelle is still traveling quite a bit (that is actually an understatement, she's been traveling a lot lately) so once I get home with Jack I don't really want to post a blog. I just want to hang out with him, get him ready for bed, and by then go to bed myself. Add in wanting to spend time with Emily, keep up with Cori and Megan in OKC, church, etc. and the days get real short - real fast. No complaints, just causing me to prioritize and choose more wisely. Unfortunately, blogging has not made the top ten yet.

But as I write this blog post it strikes me that I am practicing good leadership. I am choosing the most important things to do and having to let other things go. I wonder what else I could let go of? I know the cell phone thing looks like an earring lately. But, it is an iPhone and has saved my professional life in past few months (thanks Rochelle for convincing me to get this thing). But what else could go? Hmmm, am I, are you, doing things that we've always done but we really can't explain why we do them? Choosing the most important, delegating what we can, and just plain letting go of other things. That really is good leadership.

I need to tell you, letting go of things can be painful. Maybe more so for those of us who are a little driven. And there are still times that I sense a little guilt for not doing all that I used to to do or think that only I can do. But I am so much more productive and useful by letting go of things. I have realized that I am surrounded by great people. I have two highly competent division chairs that run their divisions well. We have awesome instructors and support staff and things run well. The college is run by a great president and cabinet, and my personal support staff is awesome. Not to mention my incredible wife, kids, church, and friends. All these things make letting go easier, and I actually find that I have more time to invest in the lives of others.

Come to think of it, if you have a blog post laxative keep it. If I only get to the blog once a month then that it good enough for me. Choosing the more important things is just good leadership and working well for me. As I continue on this journey and develop more and more of a routine (like that's really going to happen) I'll post more. But until then it's the monthly blogging syndrome for me. And I'm okay with that.

Lead Strong (and choose wisely what you invest your time in),

Shawn

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Challenges - New Opportunities

Wow, I always have the best intentions to post more frequently, but life seems to interfere. These past few weeks especially have been a whirlwind professionally. I have recently been appointed as Dean of Career and Technical Education for Amarillo College. It is a new position that incorporates our East Campus ITT programs and our Business Division. I am thrilled and honored to have been appointed to this new position and anxious to get an office established and start gaining traction. I have wonderful faculty and staff within CTE and a great Administrative Assistant in Kathy Wheeler who brings experience and length of service with AC to her new role.

I promise to try and do better with the posts. I am seeking God's wisdom for leadership ability and hanging on to Proverbs 3:3 as a source of guidance "Do not let truth and kindness leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write tham on the tablet of your heart." What great leadership advice for all of us.

Lead Strong...

Shawn