This is the first in a series of three posts on the different types of super powers we all have. My definition of a super power: the ability to shape the life of others….for better or worse.
This past Memorial Day weekend my family got to spend time with some of our best friends. Between our 2 families we had 6 kids under the age of 10 running around our home. A portion of our time together was spent creating new super hero names for each kid and identifying their corresponding super powers. When I watched our children imagine different types of creative superpowers, I think about how we as adults fail to realize the powers we can actually yield….the powers to shape the life of others….for better or for worse.
Super Power #1: The Power of Words
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa
As children we all heard the rhetoric, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Really? Let’s not kid ourselves. Words are potent. They can build and they can destroy. I once read that a word is like a living organism, capable of growing, changing, spreading, and influencing your family, team, or organization in many ways, directly and indirectly.
Many years ago as a young platoon commander, I worked with a Marine originally from India. He and his family moved to the U.S. at an early age and he decided as a junior in high school to serve his country. During one of our many conversations about his childhood in India, he shared with me a Hindu word, “Genshai” – his translation – never treat others in a way to make them feel small.
Our discussion reminded me that the importance and power of one’s words is noticed across all cultures. Coming from one’s parent, spouse, friend, or leader, a positive word provides inspiration. It builds confidence, initiative, and trust. Most importantly it builds courage. Courage to do what’s right. Courage to try new ideas. Courage to make your family, team, or organization better!!
As a spouse, parent, or leader, how are you leveraging the power of your words?
I offer the following three daily challenges to you (think Public, Private, Protect):
(1) Public: Publicly speak a work of encouragement / praise to one of your family or team members in front of others.
(2) Private: Privately drop an email or note to one of your people thanking them for their hard work and encouraging them in their efforts.
(3) Protect: Protect your family and your team from the damage that your words may cause…..hold your tongue when angry, frustrated, or tired….you’ll never regret it.
Like all super powers, the power in your words can build or destroy. Use them wisely!
A few days ago I read an article titled “10 Things to Say to Your Kids Everyday.”
It was a well written article with a positive, encouraging message.
Like the author of the article, I believe in providing my boys with a positive message each day. However when it comes to what they remember me saying each day I hope they will know in their heart two things…..two really important things.
#1: “I Choose You”
Our daily exchange, typically at night, goes like this:
Me: “Drew, if I had every 8 year old boy in the world lined up, who would I choose to be my son?”
Drew: “You would choose me!”
The purpose of this conversation is to ensure they undoubtedly know they are chosen, loved, and accepted.
Greater than ever before, our culture has created a need for acceptance. As my boys grow older and head out in to this world, I want them to always know they are chosen and accepted by those who love them most.
#2 : “You Are My Son”
Our conversation goes like this:
Me: “Hunter, why do I love you?”
Hunter: “Because I am your son.”
As their Dad, one of my most important duties is to ensure they undoubtedly know that their Mom & Dad’s love is in no way tied to performance….performance in a class room, performance on a ball field, performance in life. I love them simply because they are my sons.
Why do I have these two specific conversations with my boys each day?
Because as a child of God, I do not have to compete with others for His love.
Because as a child of God, my identity in Christ is never tied to my own performance.
Because as a parent, it is my responsibility to reflect the image of God in my home.
If you have children, develop your own messages. Speak truth into their life.
Do this every day; and make them count.
“Among the ever-pressing problems of the leader is seeking means to break down the natural barriers and give his men a chance to understand him has a human rather than one who simply gives orders.” S.L.A. Marshall, Men Against Fire.
From 2004 to 2007, I served as a Platoon Commander and Executive Officer at the Marine Corps “The Basic School” (TBS). Newly commissioned Marine Officers attend TBS post Officer Candidates School (OCS) and before they attend their occupationally training and eventually hit the fleet. The doctrinal mission of TBS is to: “Train and educate newly commissioned or appointed officers in the high standards of professional knowledge, esprit-de-corps, and leadership required to prepare them for duty as company grade officers in the operating forces, with particular emphasis on the duties, responsibilities and warfighting skills required of a platoon commander.” Bottom line, we taught them how to be leaders of Marines in combat.
Our curriculum covered topics ranging from basic formations, weapons employment, and ethical decision making to complex training such as urban warfare and the coordination of close air support. Throughout every aspect, the new Officers continually asked one question: “Where should I put myself on the battlefield?” They did not know much, but they knew that their location, their presence, was of immense importance.
My answer to them was always the same, “A leader should be located where he can best command, control and inspire his forces. Too far forward and he risks unnecessary danger. Too far away and he fails to share the burdens of his decisions.”
Regardless of your job, as a leader your location provides insight into your leadership philosophy.
What about you?
Where do you locate yourself during the day?
Are you accessible to your team?
How often do you meet them where they are?
Does your presence inspire them?
Always remember, your location matters!
(In this post the term Marine can be used to describe any service member in our Armed Forces).
There is a myth about Memorial Day. This myth is known by all who have ever served. The myth is that those who sacrificed did so for their country. I think of friends that have lost life, limb, and eyesight in service to their country. Undoubtedly they all volunteered to serve their country. But not one of them died for their country….they died for their fellow Marine.
A few years ago I had the privilege of hearing General John Kelley tell the story of two Marines. Two Marines from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman. On this day they were in a city called Ramadi standing watch together with a group of Iraqi Police. Together they were protecting the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines and over 100 Iraqi police.
During their watch a large blue truck turned down the alley way and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically.
During the follow on investigation, six seconds of video tape footage emerged. The recording shows a number of Iraqi police, scattering like the normal and rational men they were—some running right past the Marines. The recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tear in to the body of the one who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers. The two Marines never stepped back. They never started to step aside. They never shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could.
The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.
Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their country, their flag, or the politics involved in their current deployment.
Six seconds. More than enough time for two very brave young men to think about their brothers…to do their duty.
Marines serve their country but they die for their brothers.
For even more stories detailing this kind of unselfish sacrificial bravery I recommend “They Were Heroes” by David Devany.
“The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.” Abraham Lincoln
The words of our 16th President could not be truer. This weekend my family has the privilege of spending time with some of our best friends. Liz and I met Garrett and Sarah in a Young Married Sunday School Class in Jacksonville, NC. We were both military families in the “pre-kids” stage of life. Garrett and I instantly connected over our love for Texas high school football. Liz and Sarah bonded quickly over the shared experience of having such awesome husbands…… Our families have been doing “life together” ever since.
The interesting story of our friendship is that only once have we ever actually lived in the same state, at the same time….and only for a little over 18 months. As active duty Marines both of our families were continually moving around. North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and California were just a few of the places our families lived; however never at the same time!
As Garrett and I are now past our active-duty time in the Marine Corps, both of our families have settled down in Texas. Over 10 years and 6 kids later, we are now only a 5 hour drive away from each other.
Through this unique long-distance friendship, what I have learned is that perseverance is more important than proximity. The commitment our families have to each other is not swayed based upon the distances between our front doors.
Throughout our many moves in the Marine Corps, Liz and I learned that not every friendship is meant to last a lifetime. Many are gifts of friendship meant to bless us for a certain season; however I am truly thankful for lifetime friends…..I am thankful for the Hager Family.
I have already been asked, “Why do you want to start a blog? What’s your inspiration?”
It’s simple but overwhelming.
I am a Follower of Christ, Husband, Father, Pastor, Marine, and Friend. The main purpose of my blog is to share my experiences in each of these roles as they relate to leadership and life.
I am conscious of the imperfections of my efforts in each of these roles – but my motivation is clear – to provide others a glimpse of the lessons I have learned with the hope they can in turn build better families, marriages, and friendships.
I once read that the lives of great men are an inspiration to the young. I am by no means great, however the responsibility to inspire the young (my two boys specifically) still remains.
I look forward to the challenge!