new year

Practical Parenting Tip: Memories and Goals

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If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know the main purpose of my writing is to share my experiences as they relate to leadership and life. Trust me – I am conscious of the imperfections of my efforts – 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. This post is one of those specific moments.

Today is the first day of 2017. A beginning of a New Year that started off the same as many others. We went to church, went to lunch, came home and due to some great weather – spent the next 5 hours outside (basketball with friends is always fun)!  During dinner (which occurred after showers for some stinky boys) we paused to reflect on the past year.

You see at this time last year Liz placed this jar on our kitchen counter.


She put a pad of paper and a pen next to it and explained to all of us that all we had to do was when something happy, exciting, funny, etc…happened all we were to do was write it down and place it in the jar.

Well tonight at dinner we took turns pulling out a note and reading each memory. I was amazed and impressed with the moments that impacted my family.  Of course we had the big events: first NFL game, white-water rafting and zip-lining in New Mexico, and first buck killed.  But the majority of the memories mentioned were simple but special: snow cones with friends, block party with neighbors, events at church. This was a great reminder for me that it’s the simple but intentional moments that matter most to my family.  And more importantly, this gave us a great opportunity to reflect on God’s blessings this past year.

memory-jar-2After walking down our 2016 memory lane we focused on 2017. We then talked about goals. We each listed a physical, spiritual, and academic (or work related) goal. We discussed how as a family we can work towards each of them.  I was amazed at the depth of some of the goals of my young men. They inspire me to set bigger goals!!

So what’s the point of all this – you see at the church where I am blessed to serve we continually encourage our parents to be the primary faith trainers in their home. At first glance this can seem overwhelming.  Like most things in life, specifically in parenting and marriage, we over complicate what was meant to be natural.  We add pressure to live up to a standard presented on a blog or Pinterest page.  We grab our Bible, our spouse, our kids, and our best intentions and off we go!

And then life happens…..

So in our own strength we try harder….

And we fail (according to the unrealistic standards)….

Then we become overwhelmed or feel defeated and we give up…..

Then unfortunately we don’t do anything.

memory-jar-3Well guess what – it is a New Year and you have a clean slate! Take this opportunity to connect your faith and family. Remember, it doesn’t have to be amazing and extravagant, it simply has to be intentional.

Oh yeah – and put a memory jar on the counter – trust me, in 365 days you will be glad you did!


Leaders – Instead of New Year’s Resolutions Do This!

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nonewyearsresolutionsWe inch closer to Jan 1st.  We feel the excitement of a New Year.  We reflect on our report card from the previous year.  Then we sit down and make our New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t know about you but I have never been too good at this.

As leaders I challenge you to pass on the temptation to make another list of New Year’s Resolutions.  Instead I want to ask you a question that will hopefully compel you to spend some time thinking of your New Year in a different light.

“Who is responsible for your leadership development?”

I’ll ask you again, “Who is responsible for your leadership development?”

Did you have to think about that for a minute? I did the first time I was asked that question and actually had to provide an answer.

We all know the answer….we just don’t want to say it.

Repeat after me, “I am responsible for my own leadership development.”

We don’t like that answer because of what it implies.  If I am responsible for my own leadership development I should actually have a plan. Ouch!

I have experimented with many different versions of a personal leadership development plan and found this format most useful for me: (Personal Leadership Development Plan).  Print it out today!

Here is how I put my leadership development plan on paper:

Goals:  Be specific here. Make sure your goals are observable and measurable.

Relationships:  Complete this sentence, “I will make an intentional effort to connect with these people this year…” Maybe they are someone you admire in your professional field or a neighbor you want to build a deeper friendship with.  List them by name, add their contact info, list a few possible ways to connect.

Books: What did I learn from my personal reading time last year?  What books am I going to read this year?  List them and schedule them!  Looking for a few good reads; check here.

Courses: The internet provides virtual and distance learning for almost any profession or hobby. Many of these are fairly inexpensive and can be conducted at your own pace.  Once again, be specific.  List them and schedule them.  You will be glad you did!

Conferences: Regardless of your profession, there are likely numerous events or conferences you can attend that will help build your leadership skills. A few tips here: Don’t wait for the last minute.  Do a little research.  Don’t think you have to go to the one major national conference. You may actually be able to attend via webcast or podcast instead of physically travelling to the event. Regardless, conferences take a little more time so get them on the calendar early.

Blogs: What websites or blogs will I follow for new and fresh information?

Podcasts: What podcasts will I listen to each week or month?  For me personally my commute to and from work has become my primary time for podcasts.

—–Need a few recommendations for blogs or podcasts click here——

Regardless of the format, the key is to have a plan….a specific plan.

As a leader, parent, or spouse, others depend on you. Don’t leave your leadership development to chance!