Last week Ronda challenged me to think of an activity, act, or something I could do everyday for the next month to increase my level of happiness. (Apparently, I don’t portray an overly happy person.) I immediately told her I knew what I was going to do – complain about everything, daily.
She politely informed me I was missing the point.
It caused me to think about what brings me joy, happiness. My next thought was writing. I don’t we’re much anymore. Years ago, it was catharthis and helped me through a dark time. Those words were compelling. That connected with people at their core. I haven’t found the words to connect with people in the same way. Ronda encouraged me that I do have the words, I just need to find them. Starting my career over at 39, hitting 40 and struggling with that, being a dad of 3 boys, and the constant inner dialogue of realization I don’t really measure up to anyone’s standards.
The next thing I thought of was running. I love running. Or, at least I did until I ran a marathon a few years ago. There’s an ache in my heart for running. I want to recover that.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m committing (to myself more than anyone else) to run everyday in February and to write some words daily. Day 1 was a lackluster start. I ran 0.6 miles thanks to a needy 7 year old. I wrote… just wrote some family assessments for work and not anything personal. Today is Day 2 and it is off to a much better start. I’m writing this 1.74 miles into today’s run.
Follow me writing here and sharing on instagram here.
As I prepare to embark on this journey, I recall the whispered words in Celldweller’s song Fadeaway – ‘don’t beat on me, I’m nothing’. I fear I will let us all down (well really only me, because your expectations were much lower than mine).
Here’s to victory or failure, which road I may be on.
Changing a flat tire.
Tying a tie.
How to ask a girl out on a date.
Writing a resume.
Life is full of lessons. Some we want, we need and others we wish we never learned. Just like you, I have learned many lesson in life. Most of them the hard way. As I reflect on those lessons, I am trying to teach my boys at least three I learned the hard way I hope they don’t have to.
- Good, solid work experience – When it comes to getting a job, nothing beats good experience and knowing how to do stuff. If you are like me, you are able to BS your way through a lot of experiences, but it’s not possible to BS your way through when you have no effing clue how to do it forever. Take the tasks no one wants. Volunteer for everything. Make the most of your internships. Read and learn what you are doing. Ask questions if you don’t know something. Become knowledgeable and skilled in the field you are working in. Get good experiences, find them, make them for yourself.
- Good work and school references in addition to personal ones – There is not much more demoralizing than filling out applications and getting to the reference section and realizing you have burned every bridge you have ever been on and there is no one from your past who has anything good to say about you. Building relationships and make connections. Network with other professionals inside and outside of your field. Have a quiver full of people who can and will say good things about you for you rely on in the future.
- Play the game – I hate politicians. They say one thing and then do another. However, there are times in life when you have to play the game. You have to cater to what others want. You have to do the work the way your boss wants. You have to take the tough assignments with a grin to get the good ones. You have to make friends and play nice with people you can’t stand to be around. Welcome to being an adult. We aren’t always able to throw sand in someone’s face. Play the game, get along with others and be the strongest member of the team. There’s a place for the lone wolf, but sometimes the lone wolf needs to be a part of the pack.
We will learn many lessons in life. Fun ones, easy ones, good ones, hard ones and ones we wouldn’t wish on our enemies. But these lessons aren’t hard to learn, they are in my mind critical to being making far in our work lives. Learn them now when you are young.
There are four tools that everyone needs in their toolboxes. Not everyone has these tools and they can manage through life without them, but it certainly is easier with them.
I have been a proponent of strengths-based service delivery since before I even knew it was a thing. Strengths-based service delivery is centered around finding the strengths of those you are working with and building upon those strengths by adding more tools. I have taken very personally Abraham Maslow’s assertion that, ‘if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to approach every problem as a nail.’ I am not that much of a handyman or construction dude, but I have done enough shade tree projects to know you have to have the proper tools for the job. The same thing is true of life. If you want to overcome the stressor or difficulty facing you, you need the proper tools to overcome it. Here are four tools that I believe are essential for us all to possess in our toolboxes, whether we are helping other or just looking to overcome our own stressors.
- Empathy – Empathy can be defined in many ways, but simply put it is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Being able to understand their perspective and see the situation from their eyes. This goes a very long way when we are helping others, because we are able to step outside of ourselves and see things from their point of view and combining that with our knowledge assist them in devising a solution. It is also helpful because sometimes we are wrong and we need to see the other side in order to come to resolution. We need to know how we have hurt someone. We need to be able to understand how others think and feel. Additonally, empathy entails a genuine care and concern for others. This isn’t a sympathetic feeling sorry for others, it is an authentic care for them as people.
- Apathy – This may seem strange, but I have come realize I can only do so much. And it doesn’t matter how much I want something for you, if you don’t want it for yourself you will never change. As long as I can lay my head down at the end of the night knowing I have done all I can do, then I am good. You have to want it to and until you make the efforts to change or adjust, it doesn’t matter how I try to change you. This is the classic ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ scenario.
- Everyone has at least one strength – This is tough… because it doesn’t always feel like this is true. But deep inside, somewhere hidden amongst the mess is their strength. Is something they do well. Something they are proficient at. Something they are confident in. Finding this strength and building upon it is critical to working with others. And when we are facing our own struggles, it is critical to recall our own strengths and not dwell or wallow in our shortcomings. Which really leads to the last tool:
- We are the same – I learned very early on when working in child welfare (fancy name for the child abuse field), there was a fine line separating me from my clients. This is still true today. I have more tools, more resources, more supports but without them I would be in jeopardy of making choices and decisions I would regret. I have to realize the tools I have doesn’t make me ‘better’ but charges me with a responsibility to help others. This can also be worded as humility. Knowing I don’t have all the answers. Knowing I make mistakes and I am in need of the same grace I am offering you.
Having these tools doesn’t guarantee success or an easy life or whatever. But having them is one step closer to being better prepared to face whatever may come at you today.
It’s Monday morning. I am sitting at my desk, wishing I was at home in bed. So far, this Monday is winning the battle. It was a long weekend, but it was a very good weekend. Our two oldest boys played in a soccer tournament this weekend, the Alliance Cup. And by all standards, the tournament was a success. By far, the most successful tournament our boys have participated in.
In the past, tournaments have kind of been a necessary evil. A long weekend of soccer that leaves you exhausted and wishing you could go back in time and devise any excuse to have not gone to the tournament. This weekend is different. I am tired and I am sunburned, but I am satisfied with the outcome of the tournament.
More than that I am proud of how my boys played their hardest and showed how much they have grown and improved in soccer this fall. They are both playing with an intensity and commitment that brings great joy to my heart. But more importantly, they had fun and enjoyed the experience.
Hayden’s team finished the tournament 1-2 and did not make the finals. However, in the game they won Hayden scored a goal. This was his first goal of the season. He was so excited and happy! He barely could contain his excitement throughout the day and weekend. This was definitely a highlight for him and us as parents. Our satisfaction with Hayden doesn’t change because he scored a goal. We love him the same no matter what. I am full of joy because of the happiness this goal has brought to him. Aside from the excitement of the goal in that game, Hayden played one of his best games he has ever played that game. He was put on the field as a forward and several runs on the goal with the ball and had it not been for the defenders stepping in, he would have been in a position to take shots on the goal (somehow, he managed to make runs without the support of his teammates). During the other games, he played goalkeeper and he has show great improvement overall but especially as a goalkeeper this year. I could not be happier with where Hayden is at this moment.
Noah’s team finished the tournament 3-1 and Champions of their division. They came out strong and played strong throughout the tournament. Noah played goalkeeper in every game and he only let 3 goals in for the whole weekend. He had two clean sheets during the weekend. He claims his team named him the Man of the Match for the final game. The final was a great game and he played a very good game. He was challenged by the opposing team and stood the test and emerged victorious.
This was a significant tournament for both of out boys because their previous tournament experiences left something to be desired. This season as a whole has been a great one. I credit their growth and development as young men to making this season a good for them in addition to a new coach (they both have the same coach) who is able to coach and speak to them in terms they can understand. He is a great coach and really enjoys coaching and enjoys these boys.
As a father, it is hard me to find greater joys than seeing my boys happy. And today, they are happy… therefore I am happy.
Three weeks ago at Grace Orlando we kicked off a new series of sermons. The series is entitled ‘One.’ With the main focus to unify the church (all 6 campuses) to one purpose. It’s sorta a capital campaign that is focusing more on 100% participation by the church members than it is on the money. It’s about discipleship more than anything.
During last week’s sermon, Pastor Mike asked the question – what is God asking you to give him that you aren’t sure you are going to be willing to give up? As I sat listening to the sermon, challenged to be sure, I wasn’t sure what God is asking of me. As the day progressed and I thought more about the sermon and talked it over with my wife, I think I may have come up with something. As I write this, I’m sitting in the lobby of a DCF office waiting for my new supervisor to come and get me. I think maybe one of the things God is asking me to give him is my job. Over the last few years, work had been pretty much what it always has been for me. After almost 20 years of work experience, the longest employment I’ve ever had anywhere is 3.5 years at a part-time job. I have lots of experience in essentially the same field, but very little in any given place for any amount of time.
Jack of all trades, Master of None.
This is how I feel. When I don’t feel like a failure for being almost 40 with nothing more to show for myself. (It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I feel the pull of this midlife thing.) I feel like I have the opportunity to start over. Begin again. Embark on a new career. And as such, I am committing this one to God. I am letting go of expectations or regrets and letting God supersede in this endeavor.
I will excel at this job, not for my own career advancement but to glorify God. I will realize this is my calling. This is where he has placed me.
As I sit here waiting for this job to start, I’m anxious and nervous… hope and waiting with anticipation. I am ready to go to work for God in the setting he has placed me.
To God be the glory.