Won’t You Join Me?

July 27, 2017 v4 p29

One of the first things I knew when I returned to my faith was that I needed to be more involved than I was growing up.  I have been trying to figure out how to do that ever since.

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When I made the decision to return to my faith I wasn’t sure where it was going to lead me.  I’ve shared that whole story a couple of times I believe.  After a few months I began to get the feeling that I needed to serve more in my church.  I began to pray to God and let him know that I was ready to serve in whichever way he wanted me to.  It didn’t take too long for that way to be revealed to me as I was approached about joining the local Knights of Columbus Council at our Parrish.  I had figured I would end up joining them anyway before I started those prayers because I could see how they were active in both the church and the community, much as I am through Scouting and was through the Lions Club.  It was pretty much a no-brainer.  I joined and immediately felt welcomed to the Council and began volunteering whenever I could.  The older members have been more than appreciative for my support.

I was told a few months later that it didn’t take long for my name to start coming up for leadership positions.  That doesn’t surprise me.  In every job I’ve held I have showed up and done my job to the best of my ability.  That has always resulted in me being given more responsibilities, and ultimately promotions.  All of that coupled with all of the other leadership positions I’ve held in volunteer organizations explain to me why those conversations were happening.  I had hoped it would be a couple of years before I was approached about taking a leadership position, but I kind of knew that I could only delay the inevitable for so long.  I stepped up this year to take on the role of treasurer, which I’m sure is the first of many positions I will hold in this organization.

One of the directives of the Knights is evangelization.  I’m fairly certain that this is tied to the Pope’s call for a new evangelization of the church.  I began sharing some of the Catholic blogs that I have been following with my wife and some fellow Catholic friends.  They have all found them very helpful.  But those are the easy people for me to evangelize to.  They are already active in their faith, and while everyone needs to continue to grow their faith, there’s a different audience I would like to reach.

I know a lot of people that were involved with the Catholic Church growing up.  Most of them, like myself, strayed away throughout their late teen and adult years.  During that time is when the Catholic Church began to fall on hard times.  There were multiple sex scandals, the beliefs and teachings of the church were skewed in the public eye.  There really wasn’t much of a reason to stick around.  That’s not why I left my faith, but I am fairly certain those may be some of the reasons that some of them did leave.  These are the people I would like to reach.  These are the people I would like to share more of my journey with.  These are the people I would like to be a part of their journey.

One of the biggest factors in my faith formation as an adult was reading The Bible.  Not just a few of the books, or specific chapters.  I read then entire Catholic Bible, from cover to cover.  After I finished it I tried looking for a different way to continue my faith formation.  I tried simply reading the daily scripture readings, something I had picked up during my first reading.  It was nice, but I was feeling like I still needed more.  A few months ago I decided to read all of Letter’s from the Apostle Paul, in chronological order.  That’s been pretty insightful.  I’m almost through all of them and need to figure out what area I want to read next, I’m leading towards the Psalms.

Aside from reading my Bible on a daily basis there are a few Catholic speakers that I get a lot of good content from.  One of them is Fr. Mike Schmitz, a younger priest from Minnesota.  Most of the rest of the speakers that I’ve listened to have mentioned him in their talks.  He seems to be the unofficial face of the new evangelization.  He is very well spoken and is very engaging.  I have shared a few of his posts on social media and get a positive response from Catholics and Protestants alike.  Another one of the speakers I started following early on is Jeff Cavins.  He is a former Protestant Pastor who was raised Catholic, left the church in his late teen years, only to be called back to Catholicism by The Lord.  His journey is a really fascinating story.  Both of these speakers publish their podcasts through the Catholic media company, Ascension Press.

Along with their weekly blogs they produce faith formation materials.  They range from studies of The Bible, adult and teen faith formation, and historical studies of the Catholic Church.  During some of the podcasts I subscribe to from Ascension they run short ad spots for their study programs.  In each of them they mention that some of them are free if you get a group of four or more to participate.  I haven’t looked too far into that but this is where I feel my calling to evangelize is leading.  I’m looking for a deeper understanding of The Bible.  The program I’m particularly interested in going through is “The Bible Timeline.”  This study takes the participants through the entire Bible and dives deeply into each period of salvation history.  There are multiple ways to read The Bible, and chronologically is one I’d like to try.

This is where you come in.  If you’ve been interested in deepening your faith and understanding of The Bible, I believe that this may be one way for you to do it.  If you’re looking to get back to your faith, Catholic or Protestant, this may be one way for you to do it.  I’m not looking to try and convert anyone to Catholicism, but if it happens I will support you any way I can.  What I hope to get out of this is a deeper understanding of my own faith, to help other people gain a deeper understanding of their faith, and possibly strengthen some families or friendships.  Feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested in joining me this fall.  I don’t know what the study group would look like yet, but that’s something I will figure out along the way, much like I have the rest of my faith formation.

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So if you were Catholic, have always been Catholic, are interested in learning more about the Catholic Church, or are a Christian looking to strengthen your faith, please consider joining me.  What have you got to lose, except everything you could gain by participating?

This Post is Selfish

July 13, 2017 v4 p27

Whether it’s in someone’s personal or professional life most people are always looking out for one thing.  Usually that one thing is themselves, but that usually isn’t what gets the best results.

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One of the most transformational books I’ve read over the past couple of years is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  One of the biggest principals he teaches is to begin anything you do with the end in mind.  I took that to mean for me to see the whole picture, not just how things would look when I was done.  In that whole process you must take in to account how your actions will end up effecting other people.  To me if you get something accomplished, at work or at home, and it caused more work or a hardship for other people, then it really didn’t accomplish what needed to be done in the first place.  If you only do what’s best for you to achieve a (your) desired result then you haven’t done what’s best.  I put the word “your” in there because often times what is best for you isn’t often the best for the whole.  If you aren’t trying to make your efforts improve everything for everyone then your efforts are selfish.

The CEO of Service Express Inc., Ron Alvesteffer, will tell you that one of his favorite quotes on leadership comes from Zig Ziglar.  It goes, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”  This has far more implications than just in leadership within the business world.  One of the reasons I help out with so much at my church, volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, and do all of the charitable work I do is because I see how what I do makes things better for others.  It truly is a great feeling when you see that.  I try to do that at work too, but not everyone seems to see things the way I do.  Having spent almost a decade in a manufacturing environment it was common practice not to cause a stir.  If you were to point out ways that people were causing the systems to fail it would put a target on your back.  Regardless of if you were right about that or not, you were just better off to adjust your attitude and move on.  I’ve been given the assurance that isn’t the case at my current job.

I’ve been doing a lot of studying lately on Lean processing and other supply chain management tools.  All of the principals that I have been reading about are right in line with what I have been trying to implement at work.  I’ve been focusing on my own department, finding small areas that we could improve throughout the warehouse.  As I have been helping my team to be more efficient I am starting to see how other areas of the company that I have to deal with are causing inefficiencies.  The problem is that the main culprit doesn’t seem to be aware of the extra work he causes.  Any other time I’ve seen people try to approach him about changing work habits it hasn’t been received well.  The biggest principal about all of this process improvement I’ve been studying is that it’s most difficult to get people to buy into the fact that there is a need for change.  Most people are set in there ways and don’t want to admit that they may be wrong about something, or that someone else may have a better solution.  I get it.  Nobody likes to be wrong.  Nobody likes to be corrected.  My guess would be that if you asked them if they like to create unneccesary work for others they would say they don’t.  Unless they’re just out right selfish.

So that whole paragraph kind of sounded like a rant about one of my coworkers, and it kind of was, but it is something that will be addressed.  The issue with all of this self-centered thinking is really what it causes outside of the immediate action.  When people leave those situations and then continue to have a selfish attitude it translates to other areas of their life.  It causes them to be short tempered in areas like driving.  I’ve made it clear that I believe road rage is a root cause to a lot of problems in our society.  When you carry a selfish attitude into other areas it really starts to compound.  If you’ve ever read “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy you know how this can apply.  For those of you who haven’t, let me sum it up.  The compound effect is the principal that says if you take one penny and then double it every day for 30 days you would end up with more money than if you had taken $1,000,000.00 on day 1.  Most people are looking for the quick answer and aren’t patient enough to see the effects of this principal.  This can also have a negative effect as well.  If one small, negative thing doesn’t get corrected right away then over enough time it will become a bigger problem.  There is no way around that fact.  I’ve seen it happen to myself.  I’ve seen it happen to others.  I’ve seen it happen in both directions for businesses as well.

This brings me back to a lot of what I’ve been writing about lately.  When we act in this selfish manner we don’t live the way Christ taught us.  The more people force everyone to give them what they want without giving anything in return, the more self-centered out society becomes.  This leads to women dressing in more immodest clothes.  When men ridicule women who don’t dress that way it’s for their own selfish reasons.  What that can lead to is a dark path towards the wrong thing.  Men force women to do things they don’t want to do, maybe not physically, but emotionally.  When women give in to what the men want they usually do it to get attention.  This isn’t the true love that they are truly seeking.  When the men realize that they only like a woman because of how she looked when they met they will eventually get bored.  Without that emotional connection that is gained from courtship they will move on to the next “shiny” object that catches their eye.  This causes the first woman to then ask what it was that she did wrong to cause that, often spiraling out of control.

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Jesus gave us the 11th Commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Not to love one another only if it benefits you.

This Post is Hectic

June 8, 2017 v4 p22

During the end of May and early June are always hectic for me, this year is no different on my calendar.  The difference this year is where I am drawing my strength to get through it all.

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This year things really started escalating on my calendar when my oldest son turn 18 on May 11th.  It was exactly two weeks prior to graduation, and they seemed to go by with lightning speed.  During those two weeks I had to coach my younger son’s soccer team, take him to scout meetings and go to work.  That doesn’t sound like much, but when you throw in a couple of busy days at work that make my day a little longer it adds up pretty quick.  Then in the mix of that two weeks one of my coworkers was let go in my department so I had to pick up the slack left there.  I was rolling along and managing this quite well, only having to stay over work for about 10-15 a day, not enough to warrant claiming overtime.  Then on graduation day the other shoe dropped.  One of my other co-workers in the warehouse was let go after an incident the day prior where he really didn’t handle some work that came down to us late in the day.  Thankfully the rest of my coworkers, including multiple from other departments, knew that I had to be at my son’s graduation that night and were able to step up and get everything done.

Back in late April, shortly after I had taken a week off to paint our house, I submitted for what seemed to be a bunch of random days in early June.  These were days that I needed to commit to both of my children as they are both going through pretty significant life events this spring.  I used some of my charitable hours, PTO from my employer to volunteer, to help at field day for my youngest son.  If this hadn’t been his last field day in elementary I probably would have given the time up and just worked.  As it was though, I came in early and spent about an hour getting a few things taken care of and then came back after for three more hours to make sure everything was completed for the day.  The next day I spent taking my oldest son to college freshman orientation.  He was accepted into the honors college at Western Michigan University which meant he was able to register for classes in April, ahead of the rest of his class, and then attend a single day orientation instead of three days later in the summer.  This is a life changing event for him and there was no other option than for me to go.  It helped that it was national donut day and I could take him to one of the top ten donut shops in the country, Sweetwater’s.

If that wasn’t enough crazy for you for two days we drove directly from orientation at 5:15 to one my son’s classmates grad party.  I met my wife and younger son there to enjoy the whole thing, as brief as it was.  I say that because after about 30 minutes I had to leave with my younger son to go to the end of the year Cub Scout camp out.  We hadn’t originally planned to stay the night, but my son needed one more camp out to be able to advance to the next rank in Boy Scouts, so I slept in a tent.  It was all worth it when he came home on Tuesday from his Troop meeting and proudly announced that he had passed his board of review and would be awarded the rank of Tenderfoot.  We left the camp out a little before 8 and unloaded our gear into the garage.  About 10-15 minutes later we were back out the door again to go set up a canopy that the Boy Scouts rent out, he earned $50 for his scout activities for about 2.5 hours of work.  Next we had to get home and be ready for a Court of Honor for another scout who was receiving his Eagle rank.  Later in the afternoon we dropped our youngest off at a sleepover and headed to Portage for another grad party.  No rest for the weary.

This past Tuesday I spent the day with my youngest on his last field trip of elementary school.  Again, thanks to my coworkers for stepping up and helping cover my department while I spend this important time with my children.  I came back to work on Wednesday and everything was busy as usual.  I left work and went straight to an officer’s training for the Knights of Columbus.  I only saw my kids that day to say good night to them after they were in bed.  That part sucks, but they understand why I do the things I do.  Today at work has been nothing but putting out one fire after another.  I have a to do list that I have to be done with before I can start my weekend, which was supposed to start at 5:00 pm today so I can spend all day Friday preparing for the grad party at our house on Saturday.  That may mean I have to be here until way after I had planned today, but oh well.

There are two reasons I am able to get through this kind of schedule.  First is because of the company I work for and my coworkers.  The culture at Service Express is one that allows me to continue to take time away from work to be with my family for these important events.  My coworkers are totally bought into that culture too, which is why they are all so willing to step up and help, also because they know full well that I would bend over backwards for any of them in the same situation.  I really can’t express enough how much I appreciate every one of them, and that’s why I’m bringing in lunch for them all on Monday.  The second reason I am able to get through this type of hectic schedule with little or no stress is because I put all of my faith in God.  He has a plan.  Every day I pray for Him to give me strength, knowledge, and wisdom in everything I do, and that I am ready to do his will.  All of this that I am going through is part of his plan, and I will know when that plan has been fulfilled by His grace.  I will then be ready to move on to the next plan He has for me.

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At previous places I’ve worked I had to maintain this type of schedule, but it was all work related.  I know that this is different because I can see that there is an end to it.  Also I know that I can get through anything with the grace and power of God.

Looking at Myself

May 18 2017 v4 p20

I have been debating on a couple of different topics to write about this week.  Some of my recent blog traffic has pointed me in a certain direction.

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Last year, about this time of year I wrote THIS BLOG about discipline.  It got a few hits when I initially posted it, right around my average for my weekly post.  Someone who was going through my archives found it and read about 5 months later, not unusual.  When I started writing about my beliefs back during Lent there was a pretty significant uptick in my blog traffic.  I was starting to get more views from people on Facebook, and that’s awesome.  The biggest change I started to see though, was that more people who are on the WordPress site to find blogs to read were beginning to click on mine.  That began to show me that I’ve been writing about things people are looking to read.  Not only has my activity in readership gone up on through that site, but I’ve gained a handful of new subscribers through WordPress.  That’s pretty awesome because when I post something new they will get an email sent to them to let them know I have new content.

Not only has that grown my views on my regular posts, but people are then going into my archives and reading older posts.  I’ve never really paid too much attention to which posts they reading until the other day.  My post on discipline from May 2016 has been making a resurgence.  As I looked over my statistics just now that is my most read post this year, not counting new posts.  So I was wondering what it was exactly that I wrote about, so I looked into it.  That post was a lot about how people say they know what they need to do, but ultimately don’t follow through.  This shows a lack of discipline.  It’s something I’ve struggled with for my whole life.  It’s something that I’m sure a lot of people struggled with throughout their lives too.  How many times have you said, “I know I need to….” But then never follow through.  I’m not as bad about it as I used to be, but it still rears its ugly head from time to time.

One area I’ve been trying to focus more discipline on is my faith.  Not just getting up every Sunday and going to Mass.  Not just praying every day.  Those things are both necessary in order to be strong in your faith, but if you don’t live it out in your day to day life what difference is it making?  This is evident to me in so many other people’s lives.  I don’t claim to be perfect myself either.  In fact, if they asked all of the sinners to line up I would be the first person to make the movement to get into that line.  I have no problem admitting that I’m a sinner.  I’m doing a lot to try and make myself more disciplined in my faith, which will help me to not sin as much.  That really started taking off last summer when I discovered the Act of Contrition prayer on the back cover of the hymnal at my church.  I started praying that every Sunday and eventually worked it into my daily morning prayers.

Over the winter I flipping through the TV channels and there was really nothing on that I found worth watching.  We don’t have cable so our choices are pretty limited.  One day I was listening to one of the YouTube videos I had found from one of the Catholic speakers I listen to on regular basis.  I was about to share it with my wife but I stopped myself.  I had been sending her some of the videos I was listening to at work, but I know she was having a difficult time remembering to watch them, or would get busy with housework and forget to.  So for this one I decided to save it in a playlist so we could watch it that night after our boys went to bed.  That was helpful.  She really enjoyed the fact that I wanted to sit and watch those videos with her.  I went through some of the channels I subscribe to and created a pretty big playlist for us to watch.  Now most of our evenings are spent watching those types of videos instead of the poor programming on TV.

Earlier this spring I attended the parish mission speaker series at my church and listened to a speaker by the name of Thomas Smith.  He spoke to use about a couple of different ways we could pray.  The first one is called Lectio Divina, Latin for divine reading.  This is a method of prayer that includes reading the scripture and meditating on them before praying about them.  This is what I had been doing for some time already.  On the second night he spoke about Examen prayer.  This is a method of prayer to be done at the end of the day as a reflection, or examination of your day.  You start off by thank God for the day, then pray about how you walked in his word that day, and where you may have taken some missteps, you ask for forgiveness of your sins and the close with an “Our Father.”  Every night before bed my wife and I sit next to each other and hold hands while we silently go through this exercise.  On the first weekend we both fell asleep on the couch watching TV and decided just to go to bed.  The next day we both said to each other how we missed that prayer time together.  Now we go through that prayer every night, no matter what.

What that has done for me has been pretty profound.  When we first started this I would have to purposely think about what areas I had taken steps away from the Lord that day.  After the first couple of weeks it took me less time to determine where that was.  Now, it’s almost like a switch.  As soon as I do whatever it is I need to admit to that night, I know it.  Whether it’s some action, words, or whatever, I know.  I know it immediately and will apologize to the party that I may have offended immediately.  It’s become very eye opening to say the least.  It’s certainly changed my thought process on how I approach my daily life.  Through those changes I have been able to be more disciplined in my following of Christ, I hope others are seeing too.  Earlier this week my wife and I didn’t watch any of those YouTube videos I mentioned earlier.  Then as I went to say my Examen prayers the other night I wondered why I was struggling.  Not to find where I wasn’t walking with Him, but why was I having so many cases of where I wasn’t walking with him.  Then it dawned on me that we hadn’t been watching those videos for a couple of days.

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What does that have to do with discipline?  I discovered that if I don’t have the discipline to continue to look inside myself that I won’t change anything that shows on the outside.

What I Believe – Part 4

April 20, 2017 v4 p16

As I returned to my faith I knew I had to do more than just show up, I had to understand what all of it meant to me.  It didn’t take long to figure out which sect I belonged to, and what I needed to study.

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There were a few instances after my wife and I returned to our faith that really showed me that I was heading in the right direction.  There was the obvious one when we first went to Mass.  There were some other times when the Gospel readings and the Homily delivered by the priest felt almost as if he had written them specifically aimed to me.  There was the instant connection my wife and I had with the priest.  The more we got to know him on a personal level, the more we knew that this man wasn’t the same type of priest we had grown up around.  I could tell at an early time that I needed to serve the church more, but I didn’t know how.  Shortly after I began praying for guidance on how that I was supposed to serve it was revealed.

I was approached by one of the other gentlemen from our church at a breakfast one weekend between the early and late Sunday Mass.  He explained to me a little bit about the Knights of Columbus and joining them was something that had immediately came to mind when I returned to church.  However, I knew that before I could join I needed to make thing right between myself and the Lord.  It had been nearly 23 years since I had been to confession, something that is required of Catholics to do on a yearly basis.  My wife and I found the time to go and we began to make atonement for the sins of our early adulthood.  After that first confession I almost immediately knew that I had received His grace and mercy.  There is not greater feeling than when that happens.  I love my wife deeply, but the love I feel for and receive from God is like no other.  I can’t describe it, but I know when He shows it.

Shortly after joining the Knights I discovered that one of the things Catholics are called to do is evangelize.  Again, this not like what the corrupt mega-church pastors (not all mega-church pastors) do.  My first thought was to start attempting that through my blog.  There were two things that held me back.  First, I didn’t have a great knowledge of what I believed, I just knew that what I was doing felt right so I kept doing it.  Second, I was afraid that writing about that subject could cause problems.  I might lose some friends, I might get dragged in to some conversations with people and end up chasing rabbits down a hole (I’ve written about it before).  So I decided that if I was truly going to do that I needed to know what I was writing about.

During the Advent season, then again during Lent and the time following Lent our church provided some small books.  These were short, daily readings that tied into that day’s scripture and a little bit of guidance.  During the reading of those books the first season I began to follow more Catholic groups on social media.  This is where I really began to see what direction my faith formation needed to take.  Once I completed those short books, they were about 45 pages each, I began to read a book that our Parrish had provided to the entire congregation.  This was about another Catholic gentleman’s journey through his faith.  While his was much stronger through his entire life, I found many similarities in my own life, things were really starting to come together.  It was after I finished that when my faith formation really took a precedent over everything else in my life.

At the end of each daily reading the pages close with, “Spend some quiet time with the Lord!”  It was at that point when I first started to kneel and pray on a daily basis.  I had never done this type of thing before so I didn’t know if I was doing it right.  I started off praying for guidance and blessing for my family.  I would then finish with the opening pray sequence to The Rosary.  As time has gone on that has become a daily activity.  I still pray for those same things, as I have seen how my prayers have been effective.  There are things that I add for certain time frames, such as when the Knights of Columbus call for a Novena.  There are other things that I have added that will always be in my prayers.  I still finish with the same opening sequence of The Rosary.

About a week after I had finished that book and had started back to reading my professional development books I started to notice a change in my life.  My attitude had been different, my focus was off, it felt like something was missing, or had gone away.  I began to look inward and discovered that the only thing that had changed over that short time was that I wasn’t getting the daily reading that I had been.  What a huge difference it had been, in a really short time.  That’s when I knew that I needed to get back to reading the scripture more.  So in early June of 2016 I picked up my bible and started at Genesis 1:1.  When I read for professional development I read 10 pages every day, no matter what I’m reading, so I figured that would be a good place to start.  Well, I don’t know how many bibles you’ve ever looked at, but the print is pretty small in most of them, and 10 pages is probably closer to the equivalent of 15 pages in a normal book.  None-the-less, I made it my new morning ritual.

This put a damper on my professional development reading.  I didn’t want to rob myself of anymore sleep than I already was, so I put that to the side.  What I ended up doing was finding a few evenings here and there when I could get that professional development reading in.  It slowed down my pace, but I knew in the long run that it was what I needed to do.  There are some pretty tough spots in the Old Testament to read.  In the book of Joshua it speaks a lot of how the Holy Land was to be divided.  There are portions of it where it almost reads like a real-estate manual, describing by landmarks where certain tribes were to make their stake in the land.  I could feel myself getting a little discouraged.  At some point during this time frame I began following a social media page that would post the daily Gospel reading.  So after a tough reading of the Old Testament one day I decided to look up the Gospel reading again.  What Google gave me was another avenue for my faith formation.  The first page in my search was for the daily Mass readings as specified by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Here was a new part of my daily reading.

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It took me about six months to finish the entire Bible, and it had changed me.  It had changed what I knew, and explained why I believe in the Catholic Church.  This has been a long route to get to it, but my next post is where I will begin to “unpack” some of that.

What I Believe – Part 3

April 6, 2017 v4 p14

As I learn more about my faith I feel more compelled to pass it on, or to evangelize.  Don’t think of Jimmy Swaggart or Tammy Faye Baker when you read the word evangelize either.

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My last post left off with me leaving my job that was causing a lot of stress and taking too much time away from my family.  After I took a few days to rest and relax it was time to start job hunting.  After a few interviews for jobs I thought would be a good fit I ended up taking a job as a fork lift operator at a recycling warehouse to make ends meet until I could find something more permanent.  Although it was nice to show up at the start up my shift, put in eight hours, and then punch out on time to go home I knew that job wasn’t a permanent solution.  One morning while I was waiting in my car before my shift I came across a post from an old high school friend that the company he worked for was hiring for shipping and receiving.  I immediately reached out to him for details.  That turned out to be the first time I had used social media to make a connection for anything other than personal matters.  The further I went through the hiring process, the more I knew I needed to land this job.  I could tell this was a place I could retire from.  When I did a half day “ride-along” I was able to tell my friend that this was 95% exactly what I was looking for, the other 5% was the lack of air conditioning in the warehouse (minor details).

One of the big things the company I work for focuses on is personal and professional development of their employees.  Having been promoted to leadership positions in almost every job I’ve held, this one didn’t feel any different.  In fact, my manager was integral in pushing me to put that down as one of my goals.  So I started doing what was needed to work towards that.  One of the things I did was find some professional development/leadership bloggers that I could follow and receive tips from.  There have been numerous people who have filled that role for me over the years, but three of them have become a mainstay, Jon Acuff, Michael Hyatt, and Darren Hardy.  A common theme that all of them speak about is faith.  Not necessarily in a religious sense, but that isn’t excluded either.  I was beginning to take all of what I was reading or watching on daily videos and put them all together to figure out what was going to work best for what I wanted to accomplish.  Then one of my monthly one-on-one meetings with my manager he asked if I had ever been involved with a church.  I found it humorous because I had actually been thinking about returning to church on my own.

After a couple of weeks of contemplation I told my wife that I was planning on starting to go to church again.  I told her that she was welcome to join me, and I would prefer it, but due to how things had shaken out before I would understand if she decided not to.  We weren’t exactly sure where this path was going to lead us, but we knew it was a path that we must go down.  We decided to start at the church I had grown up attending.  This was closer to our home than the one we had been going to years prior and would offer more flexibility as to what time we want to attend.  A few years prior we had attended a Christmas Eve Mass there because it allowed us to get home and prepare for her extended family to come over for the annual Christmas party.  She really liked the church, and the fact that it was the Children’s Mass helped too.  We had planned to start there, try a couple of other local Catholic Church locations and then if we still hadn’t found a home we would try some of the other denominations around the area.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When we went to our first Mass the priest was also new to this Parrish.  I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth repeating.  When they announced his name my wife and I both looked at each other and were a little apprehensive.  This was another priest of Vietnamese decent, and the heavy accent of the other one is what started to turn us off the last time around.  Fr. Loc, however, was not difficult to understand at all.  There was still an accent, but it wasn’t so heavy that you couldn’t understand him.  The Scripture readings and his Homily both spoke directly to us.  The theme of everything at that service was being ready to listen when God is ready to speak to you.  We both knew that our journey was over.

Never before in my life had I felt the kind of connection with my faith as I did that day.  It really has been truly life changing for me.  In connection to my professional development habits I knew right away that I had to continue to study my Catholic faith.  This was now part of my life, and in fact, it has probably become the main focus of my life.  I knew I needed to learn more so I could fully understand what it was that I believed.  It may be difficult to understand for someone who never has had faith before, or hasn’t had the kind of connection I did.  And to have my wife get the exact same connection as I did really just validated what I believed.  The more I spoke with people that I already knew at this Parrish and as I met more people I could see that they had made the same connection that I had at some point.  This connection really started to show itself more in my everyday life.

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I’ve written about most of this story in one form or another in the past.  My next post is where I plan to start digging in to what it is that I believe.

Leaders Leading Leaders:My Interview

March 2, 2017 v4 p9

I recently wrote about a blog post from Michael Hyatt where he discussed and interview he had participated in about leadership.  I plan to ask the same questions to some of the leaders in my life, but here’s my answers first.

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  • Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you?  Why and how did this person impact your life?

A lot of my leadership came from my father, but that was mostly to him pushing me to participate in Boy Scout activities, which is where I learned a lot of my leadership principals and skills.  From a professional standpoint I just lost the biggest influence on my leadership.  My manager at work has moved on to a new position within the company.  The personal and professional growth he led me toward has been life changing.  In our last monthly meeting I made sure I made him aware of that and I think he had to try pretty hard to fight back some tears.

  • What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?

While I don’t hold a job title that includes leader or manager I am definitely looked to as a leader in my department.  The most important decisions I make have to do with daily tasks.  I have a great ability to see what needs to be done and delegate properly to ensure that it all gets accomplished.

  • As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?

There are always opportunities to keep morale high and “inspiration” from being dampened by how you address changes in the company as they affect each department and individual.  It may take some coaching and people seeing things from a different perspective.

  • How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

There are a lot of real world examples of how the employees at the company I work for have had an influence on the day-to-day operations.  If one idea gets shot down the leadership will take the time to explain why and then encourage people should continue to try and see their jobs differently.

  • Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?

The company I work for was founded by a very dynamic leader.  He started the culture of the employees having a say in how things are done and that has continued even though he has since stepped away from the daily operations and actually is no longer in control of the company.

  • Which is most important to your organization – mission, core values, or vision?

The company vision is by far the most important.  Before any new ideas can be implemented they have to be measured against how they affect the core objectives, which directly impact the mission.

  • How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the “core values”?

All throughout the facilities the core objectives are displayed.  Any communication to the company from leadership shows how things stack up against those objectives.  They are reviewed on a continual basis.

8)  How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate the “core values”?

By being a living example of them myself.  I’m a big believer in leading by example.

  • Do you set aside specific time to cast vision to your employees and other leaders?

My vision in my department has really started to come in to focus over the last six weeks.  As I’ve begun to take note of things that need attention I’ve made notes to discuss them with the rest of the team.  Unfortunately due to a co-worker being injured and then some PTO we haven’t had the whole team together to discuss them in over a month.  We are treading water right now, but with a new manager and a new focus from myself I see the time coming up soon.

  • How do you ensure your organization and its activities are aligned with you “core values”?

I have to live them myself, just as all of the leadership team within my organization does.

  • How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?

By continually living those values and showing how they affect their job and how they can affect them.

  • When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?

I would try to get an idea of which candidate might want to grow themselves both professionally and personally as opposed to just doing the same job they are hired for the rest of their time at the company.

  • What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

The most important characteristic that a leader needs is integrity.  If people can’t trust you for your word then they won’t follow you.

  • What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Trying to lead people who have become part of the “safe place” culture.  Life is tough.  You’re going to have to suck it up in times when you don’t want to.

  • What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

Protecting their team members from discipline due to a connection or soft spot.  All employees must be held to the same standards.

  • What is one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?

Not having the ability to say no and add too much to their teams.

  • Can you explain the impact, if any, that social networking and Web 2.0 has made on your organization or you personally?

It has given me a place to share my points of view on many things like sports, life, leadership and faith.  I’ve always felt like I had worthwhile things to say that would benefit people but never had and avenue or the confidence to put it out there.  It kind of lets me do it anonymously.

  • What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

Everyone learns in their own ways.  Reading is the most universal way to gain insight on leadership, and has been my biggest help.  I also follow some professional development “gurus” on social media.  Some of their blog posts have directly lead to some of the principals I use on a daily basis.

  • What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

Don’t be afraid to fail, just make sure you learn from it and don’t repeat it.

  • What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

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leadershipmemes via twitter

The avenues I have gone down to grow my leadership abilities have now become a way of life.  If I were to ever leave my current company I would still do the things I am doing now.  Finding a mentor has been a big help too.

I have a list of people I’d like to interview for this series, but if you’re interested in being interviewed as well please let me know.