November 1, 2017 v4 p50
There are times in our lives when we think we have all of our ducks in a row and that we have everything figured out. Then something inevitably comes along and completely throws all of that out of whack.
When my parents died and my wife and I made the decision to move back to my home town I thought I could see the direction I was supposed to go. I used to think that living in a larger city meant that I wouldn’t be able to make a big difference. When I moved home I was in a much smaller community where I felt I could be a pretty significant influence. The first thing I did was pick up a leadership role in the Cub Scout Pack that both of my parents had a hand in leading throughout my time in Scouting as a youth as well as for many years after that. Not too long after that I joined the local Lions Club, following in my footsteps. These were two areas where both of my parents had been leaders in this community, I felt I needed to honor them by following them in their footsteps.
Before we moved back my wife and I had become active in The American Cancer Society Relay for Life events in the area we were living. Moving didn’t change that participation, it just changed the event we were a participant at. This was a new area for me to show my leadership, one that my parents hadn’t been involved in. It allowed me to use the leadership skills my parents had instilled in me through their example and through the Scouting experience in a different way. It felt right. It felt better, but I didn’t really know why. Over a couple of years I realized that I was still able to honor my parents by leading in different areas of the community that my parents weren’t involved in. My schedule became very full between Scouts, Lions, Relay for Life, and coaching my children’s sports teams, something had to go. The easiest one to leave was the Lions Club. Not because I didn’t believe in the mission but because at the time we were not financially stable and the only family member me stepping away would have an impact on was me.
I stayed active in Scouting after my oldest son left the program because my youngest son was about to join as a first grader. I needed to stay active in between the two, about two years, to ensure there would still be a program for my younger son to join. When he did I tried my hardest to take a different role. For the previous three years I had been the administrative head of the program, the Committee Chair. I tried to find someone to take that position when my son joined so I could be his Den Leader. If you’re unfamiliar with the program each grade is set up in a “Den” and they do all of their advancement together. I really wanted to be able to impact his experience with the program by leading that group, but nobody would step up to take my other job. In order to support the rest of the organization I stayed in that position. My son has since moved on to the Boy Scout program, older boys, and I no longer have a child in the Cub Scouts. I’m still working to get someone to replace me before the end of 2017.
In the spring of 2012 I walked away from my job. I didn’t have anything lined up to replace it but I knew that I had to leave. I was working 60+ hours per week and there was no end in sight to the overtime being reduced. There was also a factor of a 45 minute commute one, so an hour and a half in total each day. Combine all of that with a toxic work environment that was fostered by the leadership of the company I worked for and I finally broke down. At the time I didn’t have much of a relationship with God, but I had hope that I had enough to put my trust in him. After a few weeks of struggling to find anything I took a temp job to pay the bills, it wasn’t the best, but it paid the bills and it was nice to be able to punch in, do my work, and punch out. One morning as I was waiting to punch in a connection on social media from high school posted that he was hiring. I asked for the details and applied. As soon as I got off the phone with from the initial phone interview I told my wife that I knew I had to get this job.
Getting hired in to the company I work for isn’t the easiest thing to go through. It can take anywhere from six weeks to six months to go through the entire hiring process, depending on how urgently the need for the position you are applying for is needed to be filled. Your company doesn’t get voted to all of “Best and Brightest” award lists by hiring without thoroughly vetting its candidates. Your company doesn’t organically grow fast and stronger than any other company in your industry without the right team. Everything about the company I work for is done for its employees. The company vision is tied directly to helping the employees grow. When it looks at expanding or starting new ideas it applies how those effect they four core objectives of the company; employee engagement, revenue growth, margin retention, and customer service. Probably the biggest one of these objectives is the employee engagement. By concentrating on helping your employees grow and that they are happy, they will in turn do their best work.
When I started working in the warehouse there were only four of us. We were pretty small yet, and with four employees we were over staffed. Through meetings with my manager and company updates I could see the growth plan for the company would warrant the need for a manager over just the warehouse. I had always worked hard at my jobs which have always ended up in me being promoted to leadership. I had put this goal down for my manager to see so that he could help me work towards it. We read some books together that would help, and they did, and we had some discussions about what other things I could do that would help me achieve my goal of becoming the warehouse manager. During one of our monthly meeting he showed me a path that I had already begun to look at. One of the common threads among all of the leadership gurus I had begun following was a faith element. My manager asked me if I had ever been involved in a church. We talked a little about the faith I grew up in, and he suggested that I take a look at getting back to that.
Here was another source telling me I should add this element back into my life. I told my wife, and she wanted to join me on this journey, which made it easier. I’ve written more in detail on my faith journey before and those posts are available in my archives, check them out if you’d like.
As I’ve grown more in my faith I’ve been trying to discern a better idea of what it is that I’ve been called to do. Through prayer and contemplation there are three things that keep coming to me. I feel a calling to serve God, to serve my family, and to lead others, specifically in a return to their own faith. I’m finding it easier to serve God and my family, but something has been holding me back in that third part. I really didn’t know what it was that could be holding me back. I’ve been writing about how my faith has been helping me. I’ve been trying to get through to some people I know who have shown that they need a stronger relationship with God, or just a relationship with Him to begin with. But there’s something that is holding me back yet.
This leads me back to some of those books I read with my now former manager (he moved on to a different position in my company). We read a book called “Start: Punch Fear in the Face” by Jon Acuff. I began following Jon on social media and it was that book that actually started me writing this blog. I had written a post about one of the 5k races I ran and shared it within his private group. Another member who lives in the area read it and we became connected on social medial. Over time we’ve had some very good discussions about leadership, and more often faith. Although we are members of different denominations of Christianity, we seem to have a pretty similar view of how faith should play a role in people’s lives. One of us posted something a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned that he had a book for me. We finally worked out the details and met up at the local Chick-Fil-A for an ok meal and a great conversation. The book he gave me was “Kill the Spider” by Carlos Whittaker. It’s a story of the author’s journey through therapy to help him get through what was holding him back. I can’t say that I’ve had a harder time putting a book down.
Without revealing too much of the book, I’ve spent the last five days on a journey of self-reflection. I’ve come to realize that not feeling like I can really have an impact on people to strengthen their faith journey is just like the lack of self-confidence I have to lead in my professional life. This is the basis of the metaphor in the book. I’m not quite done with it, but I already have discovered what some of the reasons are that I’ve been holding myself back. I really see that this is something that I need to work on. I need to identify what is at the core of my lack of confidence. I used to blame the undermining from my toxic manager at my old job, but it was there before. I’m starting to see that this lack of confidence goes back further into my life. I’m still unpacking all of this, and I’ve discovered that all of this is part of why I have trouble letting go of anger and resentment that I hold against people. I have a new journey.
As I move from dot-to-dot in my life I’m starting to see why things connected the way they did. I start my 43rd trip around the sun with a new perspective on how my next set of dots are going to be connected.