Sleepless Nights and Too Much Sunshine

What I learned from trying to teach my children to sleep through the night.

I remember when our children were very young. One woke up laughing, the other, not so much. For those of you who know my family, I will leave you to guess which child responded with laughter and which responded with tears.

And I remember trying to teach them to sleep through the night. (Of course, I also remember setting up a borrowed video camera and recording our first born while he slept. Pretty exciting video, isn’t it?  But we were brand new parents.) But the process of training them to sleep through the night and go back to sleep when their little bodies awoke in the middle of the night was hard. There was a huge part of me that wanted to just pick them up and bring them into our bed and snuggle.  It seemed that between my wife and I, only one of us would have the strength to deal with the crying.  One of us would begin to cave in and the other would be strong.  Then the roles would reverse.  And on it went for days and days until we finally made it through the night.

What is a beleaguered parent to do?

Should I scoop them up and feed them every time they cried? Should I bring them into our bed to sleep? There is a problem with that approach. They were growing bigger, and they no longer needed to eat every two to three hours, and it would ultimately hurt them and be bad for them if we allowed them to never establish a healthy sleep pattern. They needed sleep, I needed sleep. Heaven only knows that their mother needed sleep!

So, what is the beleaguered leader to do?

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Leadership Lessons from T-Ball

At least from a Papa’s Perspective

Leadership Lessons from T-Ball

I have remarked many times before that you cannot predict from whence inspiration will come. Such is the case today as I reflect on my youngest grandchild’s recent first year of Junior T-Ball.

We are not baseball fans by nature. I am much more of an ice hockey fan than a baseball fan. But, thanks to some very dear and patient friends, I learned the game of baseball almost 15 years ago. Nowadays, I thoroughly enjoy the game.

The fact that Jr. T-Ball bears little resemblance to real baseball is not the subject for today. Rather, it is to consider the leadership lessons (and really, life lessons) from watching our grandson’s first season.

Observations and an Application to Leadership

T-Ball can be a little scary. — Most of the little ones were a little scared to be out there on the field by themselves. Mom or Dad was always welcome to stand alongside the player. Shoot, the little player could actually ask anyone to stand not the field with them to help them feel more comfortable out there. I was drafted several times by my grandson to stand with them as they played the field. But, you know what, we were able to share great times together. And guess who taught him to say “Hey battah, battah, battah!” while he hunched over trying to be as ready as he could?

Leadership can be a little scary at times as well. We just may need to reach out and draft someone to come stand beside us from time to time. Not only will it be a comfort to us, we can also learn some things while they are standing by our side if we are open to a little ad hoc mentoring.

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Don’t Be Silly

Bad Advice Some Times

Don't Be Silly

There is a quote by Adlai Stevenson that is rattling inside my head today. It has leadership implications both at home and at work. Here are the words of Adlai Stevenson.

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”

Leadership In The Home

One of the things that is the most important to us as men is that our wives and children respect us. I think for many men respect comes before love in order of importance to the male psyche. But, I won’t debate that here today. Instead, I want to talk about something that in many ways may run counter to the notion of respect.

The opposite of respect is, of course, disrespect. And as dads, we cannot tolerate that from our children. But consider for a moment the importance of being silly with your children. Did you catch that? I said that it is important to be silly with your children. Why is that important?

Many times our kids see us as the great enforcers of rules and the “sucker of all that is fun out of life.” They could never have known us when we were wearing togas to toga parties in college. They never saw us perform some goofy skit in the Fall Fun Fest our sophomore year. In their eyes, we are the one who goes to work every day and comes home too tired to play.

So, what do we do?

So, what do we do? The truth is that I don’t know how to program silliness into your fatherhood repertoire. It is hard to plan these sorts of things. But be spontaneous. The next time you need to pick up all of the dirty clothes from your child’s room, do it together and make a silly contest out of seeing how many dirty socks, shorts, and shirts you can stuff in your pants. And then waddle to the laundry room with the dirty clothes sticking out of your pockets and waistband and dump them in the washing machine. OK, that isn’t the greatest idea in the world, but I was being spontaneous!

And there is a practical side to all of this.

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Leadership Lessons from the Easter Season

The Unavoidable Example of the Ultimate Leader

The Unavoidable Example of the Ultimate Leader

For many, and for Christians in particular, this is Holy Week. Today is Maundy Thursday. Many will attend a Tenebrae Service tonight. Tomorrow is Good Friday. And Sunday will be Easter.

When you are a blogger it can be sometimes difficult to tackle certain topics. When you are a Christian blogger, it is really a daunting task to write on the subject of Jesus Christ and His leadership. It almost makes that aspect of who He was, seem corporate or secular. But, this week, I feel that I must address it if I am to be true to who I am as a writer and as a person.

The Ultimate Leader

There are many aspects of Jesus’ life that I could point out on any given day. And I don’t begin to know how to prioritize a few of them as we approach Easter morning. But, let me point out one or two for our consideration as we approach the darkness of Good Friday, the quiet of Saturday and the joy of Easter morning.

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The In Between Week

What are you doing this week?

the-in-between-week

The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is an interesting week. It begins with joy and excitement on Christmas morning. It has times of great peace and contentment as we enjoy the presence of loved ones in our lives. There are times of great frustration when our kids tell us they are “bored” two days after Christmas!

There are times of reflection as we approach January 1st and the start of a new year. What will it look like? What opportunities or challenges will it bring? We also take some time this week to look back at the year that is about to close.

What Does a Family Leader Do This Week?

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My Family and the Manger

Don't send them. Lead them!

my-family-and-the-manger

There are a lot of leadership topics that we have discussed in the 4 years since the start of Leadership Voices.  But today, I am focused on leading your family to the manger.

Everyone sings about the manger. We may even have a little manger scene on the platform at our church. Something glorious is about to happen.

No, not Santa.

Just like more than 2,000 years ago, while the world slept, Jesus was born!

Ok, maybe not exactly on December 25th.  But He was born on a night like that night.  It was a night with lots of activity.  For Joseph and Mary, it was the busyness of the census and traveling with the throngs of people as they all journeyed to their ancestral homes.  For many of us, it is the busyness of wrapping, cooking, cleaning and the mad rush to the 24-hour drug store as we realized that batteries really weren’t included.

It would be foolish of me to suggest or to try to eliminate all of the activities that accompany the modern Christmas season.  But I would speak to you men on this day.  I would speak especially to you husbands and fathers.  And if I am honest, I would speak to myself.  And what I would say is this:

Let’s lead our families and loved ones to the manger on Christmas morning.

And I am speaking literally here.  I don’t see this as just a figurative suggestion. Let’s actually lead our families to the manger in some form or fashion on Christmas day to worship Jesus Christ the newborn king. It would be easy to stay home and remind them that they need to go to church and just send them on their way. But don’t.

Don’t send them.

Lead them!

Thanksgiving and Football

And an Interesting Leadership Example

thanksgiving-and-football

My thoughts today run from family to football and back again. I hope that you are having a great day today and that it is filled with family, food, and fellowship.

Thanksgiving has been known for many traditions. Not the least of which, unfortunately, may be that there is football on Thanksgiving. The Dallas Cowboys have played on Thanksgiving Day since 1966 and that my friend is a tradition.

I grew up and became a Steelers fan in my teen years. They were awesome in the 1970s. I tried to be a Patriots fan in the early 80s. I was a Falcons fan during our time in Atlanta. And when we moved to the DC area, I became a Redskins fan. Those Dallas Cowboys weren’t bad either. Even the most ardent Redskin fan would have to admit that. But one of the best thing to be said of the Cowboys for about 29 years in a row was their coach – Tom Landry.

Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do to achieve what they want to achieve. – Tom Landry

There have been some amazing coaches in pro football, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Don Shula, Chuck Knoll, Joe Gibbs, and Tony Dungy are only a few of the great coaches that have walked the chalk on the sidelines on cold Sunday afternoons. But, beyond their ability to motivate and draw up the Xs and Os, consider for a moment one of the key tasks of the football coach as the leader of the team.

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Really Important Leaders

Are some leadership roles more important than others?

really-important-leaders

The elections are finally over. Some are happy. Some are not. Some are anxious. Some are scared. I have a mixture of all of those emotions. So, I am intentionally choosing to take a look today at one of the foundational leadership roles that exists. That is being a father. 

As fathers, we are the “go-to” guys of the family. There is a lot that is expected of us. We are given enormous responsibility and we are going to ultimately be accountable for the actions that we take as husbands and fathers.

How does that last sentence make you feel? Are you at peace with that statement? Or are you scared witless by the repercussions of it?

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Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me That?

The Reality of Business Travel

why-didnt-someone-tell-me

I wish someone would have told me about that!

How many times have we said that as parents? I know that I have said it about a bazillion times. Or, I have said it at least “ten hundred million” times, which was the largest number that I could comprehend as a child.

Human nature assumes that someone out there knows all of the answers. And if that mystical all-knowing leader would just share that knowledge with me, then I would be able to navigate the difficulties and challenges that life throws my way. So human nature insists that there is information that is out there, but it is not always shared with us. That may or may not be true.

What is my point?

The thrust of my thoughts today is that although there are tons of things that we think someone should have told us, we probably would not have believed them if they had tried to tell us.

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Are You A Covenant Leader?

Or, are you a convenient leader?

are-you-a-covenant-leader

Two of my grandchildren attend a school with the word “Covenant” as part of the name of the school. They take this word seriously at the school. I was discussing leadership topics the other day with another person who is as passionate about leadership as I am and I was a little aggravated with the state of leadership among some who would be leaders. Unfortunately, the lack of covenant leadership is just too easy to identify today wherever you look.

One of the descriptions for leaders that I observe today is that they have no concept of a covenant and are just being convenient leaders. So, what does that mean?

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