Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lead Like You Love It

When I posted this entry I mentioned another I had been writing on leadership with a conductor as the example of the principle (mostly written back in January, by the way). A friend told me tonight that I need to be blogging more about this kind of thing, so here we go.

So first, the example. About a year ago I was at a meeting one evening with a large group of boy scout leaders. They announced the opening song and prayer, and the organist began to play. The music conductor stood up in his scout uniform before the large roomful of people, and as the words began, he started leading us in the song like there wasn't another place in the world he would rather be. He was smiling and singing away, looking like he was having the time of his life.

I couldn't hardly keep my eyes off him, he was so fun to watch! I wondered what I was missing just sitting there in the audience, rather than up there leading. I don't remember if he was leading 'correctly,' but correctly or not, people were happily following him. He was there to do the job, do his best, and have a great time doing it. I would bet I wasn't the only person who noticed. I think I learned more from that man that I did from the rest of the meeting (sorry other speakers). His simple example taught me mountains.


I thought of this while watching the musical performance of "Air and Simple Gifts" by John Williams during President Obama's inauguration. Of course each of the four musicians are top performers and leaders in their fields, but Yo-Yo Ma especially held my attention because he looked like he was having a blast. I watched the performance twice that day and was captivated by him both times. While pointing and telling the kids we own some of his CDs and he's famous because he's been on Arthur (check him out at 1:00 and 3:20, somehow his ears are bigger when he's a cartoon), I couldn't help but mention, "Look how much fun he's having!" (Maybe he was grinning knowing that we were listening to a recording so everyone didn't have to listen to their cold out-of-tune instruments, but who's to say for sure?)

We've all been around someone in a leadership position that complains, joking or not, about what they do. It's hard to follow someone that isn't happy about their job, even jokingly. They give the impression that they are there as a place holder, wishing their time was over rather than someone there to really lead, serve, and do their best. People don't look to complainers for an example.

On the other hand, people that are willingly and happily doing the work they are there to do become a great example to everyone that sees them. While I was a nursery leader for our church, meeting with the 18 months to 3 year old children every Sunday, I made it a personal goal of mine to show up early and always be happy while I was there. I wanted people to wonder what they were missing out on. Early on there were probably days when I was doing my best to paste on a smile, but an interesting by-product of that is after a while I didn't have to pretend anymore. When someone made a comment about me being "stuck" in there, I would let them know why I love it.

I'm certainly not always perfect at this, but it's something I've tried to apply. At home I think it's especially important to show our families that we love to be with and lead them. I've heard stories of girls not wanting to be mothers because of the example their own mothers showed of being so displeased with the job.

We are being watched more than we could ever imagine. Let your joyful service be an example to those around you, and people will follow. "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (Isaiah 55:12). Cheesy, but it follows the musical examples, and you probably will be surprised by the miraculous results of your joyful attitude.


P.S. I attended the same meeting a month ago, and I was most excited about going because I was so hoping to see the same man conducting the music again. Unfortunately, they had someone else, and she didn't look nearly as happy to be there.

Another great post on what someone has learned from conductors (to add to my own ah-ha's about that):  http://michaelhyatt.com/50-8-leadership-lessons-from-a-symphony-conductor-podcast.html

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rough Week, Made Better

A week ago tonight Melanie started fevering and Erin started throwing up. Erin was fine the next morning, happily sneaking Halloween candy bars.

I stayed home with the girls from church Sunday to make sure they were healthy, including Carolyn, figuring she sleeps in the same room as the two sickos and could easily pick it up. I kept thinking all day that while Melanie was still fevering off and on, I could have taken the other two. That night Carolyn let me know it was good that she stayed home. After a very rough night, she also perked up pretty quickly the next morning.

Monday and Tuesday my kids thought I was a big mean ogre, not letting them play with anyone. I kept telling them that it's just better they not play in case they pass the sickness on, because then they wouldn't be able to play with their friends even longer. They don't get that at all. Funny, though, about 5 minutes after Adam got off the phone with a friend telling him how mean I am and won't let him play, he was laying on the couch. After some prodding, he told me his stomach was hurting. That evening, he delivered as well.

Everyone has been fine since. So why am I sharing this?!?

Because I'm grateful for good friends.

If the rest of my week hadn't been so busy (along with all this, I get to talk in church on Sunday), I would be posting pictures of the kids eating pizza Tuesday night. Our good friend Todd heard that I was dealing with all this on my own (Jamie was out of town through a lot of the "fun"), and had pizza delivered to us for dinner. Thank you Todd! It was delicious and lifted my whole day knowing I wouldn't have to figure out dinner that night.

The next day I got a call from my mom, telling me what she was making for dinner and offered to bring some over when it was ready. Since everyone was still fine at that point, I made some certified germ-free rolls (touched only by my sterilized hands) to send home with her to enjoy with the dinner she had put together. Thanks to you too Mom!

It's amazing the difference a little food can make. Or maybe it's true, that it really is the thought that counts. Thanks for thinking of us!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Do You Care?

I hate forwards. Do people really think those threats of misfortune, death, or dismemberment are real? If an e-mail was really that powerful, there would be a lot of misery in our home. None of my neighbors have received a great sum of money from any source, though I've had that variety sent on more than my delete button wants to remember.

Once in a while there are gems, though, and thanks to the people that have sent me those. Here's one I got recently that has had me thinking about it ever since.

You don't have to actually answer the questions (though you can if you want). Just read straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name five people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners. (Adam could probably do that)

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners. I have to wonder how long the glory lasts for these people.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

And might I add, these are the "awards" that matter.

We have choices to make every day: to give of ourselves to others, or to continue through our own personal agendas. No matter how much we WANT to be in the second category for other people, when we are too concerned about the daily to-do's it limits our opportunities to reach out to other people. Basically it's a choice between mediocre and being great.

"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day." --C.S. Lewis

A wonderful reminder - especially since we were surprised last night with one kiddo with a fever and another throwing up. :) I hope that maybe someday the little bodies I get to mother would include me in some of their second quiz answers.