Archives For leadership

You know how you have those memories that are indelibly imprinted in your mind?  The past 24 hours has surfaced a number of those in my life.  The first is the anniversary of the tragedy that occurred on 9/11/01.  Probably the majority of us remember exactly where we were when we first heard the news.  I was driving down Mineral Point Road, approaching the light at South Gammon Road when I heard the announcement on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  At that point, they didn’t even know the type of plane it was — whether a large jet or a light aircraft.  And they did not yet have an inkling of the real scope of what was about to unfold.  Although my memory is notoriously deficient, many of the details of that entire day are seared in my  memory.

Today a whole new set of memories flooded  my mind when I read the news of the savage and brutal attacks on our embassy in Libya and the ensuing murder of United States Citizens, including the ambassador.  Do you remember when the U.S. Embassy in Iran was attacked and the occupants held as hostages?  I sure do.  Iranian students played a key role in that attack.  There was also a very large contingent of Iranian students studying in the Universities here in the U.S.  Although I was still in high school, I had a brother away at a University where many of the students were quite vocal about supporting the revolution in Iran.  I worried about he and his families safety.  Of course memories of the hostage crisis invoke memories of the policies of President Carter.  And not just foreign policy memories like the bumbling of the hostage situation.  But domestic memories.

I remember standing at the counter of the post office filling out my selective service form.  The Iranian hostage crisis had ended just a few months before and memories of the not so distant Vietnam war played in my mind.  Although the draft had ended around 1973, President Carter had recently decided that all young men such as myself should be registered “just in case.”  Since I was the second oldest in my high school senior class, I was in the vanguard of my peers – many of whom were being pressured to register as “CO” due to their religious heritage/beliefs.  I will never forget the weight of that moment, the soberness of that occasion.  The knowledge that I could be called upon to give my life for my country and for my kin.

I remember where I was standing (the bedroom in the NW corner of our home) when I realized my dream of farming was dead on arrival due to inflation rates in the teens and interest rates around 20%.

All of these memories flood my mind today.  They illicit so many questions, and uncover so many concerns.  Concerns for our country, for our future.  More specifically, concerns for my wife, for my children, and for their future.  What does our future hold?  Does it hold additional armed conflict in the middle east or other parts of the globe?  Increased economic instability here at home?  Or are these concerns all for naught?

Throughout the ages, men have faced times of crisis, times of difficulty, times of uncertainty.  But the question still remains: how will we step up to each of these occasions?  What is the proper response at a time such as this?  How do we as men, as father’s, as husbands, prepare, protect and lead at times such as these?  For the Christian man, I think this questions is doubly difficult. We seek to follow the teachings of Christ from within a culture that in many ways has become Christ-less.  We seek to differentiate the clamoring cries of the culture warriors from the quiet voice of Christ.

The choices each of makes in how we approach these times of crisis, difficulty, and uncertainty will greatly affect the future of our family and our community – for better or for worse.  Our culture specializes in slogans, bumper sticker philosophies and quick  fixes.  But the real answers for questions like these at times like these are far more complex.  Answers that often seem inadequate, or frail.  Answers that rely partly on faith, partly on wisdom, partly on experience.  Answers that are often forged in the fire of experience. Answers that may be best learned, formed and articulated amongst a group of men who are committed to God, to family and to each other.

What do you think?  I’m interested in your thoughts.


You may as well know, I’m a big fan of KSU (Kansas State) Football.  Go Cats!

How did Bill Snyder turn around what was probably the worst football program in D-I history?  You should read the book for the full picture, but it all stems from the rules for success.  

The Sixteen Wildcat Goals for Success

1) Commitment
2) Unselfishness
3) Unity
4) Improvement
5) Toughness
6) Self Discipline
7) Great Effort
8) Enthusiasm
9) Eliminate Mistakes
10) Never give up
11) Don’t accept losing
12) No self – limitation
13) Expect to win
14) Consistency
15) Leadership
16) Responsibility

If you are interested in leadership, Bill Snyder’s book is a must read. 

Over on my Facebook page I asked the question:

 “Is it important for a man to have a mentor? If it is, should every man have a mentor? Or is it it only for specific situations or times?”

I invite you to come on over and participate in the discussion.

About two years ago I read Tony Dungy’s book “The Mentor Leader.”  I highly recommend you get a copy of the book, a sharp pencil and a legal pad.  I was challenged by the read and it caused me to take some new action/initiative in our families life.  I’m not going to right a book review here, but I would like to post up a few things that I wrote on my legal pad after I read and ruminated on the book.

If I am going to be a mentor leader in my family I need to lead the process of defining our vision, our mission and our values.  This is how I paraphrased those core items after I read the book. 

Vision:  where we want to be, what we want to “look like.”
Mission:  Why do we exist?
Values:  What is important to us? (or what are the rules of the road for our family)

So what does this look like in the real world?  Here is some of what I wrote down on that legal pad regarding vision, mission and values for our family.

Vision:  A cohesive, joyous, loving, caring family with a strong marriage.  Christ followers who walk the walk, care for others and build the Kingdom of God.  To help our children excel where we struggled by offering vision, direction and wisdom.

Misssion:  To build relationships with Christ, with each other and with the Church.  To bring the world into proper relationship with Christ.

Values:  Honesty, integrity, kindness, love, compassion/care
We are not a lying family
We are not a hitting family
We are not a quitting family

I’m not going to pretend that we are always successful in living these things out.  And I’m not going to pretend I’m the greatest family leader, either.  I’m not – rather, I’m greatly flawed!  But I do know that if I aim at nothing, I hit it every time.  And I’m finally learning that it really is important to know where you want to be headed and have an idea of how you are going to get there.  “Making it up on the fly” usually leaves me (and even more so my family) frustrated, disappointed and disillusioned.

So heed these words of mine.  If you want to lead your family, if you want to help them succeed and become all that God desires for them, I would strongly encourage you to get this book and spend time creating a vision for your family.  And then start putting it into action!