Every Summer I count the days until college football arrives. Once the much anticipated season begins, I read articles, listen to podcasts, watch highlights, engage in football conversations and count the days until the next game. I’ve been this way since I was 7 years old when Auburn beat Alabama 17-16 in the first of several l̶u̶c̶k̶y̶ improbable Tiger wins in my lifetime. I cheer for my team when “we” win and when we lose. To prove my point, here is a picture of me and some of my buddies during our school’s not so glorious days.
Last week I spent two inspiring days learning and being challenged at a global leadership summit with about 400,000 other leaders in 1,375 locations spanning the globe. I was able to hear world class leaders share on a wide scope of ideas, each in their area of expertise. The proverbial drinking from a fire hose analogy is very appropriate.
I often set the cruise control at 75 when traveling the interstates (yes, I’m aware this is speeding, but that’s another post for another day). Even at this speed, I have to drive in the slow lane because of the many vehicles blowing my doors off as they zip past. The speed of travel is simply symptomatic of the speed of life today. The increased pace is seen everywhere - in young families with multiple kids participating in multiple activities in an attempt to keep up with the Jones’; in our high schools where students feel pressure to choose between building college resumes and enjoying the best years of their lives; and in our social lives where fewer people have time for deep friendships. It’s well documented that the speed at which information is available is unprecedented and increasing exponentially. To attempt to keep up is futile. Because of the impossibility of staying ahead of the curve in all these areas, I have a suggestion - stop trying and instead take a different, counterintuitive approach. Slow down!
Most of my posts on this site deal with leadership principles and practices. Such was the plan this week, until receiving some tragic news early Sunday morning that has prevented me from thinking of anything else. So this week I will take a detour into the spiritual and practical realms of responding to tragedy. I am no expert in this field in terms of personal experience but I have spent more time than I wish I had to sitting with amazing people who have suffered inexplicable loss.
Through the years I have often been called responsible. It is a label I take pride in. If I tell you I am going to do something, I will. I won’t let you down. I will complete the assignment given and I will do it on time. And I will usually do a good job (as long as you are not asking me to do auto or home repairs).
Last week I had the opportunity to volunteer with my wife and daughter at an amazing ministry called Blue Skies. Blue Skies provides a week-long, beach respite for families who have a child with cancer. Spending time with these incredible families taught me a few important lessons.
I’ll see your protest and raise you a protest. This great country we call home affords us many privileges, one of which is the freedom of speech. Because of this first amendment right protests are now more common than Peachtree Road Race participants. I suspect there will be people this July 4th protesting all they don’t like about America –policies, programs, prejudices and our president. I’m not crazy about a lot of what I see in Washington either, but I am choosing to protest a few other things this July 4th. I hope you will join me.
It’s halftime. Believe it or not, this week marks the end of the sixth month of 2017. Six down and six to go. As a sports fan, I love what can happen at halftime – especially when my team is not performing well. It provides an opportunity to regroup, refocus and rest. A game is rarely won or lost in the first half, but many games have been decided by what happens in the halftime locker room. I can remember some amazing second half comebacks that had to have been the result of an inspired locker room speech. I lived in Buffalo when our Bills made the greatest comeback in NFL history by beating the Houston Oilers 41-38, overcoming a 32 point second half deficit with a second team quarterback named Frank Reich. I also remember my team being on the losing end of one of the most memorable college comebacks ever – I won’t mention the score or team because I am too immature to give credit to that team who got so incredibly lucky.
I tweaked a muscle in my back last week while lifting weights. I know – I don’t look like I lift weights. I’m aware. The truth is I have consistently been working out in gyms and at home for over 35 years. I’ve read weightlifting books and met with trainers. I’ve studied techniques, done Body for Life and P90X, and regularly drink protein shakes. I often wonder why I put in so much time for so little change.
One of my favorite movie scenes is from The Sandlot, when Squints pulls one over on Wendy Peffercorn, his lifeguard crush. The reason this worked out so well for Squints is that he was brave enough to jump into the deep end of the pool.
I have a friend who drinks apple cider vinegar every morning. He says it does two things: gives him really bad breath and keeps him healthy. There is not a ton of scientific research to back his second claim but I can’t remember him ever being sick. I tried taking ACV myself but it tastes so nasty I chased it with a mint and quit after one dose. I’m sticking with the health benefits of good ol’ H2O.
’m not a great decision maker, which is why I was totally out of my element last week as I stood on a car auction lot with over 2,000 vehicles of various makes and models. Through a friend of a friend I was permitted to visit the lot the day before the auction. I felt a little pressure to choose a car since I was given this sneak peek to search for a bargain and was giving up half my day to do so. I was there because the three of us living under my roof were having a hard time surviving since I recently said goodbye to my old Accord (read blog here). Having only two vehicles for three people is a major first world problem, but I digress.
Last Tuesday night was one of my proudest moments as I watched my wife Susan receive the Coweta County Teacher of the Year Award. There was little fanfare or news coverage outside an article in our small town paper and social media posts from friends and family. There were no cash prizes (or at least she didn’t tell me about it). I was and am proud for a different reason - not because she won, but because I know what has happened behind the scenes providing her the opportunity to win. Here are some practices I have seen and am learning from my wife that might help you on your journey as well.
The older I get the more my eyes seem to leak. I tell myself this is a good sign, that I’m more in touch with my emotions now. But this week it got to the ridiculous point as I said goodbye to my 1998 Honda Accord - the one with 218,000 miles, faded paint, ripped seats, a slightly dented hood, a dashboard knob missing, the cruise control out, an inoperable driver side rear door, an AC that requires the treatment in a can twice each summer, and bad oil leaks. The latest repair was going to be $900 so I sold it for $500 and walked away with tears in my eyes. What is wrong with me?!
On my ride to the airport earlier this week I saw two church signs that literally left me shaking my head. The first said, “The tomb is empty - deal with it” and the second, “Even with inflation the wages of sin is the same - death.” The message behind the first sign is something to the effect of “if you don’t believe like we do, we don’t care because you are stupid.” Do you know who I think is stupid? Whoever decided to put that message on the sign.
When I was checking out at the Waffle House Friday morning (don’t judge me) I asked my waitress if she had big Easter plans. She replied that she had forgotten it was Easter. It provided me with the opportunity to invite her to join us for worship on Sunday but also saddened me as I was reminded of how easy it is to miss life’s most significant moments.