Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Off to Disney I Go

I know you will be disappointed, but I am taking a holiday from blogging, and will not be able to share more of my vast wisdom with you until after Thanksgiving.

We're kicking it down to Orlando for some Disney World action, then hopping on a Disney Cruise early next week!

Everybody have an awesome Thanksgiving, and be sure to thank God for all the incredible blessings He's provided.

I'll be chatting with you soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Love My Boys!

I hope I never take my sons for granted. They are a special dynamic duo, and breathe life into me each day.

Over the past couple weeks, I have had the privilege to serve as "Mystery Reader" for each of their classes on Friday. Two weeks ago, I remember standing in the hallway at Lewis Elementary, when Chaz (my 8-year old) spotted me as he was headed to his classroom after lunch.

"Daddy!!!" he exclaimed, and came running towards me, with arms outstretched to give me a bear hug. What a greeting! My heart melted, as I was equally excited to see him.

The following Friday, I was in Chandler's class. I can remember rounding the corner into the doorway of his classroom, and I made eye contact with the little guy. Chandler is much different than Chaz. Instead of bounding toward me, Chandler had a rather perplexed look, as he was trying to figure out exactly what I was doing there. After about 30 seconds of me making goofy faces and gestures at him, he finally cracked a smile.

I know some parents say that their kids are "their life." I wouldn't go quite that far. But, they certainly add joy, laughter, and fun to it (as well as frustration), and I honestly couldn't imagine what it'd be like if they weren't in the picture.

I cherish the moments I spend with them, and pray that they will always be as excited to see me, and spend time with me, as I am to see and hang out with them.

Love you buddies!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When Your "We" Becomes "They"

Have you ever been around a sports fanatic who boasts about his favorite team’s accomplishments? By their mannerisms, their words, and their enthusiasm you’d think they were actually on the team!

I’ve been there. Or, maybe I should say I am there. You see, I am a die-hard Georgia Bulldogs fan. But, not just an ordinary fan. I am pretty vested. I went to school at the University of Georgia, worked in the Athletic Department for three years, and have been a season ticket holder for 13 seasons running.

I am more than a fan. I am…as they say at the poker table – all in.

But, what about when things aren’t going well? What about getting whipped 31-0 in the first half against Alabama earlier this year? You see, I was at that game. It was brutal. ESPN’s College GameDay was there for the big matchup, and before the game, all the Georgia “faithful” were saying things like “We’re gonna roll the Tide.” Or, they’d say, “We’ll definitely be Number 1 in the nation when we win this game.”

But, we didn’t win, and we were the ones who got rolled. And, you know what happened in the stands and on the radio after the game?

Our “we” became a “they.”

We no longer spoke in the first person. Instead, we said things like, “They got their tails handed to them.” Or, “I don’t know what they are going to do in the second half, but they better get their act together.”

I recently had the opportunity to hear marketing guru Seth Godin speak at a leadership conference. He has a new book out entitled Tribes which talks about this phenomenon.

Here’s what Godin had to say (paraphrase): “When people go to a sporting event and get all fired up and cheer, they aren’t really cheering for that team. They’re not even cheering for the players in the uniforms. They’re actually cheering for themselves. All these people in the stands are connected by their affinity for this team – they are a tribe – and they are all cheering because it makes them feel better about themselves.”

I had never thought about this before. Let that sink in for a minute.

But, this makes perfect sense. When our team scores a touchdown, or wins an election, or accomplishes a monumental task of any kind, we celebrate with them – because we are part of that tribe, and we want to be identified with that success. It makes us feel good.

So, it should be no surprise that when our team (or tribe) fares poorly that we want to distance ourselves from them. We wave our arms in disgust, become critical of what they are doing, and bring out the boo-birds. We don’t want to be identified with failure. Their failure. Not ours.

Sports analogies seem to make the most sense, but the very same thing can happen in any group. Your company. Your church. Your family.

And, in a culture with so many choices, people can easily jump from one ship to another to try to avoid sinking. Instead of being a part of the solution, they prefer to point a finger and latch on to the flavor of the week.

The fickle world of college football is one thing, but when a spouse withdraws from the partnership of marriage, or a volunteer starts to gossip about a leader in your organization, or when fingers are pointed at others across the conference room table, you’ve got real problems on your hands. It’s called disunity. There’s not a universal “we” anymore. And, that spells trouble.

So, what does that mean for you and me? It means we have to be honest with ourselves and closely examine the level of commitment we offer – to our spouse, our families, our companies, our places of worship, and any other group with whom we identify.

Loyalty isn’t a word we hear much about these days. But, there are few things I value more than someone who is dependable and will stick by my side – not just when we’re winning, but in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

Is your “we” starting to fade? If so, you’ve got some tough decisions to make, and some difficult conversations to initiate. But, whatever you do, please remove the word “they” from your vocabulary. Speak the truth – in love – and help provide solutions, not create dissension.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bury the Hatchet

I had the opportunity to meet and listen to Allen Hunt this morning. Allen is the host of the Allen Hunt Show on WSB Radio in Atlanta, and is in syndication on 55 radio stations across the country.

He shared a story this morning that really spoke to me.

In Sussex County, Delaware, they will celebrate "Return Day" on Thursday, November 6. This is a 200-year tradition in which the winning and losing candidates from the election parade through the city streets, riding together in horse-drawn carriages and antique automobiles. The entire county is pretty much shut down!

After the parade, the citizens gather around the historic Sussex County Courthouse, and the Town Crier (how would you like that title?) reads the official returns from the courthouse balcony. After the returns have been read, Sussex County's party chairmen engage in a dramatic burial of the hatchet - quite literally - which ends the political season in Delaware.

If you don't believe me, read it here: http://www.returnday.org

We can all learn a valuable lesson from the humble folks of Sussex County, Delaware. What a great picture of what we all need to do - not only with the election, but with one another when we have differences. Bury the hatchet, and "ride together" and help create an air of unity rather than dissension.

Because even if you are certain you are "right," and things didn't go your way, you have a choice to make. You can be a sore loser and continue to alienate people, or you can get on board - even if it's someone else's carriage - and work together to create solutions.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pray - and Vote - Then Pray Some More

Never before has so much been on the line in a Presidential election. It's been an all-out war. A war in which the media has played a larger role than ever before. And, one that - despite all pre-election poll results - McCain has yet to concede.

I have prayed more about this election than in other elections in years past. I think God's sovereign hand was on the last two elections - no doubt - and I am confident His hand is on this one. I just don't know exactly what the American people have to say about it.

I will tell you - straight up - that I am voting for John McCain. Is he the best the Republican party had to offer for this election? Personally, I don't think so, but I support him nonetheless. There are hundreds of reasons I choose to support him over Obama - and I am not going to list them here. But, I honestly feel that our country will suffer in innumerable ways if Obama is elected.

So, I am praying. I am voting in the morning. And, I will pray some more.

Either way, I believe America will continue to be the best place to live in the world. But, I think patriotism will take a hit, and family values and the moral climate of our nation will be further compromised if Obama is elected.