Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Chazman!

March 17 is always one of my favorite days of the year. Not because it's St. Patrick's Day (which is always festive) - but because nine years ago today, God blessed me with my first son.

Today, my big "little buddy" is nine years old, and it's so incredible to me how fast it has flown by. I look back at all the great memories we have already shared, and all the incredible ways he has blessed my life, and I marvel at how God was able to weave together a son who brings so much joy to my life.

Chazman, I love you more than you can possibly fathom. Your cackle and grin always brighten my days - even the rough ones.

I cannot believe that half of your youth has already passed. I want to hang on tight each and every day, because it slips by so rapidly.

Three cheers for my lovable, fun-loving, Chazman!

Happy birthday, buddy! Now, please stop growing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's Your Story?

Frank was enjoying his day. Everything had gone well that morning, and he was able to stay on task, despite the numerous distractions all around him that attempted to push him a degree off course. He sauntered down the hallway, with his favorite Red Sox mug filled to the brim with a strong cup of coffee. As he entered his office, his desk phone rang – that ring that let him know it was someone calling on his direct line. He set his mug down delicately, eased into his leather swivel rocker, and answered the phone. This was a phone call that could change the course of the rest of Frank’s life…

What happens next? Who is on the other end of the phone call? Is it good news or bad news? Is Frank faced with a grueling decision? There are probably a dozen more questions we could ask. We don’t know how this plays out. But, we know something happened that had the potential to dramatically shape Frank’s life from that moment forward.

And, here’s the lesson for you and me. We are all Frank. All of us wake up, go about our day, engage in conversations, and make choices that put us on a path.

Think of it this way: your life is a book, and each and every day is a chapter in that book. Each decision we make, each task we complete, each word we utter become sentences and paragraphs within the chapter.

Many of us have lives whose stories are page-turners. They are filled with adventure, drama, suspense, horror, tragedy and comedy. And, then there are a few of us whose stories are yawners – we let endless possibilities pass us by without taking a risk.

But, each and every sentence of your story- as you live it out - ends with “…” That’s because we never know what comes next. Will we get the girl? Will we come to someone’s rescue? Will we get that job promotion? Will we choose to speak kind words to someone desperate for hope? Will we choose our family over our career? Will we put someone else ahead of ourselves?

Or, it can go the other way. Will we walk away? Will we throw our arms up? Will we speak harshly to someone who so desperately needs hope? Will we continue to work overtime at the expense of our spouse and children? Will we continue to push our way to the front?

You are faced with countless decisions each and every day. It’s likely you aren’t aware of these “tiny” choices you make every day, but their effects can be profound.

Andy Stanley, in his book The Best Question Ever, talks about the compounding effects of our decisions. One decision, by itself, may not provide a desired – or undesired - result. But, a series of choices will compound – like interest on a credit card balance. If I eat Buffalo wings for dinner, I may have heartburn, but I won’t see a change in my waistline. But, if I do it every day for a month, I would have to loosen my belt a notch. Conversely, if I exercise for 30 minutes, and never do it again, I won’t see any improvement in my physical health. But, if I do it consistently over a longer period of time, I’ll see positive results.

So, what kind of story are you living? Better yet, how do you hope your story ends? That part has not yet been written. Every story needs a compelling opening chapter, but the greatest novels always have an even stronger ending.

Finish well, and begin today by taking a positive attitude and making wise choices to get you there.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

See & Speak

I just got back from a great leadership seminar. Our staff had the opportunity to go down to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel and learn from General Manager Kerry Ringham. Kerry spoke to us about several facets of building a powerful brand, as well as how to deliver on the promises our organization makes by simply living out and executing the brand.

Perhaps the greatest thing I took away was that, at NorthStar, we should always remember that each interaction is personal, and it has long-lasting effects on how we are preceived (and how Christians, God, Jesus, etc. are perceived).

There are a couple general "rules of thumb" that Kerry shared that help his associates to make sure each of their guests feel special, and also to build brand loyalty:

(1) At the check-in desk, those working need to mention the guest by name at least twice.
(2) Those same associates who are checking guests in need to look up from their computer screens periodically and make eye contact with the guest.
(3) All hotel employees (associates) have the "10 and 5" rule. If a hotel guest is within ten feet of you, make eye contact with them. If they are within five feet of them, they need to speak to them.

What is the bottom line here? Acknowledgement. People want to be noticed, and when organizations take the time to greet people warmly and genuinely, they are likely to walk away with a positive experience.

These are great lessons to implement in any business or organization, and I will be working to apply them personally in the very near future.