Category: Leadership

Who will be at your funeral?


Take a minute to think about your funeral.  Morbid, I know.  But close your eyes and imagine what it would be like.  Who will be there?  What will they say?  If you passed away tonight, how would you be remembered?  Would people be sad?  Would people be indifferent?  Who would be there saying you made an impact on them?  Have you made a difference in this world?

Unsettling, isn’t it?  Sobering?  Because we all think we are going to live forever.  But there is bad news:  The death rate is holding steady at 1 per person.  You will die.  It’s just a matter of when…and how.  Dead people can’t enjoy their stuff.  Or their money.  Naked you come, naked you go.  So that means we are temporary stewards of everything in our life.  This is bad news in one sense but good news in another.  It is freeing.  No possessions last forever, nor are they meant to.  So if we figure out what matters we can have a life well-lived.

Stephen Covey says that we should begin with the end result in mind.  He lists this principle as one of the 7 habits of highly successful people.  Have you ever applied this to life in general?  Most people vaguely want to have a very meaningful life.  Most people have no idea what they are after.  And if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.  Who do you want to be?  A meaningful life and a life well-lived do not “just happen.”  You don’t get to have significance by binge watching Netflix every night.  (from time to time is OK though)  No one ever drifts into greatness.  No one ever drifts into making a difference.  You need intentionality.  You have to do this on purpose.

Find out what’s important, and give yourself to it.

What is important to you?  If you don’t quite know yet, that’s OK.  Most of you reading this are in a discovery stage of life.  You are exploring, finding out what matters. This is a wild truth:  Lots of things will try and coax you away from investing yourself in the important things.  Some of them will even be “good” things.  Some of them will seem urgent but not really matter in the grand scheme of life.  You need to pick the “best” thing.

You may have experienced a sense of loss, sadness, or disappointment when you graduated college.  That transition is really difficult, maybe the most confusing and disorienting one in our whole life.  You always hear people talking about college as the “good old days”, the best four years of your life.  If this is true, we are all in big trouble.  That means the rest of your life is a slow, depressing, downward spiral.  You peaked when you were 21?  Baloney.  I can assure you that every season of life brings the opportunity for more satisfaction and fulfillment and joy.  Imagine if you get married and have children.  Those stages of life are not going to be better times than college?  College is an incredible time of life, and a special time, but the truth is your best years are yet to come. Will you begin with the end result in mind?  Will you visualize what and who you want to be?  Will you give your life to what’s important?

Next week:  Your deathbed regrets



Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a Uhaul?


The phone rang.  I was the only one in the office so I answered.  A low, gruff voice on the other end said “I need to speak with the person in charge of your chapter at Princess Anne High School.”  Uh oh.  These calls were ominous.  I was on staff with a non-profit organization that worked with high school students and we never knew what to expect. I responded saying that person was me and asked how I could help.  “I want to meet you” the bellowing voice said.  “OK, may I ask what it is in reference to?” was my reply.  “I want to know how I can help you” the deep, gravelly voice said back.  Whew!  Dodged a bullet.  The next week I would meet a man who would forever change my life.  His name was Jack Birsch.  When I met him he was well over 300 lbs and had a shiny, bald head and was smoking a big cigar. At noon. In a Holiday Inn restaurant (one of the few places left in Virginia Beach you could smoke indoors).  Thus began a friendship which would change me deeply and the way I viewed the world.

We started meeting every couple of weeks, then every week for an hour, then it became 2 hours.  He had a twinkle in his eye and had a way with words.  Jack was big on grace.  Jack was big on love.  Jack had a big personality.  After we had met several times, he asked me a question in his booming voice that would become a splinter in my mind:

Jack:  Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a Uhaul?

My answer:  No.

Jack:  Of course you haven’t, because naked you come, and naked you go.  So you better find out what matters in this life and give yourself to it wholeheartedly.

Find out what matters in this life [what’s important] and give time, effort, priority to it. 

Jack continued to ask me that question every few weeks until it became engraved on my heart.  As I got to know him, I realized the impact of his life was still echoing all over Virginia Beach and all over the world.  It seemed like almost every day I would meet someone who would say: “Oh Jack?  He was a huge influence in my life.  Yes he showed up when I needed him most.”

What matters to you in this life?  Are you giving yourself to it wholeheartedly?

Advent is a good time for reflection.  Reflection about our life and our year.  What was most important to you in 2016?  Did you give yourself to it?  Did it matter?  “Evaluated reflection turns experience into insight.”  –John Maxwell.

If not, how can you recalibrate and redirect your efforts to what matters in 2017?



What I learned from watching the Olympics…in person! Part 2


I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” — Mia Hamm, American soccer player and 1996 and 2004 gold medalist.

When I was in Rio a couple months ago at the Olympics I had the privilege of meeting several gold medalists.  One of them had medaled in the 2012 London Olympics, a guy by the name of Jason.  He is now in the FBI. I asked him what it was like getting back after accomplishing such a phenomenal goal.  He said the day he got back he stepped onto the ground from the plane and thought to himself:  “What the f@*& do I do now? I didn’t know who I was.” His identity was so based in the sport that he didn’t know how to do life outside of it.  Every day for the 4 years previous (and probably much longer than that), Jason had something he was pursuing.  I was challenged on a couple levels:

  1. Am I taking my life mission as serious as Jason?  Is there something that I am passionate enough to attack with the ferocity that these Olympic athletes do?  If not, why not?
  2. What is my identity based in?  What is it that, if it was taken away or accomplished, would leave me confused and rudderless?  Who am I becoming?

Thoughts about Challenge #1:  Can we think of ourselves as athletes and be committed to our “cause” or our life mission as much as they are?  What are you attempting to do that’s important?  If you are not attempting something important, what needs to change?  Because you have something important you are supposed to do on this earth.  These athletes are attempting to clear a bar or throw a disk or run 100 yards faster than everyone else.  It is exciting but really on September 1, what does it matter?  They have a saying “Gold medal on Monday.  Ebay on Tuesday.”  What impact does it have on the world?  It is a spectacle of sport and competition and a worthy endeavor, but we are dealing with an endeavor just as grand and just as important—changing people’s lives.  And this can be done wherever you are planted—the marketplace, the non-profit sector, the home, the family, traveling, in being an employee or an employer.  So why can’t I even give 1/10 of the commitment that these athletes give?

The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” — Bobby Knight, American basketball coach of the 1984 gold medal-winning men’s team.


Thoughts about Challenge #2:   Big doors swing on small hinges.  Small things matter. Little things. Like the angle you take off from.  The difference between the gold medal and not even placing is split seconds in the 50 Free and 100 and 200 yard dash. There are small changes that have disproportionate impact.  This power of habit (check out the great book HERE) would say that small things in our life can have big impact.  We are the sum of all of our small decisions.  What are your patterns?  What are your habits?  Where is your identity found? If you don’t like who you are becoming, this is the great news:  YOU CAN CHANGE IT.  TODAY.  It’s never too late to change direction or to start a new path, even if you feel like you’ve failed.  A lot.  One good place to start is Michael Hyatt’s life plan resource.  Another help is this “big rocks” video about the big things in life and then this article that explains it.

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career … I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan, American basketball player and 1984 and 1992 gold medalist.



What I learned from watching the Olympics in person


gold bars

Everyone has gold inside of them.

“The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself.”
– Dawn Fraser (Australian swimmer, 4-time gold medalist, 8 medals overall, and 1 of 3 people ever who won the same event in 3 consecutive olympics)

I returned a couple weeks ago from a bucket list trip.  I went to Rio with my best buddy from high school for the Olympics.  It was wild.  It was crazy.  It was educational.  It was inspiring.  The night before I left I was packing with Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA playing at full volume.  I got a retweet from Lee Greenwood himself!

This trip started off right!

This trip started off right!

Over the next few posts I will share some experiences and fun stories and what I learned.  But I want to start with the biggest lesson learned.  Everyone has greatness inside.  Did you see this commercial that played in August?

We all have 0.2mg of gold inside each of us.  The highest concentration is in the heart.  But what is 0.2 mg in real life?  Common household items that weigh approximately one gram include a paperclip, the cap of a ballpoint pen, a stick of gum, a U.S. currency bill, a quarter teaspoon of sugar, a raisin and a thumbtack.  (source:  this article)

But 1 mg = 1/1000th of a gram.  Most things that weigh 1 mg are invisible to the naked eye.  0.2mg is 1/5 of that which is 0.0002 grams.  So 0.2 mg is 0.0002 of the weight of those items mentioned above.  Or 1/5 the weight of a small snowflake.

Gold.  It’s in us all.  Do you have the strength to dig it out?  Out of yourself?  And out of others?  Everyone has it inside of them.

One of my mentors Pat always says we hold a crown above people’s heads and let them grow into it.  Hold that crown above them and draw that gold out.  Gold.  It’s in us all. We need to have a vision for who they could be.  Gold.  It’s in us all.  Do you have the courage to call greatness out of others?  And out of yourself.  Do you have a vision for who you could become?

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”Wilma Rudolph, American runner and three-time gold medalist.




captain america

Did I ever mention I love movies?  They are one of the most powerful means of communication.  Stories are king.  And movies with good stories usually do really well at the box office.  I wanted to apply a processing method called the 3-D view by a social media guru named Walt Mueller who you can find at

Discover, Discern, and Decide.  This week we will cover “Discover”.  Next week “Discern” and the rest of the method.

Here goes a review of Captain America:  Civil War.

captain america 3 half faces

PLOT RECAP:  This movie is very difficult to review without spoilers but I’ll do my best not to give away anything major.  A long movie but it didn’t drag.  The world decides that the Avengers are too powerful to operate on their own so they want to govern them by a commission.  The superheroes are faced with the dilemma: submit to a 117-country United Nations committee oversight or continue as an independent operation but outside (and in violation of) the law.  Some want to go with the UN, some want to continue calling the shots.  It is filled with lots of fun, new characters, funny one-liners and lots of great action.

Discover:  What did it say? (listing some themes or thoughts)

  1. Fight for what you believe in. Every character had convictions and acted on them.  Some in a surprising manner.  It was a challenge to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong.
  2. Vengeance.  It was encouraged as an acceptable option, for most of the movie.  There is a moment when it would seem to suggest that forgiveness is even more powerful than revenge, and more difficult.  “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” –Buddha
  3. There is a monster within each of us…the darkness within. We are all capable of very bad things.  Even really “good” characters did some really evil things.
  4. Loyalty. But loyalty to what?  Friends?  Principles?  Is Captain America loyal to a fault?  There were several changes in loyalty.  When Captain America went into his deep sleep everything was a lot clearer. Everything was black and white. Right and wrong. Good and evil.  Now the modern-day world is a lot more complicated–so many more “gray” areas.
  5. The tension of freedom (ability to do as we choose) vs. security (another entity “restricting” personal freedoms for the greater whole).
  6. Suspicion of any authority.  The resistance to trust important decisions to a higher authority.
  7. Loss of loved ones is devastating. All of the main characters had some type of loss of loved ones.  They all dealt with it in different ways, most trying to avenge (haha pun intended!) the loss.  But one of the most poignant moments in the movie is when someone decides to break the cycle.

Some great quotes:

“An empire that is destroyed by its enemies will rise again. But an empire that crumbles from within will never again stand.”  (very similar to Mark 3:25//Matthew 12:25 A house divided against itself cannot stand)

“We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.”

“Compromise where you can, but where you can’t, don’t.”

DECIDE what to do with it?  WATCH IT.  It’s a great way to kick off the summer with an action flick.  Light-hearted but a little dark, and discussion provoking.

FINAL RATING:  18.5 out of 20.  Excellent!

Who’s side would you be on?  Why?