I know all of us have, at one point in our lives, sat in the shade of a large tree. The canopy of branches granting us reprieve from the heat of the sun on a warm summer day. You can picture it, can’t you? But have you ever wondered , who planted this tree?
Well, A few weeks ago I took a walk around Centennial park here in Nashville and the trees are gorgeous. They are huge and the size of the trunks indicate they have been here for a long time. As we were reading the tourist signs that dot the walking path, we learned that many of the trees were planted over 100 years ago while the city prepared to host the Centennial Exposition of 1897. WOW, to think the efforts made so long ago were personally blessing me today. The shade these trees offer is incredible and it sets the back drop for all the beautiful gardens that are able to grow in the park today.
I want to share a quote with you that I saw yesterday while skimming an article in the Wall Street Journal and it made me think of those big trees, about leadership, about legacy. It is a quote by Warren Buffet and it says this…
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago!”
Those words have deep meaning. It is the investment we are making now that will have long lasting affects on those we might never even know in the future. It made me think about my family, specifically my kids. What am I doing now that could have a positive impact on them, on their future families? My grandchildren or great – grandchildren – We all will leave a legacy, it is up to us what that will be.
I also think about this in my role as a leader. What am I doing today that could help others in our organization thrive in the future. How is my relationship with God? The relationship that guides all others, am I investing well in it so that my faith is shared and others find their faith in God strengthened too? These are eternal matters, the type of investment that will still be giving shade long after I am gone.
I want to encourage you today to keep investing in yourself, your relationship with the Lord and in your relationships with family, friends and your work. That kind of positive investment will sure to yield benefits for years to come. Your tree that is planted today will most definitely be the shade someone else is thankful for in the future. Invest well!
This Covid 19 experience…It is weird and uncomfortable and at times overwhelming. It is freeing, it is comfortable and at times amazing. Yes, that describes my life right now in the midst of this pandemic. It has provided a wide range of emotion and experience. It has been unifying in a strange way, the world on lockdown. How do we handle this as leaders?
One thing I am certain of, no one will get a pass. We don’t have the option to not go through this or sleep through it and wake up to life as it was pre Covid 19. Now, more than ever, we need people to show up and live life in all of it’s strange and beautiful nuances right here, right now, together. I think how we show up now will have lasting affects on how we are able to show up in the future for those who we do life with, for those we lead.
The last few weeks have provided a lot of opportunities for me to speak to different MOPS groups, church events and leadership events, all from my home office. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I have received the most positive feedback on. 7 key strategies to focus on.
- Be authentic and self-aware. If you are struggling with your emotions, that is OK. We all have our moments. I spoke to a group last night and shared with them a real struggle I was having. I am not sure why when I heard Dr. Fauci say perhaps we should never shake hands again, it bothered me so much that I cried. It just did. I thought of my Dad telling me when I was a little girl the importance of having a strong handshake and looking people in the eye. I am an affectionate person who loves to hug and I tease that at times I almost “pet” people when we are talking. Not sure that was ever a good idea but now it definitely would not be ok. I was able to have impact because I shared what to me was honest, sad and authentic. Most importantly be authentic when you are talking to God. He already knows your struggles and can handle your anger, confusion or sadness about this whole mess our world is in right now.
- Be decisive yet adaptable. As a leader, your people need you to make decisions and provide clarity so they too can move forward. Because the news each day is rapidly changing, your mindset and then actions need to also be able to adapt quickly to a very rapidly changing world environment. This is where trusting God is critical.
- Be engaged but set boundaries. As I mentioned earlier it is so important to show up for your people. It is also important to set boundaries. In a time where most of our population is working from home it can be easy to just keep working instead of setting good boundaries. Making sure each day you are taking the time to take care of yourself by getting outside, moving your body and getting adequate sleep. Protect the time that you have with your loved ones you are in quarantine with.
- Be grace filled. Everyone is handling this pandemic a bit differently. Give people grace and remember to give yourself grace too. We all will have times where what we say or do probably wasn’t the best. Grace!
- Be positive and consistent. The people that you interact with will appreciate a positive outlook and need your consistent contact. It is a great way to stay connected during this time of social distancing. Technology has been an amazing asset during this time. At the touch of a button you can connect with a Zoom call, Face time, text or phone call. I also have loved sending and receiving good old fashioned letters. So let’s make it a priority to stay in touch so no one feels alone.
- Be grateful. I have started a gratitude journal and each day I write down three things I am grateful for. A posture of gratitude is key to staying positive.
- Be spiritually intentional. For me this happens to be the most important thing I can do to lead others well. I set aside time each day for prayer and reading my Bible. Right now I am reading through the book of Psalms. I love the raw emotion and questions that David brings before God. I also love the reminders of God’s faithfulness to his people and all the examples of his enduring love and strong character.
We’ve got this, because God’s got this! Praying for you as you lean into the responsibility of being a leader in such a time as this.
Sherri Crandall is the Vice President of Global Ministries and Leadership Experience for MOPS International. She is also a blogger and speaker for women’s events across the country and internationally where she shares her passion for encouraging women to live life to the fullest.
Prior to being on staff with MOPS International, she was the Director of Women’s Ministry at Mission Hills Church in Denver, Colorado.
Sherri loves to garden, read historical fiction, play a little tennis and most of all hang out with her family and friends, even better if it is at a beautiful campground in the Rocky Mountains.
Sherri has been married to her husband, Rusty, for 33 years and they have 4 young adult children and 2 dogs. She makes her home in Highlands Ranch, CO.
I spent last Friday at Disneyland with my husband and two of my four kids. What a fun day! We crammed as much Disney as we possibly could into about seven hours. Let me tell you a little more of the story… We arrived the night before in LA ready for a quick weekend get away. My luggage however didn’t arrive so off we went in the Uber to our hotel where I requested “ the bag”. You know, the hard toothbrush, paste, odd scented deodorant, and tiny black comb kinda bag. I must say I was feeling annoyed with myself for not just carrying on a bag. I was assured my luggage would arrive by 9 am the next day. 9 am comes and goes and my son is flying in to meet us and so we need to go. I put on my jeans and shirt from the day before, brush my teeth with the bristle brush, borrow my daughters make up and throw my hair up in a pony. Sad my shorts, white shirt and tennis shoes are still in transit as it is going to be 90 degrees.
We arrive at the Magic Kingdom and I am determined to enjoy this abbreviated day of fun with my family. We quickly start hopping on rides and grabbing fast passes and walk for miles. I now have a blister on my toe because although my flip flops are oh so cute, they are not the best walking shoes. We enter “ Splash Mountain” and literally sweat to death for over an hour to be told the ride had a log jam and will be closed for the remainder of the day. Disappointed, yes! I was looking forward to being splashed by the cold water in the sweltering heat. We shrug our shoulders and walk to Indiana Jones where we had reserved our fast pass. “ Sorry folks, the ride is shut down,” says the very chipper Disney worker. We decide we are ready to leave the Magic Kingdom and head to our favorite place in Marina Del Rey for dinner. It did not disappoint, we laughed about all of our mishaps and adventures and deemed it a wonderful day!
We arrive back to the hotel, still no luggage. We take the stairs because the elevator has a sign… “Out of Order”. We burst into laughter and climb the stairs satisfied with our very fun day!
So what does my Disney day have to do with your leadership, your parenting? It’s all about perspective. The truth is we all are going to face disappointment in our life journey. Things don’t always work out the way we so meticulously plan them. The learning is this – just because there are a few bad moments doesn’t mean it is a bad day or worse a bad life. A few rides not working didn’t lessen our very happy day spent at Disneyland. Disappointment is commonplace, that however, isn’t the challenge. The challenge is how you react to disappointment. Disappointments give us opportunities to shine. They can help define us as good leaders/good parents. In fact, how well we handle disappointment can either hinder our relationships with our team/our family or can earn us respect and credibility for the challenges that will come in the future.
Here are some things to help when disappointment happens –
- Remain calm and composed so those emotions don’t rule the response.
- Look within – could your involvement (or lack of it) have prevented the situation?
- Always give the benefit of the doubt – operate in grace.
- Focus on the issue, not the person.
- Ask yourself, what can I learn from this?
- Be a leader – allow the disappointment to help you build better bonds with your family/your team.
Life is about enjoying the journey God has you on, learning to shine for Him, disappointments and all.