Surviving or thriving? (thoughts to let simmer)

Are you merely surviving? Or thriving?

Good morning, beautiful readers!   I just wanted to check to see how you all are doing today?   Is it a good day so far?

For some, every day is a struggle – whether emotional, physical, or spiritual, some are facing battles difficult to win.  We trudge through life, barely keeping our head above water, overwhelmed by each new battle we face.  Often, the trials come at us so quickly, like bullets fired from automatic weapons, that we can barely duck fast enough.  Before we can address one crisis, another simmers on the stove beside us.

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For others, those i like to call the “thrivers”, life appears easy and effortless, as if there is not a care in the world.   To see them from the outside, it appears as though they have everything put together, not facing any battle they cannot win.   Sure, they have battles, but they move through them gracefully, unscathed by the barrage of artillery, and continue in bliss as if nothing happened.

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Sometimes, the “survivors”  begrudge the “thrivers” and accuse them of not living in reality.   (I know this, because I am one of them!)  I like to think of it differently, mostly because I am a survivor as well as a “thriver”.   I have enough battles in my life to know life is difficult, but i truly believe what Jesus told us in John 10:10.  “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly”.   I believe that God intends for us to live a life of purpose, and to be able to see beauty in the world around us.

It is my believe that the difference between merely surviving and thriving comes down to choice.   I choose to believe what scripture says and do my best to live as God intended, including wearing my rose colored glasses at times.   I admit there are times this is difficult.  It’s hard not to look at the events of the world or listen to news stories about people killing people, and hate, and ugliness that abounds. However, as I read the scripture above, I believe that God’s intent is not that we turn a blind eye, but rather that we don’t allow those bad things to change who we are.

My hope for you today is that you are not merely surviving, trudging through another day, but THRIVING!  If you are merely surviving, I challenge you to reflect on what it means for you to live life abundantly, and choose to take that thought captive to step toward thriving!

Blessings!

SB

Copyright Journey-For-Life. 2017. All rights reserved. 

As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions!   You can contact me at sbjourneyforlife@gmail.com.

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Word of the day: Simmer

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Achieving Goals

I have long-lived my life by the principal of, “it is better to ask forgiveness than permission”. Though several years ago, I had a realization of how theologically wrong this thinking is, it’s been a hard habit to break. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a hobby of sorts – cruising Craig’s List for “treasures”.   And I have a garage full of “treasure-projects” now… in fact, I have some under my deck as well.   It makes some of you laugh, I know.  It does not make my husband laugh.

Several weeks ago, I came across a guy selling giant wooden cable spools for cheap (sometimes they sell for $$$).   Turns out, he was in the next town over so I made arrangements to pick up – only they didn’t fit in my van.  I had the kids with me and we were driving, and I said, out loud, “If I could only think of someone who has a truck…   well, I mean, your dad has a truck, but he doesn’t exactly like my game…  who else…” and I went through the list of people I knew who had a truck and would be amenable to my ideas.  And I thought of Josh.   Josh has a big ole’ diesel truck just like My husband’s, except an automatic.  So I asked him if he’d be willing to do me a favor and pick up these spools.   I told him my husband didn’t’ know – and he said, “oh, good.  I like being an ‘enabler’”     Turns out, Josh had knee surgery, so couldn’t drive his truck.  But was perfectly willing to let me borrow it, so I asked him to come along.  I climbed up in his truck and he handed me the keys and I started her up – diesel engines are LOUD.   We drove over to pick the spools up – while en route, I asked Josh if I was making him nervous.  “Not at all,” he replied.  (Be sure to tell  my husband!) We picked up the spools and brought them home – now usually I do these things while my husband is at work, but the only time the spool guy could meet was on a Sunday afternoon.  Hubby was home working in his garage.  “there’s NO WAY he’s not going to hear this truck coming up the driveway”, I laughed as we approached.   But as luck would have it, he did not.  We rolled the spools (which fit perfectly in the bed of the truck, I might add), out of the truck and into the backyard, Visible from the driveway, to be sure.   He never came out of the garage.   In fact, he didn’t’ say a word about it that night.  I thought, “There’s no way he didn’t see them… is there?”   Nothing the next day, either.  Then, on Tuesday, when I came home from work, he gave me a great big hug (out of character, for sure).    As he hugged me, he whispered in my ear:  “would you PLEASE quit bringing $hit home!   Please!  You’re killing me”.    LOL,   I laughed and said that I could not make that promise.  Haha.    Well.  That was before the grand-daddy of all projects.   ( I do have plans for the spool(s) – and may have some more coming… shhhhh).

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On the following Saturday, Hubby was working, so I decided it was the day I would buy the raw materials to finish my basement.  We started it about 12 years ago.   Hubs did.   He made a spare bedroom (which has now become our oldest daughter’s) and a suite for my mom – and it’s beautiful. The rest of the basement was concrete floor and studs.  Several years ago, when the kids were starting to have friends hang out, we covered the studs with black sheets – which was better than studs, but still tacky.  I decided it was time to finish it.  But I also knew that I have limitations.   And I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of a conversation about it, so I just figured out a way around my limitations.   LESSON 1: WHEN YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS, YOU MAY HAVE TO BE CREATIVE ABOUT ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS.

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I knew I couldn’t’ carry a 4 x 8 sheet of drywall myself.   And the thought of taping/sanding, etc, was daunting.   I had been thinking about the project for a while, and checking out materials that I thought could be used – I decided I wanted to use brick paneling and make it look like an old exposed brick wall.  “don’t’ make it too dark” someone warned me.   So off to Home Depot I went because they had the brick paneling with the white grout.   When I got there, after I wandered the parking lot for a cart, I asked the man in building materials if he would cut paneling for me.  He said, “No”.   So there I stood in Home Depot, pulling out my cell to call Lowes to make sure they’d cut it for me.  I would have gone to Lowes first anyway (have ALWAYS liked Lowes better)  but their brick paneling had black grout and I was afraid it would be too dark.  “Yes, you will cut it?   Ok, I’m on my way,” I said, and hung up. LESSON 2: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO COMPROMISE THE SMALL THINGS, WHILE KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE BIG PICTURE.

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I went to Lowes and got my lumber cart and entered the paneling aisle.  It’s an aisle I know well, because it has all of the fancy moldings, etc, that I have used on other projects.  I found a paneling that I liked (actually, two different ones, for different walls)  and started putting it in the cart, one sheet at a time.  A customer walked by, looking at something further down the aisle, and then turned around and came back to help me load the rest.  God bless him.   Then, I took the paneling to the cutter and asked if they would cut it at 32″, leaving a 16″ piece – that way, it was small enough to fit in my van and small enough for me to handle, but would still span the 16″ studs in the basement.     They cut all of the paneling – all 16 pieces of it.    Then, I paid for it and wheeled my cart to the car.  Ok – wind gusts of 35 mph that day in Pittsburgh.  Have you ever picked up a thin piece of paneling in a windstorm?  I can imagine that was quite a show!    I wrestled about 3 pieces into the van when another nice man stopped over to help me.   God bless him, too.   He said, “Boy, you are sure a strong and independent woman”.   I looked at him gratefully and said, “well, maybe, but I sure needed YOUR help.”   LESSON NUMBER 3:   DON’T BE AFRAID TO ACCEPT HELP, even if you didn’t ask for it.

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Well, we got the rest loaded into the van, and I brought it home.  Already sore from running a 5K that morning, I asked my daughter if she’d help me take it to the basement.  We stacked it up… and then I moved it to a location that I thought would be better should Hubby decide to come to the basement (which doesn’t happen all that often).  As I moved it, I dropped a stack of the 16″ pieces down my thighs, and they scraped the whole way down – now I’m brush-burned and bruised.  .. and sore… lol .
I decided that I was anxious to start, but because I could only work on it when Hubs wasn’t’ home, I decided to take vacation days on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of that week.  The electrician was coming back on Friday, so I wanted to be done with as much as possible.    Things were actually going along quite well – I texted a few pictures out to people I trusted to give me good feedback – they told me it looked good.  :-0     On Wednesday, Hubs said, “do you think I could take your car on Friday to get the snow tires off?  If I do, I’ll be home late. So you won’t have a car.”   “Does that mean I get to drive your new truck?”   “no”  lol   Hot dog, I thought – he’ll be late – I can keep working.   SURE! That sounded great.   And then the weather forecast – 4″ of snow predicted for Saturday.    On Thursday night, he said, “I’m not going to take your car, after all”.   Dang.  Does that mean you’re not going to be late, either?   I couldn’t ask that.   I just had to accept it.

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So on Friday, he left for work, and I got to work in the basement – a whole week has gone by and he has no idea the work is being done.  The electrician comes over and works on the electrical while I worked on the paneling some more.   He told me it looked impressive so far, and he was surprised how much had gotten accomplished – and he was surprised I was doing it all by hand – yep, hand saw, paneling nails.   Jigsaw for cutting out the outlet holes.  Outside wall complete.  Inside walls in the process, but with the hardest areas left – the part where the stairs come down  – because of a piece of drywall that had been ripped off years ago.  The kids come home from school – and they’re all excited to see it getting finished.  My daughter said, “just tell Dad when he finds out that he could have done it his way 10 years ago!  Now we’re doing it your way!”    (she also said she couldn’t wait to come home from college to see what other changes I make in the house… haha  maybe it will be in her room   lol.)     So my son goes back upstairs, but my oldest daughter is standing there with me.  The electrician had left for a bit to take something to his daughter at school.   Then I see it.   Two feet on the stairs… and before I knew it, Hubs was half-way down the stairs with a look on his face like, “what the… ” surprise

he stopped, looked around, and went back upstairs without saying a word.  The electrician came back a little while later and was working on the outlet in the corner when Hubs came down the steps again – twice in one day.   I could tell he didn’t know there was someone else there, so I said, “would you like to meet my new friend?” praying, “God, please let him be civil”.   He was. (Thank you, Jesus).    Later, I said to him, “Please don’t’ judge the work until it’s finished – and then tell me I did a good job”.     (He’s a perfectionist – and good at everything, so I knew he would be tough to please – not to mention that I hadn’t even mentioned the plan to him!)   I said, “Please don’t go down there until it’s done.”   He said “oh, don’t worry!  I don’t’ want anything to do with it!”    ha.   Perfect. Until Saturday, when he, once again, came down the stairs.   “I thought I asked you not to come down here?!”   “I’m just checking out the electrical work,” he said.  Yeah, right.   Ok.    Well, after 17 more trips downstairs “not” checking anything out, he said to me, “you know, years ago, I got these oak wraps for the poles.”   “I know – they’re in the closet over there”   “surprised you know where they are,” he said.   (sheesh, eye roll.)  “Well, when you get to that point, if you want, maybe I could help you with that”    Wow.  That was acceptance.   Ok, things would be ok.   LESSON 4:   TAKE CALCULATED RISKS.   risk.jpg

I say “calculated” because it’s never good to be reckless.   I was reasonably sure that he wouldn’t divorce me over my decision to finish the basement, but it was a risk I took.    (I’ve taken that risk several other times in our 21 years – I don’t recommend it for everyone – but it’s worked out ok for us so far).   On Saturday afternoon, he even asked me if I wanted to accompany him to Harbor Freight.   YES! I love Harbor Freight – and could surely find some tools… but no, I want to keep working here – thanks for asking.   LESSON 5:   WHEN YOU’RE BUSTED, OWN IT.   Don’t make excuses about it..  it just is what it is.

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Gain acceptance and move on. In fact, owning your goals is really important; there is no one who will care more about achieving your goals than you do.  This includes when things are going well as well as when they are not.   You are the only one who can refocus your attention when it is needed.

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ceiling – hung all by myself!
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faux brick wall
There you have it – the 5 lessons I learned about achieving goals – hoping this has been a blessing to you!   Would love to from you regarding lessons you’ve learned through achieving your goals as well! Feel free to comment below!

Blessings to ya!

SB

 Copyright Journey-For-Life. 2017. All rights reserved. 

Liebster Award!

Liebster

I’d like to say a big “THANK YOU” TO  lostgirl17site (hopefully I did the links right – I’m still new at this!) https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/73413001 for nominating me for the Liebster award! I am beyond grateful for the nomination. I love reading her blog because she captures emotions incredibly well.  Her raw honesty reminds me of my teenage self, except that she is much stronger than I was then.

My favorite blogger is beautybeyondbones.com (https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/36990166)

Her writing is so incredibly open and honest, it makes me feel like I’m talking with a friend. Her story is an “out of the ashes” one.  Though I have not personally experienced anorexia, I love the fact that she is a role model to those who have.  To everyone else, she is an amazing writer who relates on so many levels the experiences she is going through.  Her perspective is ever-changing, and she’s full of introspection, a trait that I believe all good communicators possess.

Questions from Lostgirl17site.

1) why did you start blogging?  The “official” reason I started my blog in October because I’m in the process of publishing my first book and the publisher recommended I begin blogging to develop an online presence to connect with readers.  The reality is, however, that I’ve been “blogging” on a small scale through email with a small group of people supporting me on a life journey to a healthier life.  Through a weekly newsletter, I “blogged” on a variety of topics and was told I should do it more often.   As I started blogging on WordPress, I was impressed by the sense of community and encouragement that everyone provides to everyone else – what a wonderful way to foster creativity!

2) last time you cried? why?   Over the weekend.   Over the past month or so, various people with whom I am acquainted (some closer than others) have been impacted by very sudden and unexpected loss of lives of people close to them.  Over this past weekend, in our community, a 12-year-old girl in our middle school collapsed of a cardiac arrest at our school’s last home football game of the season. She is currently in a coma at Children’s Hospital.  My heart is devastated for her family.

3) why do you write? Or what made you start writing? I actually started writing many years ago as a means to communicate my sadness.  I thought no one else would understand me, so I wrote to myself and shared with no one. I recently discovered my early journals, and realized that there are many bloggers who are going through what I went through – some have emerged stronger and are sharing their victory stories with others, and others are still reaching out through their passionate words. I continue to write to share with those who have not yet discovered that there IS hope; they CAN emerge stronger than they ever thought they were.

4) who is the most important person in your life? Jesus is the most important person in my life. I hit a point in my life where I knew I was nothing without Him.  In addition to Jesus, my husband, three children, mother, and many other friends and family are incredibly important to me.

5) what are your views on body shaming? Body shaming, or, quite honestly any other type of shaming of another human being is cruel and heartless.  Very often, however, I find that hurting people hurt people. I dare say that those who engage in berating other human beings are, in some way, trying to feel better about themselves, and believe that, by putting someone else down, they are in some way elevating themselves.  I wish, for all the world, that I could heal the hurt caused by someone else in this way.  In the same way, I wish that, for the offender, that I could remove the hurt and shame in their life that caused them to lash out to hurt someone else.  I believe that we are, indeed, created in God’s image, and, as such, should never participate in putting others down for any reason.

6) if you could have one superpower what would it be? My superpower would be teleporting so I could travel all over this beautiful earth.

7) what qualities do you look for in your life partner?  Compassion and understanding, quiet strength, and, above all else, someone who “gets” me.

8) what is love to you? Have you ever been in love? Love is an idyllic state – true love is not a feeling, but a deep commitment we have for one another that transcends superficial infatuation.  True love is hard to find, but if you’re lucky enough to find it, never let it go. John 15:!3 “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

9) whats your favorite song? Why? Don’t Stop Believing (Journey) – fun to play, fun to sing, crowds love it

Q10) your favorite blogger? Why? There are so many to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to pick just one, I would probably say beautybeyondbones.com because of her raw honesty as she, too, journeys through life.

Ten Random Facts about me:

  1. I started playing the piano at the age of 4
  2. I once turned down an opportunity to play keyboards in a band on a cruise ship.
  3. I have a degree in electrical engineering, though music is my passion
  4. I married my high school sweetheart, and we are still together. I’ve been with him longer than I’ve been without him.
  5. I am an introvert, though no one seems to believe me.
  6. I love scary movies.
  7. My biggest desire is to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
  8. I can laugh at myself, which is good because I embarrass myself regularly.
  9. I still have my original teddy bear. His name is “Teddy”
  10. I love roller coasters and thrill rides.

Nominations:

  1. Running to win https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72284409  
  2. Thethoughtfulbrain https://thethoughtfulbrainblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/thoughtful/
  3. Makafui’s Journal: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/136926569
  4. Following my Bliss to Blessings and Beyond https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/53362591
  5. Walks in Glory https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/50411718

. So, my fellow bloggers, Here are the rules for accepting the Liebster award:

  • Create a new post thanking the person who nominated you, links their blog. Include award graphic.
  • Answer the questions provided.
  • Make a new set of 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate 10 others and share your post with them so they see it.

MY QUESTIONS ARE:

1) What is your purpose in writing

2) Who is your biggest inspiration?

3) What breaks your heart?

4) What would you consider your defining moment in life?

5) If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

6) Name one trait that you believe is important in a significant other

7) Where do you turn when you feel helpless?

8) Have you ever had someone pray for you? If so, for what?   If not, what would you want to be prayed for?

Q9) What are your future writing plans?

Q10) Your favorite blogger? Why?

Metamorphosis 

In the quietness of this morning, as I reflect on God’s mercy, I’m filled with Gratitude that He loves me enough not to leave me where He found me.  You see, somewhere along the way, I realized that I didn’t like who I had become. I knew that.  I knew I wanted to change, to become something new, but I didn’t know how to start.

I was reminded of a butterfly, that emerges a beautiful creature from a cuccoon.  They start a creepy caterpillar 🐛 rather disgusting to look at.


In their initial state, they seemingly bring no value.   Their cocoon state is even uglier

But when they emerge from their cocoon, they are a beautiful new creature, with new abilities and a brand new outlook on life.

God is so cool that way!  He takes what is seemingly of no value, and breathes new life into it, shaping it into what He intended all along.


If you are feeling like an ugly caterpillar today, the good news is that you do not have to stay where you are.  If you are willing, He will take and shape you into a beautiful new creature with a new outlook on life!

For me, the first step was to acknowledge that I wasn’t who I wanted to be.   I found role models who exhibited traits I admired and began to emulate.   I Asked God to begin shaping me into who He wants me to be and began to listen for His voice. Spending time in His Word helped to fill me with new perspectives, and slowly I began to emerge from my cocoon of self doubt into a new creature.  I know that the metamorphosis is not complete but will continue to evolve as I allow Him to continue to shape me in His image.  For that, I am eternally grateful to the One who allows me to change.
Blessings,

SB
Copyright Journey-For-Life. 2017. All rights reserved. 

New International Version Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Ascend

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Ascend

Out of the pit of despair, I begin the slow ascension toward the light.  I realize now I cannot do it on my own.  No, I’ve tried that already.  Tried and failed.  Over and over again.  In the past, I thought the best way to demonstrate my courage was to boldly climb, hoping that others would follow.  On my own, I was able to overcome obstacles and actually climbed quite high at times, only to find myself falling down, back in the pit of despair.    No, I cannot make it on my own.   I need someone to guide me, to encourage me when I’m tired and feel like I cannot climb anymore.  On this climb, I realize I need God, and his words ring true:  from Psalm 40: 1 I waited patiently for the Lord;he turned to me and heard my cry.2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,out of the mud and mire;he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Psalms 40:1-3 NIV

No, I think I can only ascend on the wings of God, for it is through Him alone that I find the strength to continue the climb.

Father-Shaped Hole

Eventually I learned that Jesus, and only Jesus, can fill the father-shaped hole in my heart.

The mere utterance of the word “father” paints vividly different picture for many different people.  For some, the picture is alive and well and changing every day.  For others, the colorful picture is full of wonderful memories, each painted in the throes of happy times over a lifetime of events.  For others, more of a black and white, dull emotionless; and for others still, the picture of blackness, representing the loneliness of the father-shaped hole in their heart created by the absence of that essential relationship.

In the month of June each year we honor our fathers on the hallmark day set aside for them.  I remember so vividly the pencil holder I made for Fathers’ Day when I was in third grade.  It was made by meticulously tearing tiny bits of masking tape, applying them randomly to a soup can until it was completely covered.  Then, after covered in masking tape bits, gently rubbing brown shoe polish, applied with an old rag, created the appearance of an aged, cracked glass container – in this case to hold pencils.  I was proud of that pencil holder, and looked forward to giving it to my Daddy.  As I put the finishing touches on his pencil holder, cancer continued to ravage his body to degrees that my 8 year old mind could not comprehend.  I knew he was sick, but did not fully understand all that his sickness would mean in my life.

Father’s day came, and he was thrilled to receive my work of art.  That work of art would be gently placed in his casket only days or weeks later.   I remember so clearly the night that he passed from this world into eternity – the details of which I cherish in private.  The finality of his death took many months for me to realize – it all seemed so surreal to me that I thought it was all a bad dream from which, one day I would wake.

Through his sickness, my father’s faith in God never waned.  He was, and remains to me, one of the most Christ-like men I have ever met.   When he was well, he would spend his lunch hours on the streets of Pittsburgh looking for people to whom he could witness – bringing the hope that he had through the saving grace of Jesus.  He knew that when he passed from this world, he would be entering eternity with Jesus.  For him, it was wonderful.  For me, it was devastating.  For many years, I could not understand how God could take someone like my father away from his family.  I was angry at God, and spent many years searching for ways to deal with the father-shaped hole left in my heart.

My mother, though wounded, stood as strong in her faith as she had through any hard times in life, and was the rock that my sister and I needed to keep us grounded.  Over the years, we continued to go to church and build relationships with those who eventually helped me to see that, thought I may not understand all, God indeed has a plan for my life.  Eventually, and through means and methods weaved into my life through God alone, I learned that Jesus, and only Jesus, can fill the father-shaped hole in my heart.  Though I may never understand, on this side of Heaven, why he chose to bring my father home when He did, I am confident that my life experiences have prepared me to continue that work; to spend time looking for people to whom I can witness – bringing the hope that I have through the saving grace of Jesus.

There are so many people who have father-shaped holes in their hearts – for some, the father-shaped hole may be have been created by fathers who have left, fathers who have died, or even fathers who are physically present but emotionally absent from their children’s lives.    My prayer is that they may come to know their Heavenly Father – and that He will fill the father-shaped hole in their hearts, preparing them to continue His work, looking for others to whom they can share their Hope.

 

Exceptional!

via Daily Prompt: Exceptional

Many visions envelope my head as I reflect on the word, “Exceptional”.   Exceptional performance.  Exceptional behavior.  Exceptional service.  Exceptional children.  Exceptional teamwork.  Exceptional leadership.

Having just completed day 2 of a 3 day leadership program sponsored by my company, I pause to reflect on EXCEPTIONAL LEADERSHIP. In my career, I have been fortunate to have the pleasure and benefit of working for an exceptional leader, one like whom many people can only wish.  What made him exceptional was not merely what he accomplished, though we could point to a host of awards and trophies he had earned throughout his career.  What made him exceptional wasn’t that his expertise was sought by many, though it was.  What made him exceptional was that he genuinely cared about developing people to be the very best that they could be.  I knew that he “had my back” and that I could count on him for support and encouragement.   He took the word MENTOR as seriously as I wish everyone would.

When I struggled with a particular strategy, or business decision, it would have been easy for him to simply tell me the answer the way many “leaders” would.  Instead, he would ask leading and open ended questions to help me determine the best answer.  He coached me through various options, gently guiding me in thought processes to help develop the right decision for the situation.

Three particular examples stand out in my mind. First, he took a chance on me.  Prior to being hired into my first formal leadership role, I worked as a supplier quality engineer.  He took a chance that I could make the leap from independent contributor to manager.  During my first year in that role, I lamented the fact that, although “TEAMWORK” was defined as one of our companies’ core competencies, I saw great opportunities to improve within my team alone.   I had devised a rather unconventional program to develop teamwork within my team, consisting of a variety of teaming activities designed to help break down the walls of my team members to help them build relationships to enable better performance.  My leader believed in me enough to allow me the freedom to try something new and innovative.  Although I was criticized by other managers for holding these events, he continued to support me and allowed me the freedom to develop the program so that it could develop the people in my group to be the best they could be.

In the second example, our company was introducing a new way of doing something, and I was at the forefront of it. It wasn’t specifically my idea.  However, because of the position I held, it was a natural decision that I become the driver behind the culture change, which you might guess was met with resistance across the larger organization.   The change was frightening.  In this case, the change required a bit more work due to the regulatory nature of our work, and though not a popular idea, was one that must be introduced if we wanted our company to continue operating in the current spaces.  My leader allowed me to become the “expert” in the area, learning the intimate details of how to accomplish what needed to be accomplished.  He became my Roadblock Removal Champion.  I relied on him for support whenever we had to present our position to the President of the company, and he paved the way to get the support we needed from the President.   He didn’t do it for me; he made me do it.  But he coached me through my approach, providing tweaks where necessary, and he truly paved the way and removed necessary roadblocks.

The next example involves a mis-hire. The position reported to me and was actually a key position in the paradigm shift mentioned above.  We were looking to bring some “expertise” to the new processes, so we reviewed resumes from people who had been performing this type of work. We found what we thought to be a promising candidate, who “wowed” us with his knowledge.   My leader and I were both on the interview team who decided to hire this man.  About 3 months into his employment, I noticed some inconsistencies in his behavior and his performance, and I voiced my concerns to my leader.  We discussed various aspects of my suspicions, and facts gathered, etc.   I could tell he didn’t completely agree with my decision on how to handle the situation, and he gave me some alternatives. He asked me to think about the alternatives over a weekend and let me know that he would support whatever decision I made.  When we reconvened the following Monday, I reaffirmed my original decision, which in this case was to terminate employment.  True to his word, he supported my decision and had my back, despite possibly having a different opinion.   In that instance, he allowed me to make the decision that I thought was best, knowing that even if it was the wrong decision, I would learn from the experience.

I could site many other examples of his exceptional leadership, and reasons why I count him a mentor still today, though we have both moved on to different roles and responsibilities.  For me, an exceptional leader is not the one who seeks the glory, but the one who strives to develop people to be the very best they can be.  Through servant leadership, exceptional leaders accomplish much through their influence.  Further, their leadership transcends their role, and ultimate bears fruit in generations of leaders borne out of their abilities.  I am forever grateful to have had a wonderful experience with an exceptional leader.   (Thank you – you know who you are).