Something Missing

This morning as I wondered into the kitchen to get some coffee brewing, I realized something was missing.  I have become accustomed to having three of my children–all teenagers at the moment–greet me in the morning with a nice long hug.  We all seem to wake up slowly so there isn’t normally much conversation, but the embrace communicates more than words ever could.  The morning before yesterday, all three of them headed north to volunteer their time for the summer at a Christian camp.  Originally starting as an idea to teach them the importance of serving others; not only is it the greatest investment, but it also yields a tremendous return in both relationships and a feeling of satisfaction that your life is making a difference. Well, they followed my advice, and now I am missing them and all the little things that they add to my life just by their presence.

Isn’t it funny how we pursue so many different things in life, but when you stop and really consider what is important; it always comes down to relationships.  My friend and mentor, Orrin Woodward, said that the greatest of all pains in life is relational pain.  How true–whether it is in your relationship with God or people, when you are truly happy or when you are really hurting–it almost always comes down to a relationship issue.  Therefore, it only makes sense to spend a consistent amount of time working on your relationship skills.  One of the reasons I love the LIFE Community that I am a part of, is the focus on continual personal growth in your relationships–as well as other areas.  Reading, listening to audios, and positive association is so helpful to keep refining your skills and learning to understand yourself and others.

I recently picked up a nugget from a pastor that put things into perspective.  He said that we should ask ourselves and those closest to us, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?”.  The first thing to realize is that you and I have never been there.  We only have our own perspective to go off of.  Therefore, if we really want to get insight into ourselves, we need to humble ourselves and ask others for their thoughts.  This is not recommended if you don’t want to hear some things that may hurt your feelings.  However, if you really want to get better, it will help you see yourself through someone else’s eyes.  It is also beneficial to have a mentor who can direct you to the best resources to help you improve in the areas that you are weak.  The thing to remember is that we are all on a journey through this life.  Perfection is not attainable, but excellence is.  The journey becomes much more exciting when you are working on improving yourself and strengthening the relationships around you.

As I realize that I will be missing some hugs and special times with some of my kids this summer, I also realize that I now have more time to enjoy my wife, my oldest son and his new bride, and the many new friends I will be making.  Thanks to the association with the Team and the LIFE Community–and because of the Mental Fitness Challenge–I am coming in contact with a high-caliber group of people who want to improve their own lives and make a positive difference in the world around them.  Who knows?  Maybe this summer, I will meet one of my future best friends.


God bless!



Work ethic

I have enjoyed building communities with the Team, and learned lots about people in the process. Recently I was  listening to a CD by Chris Brady in which he was discussing the importance of working hard as a beginning step to achievement. Why is it that in our culture today, we want to get great results without putting in the effort? If we are honest with ourselves, we know that everything worthwhile demands that a price be paid. All of our easy new diets, lotteries, and get-rich-quick schemes attract many with the illusion that success is “easy”. Success is well-protected because many are simply unwilling to do the work. In Malcolm Gladwell‘s book, Outliers, he gives many examples of people who have achieved mastery in a specific area due to devoting 10,000 hours to it. For all of you who are not afraid to work hard, this is great news! The question is: Do you have something that you want bad enough to devote the time to master it?

I grew up in a home in which my parents placed a high value on developing  a strong work ethic. When I was old enough to lift a splitting maul and throw firewood on a truck, I was expected to do my share of the work.  We also raised some animals; and now looking back, I think the purpose was more to teach us responsibility and work ethic than actually any benefit that the animals gave us. When I was 12 and the summer break from school had begun, my dad got me a ride to a friend’s produce farm about 5 hours away. I woke up early with the family before light and picked sweet corn, and then other vegetables throughout the day. We worked a 10-12 hour day–every day–with the exception of Sunday, when we relaxed and recovered. I earned the money to buy my first car and some other things, as I worked on that farm every summer until I was 16. Looking back I remember dreading some of the long days and the heat of the summer, and wishing I could be having fun swimming and playing around like my friends from school were. However it was my choice; and if I wanted to have my own car when I got old enough, as well as some spending money, this was the price I had to pay. I realize now how many great lessons I learned, and how comparatively easy so many other ventures have been for me because of those summer experiences. I also learned the value of money, and have been frugal (Teresa, my wife, says “cheap”) ever since. I am so grateful that my parents, as well as the wonderful couple that I lived and worked with, taught me to work and take pride in the quality of the job I did.

What a tremendous advantage we give our children and our teams, when we expect them to learn to work hard for their success. When my children were small, I gave them a summer assignment that they had to work together to accomplish. We have a 3/4-acre, spring-fed pond behind our house that we enjoy swimming in. I had a small beach that led into the pond, and it was in need of some more sand. I ordered 12 tons of sand and had it dumped in front of the house. The kids’ assignment was to fill their little red wagon and pull/push it around the house, and dump it on the beach. Because they were all pretty small, none of them could do it by himself/herself; and therefore they had to work as a team. The stipulation was to take 10 loads a day before they could play or swim. If they did 20 in a day, they earned ice cream as an incentive. When the whole pile was finished, we went and bought a four-wheeler as the ultimate reward. As I recall, it did take them all summer; but when they finished their new beach, they wanted to show everyone because of their great sense of accomplishment.

So, whether you learned the work ethic at a young age, or you are having to learn it later in life; realize that it is a simple, vital part of every success story. John Maxwell says, “there is no success without sacrifice”. Orrin Woodward says, “success leaves clues”.  Keep studying successful people; and you will discover, woven through their journey, a love affair with the effort it requires to win big. As you set big goals and envision the life that you desire, understand that there will be a price tag attached…but the price is worth it.

Dream big! God bless! Dean