Not All Days Are Good Days

Life is hard. Not all days are good days. Don’t let all the positive posts on social media fool you. No one, and I mean no one, has good days every day. The truth is that life comes with both darkness and light; hills and valleys. There will be days where darkness is all that you feel, and the valleys can feel like hell. There will be days when hope seems bleak, and joy seems near impossible to find. There will be days where you question everything and struggle finding purpose and meaning. There will be days where you are ready to throw in the towel, and you want to quit. I want to tell you that there is a secret weapon to combat these feelings, but in reality, there isn’t. This is where your mindset will either keep you going or fail you miserably. 

You may have heard, or even been told, all you need to do is keep a positive mindset. Let’s be honest, that’s not always easy or realistic. As the Dread Pirate Roberts, Wesley, one said, “Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something” (Princes Bride, 1987). There is some truth in Wesley’s statement. Life is filled with pain; mental, emotional, physical. But the problem in his statement is the all encompassing statement that ALL of life is pain. Pain is part of life, but life is not encompassed by pain. We all have our moments where mental, emotional, and/or physical pain has encroached on our lives. We may be exhausted, tired, hurt, confused, etc., and these feelings unveil pain. However, these are only snippets in our life.

Maybe you have heard, “Count your blessings.” Again, good advice, but not always the easiest when you feel surrounded by darkness and defeat. Do we have blessings in our life? Yes. Are they always easy to recognize? Not always. I tend to focus on the simple and try to expand outward. Blessing number one – I woke up today, even if I didn’t feel like waking up. Another day is another chance to do something. There are times that our darkness becomes so cold that another day seems impossible. It is during these times that, if we aren’t careful, we will be consumed by the darkness rather than fight our way through it. But how do we fight when the battle feels unwinnable?

Winning a daunting battle is not easy. It takes perseverance, courage, and a growth mindset. And most importantly, it takes us breaking down our walls of selfishness. Darkness gets darker when we focus on ourselves. Whether we are struggling with depression, mental exhaustion, physical exhaustion, or what have you, we tend to focus on ourselves and our “pain”. When we keep this focus, the harder it is to win the battle. 

I struggle with depression and with having feelings of “What’s the point?”. My battle comes and goes, and there are days when the battle seems unbeatable; where the day is dark and hope is hard to find. It is easy for me to drift into a mental state of “Me”. My focus and attention begins to erode into negative thoughts. Nothing seems to be going well. I begin to feel stuck, and life’s direction seems pretty bleak. This leads to anxiety and more negative thoughts. To be honest, it is hard to come out of these deep mental valleys. I can put on a good face and trick everyone into thinking all is good, but behind the façade is a struggling human being. And the more I wage war on the inside, the harder it is to keep the façade going. Days are long and very hard to get through. My motivation is gone, and I don’t want to invest energy into anything. Living life this way is brutal, but there are days when this is life.

Not all days are good days, but I refuse to lose the battle. I refuse to give up on the war. Life comes with “pain”, but pain is temporary if we are willing to put in the time. Earlier I talked about “counting your blessings.” When the darkness comes and life’s pain creeps in, I force myself to think beyond myself, especially since I don’t want to at the time. I think about my wife and my children. I think about how they need me, and in the midst of darkness, they are the light that shines hope. I force myself to reflect on who I want to be and the legacy I want to leave behind. I consider what is closest to me first, and how I am needed in the lives that mean the most.

I examine how my choices and actions are showing my children how to persevere, be courageous, and push through hard times. When I begin to consider that which is closest to me, and means the most to me, the “pain” begins to subside.

Not everyone may have a wife, husband, or children in their life, but we all have that one friend that sticks closer than a brother or sister. We all have someone in our life that we respect and feel valued by. When the darkness comes, and it will, remember these people. Remember how they make you feel and the fulfillment they bring to your life. Fight the desire of wanting to hide away. The more we focus on ourselves, the darker things become. Force yourself outside of yourself. Realize that your presence in this world is significant. Out of all of the combinations and chances in the universe, you were the one that beat ALL the odds. Your life is not an accident. You have something to give and share, but if we only focus on ourselves and our “pain”, we miss out on the opportunity to give and share; and we miss out on living this gift we have been given. 

No matter what you are going through, please know that you are not alone. Not all days are good days, and I am one that understands that clearly. Keep fighting the battle, and look for that small glimmer of hope that is shining in the darkness – it’s there. I promise. You are not here by accident. You have purpose and meaning. There may be times that you don’t think your life has purpose and meaning, but I assure you, it does. Just because we are not doing what the world considers to be “great” doesn’t mean that your interactions, words of encouragement, and service to others aren’t great. Greatness comes from the heart and in the choices we make. No battle is greater than you. No war is unbeatable. Focus on what you can do for others. Focus on how one interaction with someone might be the hope they are needing to win their battle. You just don’t know which interaction that might be. 

As always, stay humble, serve well, and keep fighting!


Have you ever done something, without thinking about what you might actually be doing, and think nothing of it? In your mind it was nothing, but what you actually did might not have been the best choice. Who brought your actions to your attention? Did anyone? And if your actions were brought to your attention, what did you do? As a leader, and someone who should be living with integrity, accountability is one of the most critical components to ensure we are living right. It can get uncomfortable, and we might want to make excuses for our words and actions, but in the end, being held accountable should humble us and remind us that we make mistakes and have work to do.

I had this exact thing happen to me not too long ago. I did something that I didn’t think anything of, but in reality it could have created a big issue. I received a text message that read, “Call me when you get a chance.” When I called, I was told that I did something that was not okay, and it needed to be corrected. I was taken back a little, not because I was being held accountable to my actions, but that I didn’t even think about what my actions caused. I am grateful that the person that asked me to call told me what had happened and brought to light my error. I was quick to correct my error, and I now have better awareness of the situation so that I won’t repeat the same mistake. 

This post is two fold: 1. “How do you respond when you are held accountable for your actions and choices?”, and 2. “Who do you have in your life holding you accountable?” Both of these questions are important to reflect upon. Let’s start with the first: “How do you respond to being held accountable?” When I was made aware of the problems my actions had caused, I had two choices. I could have either pointed fingers, blamed others, and not taken ownership of my actions, or I could have done what I did; take ownership and set things right. The difference between the two reactions is that one focuses on being a victim while the other focuses on being better. How we respond to being held accountable says a lot about our character. What type of character do you want to have, and what kind of legacy do you want to live? 

The second question is just as important as the first: “Who do you have in your life holding you accountable?” If you answered no one, then my next question is, “Are you holding yourself accountable?” It is vital that we have people in our life that are willing to hold us accountable to our words and actions. If we are never held accountable, we begin to make excuses for our poor decisions and behaviors. We begin to play the role of the victim rather than looking for ways to better ourselves. Being held accountable is not always comfortable, but it is a necessity.  

We need to learn that being humbled is an opportunity for personal growth. We must be careful how we react when we are held accountable to our words and actions. We need to let go of our pride and ego and be open minded to instruction and constructive criticism. Again, it’s not always easy, but it is a necessity. Our goal should always be to become better, and becoming better is a never ending process. 

As leaders, we also need to remember that our words and actions are always being scrutinized, whether we think so or not. We also need to remember that our goal is to better those around us, and one way we can do that is by humbly accepting constructive feedback from those who hold us accountable to our words and actions. We need to relinquish our want to be right and accept that we may need to make changes in our character. We must listen, without becoming defensive, and be willing to take ownership of our words and actions.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

The Voice

The other morning, I walked into my boss’s office to chat with her. Through our conversation, I was told that I needed to take some items that I had to one of my colleagues. I foolishly opened my mouth and said, “I’m not here to serve those that need something from me. If they want it, they know where I am.” I know, not one of my most shining moments, and to be honest I am embarrassed, annoyed, and very disappointed with myself. Nothing else was said, and the conversation progressed to other topics. Within seconds of saying what I said, I had a small voice inside me telling me that I was wrong for having said what I did. I wanted to fight the voice. I wanted to justify my statement. But in reality, I knew that the voice was right. I knew that I had messed up, said something I don’t actually believe in, and showed a side of me that I am not proud of. 

An hour after that conversation, I opened my email and wrote an apology to my boss for uttering those words. I expressed my disappointment in myself and in the words I chose to use. I wrote that I would never allow those words to escape my lips again. I was, and still am, disappointed in myself. However, I am grateful that I listened to that still, small voice inside that told me I was wrong. I am grateful that what I said was only between me and my boss and not in front of a group of my peers. I am grateful that my boss did not condemn me for my choice of words but allowed me the opportunity to wrestle with them. In the end, I took the items over to my colleague and apologized for not providing them sooner.

If I had not listened to that still, small voice inside, I would be living a lie, and everything I stand for would be false. My character, my reputation, my integrity was on the line, and that small voice inside helped me save face, humbled me from the inside out, and convicted me on my actions and words. I believe we all have that voice inside of us, but we fight with it. We try to justify what we have done instead of listening to that voice. We allow our pride and arrogance to overtake our character and integrity. We would rather justify being wrong than humble ourselves and do what is right.

Have you ever had moments like this, where you say or do something and know deep down that what you said or did was wrong? Did you have something inside of you telling you that you were wrong? Did you listen to the voice and do the right thing, or did you ignore that voice and justify being wrong? I have learned that the more we try to ignore or block out that small voice, the softer it becomes until it is completely muted by our pride and arrogance. In the end, we become a person who is solely focused on ourselves and will quickly play the victim card rather than take responsibility for our actions. 

That voice inside of us, convicting us of our wrong actions or words, should never be ignored. It should be listened to, and we should be listening with our full attention. We should humble ourselves and realize when we have messed up. We should be quick to listen and slow to speak. We must recognize our mistakes and do what is needed to correct our wrongs. We must beat our mind and body into submission and only accept what is good and what is right from ourselves. We should run from the temptation of pride and selfishness and cling to integrity and humility. We should take ownership, and not just ownership, but extreme ownership, of our words and actions. 

I encourage you, never silence the voice inside. Attune yourself to listen with full attention. Humble yourself to admit your wrongs, change your actions and mindset to be better. Be an example to those around you. Take ownership of everything and leave no room for pride and arrogance.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Can’t Save Them All

Anyone who has taught or trained a group of individuals knows that there are three types of people that make up all groups: 1. Those who work hard, stay focused, and get stuff done; 2. Those who show up, struggle, try, and will eventually get work done; 3. Those who do very little to nothing at all and act like your time is a burden on their life. These three types of people make up our society as a whole. This means that within any given time, your company or organization employs all three of these types of people. The question you should ask yourself is, “Why do I allow those who do little to have such an impact on my time, money, and organization?” The answer is because we hope that they will change, or they will quit. In reality, neither will usually happen, and in turn, you will be wasting time, money, and energy on an individual who doesn’t belong in your company or organization.

This may sound harsh and a bit cruel, but in reality, people who are unwilling to help themselves rarely accept help from others. This means that we waste time and energy on individuals who will never accept what we are trying to do for them, because they aren’t willing to do what it takes to become better for themselves. Too many times, we allow the least productive people to take up the majority of our time. This not only creates an enabling environment for those who do nothing, but it keeps us from giving our attention and service to those who deserve it most. Why do we waste time and energy on the people who do the least for themselves or the company/organization?

Some of you might be thinking, “This doesn’t sound very selfless.” It all depends on how we define selflessness. Selfless leadership is not about enabling or allowing for bad behavior or bad work ethic. Selfless leadership is about serving those we lead through our actions and by giving our time and energy. If we are unable to do this because all of our time is focused on those two or three individuals that have little to no work ethic, then we are failing at selflessly leading those who need to be served the most; those who are working hard and doing their best for the company or organization. 

The individuals who are showing up, trying their best, maybe even making mistakes but are still willing to try again and be better, these are the ones who deserve our attention, time, and energy. These are the people who are invested and know what’s going on in the company. These are the people who have the ideas and imagination to take the organization or company to new heights. These are the people we should be serving in our leadership.

Bottom line, we can’t save everyone, and we must choose wisely into whom we put our time and energy. We need to learn to let go of those who are dragging their feet and not showing any desire to grow and be better. We need to learn to encourage and support those who are willing to invest, engage, and do their best for the company and organization. Selfless leadership is about serving those we lead through our actions and with our time and energy. We need to make sure all of these things are going to the right people. If we are too bogged down to serve those who need it most, because we are focused more on the one or two individuals who do little to nothing to help themselves or the company, then we need to make some adjustments in our team and our leadership.

As always, stay humble and serve well!  

Unseen Leadership

I have been reading Mentor Leadership by Tony Dungy, and I have not read anything I disagree with. Dungy puts a strong emphasis on building relationships and leading through service. He also discusses the importance of investing time in those we lead. However, as I was reading, there was a part that made me consider the idea of leading without knowing that we are leading. I like to consider this “Unseen Leadership”. 

We tend to think about leading as a position or title that one holds. I, however, believe leadership is a way of life and is more about serving those around us. We do not need to have a fancy title or a high paying position to be leaders. Still, there is another level of leadership that is not considered, and that is the idea of leading without knowing we are leading. This is when others, outside of our perceived circle of influence, watch and observe what we do and how we do it. These are the people that read our posts on social media, stand in the background and observe our actions, and are usually people we would never think were noticing us.

This is a real element of leadership we tend to forget or neglect. When I was younger, my dad used to tell me that integrity was doing the right thing even when no one was looking. That definition has always stuck with me. As I have grown older, I have learned that I was missing a part of that definition. Rather than, “Doing the right thing even when no one is looking,” I have found that it should say, “Doing the right thing even when WE THINK no one is looking.”  For someone who tries hard to live a life dedicated to service and leadership, this definition means more and more to me every day. 

We are surrounded by observers, watchers, and eyes unseen all of the time. We are being scrutinized on everything we say, everything we post, and everything we do; whether we think we are or not. This doesn’t mean we live life to appease others. On the contrary, we should be living life more conscientious of our actions and thoughts. We take careful consideration in what we say, what we post, and how we act. It is not to make others happy, but rather to live a life of integrity, honor, and respect. It’s a focus on living life the right way. 

Unseen leadership may be the most powerful form of leadership. It may be easier to do the right thing, serve, honor, and respect those we come into contact with and see face to face, but when we are “alone” in our own world, being observed by others we cannot see, do we still lead as if we can see them? It is during these times that our true character and leadership are shown. Are we living a life of integrity and doing the right thing even when we think no one is watching? We must carefully consider our actions, words, and posts as we traverse our everyday life. Do not let leadership only be when we stand amidst others. Let us live a life of integrity, as we may not know who is watching. Let us consider our unseen leadership in everything we do. 

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Teachable Moments

“You did what?!?” As a parent and an educator, I have often found myself asking this question. I have also heard individuals in leadership express the same question. However, what we choose to say after this question can either uplift, teach, and grow, or it can break, discourage, and dismantle an individual. We must be careful to choose our words wisely, so that we don’t miss teachable moments. 

I heard a story of a child who was grounded for a month for “burning their sister with a hot pan.” Granted, I don’t know all the details; but a month? What happened to making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. What has this child learned? If I make a mistake, I will be punished. Instead, this could have been a great teachable moment for this child. He could have learned the importance of being aware of his surroundings, taking his time and being careful, the importance of using his words to let people know what is happening, and so many others. Instead, this child has learned that his mistakes lead to punishments.

I will admit, I have gone from zero to sixty with my children or my students, but I will always go back and express my regret on that decision and try to turn it into a teachable moment for myself and my children or students. If the goal in life is to help, serve, and encourage others, then we must refrain from emotionally charged reactions. We must control our emotions, or we will miss a teachable moment. This is not easy by any means, but it is needed to help the individual at fault to become more aware of the consequences of their actions and guided to make better choices. 

In the education world, a teacher who does not perform up to their duties is not fired. Rather, they are placed on a professional learning plan. This plan directly reflects the areas that need to be corrected or strengthened. The teacher on the professional learning plan is also given a mentor to guide them through the process of becoming better. In the end, however, the teacher on the professional learning plan must make the choice to do what is needed to show growth in their areas of weakness. A learning opportunity is presented to the teacher, and it is up to the teacher to take the opportunity to grow. Support is given to the teacher, but it is up to the teacher to listen to and collaborate with their mentor. Ultimately, it is the teacher who will choose their natural consequence and either learn to become better, or choose to ignore the help and guidance that is provided, ultimately ending their career. 

Punishments teach nothing except, “if you make a mistake you will have punitive actions brought against you.” There is a big difference between consequences and punishments. Punishments do not help someone learn from their actions or teach them to understand why their actions were not considered appropriate. Consequences are natural, and should be used to teach lessons. However, for someone to learn, they must be guided to understanding. Consequences can be used as teachable moments to help someone learn and gain a better understanding. Don’t miss teachable moments because of emotional responses.

We must use the mistakes that others make and turn them into teachable moments. Let us not neglect our duties and responsibilities to others and to serve, help, and encourage. Refrain from choosing punishment over consequence. Let us be people who help others learn from their mistakes and guide them in the process of becoming better. Lets not miss teachable moments.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Becoming Better Never Stops

Life is full of choices. Each choice comes with consequences; some positive, some negative. No matter what choices we make, we need to purpose within ourselves to never stop becoming better. We must push ourselves to be the best we can be everyday. We must push off the temptation of excuses, laziness, and self-righteousness. We must humble ourselves and push ourselves to become more. We must set the bar high, and when we reach that bar, we must set it even higher. It is up to us to become better. No one is coming to do it for us.

Mel Robbins, an American lawyer, author, and speaker once said:

‘It’s very, very simple to get what you want, but it’s not easy. It’s your job to make yourself do the crap you don’t want to do, so you can be everything that you’re supposed to be. And you’re so damn busy waiting ‘to feel like it’. And you’re never going to – ever. No one’s coming. No one. No one’s coming to push you; no one’s coming to tell you to turn the TV off; no one’s coming to tell you to get out the door and exercise; nobody’s coming to tell you to apply for that job that you’ve always dreamt about; nobody’s coming to write the business plan for you. It’s up to you.’

We must push ourselves to become better. We must stop pretending that “things will change someday.” Things won’t change unless we do. Our attitude, actions, thoughts, purpose, passions, goals, dreams – you name it – will never change or become reality unless we act. Waiting in hopes that everything will magically change on their own is a pipedream. If we KNOW we need to be better and do nothing to make ourselves better, then we are wasting our potential and building a character of idleness. 

Life is about learning and applying what we learn. Koby Bryant once said in an interview, “The Mamba Mentality is about trying to be the best version of yourself. It means everyday you are trying to become better. It’s a constant quest; it’s an infinite quest.” He goes on to say that he does this by always looking for things to learn from. Learning is not about memorizing information, but rather the application of what we have learned to become better. It doesn’t matter how much we know if we choose to never do anything with that knowledge.

To become better means we must always be in a state of reflection. We must seek out the opportunities to learn, observe, and be like a sponge. We must not look at our faults and mistakes as all ending failures, but rather as opportunities to strengthen our weaknesses. Becoming better starts with being vulnerable and willing. Once we allow ourselves these qualities, we must focus on two more: discipline and consistency. We must change our mindset to push ourselves to become better. We must change how we view ourselves and how we view mistakes and failures, and we must reprogram our thinking to become self-motivating. As Mel said, “No one’s coming.”

Will you have bad days? Absolutely! Will you have days where you fall back into a negative pattern? Probably. But what’s most important is what you do with those days. Do you allow for excuses to keep you from moving forward? Do you see your failures and mistakes as reasons to not keep trying? Your success is solely dependent on you. Only you can change your mindset. Only you can put in the work to better yourself. Only you can force yourself to be disciplined and consistent. There is only one question that still remains: Will you stop trying to become better, or will you never allow yourself to stop becoming better? 

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Come Together

There have been many occasions where I have heard people expressing their frustrations because leadership neglects or refuses to come together and have a conversation with their employees. Employees harbor frustration, anger, and  animosity and begin to care less about their job due to the lack of communication they have from their superiors. Employees feel abandoned and dismissed when leadership does not involve them in critical decisions that have a direct impact on their job, their duties, and their livelihood. Leadership needs to learn the importance and value of bringing everyone together and having a sincere, transparent, and honest conversation.

Why do companies and organizations refuse or neglect to involve regular employees in decision making? One reason is because leadership doesn’t feel it is the responsibility of the employees to be involved in certain matters. Another reason is because companies and organizations don’t want to be transparent with their employees on the “How’s” and “Why’s” of their decision making. Some companies and organizations would rather deal with people they know, rather than allow people they do not know, even though they work for them, to be involved in company or organization matters. There are many reasons for why companies and organizations refuse or neglect to involve their employees the opportunity to speak to different professional matters. I believe, however, that most of the reasons are more of a detriment to the overall health, success, and progress of the company and organization.

There is significant value in bringing everyone to the table to have real conversations about the mission, vision, and direction of a company or organization. There is a reason why unions were started. Imagine what would happen if leadership opened the door of the conference room to their employees and invited them to be a part of the decision making process for the company and organization. This doesn’t have to be a required meeting, but a meeting that is organized, placed on the calendar, and open to all employees who want to participate and be involved with the company or organization.

 Imagine the value there would be when budgets were discussed with everyone in the organization. Imagine the enlightenment that might happen on both sides when everyone knows and understands where the money is coming from and where it is going. Imagine the positive changes that could be made when employees are given the opportunity to speak to how money is used and circulated throughout the organization. There is significant value in bringing in employees to listen, share, and problem solve ideas for the organization.

Not only do these meetings open the door for better understanding and communication within the organization or company, it also encourages a team centered mindset. As the saying goes, “United we stand. Divided we fall.” For a company or organization to be united, communication must be constant, open, sincere, and honest. Unity is built on trust. When communication is lacking, trust cannot be built. The idea of “team” is built on trust. Each player trusts the other players to do their job, work hard, and show up. Creating a team centered organization or company starts with communication, honesty, accountability, and transparency. Leadership MUST be the ones that set the example.

I encourage you to make communication and employee involvement a priority in your company and organization. Allow those who work for you to have input, share ideas, and help solve issues within the company or organization. Listen to your people. Build trust through honest, real, and transparent communication. Give your employees a reason to buy into the company and organization by giving them the opportunity to share in the decision making process. Open the door to the conference room and invite everyone to come together.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

Stop with the “What Ifs”

We seem to play a game inside our heads whenever we have to make a decision, or whenever we need to take action. This game is called “What If…” This game is one of the most detrimental games we can play, as it leads to hesitation and fear. When action needs to be taken, or when important decisions need to be made, playing the “What if” game keeps you from forward progress and will most likely hurt you than help you. Stop with the “What ifs” and start living the life you are meant to live.

I hear people say all of the time, “What if he…”, “What if she…”, or “What if I…”. This question is indicative of anxiety, fear, and a lack of self confidence. When someone states a “What if” statement, my response is always, “If you live your life in ‘What ifs’, then you will never live.”  The truth is, when we consume our mind and thoughts with the ideas of the fear of the unknown, we will miss opportunities afforded to us because of those fears. As the saying goes, “You’ll never know, unless you try.”

“What ifs” keep us stagnant, never changing. We keep doing the same things out of the fear of what might happen if we did something different or new. Confession time: I took many months off of lifting weights and going to the gym because I kept thinking, “What if I have a heart attack or injure myself so badly I need medical attention.” The irony is that “What if” thinking is what kept me from taking care of myself and got me closer to the possibility of a heart attack and needing medical attention. Yes, I had a legitimate fear of something happening to me in the gym, but my fear held me back and kept me from becoming better and getting healthy. Today, however, I have biked over 800 miles in the course of 6 months, I am more fit, my blood pressure is down, and I have a lot more energy. What did I learn? I learned that “What if” thoughts hold me back from making positive changes, reaching goals, and becoming better.

In order to become more, we must shed our fears and run with abandon. We must stop fearing the “What ifs” and push ourselves to just do. Whatever happens will happen, and having fear of something that might or might not happen will keep you from reaching goals and becoming more. Learn to live in a way that embraces the unknown and the possibilities that the unknown might offer. To fear a hypothetical situation, is to relinquish the sanity and control of your own life. You are the captain of your life. You can either leave the harbor, ride through the storms, and see the most amazing places and do the most amazing things, or you can choose to anchor your ship and miss the wonders of this life.

Don’t let the hypothetical “What ifs” keep you from living a life full of adventure, excitement, and purpose. Don’t listen to the lies of fear. Embrace the unknown and live an adventurous life . Do not allow the “What ifs” to keep you from the opportunities this life offers. Turn your “What ifs” into “Let’s find out.”

As always, stay humble and serve well!

How’s Your Character Doing?

Leadership is a way of life. We don’t need to be in a high level position or hold some fancy title to be a leader. All we need to do is live a life that exudes leadership qualities. There are many qualities that define a great leader, and each quality points back to one thing – our character. Great leadership qualities include learning to listen before we speak, being humble, serving others without looking to be served ourselves, admitting our faults and failures, putting others before ourselves, leading with strength and courage when others flee with fear, and many others. All of these qualities are a direct representation of our character. So I have a question for you – How’s your character doing?

I will be the first to admit that I do not show leadership qualities 100% of the time. There are a couple of reasons for this: 1. I am a constant work in progress and will always make mistakes, but I will never quit trying to improve and be better, 2. I struggle with some leadership qualities, and I am working on becoming better. Even though I might make mistakes and struggle in showing certain leadership qualities, I will never stop trying to become better.

The other day I had a conversation with my nine year old daughter about failure. She came to me and said, “Dad, I failed at writing today in school.” I asked her what she meant, and she said, “I couldn’t figure out the three things a sentence needs.” I asked her if she stopped trying to understand, and she said, “No.” I told her that she didn’t fail; she only made mistakes, which is normal when we are learning. She then looked at me with a puzzled look, and I explained, “You only fail when you stop trying. If you make a mistake and try to correct that mistake, then you didn’t fail. All you did was make a mistake.” 

You’re probably sitting there going, “That’s a nice story and all, but what does this have to do with my character?” No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Humanity seems to see mistakes as failures and many times chooses to stop trying to improve themselves. When we struggle with character qualities, we have two options – stop trying to become better and fail at building a strong character, or continue to work on those qualities even after we make mistakes. Our character is what will last when we are gone. Our title and position in life does not matter. What matters is who we are on a day to day basis, and it’s our character that determines the kind of person we are.

I may be altruistic in saying this, but I don’t believe people have an innate desire to be disrespectful, arrogant, prideful “A” holes. I believe people want to do good and be good. I believe people have a desire, deep down, to be better human beings. The problem is that our society glorifies behavior that promotes bad character traits. When all we see is the glorification of negative, poor character traits, then we begin to consider those traits as normal. In reality, these “normal” traits are anything but good. 

There is an old adage, “Garbage in, garbage out.” It took me until my early 20’s to understand what this adage really meant. The more negativity, false doctrine, and lies we allow to permeate our existence, the more we become the very things we know are wrong. If we allow for bad character traits to seep into our being, then we slowly become, and normalize, what we know is poor character qualities. To mitigate this problem, we must be in a constant state of reflection and learning. We must admit our faults and mistakes and do what is needed to become better human beings. Our poor choices and character qualities are nobody’s fault but our own. 

So, how’s your character doing? I challenge you to take a deep, hard look at yourself and determine what character qualities you need to change and work on. And don’t forget, you only fail when you stop trying.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

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