Read to Lead – Books I read in 2017

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I went most of my life trying to read as little as possible. It was not till recently, that I discovered the greatness of reading. These books are all that I have read this past year. A few of them are books that I have read before, but I felt I needed to read them again. One of the books I reread was The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. This book actually started the journey I’m on that turned my life around. The main character, George, could have been written about me. Everything in his life was falling apart: his career, marriage, family, health. He lived a fearful life, always expecting something bad to happen to him. And when you live and think like that, you will make it a self fulfilling prophecy. I actually try to read the Energy Bus at least once a year. It reminds me where I was, and I do not want to go back.

Most of the books that I read, are on the Leadership Reading Challenge from Train to be Clutch. Their work has really been instrumental in me finding my focus. Joshua Medcalf, the founder of T2BC wrote a book earlier this year titled: Pound the Stone. I was lucky enough to be on the book launch team, so I got to read a couple of the advance versions. I loved the final version and would have to say that it was the best book I read all year.

Next, would be the Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon. I was on that book launch team as well. This book really challenged me as I got ready to coach football this past season. I wanted to be the most positive coach I could be after reading it. It taught me I need to be committed to my players and that I should find and live my purpose.

The last book that I would like to briefly recommend is – In a pit with a lion on a snowy day. This is another book that I reread. Whenever I feel fearful of something coming up, I read this book. It reminds me to trust God completely. He is bigger than any lions in your life.

So, here is the list of books I had the privilege of reading this year:

Pound the Stone – Joshua Medcalf

Power of Positive Leadership – Jon Gordon

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day – Mark Batterson

The Energy Bus – Jon Gordon

The Carpenter – Jon Gordon

The Barbarian Way – Erwin McManus

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day – John C. Maxwell

The Principle Circle – Jamie Gilbert

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

The One Thing – Gary Keller

The 5 Second Rule – Mel Robbins

Become a Life Coach – Mitch Matthews

Christian Coaching – Gary Collins

It’s only thirteen books. I really want to read twice that many in 2018!

 

2 Different Men

As I took the selfie with my wife, I remembered doing the exact same thing, in that same spot, right there with my wife 3 years ago. The man in those pics is physically the same, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually….so different. The man from 3 years ago, was a broken man. A man who had a huge void in his life, and  was trying to fill it anyway he could. That man was fearful for the future, had lost all faith, and was negative about everything. He hated life. Everything and just about everyone had become a burden to him. He couldn’t enjoy all the blessings he had, because they all felt like weights or a prison. A prison that he could not break free from. His nice house – a prison, his nice cars – just big weights. He even felt his wonderful, beautiful family was somehow holding him back.

He was ready to throw it all away to seek happiness. He would not of found it. He would still be searching if it wasn’t for his wonderful wife who fought so hard for him. Honestly, it is hard to believe that she is in either of those pics. Most women would not be. Most women would have left as fast as they could. But she fought. She didn’t want to at first. But God was speaking to her, telling her not to give up on me. Telling her that one day, our marriage would be beautiful and an example of the way marriages should be.

I remember her telling me that. I could not understand it then. I still don’t really know how that man in the first pic became to be the man in the second. I don’t really know how that man, who had given up on life and hated waking up and facing the day became the man who wakes up feeling more blessed each day. Blessed that he has a wife who fought for him! Blessed that he got to spend and enjoy these past three years with his family. Blessed that he gets to coach young athletes and blessed that God has called him to help men that were in his situation.

My wife recently wrote a little about her experience. It’s the post titled Bitter. I encourage everyone to read it. God has given us both a vision. And we have both taken big steps towards that vision. A life without purpose is no life at all. God wants us to be happy. Happy in life and in our marriages. The man and wife in the second pic is proof that it can happen NO MATTER WHAT HAS HAPPENED PREVIOUSLY!

Bitter

The truth is that it had to be bitter.   For total dependence on God. For change to happen. To be healed. To grow. To help others.

Our family has been broken, homeless and has suffered together.  Through these bitter waters God has worked miracles.  Our journey has revealed the true strength of family and has given us a story to share.

Israel found themselves staring at bitter waters in Exodus 15, just days after the waters were split and the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea. “…And the Lord showed Moses a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet (Exodus 15:25, KJV)”.  God provided Moses with  the solution and through his object lesson demonstrates to his people the blessings he longs to give them, if they will cling to him.  Forty years later in Deuteronomy 11, a new group stands before God prepared to enter the promised land.  Again, God gives his promises.  This group had experienced the bitter waters resulting from the lack of obedience from their parents.  It had to be this way in order for the Lord to finally grasp the hearts and beings of his children.  They are prepared now to cling to their God.

I am often overwhelmed by the promise of Deuteronomy 11.  My heart weeps as I read it.  Israel would be a land that the Lord God himself would provide for.

“For the land, to which thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from where ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs; But the land, to which ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven, A land which the Lord thy God careth for.  The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year (Deuteronomy 11:10- 12, KJV)

This was no ordinary land.  They would not even have to water!  It was all taken care of.  Still today, God wants to take care of it all!  What will it take to bring your heart to full surrender to him.  Will it be bitter?

Thank you, Lord God, for calling this family and for using our pain to demonstrate that you are King and the true breath of life.  May our story bring hope to many families that are fighting and struggling through each day.

Recommit!

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All of us have done this, we start something with the best intentions, but then we fall behind. Life sometimes happens to us. We get bombarded with things, we get distracted, we don’t do what we need to be doing. This could be working out, spending time with God, reading good books or even just writing on a blog. I’m obviously talking to myself here. When I started this, I said I was writing to myself. If anyone else reads it, gets something out of it, applies it, then that is a huge plus. I have fallen behind on my writing commitments that I have made to myself. I could go down the list of everything I have going on, but I know we make the time for the things that are important to us. This is football season and I am a football coach, so time is at a premium during the fall. But I still find time to watch football and Curb your Enthusiasm on TV. So I have some time, I just have to make better use of it.

The main message of my blog is to Commit, Surrender the results, and Trust the process. So I have to recommit to writing on this blog. I can not get better if I’m not doing it. I have to make sure this is a bigger priority in my life. Sometimes we need to let go of things that distract us from what we are supposed to be doing. Even if that means not watching as much football. So if you fall behind with something you know you are supposed to be doing, recommit to it.  Make it a higher priority and carve out time to do the things you are supposed to. For me, that is to just keep hitting publish!

#CommitSurrenderTrust

Get Busy Growing

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Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies. It is always a stop-down for me. I always end up watching it if I see it while flipping channels. One of my favorite quotes from the movie is Andy saying “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” I love the phrase at the beginning: “It comes down to a simple choice”. Really, our life comes down to the choices we make. One of the most important choices we can make in life, is to chose to grow.

Choosing to grow is the first step in adopting a growth mindset. I first learned about the growth mindset from Train to be Clutch’s Leadership Reading Program. The first book on the list is Mindset: The New Psychology of success by Carol Dweck. It taught me that there are two mindsets that we choose to live life with, either a growth or a fixed. The growth mindset is a starting point for change, the fixed mindset stands in the way of development and change. If I was going to get anything from the other books, I had to be open to choosing growth.

Much of my life, I lived in the fixed mindset on many things. I believed “You are who you are” and said that to my wife many times.  A fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are givens which we can’t really change. It wants success by avoiding failure at all costs. That means participating in events or classes, where you know you will be successful. I loved math and history because it was easy for me. I hated English, Literature, and writing because I wasn’t good at them. I didn’t give full effort in those classes, because I told myself: “What’s the point? I suck at them anyways.”

A growth mindset, on the other hand, thrives on challenges. It sees failure as not being stupid or unsuccessful, but as a way to learn and grow our existing abilities. If I would have had a growth mindset back in my writing class, I would have used those classes as a chance to improve, which would come in handy today. We all have things in our life that we struggle with doing. It could be math, grammar, spelling, cooking, taking tests, etc.. the list could go on and on. The growth mindset’s goal is to learn and improve in ALL areas of your life.

Even if society considers you the best at something, always look to get better. Grant Teaff, the former coach of the Baylor Bears, tells a story of coach Gordon Wood. Coach Wood was the nation’s winningest high school football coach at the time and had already won nine state football titles. Teaff went to watch film at his office the day after a Baylor game. Coach Wood was waiting for him on the couch in the team’s lounge. Wood saw Baylor do some things in the game the day before, he wanted to learn about them so he could help his team achieve even more success. He was at the end of his career, had nothing to prove to anyone, he just wanted to keep improving and gain even more knowledge.

There are many aspects to the growth mindset. The best way to learn about them all is by reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. She also has a website at mindsetworks.com that I highly recommend you check out. No matter where you are in life, or what situation you are in, how old or how young, you have a choice everyday. A choice to use every failure, every setback as a chance to learn. A choice to improve yourself or just stay the same. A choice to get busy growing, or get busy dying.

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Go Forward

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I already had a plan for my next post, but at church on Sunday, we turned to a familiar passage in Exodus that I had highlighted a year before. It was Exodus 14:13 – 15. “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today….The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace…Why do you cry to Me?…..Go Forward.”

The children of Israel were backed up to the Red Sea. They could see the Egyptians coming after them. They were cornered, between a rock and a hard place. Or more like between a deep sea, and a powerful Egyptian army. As soon as I saw the highlighted verses, a flood of memories came over me about my Red Sea.

I have coached football and basketball for awhile, but my main income has always come from doing computer work. My IT contract ended the year before and I was having trouble finding work. I firmly believe I didn’t find more IT work, cause that is not what I am supposed to be doing. We were completely out of money and were totally relying on God to provide food and pay bills (which He did!) One big bill was our rent payment, our landlord was great and worked with us. But we knew we were living in a house we could not afford. We worked out an agreement to be out of our house by Aug 1st. The problem was we had no place to move to. We had no money to pay the first months rent or even a security deposit. It felt like we were up against our Red Sea and the Egyptian army was closing fast.

During this time, God gave me two messages. The first was a video that talked about an old message titled “Right Song, Wrong Side.” After Israel crossed the Red Sea, they sang a song about Salvation of the Lord. Israel should have sang that song before the Red Sea was parted, not after they crossed. I was determined to sing God’s praises before cause I knew he would part our Red Sea. I then came upon Exodus 14 about a week before August 1st. Even though we were praying relentlessly about our job and living situation, we were not preparing ourselves to move. “Why do you cry to me?..Go Forward” felt like a personal message directly to me! In today’s words, I was reading, “I got this, Do what you need to do.” I got up, informed the family that I was not sure where we were going, but we needed to be packed and ready to move.

The Thursday before we had to be out, I was looking online for centers or services that could help us. I was making calls, sending emails but all told me that they couldn’t help till we were officially homeless. I needed to get back with them on Monday. While searching, I saw an ad for Catholic Charities. I went to their website and it suggested to go to their offices instead of calling. I figured they would tell me the same thing, but I got up and went to their location. They asked if I had ever served in the military, I told them I had. A very nice lady from their Veteran Affairs department came out and talked to me. I explained our situation and her first question to me was, “How are you not freaking out?” I chuckled and told her, “I just feel a peace that God is going to provide and take care of us.” She smiled and told me, “Well, God has led you to the right place”. She started listing all that they were going to do for my family. They supplied us with a moving truck, a large storage facility for all our stuff, and put my family in a hotel. She told me they would pay my deposit and rent till we got back on our feet. They would pay all our deposits on all our utilities and any thing that was needed to get us in a house. Now, I am not a guy who cries easily, but I couldn’t help myself as she was listing all this out. This was by far, more than we could have ever hoped for. I could barely get all this out when I called my wife as I left the building.

God brought us through that situation, just like he parted the Red Sea and had Israel cross over on dry land. The whole time, I just knew He was going to. I didn’t know how God was going to do it. But I knew He was. I can honestly say, I have never felt such peace through a crisis as I did with this. People who knew what was going on, couldn’t believe how calm my wife and I were about it. Everyone told us how they would be freaking out. It also didn’t take long for God to provide a house and the right job that still allowed me to coach. I used to have so much anxiety about my career, money, and all the things we fret over these days. But I now know that worrying is pointless. The words “Fear Not” are in the Bible more than 365 times. So you could read a different verse to “Fear Not” every day of the year. So remember, when you are up against your Red Sea, Remember who is in control! There is such a peace when you do.

Commit, Surrender and Trust!

It’s going to suck

“It’s going to suck so be glad that no one will read it” was a statement I remember most from my call with Joshua Medcalf yesterday. He is the founder of Train to be Clutch and author of several books, the latest being Pound the Stone. I told him I was wanting to start a blog, but I have been struggling with creating my first post and trying to make it as perfect as I could. I’ve thought about the name, the logo, what style to use, etc…  I have been thinking about all my many plans and ideas I have for it. But, I wasn’t writing, which is what the whole point of a blog is in the first place. He told me it doesn’t matter if it sucks, it just matters that I start. So, here goes.

Commit, Surrender, and Trust – I remember when I first read those words from a quote in Chop Wood, Carry Water by Medcalf. They resonated with me. I got up out of bed to write them down. Commit to it, Surrender the outcome, and Trust in the process. I decided to name the blog with the first letters of those three words. They also have great meaning when it comes to a relationship with God. Commit your life to Him, Surrender your life to Him, And Trust Him in ALL things! It took me forty years to learn that but I am so glad I did. I used to worry about so many things: my job, money, and where I wanted to get to in life. But now, I have turned it all over to God and my life is soooooo much better for it.

I want to write about those three words a little more. First, Commit. Joshua made me commit to him yesterday that I would make my first post today, then on Mondays and Thursdays from now on. So, as you see it in writing here, I have committed to it. To commit is to fully dedicate yourself to something. To go ALL IN! What have you fully gone all in on before? Honestly, and sadly, I have struggled with fully committing to things in the past. As I live my life now, I want to be a man that fully commits! I’m so thankful that he made me commit to writing this post today. It’s what I needed to do, stop overthinking and just write!

Second is surrendering the outcome. This is something I have been working on in my life for a couple of years now. I tell my kids to do it all the time. Give your best and just surrender the outcome. Don’t worry about the end result, just give your best and the results will take care of themselves. So yesterday, as Joshua is telling me that, it is like someone slapping me in the face, cause I know it! But I wasn’t applying it!

And last, Trust. Trust in the process of making yourself better. Trust in your training. I trust that my 500th blog post will be better than this one cause I am going to work at it and master my craft. Trust that everything that happens to you in your life is in your best interest. Now, that is tough to do. Very tough. But if you feel God is in control, then you must trust in Him in ALL things. Not just when you are employed, or healthy. Proverbs says to Trust the Lord with ALL your heart. So Trust when you are unemployed, when your marriage is on the rocks, or even when you lose a loved one. God will carry you thru it.

I’ve been on a major transformation these last two years. God has been working in my life and showing me the right way to live. I believe God has used the works of men like Joshua Medcalf, Jamie Gilbert, Mark Batterson and Jon Gordon to help change my life. Besides reading the Bible, I highly encourage you to find their books and materials. Joshua told me yesterday, there are many that he won’t be able to reach that maybe I will. So that is why I have started this blog. Maybe someday down the road, my bog posts won’t suck anymore and maybe I will be able to reach someone like they reached me.