Thanksgiving in Hard Times

Thanksgiving 2017

For the first time in my life, this Thanksgiving was spent in the house I grew up in with out either of my parents. My dad passed away 5 years ago and my mom has been in the hospital since the beginning of November.

I believe Thanksgiving is a choice that we make in spite of our present circumstances. Choosing thanks leads our heart and mind towards gratitude and away from the pull of darkness especially in the midst of tragedy. This lesson became concrete in my life a few years ago. It was my second birthday since my dad’s passing and the darkness had a grasp over my soul. If you’ve lost a loved one than you know this darkness. It’s a cloud of grief, memory, and sadness that envelopes you. My mentor, John, for several years has taught on the importance of being thankful. One practice is making a list of specific things you are thankful for in life. So, that October 9th, in my car and tired of that darkness, I decided to make my list (see picture from my journal) of thanks.

Losing my dad has been one the toughest experiences in my life, but there has been much good as well. Practicing gratitude, whether through a list or morning ritual, allows us to gain perspective and break away from the hold that emotions have over the truth. So many times, I allow how I feel in the moment to rule over what I know to be true. While death is hard, I found that in giving thanks there are so many good things in my life. For me, it was the debit of losing my dad but the credits of a closer family, incredible wife, my daughter waiting to be born, etc.

It’s almost impossible that when you make and read your list of thanks to feel your heart and mind being lead to the light. That’s gratitude.

Being thankful is a spark of fire in the darkness that bleeds out the night.

No matter your present circumstances, I hope you choose thankfulness. It will take disciple and fortitude, but in that choice you make – you will find freedom in gratitude and escape from the darkness.

Guest Post – Mark Miller’s “The Secret”


Have you ever had a feeling you could do more? Accomplish more? Congratulations, leaders are supposed to have that feeling. I’ll address the “problem” you face when you actually do have untapped leadership capacity.

I’ll start by saying congratulations again. You have more leadership horsepower to invest in the world! This is a very good problem to have. Many leaders find themselves unable to execute on the demands and expectations already placed on them. If you can do that, you’re way ahead of the game.

If you’re wrestling with the issue of excess leadership capacity, I have four suggestions.

Execute your current responsibilities with excellence. How was your last performance review? Are you consistently receiving the highest possible ratings? If not, you may have work to do before you begin to expand your reach beyond your current role. If you’re not receiving performance reviews, or you want additional perspective, conduct your own 360 survey. I’ve been doing them for about 30 years.

Proactively look for ways to add value beyond your role. If you’re nailing your current assignment, look around. Where in your organization could you lend a hand? Perhaps a cross-functional team, or maybe there’s a special project you could volunteer to help deliver. Or, maybe you could mentor young leaders. The list of options before you is long. Start looking around.

Consider additional education. I know this answer is not for everyone, and some of you have  many years of graduate and post-graduate education. However, for some leaders an MBA or even an MFA makes a lot of sense. (If the idea of an MFA sounds strange, I recommend you read the first four chapters of Dan Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind.) Or, maybe you can prepare yourself for opportunities in an area in which you don’t currently have the educational background required.

Look outside your organization for places to use your extra capacity.This last suggestion may be what you’ve been looking for. Assuming you’re crushing it within your organization, and you still have untapped capacity, look outside. Several times during my career I’ve suggested this with great effect. Perhaps you should serve on a non-profit board, or volunteer for a local charity. I know one leader who led a global ministry with the excess leadership capacity his organization didn’t need!

If you find yourself struggling with the issue of excess leadership capacity at some point in your career, you are asking the right question. Our leadership is really an issue of stewardship. I believe we’re accountable for how we use it.


Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret will be released September 2, 2014.


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too busy

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Defining your story and refining your heart: the two keys to intentional leadership

“The choices we make today define the story we tell tomorrow.”

I’ve thought and reflected about making decisions, legacy, and the future over the last 10 years in my journey in leadership.  The above quote has greatly affected the trajectory of my life. My question for you is this: are you authoring your own story?

roadThis blog is where I want to share my story, because I want to help others with their own story and to clarify the catalysts and lessons of my own story. Whether it was at home or work, falling in love, or attending @catalystleader, at some point in the last year I’ve come to to the conclusion that being present in the moment requires being intentional about the choices we make every day.

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