The unapologetic, raw, unedited interpretation of living life. Each of us is the artist of our own life, constantly remolding, reworking, and roughing out the details and applying what we've learned to the changing canvas. There are no do-overs, no take backs...just rough cuts that release what lies inside us.

I saw the angel in stone and I carved until I set him free. - Michelangelo

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Bravery Test

“Today we’re going to have a bravery test right at the beginning of the painting. So here goes…Midnight Black…cut off a little roll of paint. Let’s go up here and make our first major decision…and jump right in.” Bob Ross (1993)
Life would be a whole lot more interesting waking up with this philosophy every morning.  I can only imagine the things I could accomplish with the enthusiasm of Bob Ross.  For each of us, every morning we wake up there is another blank canvas, primed and ready for us to make a bold decision and take action.  What I really enjoy most about this quote is the encouragement for us to be not only risky and bold, but to be intentional.  You’ll notice Bob didn’t say, “Cut off a little piece of white or pale blue…” He uses Midnight Black!  You cannot be wishy washy when it comes to Midnight Black.  Once you commit to using it, you better know where you are going to put it.
If you are going to live with purpose and lead with presence, you must be prepared to make choices, not on whims, but on passion, vision, and with a forward focused direction.  Those choices must be in line with your organization’s (family, group, life) compass.
Recently, I made the decision to pursue a new venture with this blog.  It is going to be bold and new, but I am confident it will be something worth the risk and effort.  In light of this decision, I had to make another one about when the transition would occur.  For the month of December, Rough Cuts will live as an archive of 58 posts.  (Feel free to peruse them over the next couple weeks.)
On January 1st, I will launch the updated version and transition to my own Magnum Opus. 
What decision will you make today?  Cut off a little piece of Midnight Black and dig in!  Rough out your dream and take action in making it a reality…Live Better!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Preceeds Greatness?

"Have an Attitude of Gratitude"

I am not really sure where I first heard this, but it serves as a daily reminder above all else, to first be thankful.  In light of post Thanksgiving hoopla, this phrase urges me to use this space today for reflection.

If we are to pursue Greatness in this life, we must first learn to give thanks.  Humility opens our heart and mind to awareness and from awareness, we are able to see what needs to be done and have the courage to see it through.

I am THANKFUL for the opportunities placed in my life, perfectly arranged by a God of mercy and grace.  Many of those opportunities came with a call to action, a RISK.  I am thankful for the trust I placed in love outside myself to pursue them with purpose.  Where I am today, the people and situations which surround me are a result of taking leaps of faith, some of those quite substantial.  We are promised when we follow what we know to be right and good, we will see reward far greater than we imagine.  For this promise, I am eternally grateful.

I am THANKFUL for my family and friends, for those who support and encourage my efforts as I pursue my dreams.  I learn my hardest lessons and feel the greatest joy within the comfort of my own home.  There has never been a time in my life when I have felt a greater sense of belonging, acceptance, and genuine love than in this moment.  I cherish my children and husband as we journey together in this life.  They are treasures worth more than gold.

I am THANKFUL for the ability, gifts, and awareness uniquely given to me to make an impact in this world.  For having seen parts of this world and only knowing a taste of the struggles, pain, and horrific conditions under which most of our world lives.  I am grateful for those experiences, for they remind me every day there is more to do than what I am doing, there is more to know than what I am learning, and there is far more to see than what my eyes have seen.  I am reminded to stay focused and diligent so in time I am able to, in some small way, make a difference.

What are you thankful for today?  What grounds you and reminds you you are perfectly positioned to make a difference? 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Passion in the Process

No matter what steps of improvement I have tried to take in my life, whether for my health, for my family, or in my spiritual growth, if I wasn't committed to enjoying the process, it was not going to work out.  For many years I really struggled with this. I thought if I only workout this much or if I only do this one thing my life will be exponentially better.  What I found out is no amount of action will grant me God's grace.  Not a single step on a treadmill will maintain an ideal weight if my head and heart are not in it together. 

You only reach the finish line by step away from the starting line and placing one foot in front of the other over and over again.

In my life, achieving spiritual maturity meant letting go of control and being in the moment.

The artist paints because he revels in the act of making art.  The runner meditates to the rhythm of her steps.  The leader pushes forward because another vision lays on the other side of his current goal.

We too must overcome the results so we can find passion in the process.  If the process to reach your goal isn't what you had in mind or overwhelms you, use creativity and imagination to identify an alternative route to your goal.  You will love it longer, reach greater, and live better if you have passion in the process! Running might not be "your thing", do you love to dance?  Reading the Bible is a path to gaining spiritual prowess, however it isn't the ONLY way to get to Heaven.

None of us know how long we will be on our journey, we should find ways to enjoy the process of living.  What is your passion?  What could you spend a multitude of days doing? 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Drawing from Life

There is a faded, greenish colored hardcover book in my library with a publisher date of 1952.  I haven't done anything more than flip through a few of its yellowed pages, but its title Drawing from Life is what capitvates me.

The skill of an artist is taking from life the forms, images, and textures, then converting them into masterpieces we desire for our walls or seek out in museums across the globe.  Some are even worth millions!  What drives the intrigue for us?  What about an artist's work stirs something from within us?

The artist draws from life.

He takes seemingly ordinary, non descript features of life and applies his own life, his experiences, his trouble, his joy, his exuberance to what he sees.  Those emotions, the rawness and depth of them transfer to color and form on a canvas.

It is what we apply to the small, insignificant parts of our lives which transform into the moments, memories, and experiences we hold so tightly and revere so highly.  Do you 'Draw from Life' to create your own masterful version of you?

Living better lies in our ability to create better thinking. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

4 Steps to Freedom

Lately, I find myself in deep conversation with my daughter about choices and decision making, a conversation I know is far from over. 
Most of the time when my daughter and I have these discussions I walk away feeling as though I learned more than she did (Parenting 101 - they should have included that chapter!) One night, we spoke about four interrelated topics: gratitude, initiative, pride, and decisions. 

I have to tell you, this discussion was a game changer for both of us.

Gratitude:  Appreciating what has been given.
Our evening prayer normally includes a "thank you", on this night I said the thanks for a home, a warm bed, and food at every meal.  My daughter asked why I would say thank you for those things.  I said because many children (people) don't have those things.  She was quite upset by that and said, "Well I don't like that - I will make sure every kid has a warm bed." 

Initiative:  Seeing what needs to be done and doing it.
"In time, you can do some great things if you are really wanting to help others all over the world.  What could you do today?" She thought for a while and said, "My school has a food drive!  Can we buy some canned food?"  I told her to make a list and I would include it on my next shopping trip. 

Many things keep us from doing what needs to be done, or what we want to do.  This is absolutely something a 7 year old understands well.  Having courage and then making decisions in spite of distraction and resistance is difficult even for an adult, hence the learning for me.  Our conversation continued...

Pride:  Confidence in knowing you are part of something greater than yourself.
Being proud of yourself is something you have in here, pointing to her heart. It causes you to do the right thing even when it's very hard. "What things are you proud of?"  "I can make my bed and I really like to write stories,"  was her confident response.  Just for fun I added, "So, because you are proud of making your bed, I don't have to ask you to do it since you like doing it so much, right?" (I do believe I saw a light bulb turn on in the midst of her dark room.)

Decisions:  Choices we make which direct our action.
When you are proud of the way you do something, you want to do more for others, and you know what needs to be done, but something comes along to keep you from it, whether it's your little brother or a toy you like to play with, you are left with a decision to make.  Making WISE choices to keep doing what we know needs to be done over and over again puts us on a path closer to the one which will allow us to do what we really want to do...Freedom! 

As leaders, teachers, parents, as people making decisions every moment of the day, some big and some less significant we must not miss the connection between our ability to make wise choices and our capacity for making an impact in the world.  What choices are you making today?  Are they leading you to your dream, a better way of being, more freedom?  OR are you the victim of your own making?  If at any time you find yourself far off the path to freedom, ask yourself:
Am I Thankful, do I appreciate what I do have?
Do I have the initiative to take action?
Am I proud of who I am (What are you uniquely designed to do?)
Am I making wise choices?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nothing Stands Against Us

A unique bond forms as an artist dips his brush to the pallet and gazes upon his canvas.  A distinct passion rises up from the heart of a parent while watching their once small toddler walk confidently across the threshold of adulthood.  Solemness overcomes a soldier as he laces his boots, remembering those gone before him.  A sense of unity arises from a sea of strangers dressed in the home team colors. 

We ourselves do not create it.  The broken world around us threatens its strength and significance.  It is nothing that can be given or taken away. 

It is built from the union of ideas, spirit, and heart.  It forms from the blood, sweat, and tears spent to sustain it, protect it, and express it.  It spans time, age, and geography. 

It is the very thing which drives us into the depths of turmoil and destruction, and causes us to claim victory even when it seems all hope is lost.

From a young age we recognize it.  In our old age, it bonds us to a generation falling in line behind us. 

Pride rests in how you define who you are as a part of a greater, stronger, and collective we.

Today, tomorrow, and what lies in our immediate and distant future is a reflection of who WE ARE.

Pride is being the daughter of a U.S. Marine as the Corps celebrates 236 years of sacrificial service today.

Pride is being the wife of an U.S. Air Force Veteran, recognized tomorrow for protecting our freedom.

Pride is being a Penn State University graduate (BA '02, Masters '10) and will shout "WE ARE!" during kickoff this Saturday as a team of dedicated students, donned in nameless jerseys, run onto the field to continue a legacy.

Pride is being part of something far greater than yourself, whether it be on a team, with a group, or in your family.  Relinquishing your devotion to those people and ideals is not an option because alone we stand no chance, but together...We Are, We Can, and We Will!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Art of Adaptability

If there is one thing certain in this life it is change, yet it drives fear into the hearts of many. What is it about this word which causes such unrest? and why do some seem to seek it out?

I grew up in a military household, what this meant for my childhood was as soon as we felt comfortable, change would surely find us. This meant six new neighborhoods, six different houses, seven schools...six times my family was asked to Pull up our roots and settled back down make new friends and re-establish a normal life while my Dad spent months, even entire year away from us. Looking back on those years, of course I recall tears shared by friends, that pit in my stomach before walking in to homeroom, wondering if I would sit next to acceptance or rejection for the next 180 days.

What my adult mind knows, which my preteen mind could not begin to fathom or appreciate, is "change is good." In those 13 years, I learned the Art of Adaptability. I came to understand nothing lasts forever, you have to be ready at a moment's notice when fate comes knocking had at your door, and the environment and it's inhabitants are a pliable material poised and ready for the impact you will make on it.

Granted, my experience is unique and limited to those circumstances to which I was exposed at a young age, however I do know this: we've but a limited time in this place. A single chance to make such an impact that it staggers a community, shakes our complacency, and demands the world pause and take notice. You don't know where you'll be tomorrow, when you'll be called to pack your bags and follow the movement. Do know that your life has purpose and your capacity to adapt determines your impact.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Execution of Exellence

I've mentioned before, I push the envelope in a lot of my projects.  It isn't ever enough to just deliver the expected product, I prefer to jazz it up with my own flavor.  There have been some hard lessons learned over the years regarding adding spices to someone else's sauce, so hopefully here today you can learn from my mistakes and avoid making your own.  I heard a talk earlier this year about a company's "sauce".  In the talk, the speaker described a restaurant known for its branded sauce. People came from miles to taste this sauce.  The chef wanted to add a little something extra, just a pinch of something different. You can imagine what came next - he changed the sauce! It was good, but it wasn't the world famous sauce people had come to crave. The trouble with adding a dash of you instead of what's required is you wind up creating something brand new.  Artistic Leaders are particularly vulnerable to creating a new sauce, adding our own spin on a tradition and calling it the new normal.  We get caught up in the excitement and thrill of creation and forget to stop and ask for the recipe.  

Artistic Leaders must master the Execution of Excellence.  If that means following a tired, worn out recipe or (gasp!) coloring inside the lines, then he must do it to the best of his ability and push the envelope of skill rather than embarking into new territory. When you are able to execute the normal with excellence and focus and passion, the same way you would if it was your own idea, your capacity for growth increases.  The commitment and dedication it takes to carry out another's vision with the same intensity and drive you would if it was your own takes leadership.  Be known for your excellence, because when the day comes to move in the direction of your dream, nothing will hold you back!

If you lead a team or if you have children, then you know for certain the chaos that ensues when everyone is doing their own thing instead of focusing on the task at hand.  It's madness and what gets left behind in the dust, curled up in a crumpled heap is your dream, your plan, your vision.  How much stronger is your team, family, or group when everyone works together to accomplish the vision?  When you execute with excellence you gain trust, build integrity, and you learn humility.  And once you open yourself up to learn, you provide a place to grow and be inspired. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Your Artistic Identity Defined

Throughout my life, I enjoy being able to take a moment to look back over the “Seasons”.  There are specific moments and milestones which mark the end of one season and the beginning of another.  We each possess the ability mark our progress to full awareness and begin to make choices regarding our life path.  Over a series of seasons, milestones, and maturity, we begin to shape who we are.  Discovering who we are provides self-awareness, some call this their “calling” or purpose in life.  Clearly we each have our own path, have you found yours?

If we were to define your destined role, would you define it any of these terms?

The Artist:  Britannica Online defines art as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others."  Therefore the Artist, would be the creator, one with imagination, and one who uses his skills and creativity in such a fashion as to share them with other people.  Do you often symbolize your ideas or express them in unusual ways?

The Student: any person who studies, investigates, or examines thoughtfully, usually in a formal setting.  The student is fixated on a subject matter to the extent he internalizes its meaning and in turn is able to make connections to life, the world, and other matter.  Do you find you most enjoy the act of discovery?

The Educator:  a person or thing that educates, especially a teacher, principal, or other person involved in planning or directing education. This person organizes/controls the way in which information is delivered to the student.  Do you find you relate to wanting to share ideas in an organized way and are usually the one who most come to for advice or guidance?

The Collector:  is aware of and appreciates the value of particular thoughts, ideas, things which he then seeks to harbor in his own possession.  Usually he is of particular taste and looks to compile those things which expand his collection.  Do you find you accumulate knowledge, experiences, or ideas, to become an expert of a particular subject?

The Dealer:  a person who buys and sells articles without altering their condition.  This individual is excellent at identifying valuable commodities and delivering them to the appropriate audience.  Do you find you are skilled in delivering added value to groups or individuals by means of maximizing return on your physical, emotional, or intellectual investments?

Which one of these describes you?  Do you identify with more than one?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Moments of Clarity

I recently had the chance to spend some time in focused thought, hence my recent absence from the blogging arena.  Opportunities to disengage rarely come our way in today's fast paced world, it's risky: it creates the possibility of "falling off the grid" or worse, being left behind in the dust of others trudging ahead chasing the proverbial carrot. Every Artistic Leader needs a chance to step back and evaluate, refresh and clarify what it is they are about.

So why not just follow the raging current and move with the work?  Well, there are a few reasons:

What if the work is really a distraction? So often we think a creative idea is so great, it warrants our effort, time, and attention.  We need clarity to filter which ideas get our attention, which we save for later, and some that just need to be pursued by others because they simply don't fit.  It is essential to have a framework by which your vision is defined.  Rabbit trails are exhausting, so leave it to the rabbits!

What if you get so wrapped up in the work, you forget the vision? Did you ever spend so much time on a project, deeply engaged in the act of doing to the point you forget WHY you are doing it in the first place?  An artist can become so focused on the act of creating, he may just forget what it is he is trying to create.  Don't do this!  Plan your work, work your plan.  Mark milestones so you know when to stop, celebrate, and evaluate what has been accomplished.  This also gives you time to reassess.  Have you ever been lost, passed your exit, realize after hours of driving you have no idea of where you are?  This is a scary feeling.  It is a frightening experience for your team when they realize they have been following a leader who hasn't a clue where they are or where they're going.

What if the work drowns you?  Failure is defeating but don't get defeated!  No, that isn't a typo.  Failure is the best learning tool available, you just have to fine tune the art of failing gracefully.  You will experience failure.  My hope for my children is they know and understand that disappointment will happen, it is how you handle your failures which makes the difference in what type of leader you are.  When I was in 3rd grade, my Art Teacher explained "happy accidents".  She showed us one of her own paintings and was clear to show us a lantern she painted on the exterior of a beautiful Victorian home.  She explained the lantern was not intended to be there at all, but while she was painting, a drop of black ink fell on the canvas.  Wiping it would have created a large smear and there is no eraser for ink.  Instead of scrapping the project, admitting defeat, she turned the ink blot into a quaint lantern.  Artistic Leaders do fall, but they make it look like a dance.

The bottom line is Artistic Leaders need clarity, great success require preparation, thought, and management.  Momentum is a great morale booster as long as it doesn't lead you away from your vision.  Purposeful breaks, focused retreats, or a ever so brief pause can launch new energy and passion for your craft.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Cost of Living

There is a common theme running in life right now, everything has a cost.  This does not refer to the purchasing of goods or services, it goes much deeper than that.  The cost this refers to is the emotional, mental, and physical cost associated with decisions which face us every day.  Commitment equals a certain degree of intensity and focus.  When we are hyper-focused on our goals, there are absolutely areas that do not get attention, we become more choosy about where, with who, and when we direct our time and energy. 

I imagine the last sentence will receive the highest probability for misinterpretation, but at this moment for the sake of the illustration, it doesn't really matter, because you and I know it is true:  Decision takes Boldness, Effort takes energy, goals take focus, and success takes work.  It always costs us something and time is of the essence!

Do you think DaVinci had time to chat it up with every person who walked by?  Do you read stories about the applaudable social skills and raving fans of Vincent VanGogh during his lifetime?  I am sure you can insert any driven, successful person's name here and draw a definitive line from who they were to what they achieved.  What you won't find here is a successful name and a laundry list of how they interacted with every piece of hate mail, invested in every penny stock, chased every rabbit trail to get them to their moment of glory.

Could you imagine if your favorite professional football player decided to take up tennis on the side?  You would say they were crazy, that they were wasting their time.  Here is where this applies to the average-striving-for-above-average people like you and I:

Get Focused:  You first have to decide what success looks like for YOU.
Maybe for you, this is buying your first home, running a marathon, being debt free, deciding you want to follow your dream of starting a self-owned business.  This step cannot be completed by anyone but YOU.  No one is going to be able to tell you what your dream is.  You may hear the word "supposed to" or "should", but only you know your heart.  Once you OWN your dream, it will be easier to know how to be successful at it.

Get Intense:  Plan your Work. Work your plan.
My husband and I set out to be debt free by 2012.  This was not going to happen just because we wanted it to; it needed a plan, a specific plan.  We needed resources, support, and each other to get prepared to throw everything else aside and push hard to our goal.  This is the step where "cost" (both symbolically and literally) hit home.  This is NOT the EASY button! Your dream is not an overnight win.  We some emotional hurdles to overcome, a hoard of "No's" lined up to greet anything that would tempt us from moving forward.  The "No's" got bigger and bolder as time passed, some were emotional and we shed some tears together.  Our goal is in our sights now and we are moving forward with gusto!  You need this intensity in your life to make it.  There is going to be not one, but MANY distractions along the way. 

Be Accountable:  Invite a friend to go with you.
Loneliness invites a menagerie of garbage to find you. It takes an extraordinary amount of focus and dedication to perform some of the feats you will face in your pursuit.  Having a partner, a sounding board, a friend, or someone to keep you focused makes all the difference.  I was doing a phenomenal job of running and training for my half marathon goal when I knew my dog needed to get some exercise.  When those circumstances changed, I allowed other things to distract me from my training.  Some choices you are going to make are not going to be the most popular; having someone in your life corner serves as a reminder it will be worth the cost.  For some, this may be a full reliance on God and faith, so hang on to Him!

There is not a single decision you can make in this life that comes free to you...indecision is also a choice. Everything will cost - what do you have to lose? Everything, including the life you want to live!
What cost are you willing to make? What distractions do you need to turn away so you can focus on moving forward?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Captivating the Audience

"The only thing that matters in art is the part that cannot be explained." Georges Braque

Any book with this as the first line in its foreward commands my attention and requires a sincere acknowledgement.  I just picked up Leadership Presence from the growing pile of books on our night stand this evening and had to tear myself away from the engaging dialogue to post tonight on the topic of Artful Presence.  The authors are the cofounders of The Ariel Group, a group of former actors and performers who teach skills in leadership through purposefully led "presence exercises".  I won't divulge any more than that, just want to tease your pallet because by now I am sure you are asking "What does acting have to do with leadership?"  And the authors do a brilliant job of answering that question, so I will not attempt to do so.  You are going to have to read it for yourself. 

It does, however change the definition of leadership and speaks to the essence of what this blog is all about - Living and Leading Artistically.

The artist has the unique ability to influence and engage.  The psychology behind use of color, shape, and must be understood fully by an artist in order to gain "participants".  This is the same principle needed for effective leadership, is it not?  As a leader, you must posses the inconcievable ability to know what people need before they know they need it, understand motivators and WHY they cause people to move in your direction.

Those who embrace people and strive to create a genuine, unique experience command our attention.  They tear at our core and fuel our passion to be part of something greater than ourselves, to connect with what it is that motivates them.  People want to belong, be noticed, and discover something better about themselves.  Learning and mastering the art of leading is far greater than positional attributes or perfectly aligned plans.  The art of leading takes patience, willingness to open ourselves to others and develop authentic relationships.  The human spirit is complex; it takes time to uncover its many layers.

Think about the last time you were moved by a song lyric, movie, photograph, or sculpture.  What about it made it captivating?  Was there a specific element that spoke to you?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Living Artistically - Life in 3D

There is a significant difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art when it comes to how we observe, interpret, and interact with it.  The same goes for how we engage in life, observe it, and experience it.

When I studied two-dimensional art, we focused on color an the ability of the mind to interpret even the slightest variation in shade.  The mind plays tricks on us occasionally, you may know these as "optical illusions".  These illusions are simply line, color or form placed in such a way to convince the mind it is seeing something which may not actually be there.  Two colors placed next to one another in a purposeful way can affect the color thought to be present.  Once a proximal color is covered, the true color is revealed.  It was all in the details. 

In my three-dimensional study, we focused on bringing ideas to form.  The way in which someone engaged physically or emotionally with a project had to be planned out from the beginning:  is the piece meant to be touched, heard, seen, felt, walked on, stood in, put on, or any variety or combination of experiences.  The separation between the kiln dried pot and the fabric covered building can be as expansive as the stimulation they invoke to the participant.

I love the word participant when we discuss Art because it correlates well with Life.  I ask myself daily, "Are you participating in today, or observing?"  Think about your day, how would you describe the way each moment interacts with another? 

Is your description about the things, the places, and the people in your life?  Do you use adjectives to "color" those pieces?  An artist could most likely paint a beautiful portrait of your life from the intricate detail you might divulge.  And there is nothing wrong with this!  We love our families, our churches, our jobs, and the special places where we spend our time.  Where we risk creating illusion is placing color too closely, or just a shade too dark or bright, then we elude to a "picture perfect" life which may or may not be real and fulfilling. We also risk becoming observers of our lives, placing things instead of participating in them.

The opportunity to truly develop the Art of Living and participate fully in this limited engagement lies in our ability to connect moments, use all of our senses, and make experiences tangible.  We progress from 2D to 3D living when our thoughts become our feelings, considering our impact on others and theirs on us.  How do we all move together, intertwine, and PARTICIPATE in shaping life?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Released from the Stone

When the roughing out is done, the angel begins to release from the stone.

Over the course of the past two years, I have come to approach my life as one large block of marble, hence the concept behind my blog and the past several months of writing, hashing out of ideas, sketching, mapping, and taking a journey deep into the world of "what if" and "what could be".  The enjoyment of it all is not having the pressure to be productive in the pursuit.  I am free to explore ideas, find nuances and niches my own mind could not fathom previously.  I was in a dark corner for so long that when the day finally came to be released from my own solitude, I broke free from the mold!  The journey to discovering freedom beyond my imagination to be comfortable in my own thoughts is overwhelming and exhilarating.  I liken it to walking barefoot in the grass in late spring, digging in the sand at the beach and feeling the first waves crash on your skin, or my personal favorite, the first day of 70 degree weather when the windows are rolled down, the radio is cranked, and the open road is calling your name.

I did not know where this journey would take me, but I knew where I was could not get me there.  I took a risk. I stepped off the edge and ran boldly toward a faint glimpse of a dream.  Along the way, there are disappointments, mistakes, and lessons to be learned, yet at each step I gain confidence and strength to pursue a clearer vision.

It begins in our thoughts.  In those still moments, when in between each breathe a voice speaks.  What is it telling you?  The thunderous beat of your heart adds an exclamation point to every word.  Those quiet moments form the foundation for your creation, your dream, your own masterpiece.  How do you respond when the voice is telling you "You can't!" I let that voice win over my quiet moments. I let it convince me I wasn't good enough, that someone more talented, gifted, unique would do it better. The only person between me and a new day...was me.

A masterpiece is not an instant success. My first step out of darkness took 29 years! There were days when I wanted to run back to what I knew, to hear the voice tell me the truth again, but the voice got quiet, the dark corner faded in the distance.  The more I focused on where I was going, the less I ran in to barriers. The steps get smoother and with each day comes a deeper understanding and a clearer vision of what my creation will be.

Are you still looking back? Is the voice too loud for you today? If you took one step out today, where would it take you? 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Got a Dream? Dig a Ditch!

When I was eight years old, our family's home had a spring in the back yard.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching water spit out of seemingly no where into a ditch, which in turn flowed into a larger drainage system in our neighborhood.  With my limited world view and knowledge of where such water could come from, this small little spring fascinated me.  Some days is would be nothing more than a drool from the clay in the embankment, others is was as though the earth turned on a faucet as the water flowed into the ditch around our house. Water ultimately finds it way to larger bodies of water, no matter how humble its beginnings, it finds the path it needs to expand and grow. 

The human spirit has this same tenacity, the same need to find ways to grow and become larger, to join other stronger and more expansive places to be.  Yet it has humble beginnings.  It begins in the form of a simple thought, an idea, an epiphany and then bubbles up, joins other thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences. From there it forms beliefs, values, and life choices until it reaches the heart and the other areas of the body from which the thoughts pour out into streams of action, response, and influence.

It is in these tangible outpourings, we are able to see the true person.  We have the chance to experience what lies inside the hard exterior and visualize the spirit which lives and breathes within the heart of another.  Once this is released, the heart is exposed and presents itself in ways we understand, such as the human spirit compelled to feed the hungry, who yearns to travel; his heart is revealed to a starving, third world village. We see this in the cancer survivor, determined to educate women about getting annual exams.  We see this in a child, challenged by the condition of local animal shelters, take a wagon and coin jar to his neighbors for donations.

What are we doing as Artistic Leaders to create spaces for this spirit to pour out into our organizations and communities?  What outlets do we provide for this spiritual energy to be release in positive ways? 

Are you forging rivers or building dams for the people you lead?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Life - What Did you Expect?

My family and I are planning for our upcoming photo session.  I have always wanted one of those classic large family portraits to hang on wall in our home. Everyone smiling, perfectly pressed, neat and clean, wearing white cotton shirts on the beach. Of course, as I think about my family and what makes our house home, what makes us laugh, cry, and love one another aren't completely encompassed in those things.  If you know us, you know that while clean and neat are clearly priorities in our lives, over all, life is pretty messy: children aren't always smiling and willing to comply, dinner isn't a three course meal on the table at 5 o'clock sharp, and bedtime is the dreaded hour of the day. Along with the mess are moments we treasure: the 6 AM wake up call, Butterfly Kisses, first steps, Saturday morning movies, counting clouds, and "I love you".

So why on earth would I want a photo hanging in my home that falsely represents who we are?  Some of my favorite photos are ones when the kids aren't even looking at the camera. Deep down the honest me is already rising up to protest, the anxiety builds as I plan out every one's wardrobe change and coordinate sweaters, shoes, and accessories.  Why give people who enter our home the misconception that life is "perfectly pressed" and planned out?

Life isn't about one posed image, the product of a string of acute details.  I sometimes struggle to embrace the concept of Artistic Living, my own term to describe the creation of a life which reflects flexibility, movement, change, opportunity, assembled together to produce a mosaic.  This picture of life has many small, fragmented particles and pieces, yet when they are viewed as a whole, they are seen as one complete picture. Mosaics are not made from other completed works of art.  Seen up close, you'll see the pieces are actually broken, found things. I often get caught in the pieces and how they fit together and forget the Art of it all, allowing the pieces to come together.  I realize on occasion, someone else may be the one to bring two pieces together and I simply provide the glue.  Or more frequently, I am the observer of pieces joining themselves.

I encourage you today to consider your life mosaic, are there pieces missing?  Do pieces look broken?  What role are you trying to play and what role is needed right now? 

I look forward to my walls one day being filled with not just one photo, but a collage of many tid bits and moments, which together represent a Portrait of our Family.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dreams begin with "BE"

My daughter spent the past week creating the ideas for her future restaurant.  Last Saturday, she made menus and, while donning her chef "toque" and apron, served us our orders.  From the moment she woke last Saturday, she determined she IS a chef, not just wanted to BE one.  I adore this about my daughter.  She pursues her dreams and ideas with full gusto, with no fear of failure or minute details such as culinary school or formal training. To her, those are things that will happen, those are "the givens" in the pursuit of achievement.  Her focus is on doing, performing, throwing her passion into her dream.

She did not wait for someone to TELL her she was a good cook.  She did not ask what it would take to be a world famous chef.  In her heart she already believes it.  Tomorrow, she may have a different dream, but for now she IS a chef and she has the benefit of time and childhood to figure out where her talents, her joy, her passion will take her next.

An artistic leader does not need to be TOLD they have great potential.  He does not need to have a painting hung in the Louvre or a Platinum album in his studio to prove he is an artist.  He does not need CEO of the Year or a 6 digit salary and tailor-made suits to show he is a leader.  He simply believes in his heart that he IS capable of creating and so he creates.

A bird does not need to be told it can fly, it opens its wings.  The fish is not told to swim, it just does.  A small acorn is not told to grow or sprout, it becomes a strong oak tree because that is what it was created to do.  What were you created to do?

My daughter also believes she will one day be on TV, she can already drive a car, and she will go to college in California.  The benefit of being 6 years old is that she can fully pursue these things without much resistance, meanwhile as her parents we keep her safe and teach her how to financially prepare for the chef job she will need to get her first break in Hollywood.  Regardless of where the road leads, her will is as strong as wrought iron.  There is no doubt greatness awaits those who are willing to follow the direction of their dreams.

What would life look like if you pursued your dream without fear of failure, or if the details were seen as an assumed part of the process, not as obstacles keeping you from moving?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Drowning in your own Creation - Give it time to breathe

In the process of creating art, the artist has in his mind the reason why he is creating it, he has laid awake thinking about it, planned each shape, line, and structure as a culmination of hours, days, possibly months or years of fine tuning his vision.  All for one day the piece to be on display.  On that day, someone will cast their opinion of the work, masses will join in to dissect every inch of the meticulously crafted masterpiece.  As a young artist, this was my biggest fear - the judgement.  I loved it when someone appreciated my work, but always found it difficult to translate "constructive criticism" into anything other than criticism.

For me, this was not about them being wrong or that they didn't reserve the right to have an opinion.  My mind immediate absorbed their comment and made it incredibly personal.  As I desperately defend my work, my tedious laborious hours, my creative spirit, all of which I considered on the proverbial chopping block.

Do we have these moments as leaders?  We are already bought into our ideas, so motivated by our own spirit of success.  Does this cause us to miss any input along the way?

I know I am guilty.  I recently began acknowledging a stopping point in my projects and selected a few accountability partners.  We talk, I share, then we proceed if the coast is clear.  Without these sessions, I would be so bought into the final project I could not see my way back out of it with clarity.  When you get so deep into your work that you are unable to see it with fresh eyes, you need to get a second opinion.  Be sure they know your purpose, but be wary of "defending" your work.

If you're an artist, how much better is your creative potential when you take a step back and look at the entire picture?  These pauses are planned at strategic breaking points. They do not restrain the creative spirit but rather give it time to breathe and expand, giving the spirit a chance to find better solutions.

How applicable is this to a parent?  A leader?  A spouse?  A friend?
Do you get "bought in" to your own opinion so deeply no one can convince you otherwise?  Who receives those repercussions? 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ode to the Human Spirit

The human spirit is fascinating to me:

It is flexible enough to undergo enormous amounts of pressure and weight, yet it doesn't break under the stress...
It is strong enough to push forward through adversity and support the burden for others, yet sensitive enough to hear the whimper of a child's heart...

It does not cave.
It does not falter.
It grows.
It lives.
It breathes.
It laughs.
It weeps.
It feels.
It creates.
It heals itself and within those wounds, makes room for humility and faith beyond measure...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You cannot Become what you Were

The relationship between the artist and his art is one of raw emotion, turbulent understanding, and extraordinary fusion of thought, feeling, and creation. I have encountered such a unique experience both in my writing and through various seasons of my life.  It begins with a thought, an innocent realization of something poignant enough to generate a series of mental and emotional connections.  Often it is a subtle word or picture you happen across, occasionally it is a phrase or an image that leaps off the page and grabs your soul.  No matter what moves the spirit to create, that simple beginning sets off a chain reaction from deep within.  I find myself restless, unable to concentrate until I jot my thoughts on a piece of scrap paper.  I have been known to scribble thoughts on post it notes, the back of envelopes, even on a grocery receipt.  In a furry, at stoplights I flush out the thoughts and images flooding through my mind straight to my fingertips, I often have to re-read what I have written in order to truly comprehend what seemingly bypassed the major processing areas.

This leaves me wondering if the artist creates the art or if the art shapes the artist?  If the latter is true, where does it come from?  Or perhaps, it is some fantastic oozing from the process of combining mind with matter in such a way that the line between them no longer exists...

If you like cook, this is the equivalent to deviating from a recipe: you begin with your basic ingredients, but as you become inspired by the aromas and taste of your dish, you begin to transform it into something even better.  Those moments between what it was planned to be and what it became are when it is unclear if the dish or the chef determined the final outcome. One thing is for sure, it won't be what the recipe called for.

Let's say you are a runner.  You plan your run to be healthy, for the joy of being outdoors. As your body becomes more fit, you appreciate the way your clothes fit and the way you feel, so you run even more.  You take on adventurous excursions on detours and look forward to the next time you lace up your sneakers.  Somewhere in the journey from the 5K to the marathon something changed in you, was it how you felt about running or did the running change how you felt about you?

When an artist sits in front of a lump of clay, there may be a thought as to what the shapeless lump may be, but somewhere in the midst of pulling and kneading, rolling and shaping, the clay begins to shape the artist and together the material and the artist become more than just an artist and a lump of clay as two separate things. The process of creation has impacted them both.

Great teams function the very same way, consider a leader when he has a new idea:  he presents the proposal with every detail laid out to his team.  Once they launch into the plan, the synergy of the team generates outcomes beyond the original scope.  This doesn't mean the team got off task, the additional outcome could be the increase in group cohesion, or a team member discovering a hidden talent or skill.  The team is never the same as how it begins with a simple inspiration.

So what have you set out to accomplish?  Where are you in the process?  Looking back, how much different is the outcome than you much different are you?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Generation formed from Ashes

It was the fall of my senior year of college.  I had just completed the first cut through a 3inch cube of bulsa wood in my 3-D Studio Class.  A classmate announced that a plane had flown through one of the towers of the World Trade Center.  After a flurry of bus stops, busy signals, and worried faces, I arrived at my off campus apartment in time to see the first tower ablaze while from behind the reporter we saw a second plane hit tower two.  My roommates and I clung to all that we knew, far from our families, unable to connect with familiar voices, we grieved with one another. I am not sure anyone from our generation could explain the nauseating fear which consumed us all.  Those flames and horrific images were no stranger to us. We were, after all, the Kindergartners and gradeschoolers who gathered in our classrooms in 1985 to watch the fatal launch of the Challenger Space Shuttle, just a few years later we looked on in horror at the nighttime bombings during Desert Storm. We were the middle schoolers who witnessed reports from Columbine on our tv's at home and highschoolers whose study halls consisted of court hearings and car chases, riots, and exploitation.

A generation haunted by the ashes of fallen friends, parents, and heroes.  Now most of us in our 30's, raising families of our own and climbing career ladders, commemorate a day, a turning point in our lives on which we turn to hope. 

The project I began 10 years ago today, became an abstract replica and solemn symbol of the tragedy of 9/11.  The lives of this generation however are a much larger tribute to what we have overcome.  Each season of life is marked by its autumn, followed by its cold harsh winter.  Now our generation has reached its spring.  We are marked by our tenacity and a spirit of hope.  Our lives now marked by war, distrust and an economic downfall,we have become a movement of people driven to overcome and engage in a world to bring forth a monumental force to build tomorrow.  Our tomorrow has arrived.  We have risen from the ashes and will pave the way for new things to come because we have been to the edge and looked down into the fire and said, "Not more!"
Artist rendering of Ground Zero with new memorial pools and future building constructions.

What are you doing today?  Where are you going from here?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Aperture: Exposure to Vision

My junior year of college I made the "brilliant" decision to double major in Art and Psychology.  This meant my first two years of purely science classes were now "Elective credit" and I somehow needed to squash an entire year of language, studio classes, and some other odds and ends into my bulging schedule. I hit the ground running in the fall of my senior year with three studio classes, because they wouldn't let me take four.  One of those was a photography class.  This was before the dawn of the digital camera - yes I am that old, young grasshoppers.  I had to remove the film in a dark room, transfer it to a reel, and then begin the process of developing a roll of what I hoped would be masterful photographs.

One of the many terms I learned during those long nights of agitating stop baths and cutting photo sheets, was aperture. The term Aperture is the lens opening: The hole or opening formed by the metal leaf diaphragm inside the lens or the opening in a camera lens through which light passes to expose the film.  A large opening, combined with a slow shutter speed, allows more light to expose the film.  There are two instances when the picture risks over-exposure this happens and attention to each is vital to avoiding an overexposed picture:

During the photograph taken with a camera, this determines the amount of light exposed to the film inside the camera. Exposed portions of the film will be removed during the development process. Following the development of the film, the processed negative is then placed on an enlarger, through which light transfers the image to photographic paper.  The adjustment of the time the light is allowed to pass through the negative determines how light or dark the final image will be. A black image is the result of overexposure in one of these two steps.  A light image requires more exposure.  Underexposed negatives require more light exposure from the enlarger. It is much easier to fine tune exposure in the initial stages with the camera.

I find the concept of Aperture to be true when I think about people and how they respond to following a leader with vision (or lack of).  A leader understands the amount and time needed to expose his followers to his vision.  Too much too soon and he washes out the potential to lead convincingly.  Too little, too slowly and it is a dark, lonely road ahead.  People who have to wait for the vision will find their own light to follow.  Those who receive everything all at once get burnt out.

Have you dialed in your aperture?  If you pointed a lens at your team, your family, the people who look to you for leadership, would they need sun glasses or would you stare blankly into a black hole where humans once stood?

Dial in!  Get focused on what you are about and then take the time to build your masterpiece!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Unpacking the Tool Box - 3


The artist must always carry with him the tools he needs to create at a moment's notice.  The most important ones being himself and a limitless imagination, without the mind and the creativity to pull from it, the artist has no use of extravagant colors, brushes, or canvas.  The artist, and all of us pursuant of a dream, are simply limited by our ability to first imagine it.  Your ability to dream, to create a lofty idea is unique to you, the rest: the implementation, the tasks, the day to day can be shared with others, but the dream, the essence of a soul manifested into something tangible, that place is where the impossible becomes reality.
My words by no means encompass the magnificence of the imagination, so I turn it over to the words of those who have trudged this road before me and carved new paths toward the unthinkable...and changed a world!

I am in no sense of the word a great artist, not even a great animator; I have always had men working for me whose skills were greater than my own. I am an idea man. —Walt Disney
Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.
Charles Kettering 
I can never stand still. I must explore and experiment. I am never satisfied with my work. I resent the limitations of my own imagination.  —Walt Disney
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.  - C.S. Lewis
There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.  -Ronald Reagan

This world is but a canvas to our imagination. - Henry David Thoreau

Imagination rules the world. - Napoleon Bonaparte 
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.  - Albert Einstein

What people keep you motivated, what inspires you to pursue the impossible?  Leave one of your favorite quotes!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Get Stapled to Something!

I could not pass up the opportunity to explore the Artistic Leadership of Anne Sweeney, as shared in an article by Forbes magazine today. There is one line in this article that sparked this post. Anne is asked to describe her Leadership Style.  After changing the way in which her teams were organized, she is quoted as telling them: 
“I want you to wake up every morning feeling that you are stapled to the other person. Understand that one of you is not successful without the other being successful. And when one of you fails, the other fails as well.” 
It made me consider the true essence of a staple - to hold things together.  Not the way glue fastens things permanently to one another, a staple has its own unique way of twisting itself to keep things organized, so what better tool to use figuratively in our organizations:

A Staple provides Alignment - one of the first things and last things I do before stapling a packet is to hold the sheets together and give them a gentle tap on my desk.  Why do I do this?  To keep the edges neatly arranged, to keep sheets from poking out and distracting the reader.  A staple within a team keeps the members aligned, whether to vision, to cooperation, or to a particular process or task.  There are no outliers doing their own thing. There is accountability in being aligned with one another.

A Staple provides Security - A staple holds like it looks: tough and edgy.  It holds firmly, but with enough poise that pages can function independently as they are turned, preserving their individuality as a single sheet; by the same movement, the staple functions to maintain the page as a part of a larger document.  A sense of security stems from knowing you belong to something greater, your significant role in a greater plan or purpose.

A Staple leaves a Mark - Should a piece of a stapled project need to be removed from its position, the staple can easily be taken out.  What happens next is probably my favorite property unique to a staple and it's twofold:  the larger project is reassembled fully able to function, in some cases more effectively and the removed piece has the potential to be further developed, tweaked, used as is, or thrown aside.  But what is truly remarkable about the fact that it was STAPLED - neither the full project or the removed piece can deny its former existence as a unit.  Both will forever retain the evidence of their union.  A staple leaves behind two small holes. 

True impact whether from a person to a team or team to a person will always be felt.  What are you stapled to?  Will your holes be battle scars or badges of honor?  Will the holes you leave be scorned or admired by the people, things, ideas to which you fasten yourself?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Confinement does not equal Control

I recall a night coloring with my sister and our babysitter around the age of 5 or 6. Coloring isn't too exciting to write about, and truthfully wasn't all too eventful then either.  But for some reason I am here writing about it because of the way my babysitter taught me to color in a coloring book.  She outlined each black line heavily with the color then used the same color to lightly fill in the areas.  I love the way the final picture looked. The picture was of an alligator and the green popped out of the picture above the bright blue ripples, formed by his seismic leap from the water. This impacted how I would color and my standards for proper "coloring" for many many years.

My coloring was always controlled, defined, and neat.  Then a day came when I realized I might be among a few proud line definers, the day my daughter opened her first coloring book.  For her, it was all she could do to try to spread each color on each page of the book as quickly as possible.  I had no control over this and it, surprisingly frustrated me.  Why would she not want to make her pre-formed art perfectly planned and executed? 

We do this a lot on our own teams, in our families, and with our peers.  We want them to see the lines we have drawn and only color within those lines.  Do we provide adequate space for them to color how they choose to color?

My daughter now has more motor control over her coloring and produces wonderful, colorful renderings with her name proudly across the bottom or top of the page.  Don't we want this from our teams?  The pride that comes from completing a job even though it has their own flavor or sprinkling of personality on it?  Don't we WANT our kids, our employees, and our peers to feel as though they can be proud to be themselves within the confines of our lines?  Someone wiser than me said there is a difference between breaking the will and breaking the spirit of a person...

You can and should draw lines within your organization, otherwise how will anyone know what you stand for, what you do or what you are. HOWEVER, you are missing a big piece of the puzzle if you use those lines as ways to control those who follow you. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Open the Lid on your Life

Several years ago, when I was drawing my way out of the dark places in my life, I began to discover the principle of "the Lid".  Lids get placed on all types of things: jars, trashcans, your car's gas tank, even your ice cream.  The purpose of the lid is to keep something in or prevent the release of something, whether the inside contains something hazardous or not, the lid restricts everything outside of the confines of the container from getting in and anything inside from getting out. If you want to squelch a fire, you cover it.  If you want to keep a lightning bug inside a mason jar, you screw on the lid.  If you want to protect your favorite ice cream from freezer burn, you seal it. The trouble with a lid when it comes to living, breathing things - it prevents the growth and is fatal. 

So what did a lid have to do with people?  What was this magical principle that shed light on to my dark canvas?  As I focused on my own thoughts, on my own situations, on my own weaknesses, I placed a heavy lid on my soul.  I found myself inside I confined space with no ability to get out and do something with my life.  I cannot stand to be in tight spaces.  I enjoy my 3-feet-of-life-bubble.  So how did I allow myself to get so confined?  I let it happen, I ignored my passions, I let things happen to me instead of taking a step forward.  I let the lid get nailed down over me - I was suffocating and didn't even take notice until I was almost out of breath.

What do you do?  What do you do when you find yourself out of air, out of the passion that fuels your life?  You start digging in - you start chiseling away at the stone!  It only takes one small hole, one tear in the lid to allow the breath to enter your space.  For me, I began drawing pictures of my tightly closed box, then I began adding holes, which allowed light to enter.  When enough light entered the space, I began to see the keys laying inside.  I began to take note of ways to unlock the lid.

Sometimes we just are not able to see what needs to be done because we are in darkness.  Digging in, making small movements, introducing light to your situation, allows you to take account of what tools and resources are available to you.  Leaders understand this concept and those who know how to lift the lids of others appreciate the power of letting light slip into the cracks.  They know they do not need to provide the tools, just guide the light. 

I enjoy seeing the world without a lid to block the view.  It can be an amazing place, but it starts by digging in, allowing a little light to cast into your life, then MOVE in the direction of the light!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Perspective and Legacy



The first stop on our family trip was to Pennsylvania.  My Dad owns a small farm in a rural town right outside Pittsburg.  They moved there right after I graduated from high school.  During my college years, I spent many hours sitting on a swing staring at this majestic view.  In those quiet moments, I found inner peace just watching clouds pass by an expansive horizon. 

So often we get caught up in the web of frustration, wound tightly around our worries.  What would it look like in your life to surrender to the solace waiting for you in a quiet moment, left open to the Master’s hand to create masterful work in your life?  If God created a small piece of 15 acres with beauty so breathtaking it could move a hurting, hardened heart to be still, imagine the movement He is waiting to create in you.

Sitting in that same swing this past week with my daughter and son, listening to their laughter and watching their faces smile with excitement as they talked about their next outdoor adventure, I remembered days when I was joined on that swing by my own mother.  We sat and planned my wedding, talked about the impending birth of her first grandchild. 

Those moments are pieces of a lifetime mosaic of a legacy I will one day leave for my own children, just as my mother left memories and moments I will treasure forever.  As the three of us walked to her gravestone this week, we talked about who she was and how much she lives on in our hearts.  She continues to cast light into our lives – that was her legacy.  What will be yours?



Monday, August 15, 2011

Photo Journal: Part 2

It's in the details.

One of my absolute favorite parts of traveling overnight is the hotel experience.  What makes that experience so worth it is not the TV in the lounge or the free continental breakfast or 24 hour fitness center.  It is the toilet paper.  Yes, that's right it is the folded end of the toilet paper roll.  I know they planned for my arrival: the bathroom was cleaned, each detail was thought out and prepared just for me.  In the same light, creatively folded towels, tucked in pillow cases, and a turned down bed rank up there too!  Last night I stayed in a hotel and they had every detail worked out, included high brow coffee.  It was midnight when we got in and I just wanted to crawl into the covers.  When I got to my bed, there were three pillows piled in the center of the bed with no pillow cases!  My entire reason for the reservation - one night's sleep was not a priority for them. No amount of free Wi-fi or carefully placed decor made up for the fact that my good night's sleep was delayed.  We spent all of 7 hours in the hotel and MY detail, the one thing that mattered most to me was forgotten.  At 6:30 AM, when I opened my door, I rolled my suitcase right over my free USA Today and headed to the car.

This made me think about what my leadership creates for others.  Is there a detail I miss when engaging with my team, how are their lives affected by the impact of my leadership (or area where leadership is lacking)?  Can you see far beyond the members of your team you are able to improve details along the way for them so it is easier for them to get to where your vision is taking them?  Do you take care of the details?

This weekend was an amazing trip to Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.  Just as our team does at Waters Edge Church, they focus on the details.  In all areas...excellence matters.  Do you know why?

What this produces and what impact this has on those who attend allows guests to experience something astounding.  They are not distracted by the little things we forgot, or the thoughts they have about "how I wish there was this or that" They are able to focus on their reason for coming.  They are able to focus all of their attention on what matters to them.  As a result, lives are changed.  As a result of diligence on the part of leaders who think far ahead, entire generations are changed. 

Do you have this level of intensity about the details in your life?  Do you "fold the toilet paper ends" for the people you care about?