How my son grew 2-inches from a single wrestling move.

Grant is our first born and has the typical traits:  conscientious, reliable, and a 3rd parent to his younger siblings.  He has an articulate systematic mind with the rare combination of a sensitive loving heart.  Picture a big brother who offends you with a recommendation (command), but then insists that he comes alongside you and walks through the mud with you.

From the first time Grant heard one of Craig Groechel’s audio books, he was hooked.  Craig is a master at blending laughter with learning as he speaks on relational leadership. While he primarily presents for non-profits, the principals he teaches are naturally universal for family & business. Grant and I attended a leadership conference this week where Craig was the main speaker.

 

Here are a few points that I’m digesting & applying from the conference:

On Change.

– People Change under 1 of 2 conditions.

  • When they have to. (desperation)
  • When they want to. (inspiration)
-Ask yourself, “If someone took my place, what is the first thing they would change?”

-You can not change what you are willing to tolerate.

On Systems.

-Good systems leave very little to chance.

Systems create behaviors.
Behaviors become habits,
Habits drive outcomes.

-You either have systems by intent or by default, but you do have systems.

-Your systems are the result of what you have created or tolerated.

-If you are too busy to create the right systems, then you will always be too busy.

On Anticipatory Leadership.

-Be careful of The Dunning Kruger Effect (cognitive bias)
The more confident you are at predicting the future, the more likely you are to be wrong.

-Ask questions to gather information. (not to confirm your bias.)

-If you wait until you are 100% sure before you try anything you will always be too late.

-Disrupt what is with what could be.

 

Problem + reaction = Solution
Problem + Anticipation = Innovation.

 

-Great innovations are born out of limitations.

-Small tweaks rarely change the world. BE BOLD

Offstage…

Grant and I both enjoyed what was taught from the platform. But the biggest growth lesson for me was something that happened off-stage.  Something I’ve known for a long time.  Something I want to be constantly reminded.  Something that made Grant grow two inches!  (Ok, so in reality, he just walked much taller.)

In the hallway upon seeing Grant, Craig shouted.

 “Grant, is that you?

Is that really you, Grant?!!!”

He then pulls Grant in for a hug.

Without missing a beat, Grant was in a headlock!

 

Craig knows how to meet people where they are.

Craig loves God, loves people, and it shows.  He finds joy in his work that begins in his home and branches out from there.  I’m grateful that my kids get to experience the hearts of people who value the same things that I do, be it by book, Audio, video, and every now and then a Headlock!

Amy Groeschel gives her husband/coauthor a kinder gentler headlock.

Every day, our words and actions can build people up.  Consider amplifying your animation and expression.  You may see people walking taller.   It’s one thing to love people… and another thing to level-up and love them out loud.   To be human growth agent, it only takes a moment.  And the effects last so much longer.

If you want to grow in leadership,  If you want to lead people so they walk taller, these books are great growth resources…

 

 

To get an idea of what the conference was like, check out:

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God?…. Hormones?…. Or all of the above?

Opening my eyes this morning I started to focus out the window on the crisp blue darkness just prior to twilight…

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Then it hit me!…

At this moment, 20-years ago, I was on the highest of highs!  One of the very few times that God spoke directly to me, undeniably.  For those who believe in a God that loves you wildly & specifically, you may find this encouraging.  If God is something you don’t believe in, you can chalk these details up to my blissful ignorance… & hormones!

It was November 9, 1995.  I had been talking with a young lady from Concord, NC for almost 3 months.  I was beyond flattered that she drove the 550 miles north to visit this “guy from NJ”.  We talked the night away: life experiences, family cultures, and life’s twists & turns.   As the morning hours progressed:  The depths of life, celebrations, regrets, distinctions, and then lengthy pondering about her imminent  2-year term as a tutor in the south of India.

Sunrise November 9, 2015

Sunrise November 9, 2015

At 5:45 AM we looked towards the window and saw the night transitioning to twilight.  Without skipping a beat Kristen innocently suggested that we go watch the sunrise in my favorite field close by.  Those words were the most romantic words I had ever heard!  The conversation continued as I pointed my Ford Bronco towards the brightest point on the horizon.

As the sun came up conversation awkwardly ceased.  Sleep deprivation combined with sharing our life stories and apparent mutual ambitions seemed to reach an overflow point…. and we both realized it.  I vividly recall the blur as I exited the truck and floated around to open her door.  As the sun crept higher and the embrace wonderfully prolonged, that’s when I experienced the audible voice of God in a depth and dimension like never before.  A voice so gentle – yet compelling me to the deepest of my core…I felt an immediate change in my stature as if instantly growing from the inside out… as if I transitioned to another level of manhood in a simple few seconds…

The words simply were, “She is for you, Take care of Her

Twilight - November 9, 2015

Twilight – November 9, 2015

In the 20 years since, life has been an amazing journey.  Certain lows and countless highs.  3-Children that reflect so many of our traits.  Traits that make us laugh & shake our heads.  Traits that make our heads shake as jaws drop in amazement.  They are always up to something fun.

Kristen has a fierce loyalty, unwavering integrity, and a diligence that I never saw coming.  The people that enjoy who I am professionally from the stage are actually enjoying much of her in me.  I simply couldn’t be who I am without her.  I gave Kristen Joy Kerwood my last name, and she, in turn, gave me her middle.

I’ll never forget those words.

She is for you.  Take care of her.

Our family’s best times are when we:

  1.   Accept each as our own.
  2.   Take care of each other.

If 20-years is a score, Here’s to 4-score more!

And may the generations pass the baton!!!

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My Dog Brought This To My Attention, REALLY!

In my 40+ year memory of marveling at snow, I have never seen what I saw today.

On this rather routine 22-degree day, my dog snapped me out of the brisk pursuit of my to-do list.  Before long, there was no more awareness of time, temperature, the bag I was carrying or the gate that I had left wide open.  My eyes popped!  My jaw dropped…

Moo-Moo

Our dog, Moo-Moo, is no lapdog.  She’s a St. Bernard/Collie mix with a sporadic homecoming ritual.  She’ll stand by the gate eagerly waiting for my return…  Ok, so she’s really there to see if I have a treat for her.  After  inspecting for any hint of a treat she then breaks into exurbant speedy loops around the house, ending up exhausted by the time I reach the door.

White Delight!

Today, the snow was falling lightly as I approached the gate.

Now I’ve seen it snow chicken-feathers. – Large feathery bowl clusters that appear when cold flakes fall gently through warm temperatures.  Visibility is limited; accumulation is abundant!

I’ve also enjoyed the contrast of frigid snow dust.  – The temperature drops toward the teens, as the wind builds banks by the foot.

But what I experienced today was like nothing I’ve ever known to exist except: on christmas cards, in children’s books, and whisking with clouds of imagination.

First time…

As Moo-Moo greeted me at the gate with her nose in the breeze, I noticed something over her eye that stopped me in my tracks…Is that… A Star?!!  A closer look revealed many more snow stars on her back!  Then I looked to the ground…. Like a winter wonderland… Hundreds of 3mm snow stars scattered everywhere!  My eyes popped!  My jaw dropped!   As time stood still, I’m guessing that my body even forgot to blink.IMG_6743

My next memory was opening the door and calling to Kristen,  “Come fast! You’ve gotta see this.” (I don’t know why speed was necessary, but when a middle aged guy sees something this amazing for the first time he’s afraid that it might vanish just as quick, and for just as long!)

Kristen found this phenomenon very interesting, but managed to maintain more maturity compared to her husband recklesly bounding towards the camera.

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Continual Discovery…

Looking back on the experience, I can’t help but know (in my crazy way of thinking) that this is what Heaven will be like.  A never ending exploration of brand new sights to experience… Many that we are already familiar with but on deeper levels and in broader spectrums then our human eyes have enjoyed.  And that’s just considering our sight!  What other senses do we not even know of yet that will be commonplace, amplified, expanded, and there for our discovery?…Forever!

And how fortunate we are to get glimpses of Heaven here on earth!  It’s a beautiful life out there.  Go live it…  with your eyes wide open!

I'll never forget the day it snowed stars.

I’ll never forget the day it snowed stars.

 

I’ve Seen It Rain Fire In The Sky!

Scanning my 2013  journal I relived the following. 

 May the retelling of this encounter encourage you as you venture into all that 2015 holds for you, your family, and your legacy.

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From art to nature, I have been contemplating how the facets of an object ultimately point to it’s creator.  I usually recognize these details when I slow down to explore the simpler things in life.

Events of this nature usually end up in my journal, shared with a few close friends, and left it at that.

But this encounter was VERY interesting and far too significant to keep that quiet….

(Journal entry: January 1, 2014)

Pulling onto the driveway from an almost 7-hour round trip commute, I was quite eager to exit my little Honda Fit and stretch my legs.  As my eyes rose past the horizon, my mind shifted gears.   “Look at all those stars!”, I thought as I gawked overhead.  Then the thought hits me, “How could the clear night sky point someone to God?”  (Even now, I don’t know if this was my original thought, if I was thinking God’s thoughts after Him, or if I simply pit way too much sugar in my coffee.)

Next, I look down at the dark ground to reset the experience then look up with fresh eyes of purposeful wonder, as if looking for God in the stars. Instead of seeing a splatter of random specs, with vivid clarity, I begin to notice details: varying intensities, individual placements, the unique identities of each heavenly body.  I start to realize how the magnitude of the night sky is moving me on a much deeper level.  Just then, a shooting star darts from upper left to lower right, then an immediate second…upper right crossing to lower left… as if God made an X in the night sky with his finger…as I was searching for the creator!

I was overwhelmed.  I just experienced: 2-shooting stars, in rapid succession, In the context of fresh eyes searching for God.  As if that wasn’t enough, I was then reminded of the historic symbolism of the “X”.

As I walked towards the house my mind raced with questions:

  • Is this what it was like being an astrologer looking for the Christ child?
  • Bright lights in the sky, Looking for Emmanuel?
  • Did God communicate with them this way too?
  • Were they freshly filled with courage?
  • With a fresh pep in their step?

At a hair past 11PM and I entered the house and shared the story with my sleepy wife, Kristen, and my wide-eyed son, Grant.  I explain that I’m bundling up to go lay in the field to see what else there is to see.  Grant was eager to join me.

10-minutes later we’re laying in the field.  I reminded Grant about broad gazing to look for shooting stars compared to narrowly focusing on a single section of the sky. I then pointed out to him that the “X” I experienced 20-minutes earlier was between Jupiter & Betelgeuse.

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“Grant, do you remember ever seeing a shooting star before?”, I whispereed. “Not that I can remember”, Grant replied. I then said, ”God, please show us a shooting star so Grant can remember it as his first shooting star and that he will know that you made it just for him”… 3-seconds later…. a streak of fire across the sky!

Instantly we were both 10-years old: gasping for air, screaming, laughing, and hitting each other’s triple layers out of a euphoric excitement! A memory we will simply never forget!

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For those who believe in a loving God who wants a relationship with those who seek him, this was quite an encouraging evening! For those who may not believe, this was all just a coincidence. For 25 anxious minutes we continued to lay on the cold ground.  Only to see no more fire in the sky. For me, the absence of additional shooting stars simply authenticated the three that I did see.

I walk freshly into the coming year encouraged to talk with God as a child who’s Daddy yearns to pour out love & life.  Not to a Father who craves a stilted prayer, but as a highly favored child of a Daddy who is eager to engage in a meaningful conversation with each of his children.

So I ask you now…
What “silly” thing will you ask God for?
Are you ready for an answer?
Go ahead & ask!
He loves you!
Really!
Ask!!!

Make Someone’s Day… Spontaneously!

My daughter, Ana, and I pop into the airport on the way home after a long day on the road.  I hear someone calling me from 50 yards away, “Bill, bring that young lady over here!”  I know what that means, but Ana has no clue.  There are a select few pilots that I would spontaneously trust with this most special young lady.  Geoff Nye, a masterful 11,000+ hour pilot and a true gentleman, is a no brainer for this protective daddy.

Geoff Nye & Ana in the Aronca Champ

Geoff Nye & Ana in the Aronca Champ

In a magical moment Geoff & Ana departed the bonds of earth and joined the freedom of the feathered. As I imagined myself at her age, experiencing a low level doors-off flight over autumn’s rolling hills, my heart swelled with such a depth of joy & happiness that my eyes could no longer contain themselves. (that’s man-talk for, “I  cried”) 10-minutes prior, Ana and I were weary travelers. Now we both find ourselves beyond exhilarated!

After rejoining the earth bound, Geoff inked another line into Ana’s logbook while reminding her that this logbook was likely the first of many for her.  What a way to wrap up a day!
Geoff Nye filling in Ana's logbook.

Geoff Nye filling in Ana’s logbook.

I learned a few unexpected things today.  Basic, but VERY true things:

  1.  One person’s initiative & generosity can have an immediate effect on someone else’s day.
  2. The giver & observer often receive more joy than the receiver.
  3. Living vicariously through someone else’s experience can be such a blast!
Geoff Nye & Ana, Thumbs up!

Geoff Nye & Ana, Thumbs up!

Therefore I’m asking myself some new questions today:

  1.  Where can I express spontaneous generosity that makes someone’s day?
  2.  How often do I pause to observe someone experiencing a highlight in their life?
  3. If this doesn’t move me, am I missing out on a level joy & happiness that is available to us all?  (like low hanging fruit)

Join the conversation below…

What is the uniqueness in your life that you have shared spontaneously?

What is an unexpected effect you’ve experienced as a giver, receiver, or observer? 

Breakfast, As It Should Be

Wrapping up some early morning errands, I dropped into a small town breakfast nook for coffee & a bite.  There is something about a Mom & Pop breakfast shop atmosphere that accurately reveals the culture of an area like nothing else.

Sunday's REsteraunt

 2-eggs over, onion home fries with crispy scrapple and 12 grain toast.  I sit back and took in whatever Quakertown, PA brought into the door:  2-older gentlemen men of different economic means, laughing and loving the basics of life.  A father and daughter quietly pressing buttons on their phones.  Next in is a small group of…WOW!  that was quick!
Sitting in front of me is exactly what I ordered:  both eggs just right. real potatoes, inconsistently cut (proof that they were prepared with human hands), toasted bread.  Everything was just exactly as ordered.
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The waitress returns returns, refilling my cup,
          “How is the scrapple?…”
          “The scrapple, the eggs, everything is just perfect!”
 She pauses for a second, as if confused by my happiness.  What comes next is refreshingly unscripted…
“It should be!”
What a simple phrase, “It – should – be.”
Well of course, it should be, in all areas of life!
But can we really count on it?
As my home fries continued to vanish, I couldn’t kick the thought…
If it really should be, then:
1.   Why was I so pleasantly surprised to experience detailed service?
2.   What else in life am I surprised by that should be commonplace?
3.   What do I say or do with my kids that they love that should be more commonplace ?
  • It’s not a perfect world
  • We are certainly not perfect people.
  • But it sure is great to enjoy something as it should be.
I’m keeping my eyes out for what my kids find surprisingly delightful that “should be” routine, “should be”, normal & “should be” commonly experienced.
What is the stand-out, “should be”, in your life that you would like to see more common?
PS.   If you’re passing through Quakertown, PA do stop by Sunday’s Deli & Restaurant140 E Broad St, and do request Ariel….  The combination of food & service is awesome! (Because it should be!)