“So how is your business going?”
“Well we were having the best year ever; until Monday. Then the bottom dropped out.”
That was a conversation I had with a man that worked at Pat’s Florist in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Several times each year I get Linda some flowers. The occasion this time was her birthday. In general, I think flowers are too expensive however Linda always loves what Pat’s delivers. I always get a call shortly after they are delivered, and she is raving about how beautiful they are. Maybe they are not too expensive. Perhaps they are worth it for all the joy it brings her.
I think there is an old saying about March – it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Not this year; the year of the Corona Virus.
The fellow at Pat’s thanked me for my order and asked what kind of business we were in. He promised to support us – and I will make sure they get a copy of this March Blog.
I have already written a couple of articles on this crazy situation. At the end, I will be more specific in case you want me to send you a copy. It is my intent to try and be helpful. Hopefully something I write here might strike a cord at the right time or perhaps expose an insight that offers some comfort.
I am going to start this off by a recap of our 1st Wednesday sermon from the Church of the Highlands. Our pastor, Chris Hodges, is a wonderful spiritual leader and had some insights I thought were helpful. His goal for the sermon was to address the psychological damage done by the virus situation – to address our emotional and spiritual health. Here is what we have lost over the last couple of weeks:
- Our connections. Humans were not meant to be alone. We do want to be hugged and being around people. We have lost that.
- Our structures. Our jobs, our routines – all lost. Even if you do not mind change – this is tough. Imagine how it is on people that struggle with change during routine times. We have lost our structures.
- Control. We have lost what control we thought we had. Several years ago Linda and I attended “early responder” training put on by our church. The idea was prepare a group of people that would go in directly after the first responders to begin offering relief. One of the things I remember was how victims have lost control and part of what we needed to do is give some of that back to them. If they wanted us to search for their lost cat rather than help tote away debris, then go look for the cat. Let them have at least some control. We have lost control.
Pastor Chris said there were typically three responses to the above:
- We fight. Reports of domestic violence and child abuse are soaring.
- We flee. Many go into isolation and listen to “self-talk” which is normally not healthy self-talk.
- Or, we freeze. We are paralyzed into inaction. We have excellent intentions on doing something productive and useful. It just never happens.
He then gave some “solid rock” principles to do. Pastor Chris (PC) did not invent these principles, they have been around for thousands of years. In our leadership development programs we emphasize them, and it deals with focusing on your inner core. I am probably going to take more liberty quoting scriptures and stuff like that on this piece as I consider it a special time. One that needs the best we all have. So, there is some forewarning. PC’s solid rock analogy came from Matthew 7:24-27; “Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.”
Fear is reality minus God. Faith is reality plus God.
He gave five Principles of things to do:
- Communicate clearly, intentional and often. It has been my experience, especially with people in leadership positions, that we do not communicate often enough. There is a tendency for leaders to assume that once they understand something, everyone else also understands it. Understand – that is an erroneous assumption. In your communications:
- Be empathic
- Be frequent
- Be simple and clear
- Be honest
- Be hopeful
- Be faith-filled
- Recreate new structures and new routines. Consider making a weekly/daily plan of things you want to get done. Are there things you have been putting off? Does the dog need some additional training?
- Guard your minds. “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” Proverbs 4:23 What goes in your head, flows to your heart and comes out in the form of behavior. If you have been getting my planner quotes for any length of time you have heard me say that a lot. It is true.
- Focus on what you can control. PC referenced Proverbs 6:6-11.
- Remember the big picture. Whatever the big picture is for you – concentrate on that.
Before we leave the Corona Virus I wrote three previous pieces during March:
- An article on honoring your people. Also in that I describe how best to eat boiled chitlins.
- An article on preparing for crisis ahead of time and the intro into that piece was a story of a friend of mine and I nearly getting mugged in downtown Baltimore.
- John Maxwell did a three part series on leading in crisis. I listened to the entire thing, took notes and summarized it in a relatively brief piece.
If you would like for me to send you any or all these articles pop me a note and I will send them to you. The first two are posted on our website.
- A dog starved at his master’s gate, predicts the ruin of the state. William Blake
- I have been through some terrible times in my life. Some of which actually happened. Mark Twain
- Convert fear into faith.
- Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings—let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals—and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world. John F. Kennedy
- On that day let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending the misery and suffering wherever they exist. John F. Kennedy
- The leader’s voice is not the voice of the crowd. John Maxwell
- Lord, open my ears to the messages You want me to share and give me the boldness and resolution to deliver them without fear.
- Your words carry a significant impact, and the blessings and curses you extend to others is noted by the Lord.
- It is time to realize we need God more than He needs us. Ronald Reagan
- Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your bodies. Hebrews 13:3
- How we view things is how we do things.
- Peace is not the absence of trouble it is the presence of God.
- Trouble doesn’t build character. It reveals it.
- Make a commitment to grow daily. John Maxwell
- Value the process more than the events. John Maxwell
- If your vision doesn’t cost you something, it’s a daydream. John Maxwell
- Dream big. Then go to work. John Maxwell
- Remember the law of sacrifice: You have to give up to go up. John Maxwell.
Other Development Stuff
Many of you have asked about my weight loss plan. Well, so far everything is on track. As we go farther it will begin to get a little more challenging. After three months I am certainly no expert. What I think and hope has happened is that during January 21 days of prayer and fasting I developed some new habits of intermediate fasting and as much of a keto diet as I can stand. Completed annual physical in March and doctor was happy with weight loss and blood work. My wife and daughter put me to shame with their improvement.
For several years now I have read Max Lucado’s rendition of the fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. In my last book, “Cows Don’t Stay Milked,” I have a chapter for each of the nine mentioned. Those are essentially behaviors you should reflect as you mature spiritually. I mention in the book that if you are hitting on all nine one of two things has happened – you have croaked and are standing in front of Jesus, or it is the second coming. I have started “praying” through them asking for forgiveness on what all I have screwed up and asking for help in doing better. If you have a hard time with humility – that will fix it for you. If you would like a copy of Max Lucado’s rendition I will be happy to send it to you.
Wrap Up and a Commercial
Each month I am going to plug one of my books and I will start from the last one written and go backwards.
The book this month is “Cow’s Don’t Stay Milked.” I got the name from my good friend, Mike Umble, who is a retired professor of business at Baylor University when he and I were working on writing a book (which never happened by the way). The idea is, there is no such thing as a magic pill – you have to keep working. Here are some points of interest and what others have to say about the book:
- It was written during the 2016 presidential campaign and I mentioned that in the book.
- Judy Bonner, the 28th President of the University of Alabama, and the first female president, wrote to foreword.
- There are personal stories about Ralph Stokes, his wife Debra, Leroy McAbee, my wife Linda and daughter Leigh and our dog Maggie.
- “Developing character is the key to sustaining effective leadership as you attempt to influence others. John’s book is entertaining, insightful and possibly life-changing for some. Keith Pugh, Senior Pastor Alberta Baptist, Alberta City, Alabama and former star wide receiver on the UA football team.
- “Cow’s Don’t Stay Milked,” highlights the fact that great leaders differentiate themselves by constantly invoking the facets of their faith as they touch and mentor others on their journey.” Dean McClure, President of TTL, Inc
- “Cows Don’t Stay Milked” is an engaging, easy-to-read book filled with humor and poignant stories. Throughout these stories, we see examples of how choosing attitudes have a profound impact on our outlook of those we lead. Karen Baldwin, Vice President Development, The University of Alabama (retired)
- “Cows Don’t Stay Milked,” kept me captivated page after page. I highly recommend that all leaders give John’s book a read. It would be a fantastic study for a small leadership group.” Diane Kucala, President and Founder of Blueprint Leadership
- “John’s new book is both an easy read and inspirational. I was able to apply the principles immediately to a current situation.” Wayne Pitchford, Vice President of Operations, Neptune
If you purchase “Cows Don’t Stay Milked” directly from us the price is $20 per copy plus $5.00 shipping within the United States. Can also purchase from Amazon.