December 10, 2019

YMCA Advent

Most times when I walk through the lobby, I catch myself critiquing – the furniture is old, there is trash in the corner, or the coffee pots are empty. But then I see the HUG!

It can be the hug of a parent and child when picking up after school. It can be a hug of two old friends re-connecting. It can be a hug of two best friends at the end of an exercise class, wishing each other a great day. And it can be a hug of a member and a staff person, comforting each other over a life event.

Our mission statement is Helping ALL people reach their God given potential in spirit, mind and body. We take great pride in being a welcoming place for ALL people. 

Today I was reflecting on how overwhelmed I am that Jesus has his arms wide open for me every time I enter the Y, welcoming me no matter what burdens I bring. In this season of Advent, let us ask, who in our lives needs to feel our embrace, so that they can feel the embrace of Christ?

October 17, 2019

Talking About Bosses

I’ve joked that I have this deep inner desire to be liked. I don’t want to be the “A**Hole Boss”, but I understand that not everyone agrees with me, supports every decision of mine or, and this cuts a little deep, likes me. I am also self-aware enough to understand that around the water cooler, in an office, out having a couple of beers or a plate of nachos, staff like to talk about their bosses.

“Can you believe he made this decision?”

“She is completely lost if she thinks that will work.”

“My boss hardly speaks to me anymore.”

What do you do when a peer starts digging at the boss? Do you just nod and smile and be an active listener and pretend to be that supportive co-worker being empathetic?

Do you pile on and start throwing fire yourself?

The funniest scenarios are when people sit around and complain about the boss and the culture. And they keep piling on and piling on. They are obviously void of any mirrors in their lives.

I think there is another way to be an empathetic peer but still support the boss and the company. What if when the co-worker says, “Can you believe that the boss fired Susan?” Instead of responding, “I know, he is such an A**Hole.” What if your response was, “I can’t imagine how difficult that decision is to make. I am thankful I don’t have to make decisions like that, and I imagine it wasn’t made carelessly.”

“But he doesn’t even look me in the eye now?”

“I am sure he is embarrassed. I know that if I was in charge, I would feel a large sense of failure in that I had let people down in making that decision. That must be tough on him.”

“But the culture around here sucks.”

“Yes, its tough around here now. What can we do to help our boss and our department?”

I am sure as you read this, you’re saying to yourself, “well that’s the last lunch this person ever invites me to.”

Who cares? If you’re inviting me to a “WHINE” session vs after work “WINE” then I’ll take a hard pass. I want to be part of the solution not part of the cancer that is killing the culture.

I know that not all bosses are great and in fact many fall very short (I type this as I look in the mirror) but I challenge you to coach up – help your boss. Or better yet, just over come the A**Hole boss. Refuse to let them break you.

If that doesn’t work, then get the gas and matches ready and just help burn the place down! 

June 17, 2019

Y Family

Several years ago, I sat with a bunch of young couples in their 30’s who all worked for the Y during their high school and college years. They laughed and I cringed as they reflected on all their hi-jinx and games. A few of them met at the Y and are now married. It seems we are some kind of dating service!

Eventually the conversation turned to gratitude. Several of them shared how important the Y was to their personal development. It gave them confidence. It taught them discipline and built character.

Last week I got a text from a past staff person who was walking his daughter into her first day of Y camp in Charlotte. He shared, “I think I am more excited than she is. We have been singing camp songs for weeks.”

Recently I started putting family pictures of several of the past staff, that have been part of our Y family through the years, up in my office. Several were long time employees and then there are the staff that only stayed a few years.

I put the pictures on the back of my door, so I see them constantly. It serves as a reminder that my opportunity and privilege to lead people has the potential to impact and influence long past the time at the Y. I am not sure that when we hire a part time employee, we think about how that will shape their leadership 20 years in the future. I have said for years that EMPLOYMENT is our number one teen program.

Seeing the pictures reminds me on how much I have been blessed. Blessed to have worked beside some courageous leaders. Blessed to watch people grow into great husbands, wives, fathers or mothers. Blessed to have such wonderful memories of lives changed and people impacted – mainly my life!

One past staff person, even though he hasn’t worked for me for more than 20 years, always text me on Boss’s Day! A clear reminder that we will always be Y Family. (His daughter now works for us as a GWU Student).

Leadership is an incredible privilege, gift and opportunity. And most importantly, leadership is a blessing. #Blessed

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world. Do you know why? It is the only thing that ever has.”

May 30, 2019

That's Good, That's Bad

There used to be this skit on the iconic TV Show HEE HAW. It was called “That’s Good, That’s Bad.” The skit would go something like this.

“I went on a plane ride today.” “That’s Good.”

“No That’s Bad. The plane had mechanical issues and started to crash.” “Oh, That’s Bad.”

“No, That’s Good. There was a parachute for me.” “That’s Good”

“No That’s Bad. The parachute didn’t open.” “That’s Bad”

And the skit would continue to go back and forth until it reached a punch line.

Sometimes it feels like life is a constant “That’s Good, That’s Bad.” Monday is a good day and then Tuesday goes sideways and it’s a bad day. Wednesday your team wins a big game and then Thursday the star player gets hurt. Friday you pay off your final credit card bill and celebrate and then Saturday you find out that you need a new AC unit.

“Hey look everybody, I got a promotion and I am the boss.” “That’s Good.”

“Nope, That’s Bad. There are a bunch of people mad and guess what? You’re the Boss so deal with it.” “Oh, That is Bad.”

Age and experience have proven that life is a roller coaster, full of ups and downs. Anticipation, exhilaration, fear – In the end you are thankful that you survived, and you just hope you didn’t pee on yourself. I have also learned that if I look around, my That’s Bads actually pale in comparison to real problems.

My personal challenge is to be equally thankful and grateful in the “That’s Goods and in the That’s Bads.” Virginia’s National Championship Basketball Coach, Tony Bennett, said recently, “As a team we are committed to remain equally Faithful in the wins and in the losses.”

I am learning that what can be the BEST part of my job, can also be the WORST part of my job. What can be the best part of my day can quickly turn into the worst part of my day. What feels like a huge win often balances out with a big loss. But that old sage  Darrell Corder would say to me, “What doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger.” In other words, learn from it, shut up and move on.

And more importantly Give Praise and Be Thankful. THAT’S GOOD.