My Biggest Critics

I have crazy dreams! I hope that you do as well. I want to write books, and have a blog that people follow. I want my words and experiences and very life to encourage others to reach for and accomplish their dreams. I want to look back on my life and believe that I made a difference in the lives of others…first for my family and then for those who I am fortunate enough to know and influence.

I don’t know what your dreams are, but I wonder if we might share the same critics. I wrestle daily with fear and doubt – the voices within me that remind me I have nothing of value to share. I have no experiences that might encourage others. I have no words that could inspire or exhort others to accomplish their crazy dreams!

I am often my worst enemy at stepping out, trying something new, daring to dream. In the same moment that I am enjoying a dream, the voices in my head are letting me know why the dream will never actually happen!

I can talk myself out of just about anything…and it’s exasperating and frustrating.

Fear – what if I fail? What if I’m not perfect? What if nobody cares? My fear voice looks at the reactions of others and convinces me that nobody will listen much less respond to my attempts at encouragement. Fear paralyzes me in a place of frustrating inactivity. Fear pops the balloon of my dream and turns it into a piece of latex trash.

What’s interesting is I have countless stories of helping others overcome their own fear of accomplishment. Yet, I very rarely remember this on my own. I drag my feet in order to ensure that fear is not correct. If I never jump, I can’t crash, right? The problem is that if I never jump, I will never learn just how far I can soar…and that’s just downright depressing.

Doubt – who am I? What do I have to share? What difference can I make? My doubt voice typically speaks more to myself as a person. This voice challenges my very identity and attacks the presumption that I, as a person, have anything of value to offer others. Doubt doesn’t even let me get to the point of jumping. Instead, my dreams are shattered well before they ever have true definition.

Doubt focuses on my flaws, my mistakes, my shortcomings, and my failures. It reminds me that these completely invalidate anything positive I might try to drum up about myself. If people only knew what a complete train wreck I was on the inside, they would run from any advice, encouragement, or inspiration I share.

These critics are brutal. They are devastating. They are intensely personal. Unfortunately, they are winning more lately than they ever should. Why?

Because I am choosing to listen to them. Success and progress are predicated upon my listening to voices that speak truth in my life. I can only make a difference if I step out and take a chance. I become a self-fulfilling prophecy when I listen to my critics of fear and doubt.

What’s the solution? Look to my past for stories of success and value. Connect with my circle of family and friends who know me, warts and all, and believe that I have stories worth sharing. Remember who God made me and daily pursue my relationship with Him so that my identity remains grounded. Jump! I have to take a chance – call a friend, write a blog, launch a website, or provide a listening ear to somebody.

If our voices match, then join me in ignoring fear and doubt and giving into hopes and dreams. If we never try, we are guaranteed to come up short. But if we choose to jump…who knows just how far we can soar?


What RISK taught me about leadership

I grew up playing the game RISK – and learning strategies to succeed at global domination. My dad is a master at this game and I spent a lot of time getting wiped out. However, the memories are very good and I have continued my RISK playing into my adult years and passed it on to my son who is already quite good. Just the other day, I happened to be playing on an app and realized that much of how I play risk relates to truths that I hold about leadership.

Don’t get spread too thin. There is a tendency among beginning players to attack constantly on their turn and take over countries until they are not able to continue. While it looks great to have your color markers filling up many countries, if they don’t have reinforcements, your advances quickly turn into retreats. In leadership, this is a crucial tenet. Learn what you are good at, focus on those few things, and learn how to say “no” to distractions, no matter how good or beneficial they might seem. A leader who becomes spread too thin becomes of little value to anybody. They are emotionally and physically distant, no longer excellent at anything, and typically demand the same widespread busyness of those they lead. This is a sure-fire recipe for disastrous leadership.

Take your small steps with the big picture in mind. When I am looking at which country to attack next, I have two main goals to consider. Does this victory expand my territory in a way that is sustainable, or is this victory simply a way to earn cards which will increase my armies? As a leader, every day is filled with potential small steps to take. I must ask myself if these steps will continue to invest in the big picture goals I have or are these steps simply busy work? Granted, some busy work simply needs to be done, such as responding to emails and logging account expenses, but it should be kept at a minimum so that your energy goes in the direction of the greatest good.

Fortify and strengthen where you are weak! It does no good for me to have armies that are not on the front line of battle. I must constantly fortify my positions and strengthen armies that are under threat. As a leader, I don’t have all of the answers, I don’t have all of the skills, and I don’t have all of the experience necessary to accomplish the vast majority of my goals. And I shouldn’t!!! Collaborative teams are a key to success and valuable team members provide the strength and fortification by bringing their own skills and experiences to the table. Lean on others…actually, you might want to consider getting completely out of their way and watching just how amazing your team actually is. Share the vision, share the struggle, and share the praise when the team earns a victory.

Be decisive when it’s time to go! Once I have my plan and armies in place, I need to engage in battle and fight until it’s over. Stopping in the middle of a battle guarantees that I am defeated. Your team is looking to you for guidance and strategy, but most often they need confidence. Confidence that you are all in! Confidence that you have their back! Confidence that you will see the task/project through to completion!

Be flexible when the tide begins to turn. I can’t tell you how many times my plan has been to conquer all of Australia only to see my armies become decimated and my strategy move to South America out of desperation. When it becomes clear that my original plan is heading to failure, I can either ride it all the way to ruin or I can make a mid-course correction and strive for victory yet again. This applies to my personal life, to project management, and even to the coaching process with individuals. While the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” holds true, when something is truly broken it is our job as leaders to fix it. Be flexible, be open to options, listen to the suggestions of valued team members, and then do what you need to in order for success to happen!

While you may never play risk or dream of global domination, I am sure that you desire to be an effective and successful leader. Have a dream, build your plan, enlist your team, and lead your organization to victory. The feeling of success is sweet indeed!

How Marginal Gains Provide the Steps to Success

Currently reading Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life by James Kerr.

This has been a fantastic read so far that shares the life and leadership lessons from one of the world’s premier rugby teams.

One of the chapters that I just finished talks about marginal gains which the author defines as “100 things done 1% better to deliver cumulative competitive advantage.” It is natural for leaders to focus on the big picture, to share the 30,000 foot perspective, and to constantly remind teams about the vision and mission. The struggle happens when that is the only focus and the daily grind is overlooked.

Great leadership carries the tension between the vision and the implementation. Between the dream and the details. Between success and sustainability.

How does a leader accomplish this? Through becoming an intentional role model in the area of marginal gains.

* Look at your dream or vision and begin to work backwards outlining the steps necessary to achieve success.

* Start with today, be the best you can be today, and measure what a marginal gain would look like.

* Review your day, resetting goals for tomorrow that include your desired marginal gain.

* Begin again with a new standard of achievement and keep the process moving forward one step at a time.

Whether you need to improve in vision casting, one-on-one relationships, writing skills, or project management, you will gain success as you improve slightly each day. A reality of growth is that if you are not moving forward, then you are in danger of being passed up, or even moving backwards. Don’t be overwhelmed by the dream, but take the small steps necessary to achieve your dream!

What are you doing today that if you improved by 1% each day the next week would make the greatest difference?

What about your team?

The cumulative effect of the marginal gains of your team will build momentum and carry you towards the success you are aiming for. There is definitely a place in leadership to sweat the small stuff and to celebrate small victories. The accumulation of many small victories leads to the ultimate success that we are all dreaming of!

The Value of Letting Go

Man, I love comfort and predictability. The people who know me best would describe me as a person who is most peaceful when rhythms are established and followed. I want to wake up at the same time and drink the same cup of coffee. I love it when everything is in its place and accounted for. It can often be as simple as sinking into a comfortable couch and reading a good book.

The problem with my preferences is that real life rarely follows the course of predictability. Change happens, unexpected twists occur, and the status quo rarely stays the status quo. You might have discovered this in your own journey as well. As much as I want to plan my steps, the ground around me seems to be shifting on a regular basis.

This shifting can take many forms. Maybe you just received a tragic health diagnosis for yourself or somebody that you love. Maybe the house that you were set on buying is no longer available. Maybe your marriage has been shattered and divorce and singleness are now staring you in the face. Maybe the winds of change abound in your place of work and you keep waiting for the dust to settle. Regardless of the circumstance, all too often that which we thought we could count on seems to be suddenly pulled out from underneath us.

When life forces a new reality, there seems to really only be two options.

The first option is to hold onto the comfort zone, to fight for the comfy spot on the couch and to refuse to look to the future. While this might seem safer and even more logical, it is in fact highly detrimental and will greatly diminish your growth as both a person and a leader. The past, both good and bad, is in the past and will never come back to the present. We can learn from it, we can cherish the memories, but if we hold tightly to it, we will simply stop living and growing. Consider what a physical body that has decayed and atrophied looks like. We don’t want our lives to reflect this look.

The second option, and the one that I propose is the better option, is to simply let go. When change rears its formidable head, grab your surfboard and enjoy the ride. When I was a kid, I spent quite a bit of time at the beaches of Southern California on my body board riding the waves. The waves never stopped coming. It was up to me to decide if I was going to ride on top, or get pummeled underneath.

Letting go allows me to look forward to my next adventure. Letting go forces me to come to grips with what I no longer have and anticipate what I have not yet obtained. Letting go removes the opportunity for bitterness or malice to grow as a result of change. Letting go provides me the perspective that regardless of what has happened and what will happened, they are small steps in the grand scheme of things.

Letting go also provide me space to assess my part in the change. Did I act out of selfishness instead of servanthood? Did I become narrow minded and closed off to change and adaptation? Was change imminent as a direct result of my actions, or was change simply meant to be? These answers provide the energy and impetus to move on, to embrace the future, and to anticipate a new adventure.

Life moves quickly. Change is imminent whether we like it or not. As leaders, we must learn to embrace change, determine our new reality and continue to grow and develop. Do not let the shifting of life take you out. Instead, cherish the past, enjoy your memories and then forge ahead into the wild blue yonder.

Tension Produces Dreams – revisited

I have often wondered if life would truly be better if it was simpler. What if I didn’t have to strive quite so much? What if relationships just happened naturally? Wouldn’t everybody be better off if we removed the struggle and pain and work? I mean don’t most people just live for the weekend so that they can kick off their shoes and relax?

I think that this idea is actually fairly hollow and will not actually lead us where we want to go. An oft repeated story is told of butterflies that must wrestle with their cocoon in order to strengthen their wings so that they can survive once they are loose. I have been through this process many times personally and, due to my recent events, I feel like I am back in caterpillar mode, whereas I had been in butterfly mode for several years. The only way to get back to the freedom that being a butterfly provides is to walk through the process of tension…tension that produces dreams. What does tension do for us?

Tension provides a sense of gratitude for an accomplished work

Tension makes the thrill of jumping that much bigger

Tension helps me know what is worth fighting for

Tension provides the perspective and momentum necessary to take a risk

I have shared before how it took seven months of unemployment before I landed at my most recent job. Talk about tension! The team that I was privileged to lead is currently wrapping up a 3-year project to create resources for local churches to better serve families affected by disability. These resources are the result of years of tension – conversations, debates and discussions about the best way to serve the church. Personally, I am back in the process of tension as I seek my next great adventure.

So, what are the basics I need to focus on to ensure that this time of tension is one of growth and production, not discouragement and frustration?

1) Tension forces me to revisit my dreams, my goals, my hopes.  If tension causes me to give up on any of them, then they weren’t that compelling to begin with. My dream is ultimately to make a difference in the lives of others, to advocate on behalf of those who have been marginalized, to develop leaders and build sustainable teams to accomplish amazing projects! I look back over 20+ years of full-time leadership and these basics have never changed. Take this as a great opportunity to revisit your vision and make sure that it is truly large enough to be compelling.

2) Remember that life is a journey and tension is simply one of the steps you must take on your way to success. Tension is the pressure required to create a diamond, the rubber band stretched and ready to launch, or the nervous feeling you get right before you make a leap of faith. Embrace tension as a launching pad to your next great adventure, not an obstacle that will keep you grounded.

3) Although it might be clichè, there is a reason that it works – “what doesn’t break you only makes you stronger”. Tension is necessary for world class athletes to become stronger. I am not content with status quo. I don’t want to be bored or settled or live a dull and mundane life. I want adventure and excitement and progress in my life and tension is the tool that brings this about. And without tension you will never learn just what you can truly handle.

4) Tension brings you to the feet of Jesus. I do not want to assume that everybody reading this is a follower of Christ, but for my life, this is the only constant. Tension reminds me constantly that He is God and I am not. I cannot, nor am I meant to, proceed through life on my own strength. Tension keeps me humble which is always the best way to be.

I don’t know what you are walking through this week, but I would imagine it includes some tension. Be encouraged to not run from it, but rather to embrace it…and to anticipate the dreams that will be birthed because of it.

~ Mike

Capture Your Next Great Idea

I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to remember what I believe I should remember. I find myself walking back into rooms in hopes that my thought is still floating in the air waiting for me to engage with it again. I couldn’t tell you how often I have had the next great idea and then within moments it was gone!

Thankfully, I have done a much better job with remembering the times that God touched my heart in a powerful way and challenged me to a new way of living. The difference is that I tend to write down the things God tells me, but by default forget to write down what I tell myself.

Admittedly, I am a big picture dreamer and visionary. I love potential and future and hope and the anticipation of what might be waiting around the corner. I love new ideas, innovative tasks and strategic planning. However, this all comes to naught if at the end of the day I don’t actually change anything or accomplish anything. Dreams without action simply remain dreams. But when I add action then the sky’s the limit to what might happen!

Over the years, I have applied how I interact with God to how I interact with everything else and I simply write it down. I have a standing note on my phone to capture new ideas, as well as a paper notebook at home. It doesn’t really matter how you might capture your next great idea…what matters is that you capture it. The sooner and more thoroughly that you capture the dream, the more likely that you will follow through with an idea to completion.

So, what are the main benefits of capturing your next big idea?

** Seeing my dreams and ideas written out makes them more real and concrete. They become possible and tangible and are no longer floating in the space for ideas, but are now entering the land of
accomplishment. I have a vision that I can now begin to strategically plan out and work on.

** It is much easier to discover gaps on paper than in my head. Whether I am writing a book, preparing a sermon, or even jotting together a blog post, I find that I write and rewrite multiple times before content might be ready to share. As a visual learner, it is vital that I see what I am creating while still in process. I am a HUGE fan of whiteboards for this very reason.

** We were not designed to function within a bubble. When I have my next great idea written down, I can easily invite others to join me. In Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV) we are told to “write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” I get fired up whenever I am able to come alongside somebody and see them fulfill their potential. If my dream might be a tool to accomplish this in somebody else’s life, then I need to capture it in a way to makes sense to others.

** I can complete the task at hand while not forgetting my next great idea. I often have dreams and ideas surface while I am already busy with a different task. When this happens, I have several choices. First, I can get distracted from my task and focus on the new idea. Or I can focus on the task and forget the details of my idea. The best practice I have learned is to quickly capture my idea so that I can revisit it later. This allows current tasks to be completed and future tasks to be remembered. 

The discipline of capturing new ideas over the past years has become an invaluable tool for me personally. I am sure that many activities and strategies would never have come to fruition if I trusted myself to remember it all. Some ideas have been discarded, some acted upon, and some are still in the holding tank. The key is they are out of my mind, onto the paper, and ready to be acted upon if the opportunity presents itself.

How about you? How do you capture your next great ideas? Do you write them down, record a voice memo, or use some other medium?

4 Questions for Handling Obstacles

If you have been in leadership for any length of time…or part of a project for that matter, inevitably you have run into obstacles. Sometimes they were anticipated, but often they seem to come out of nowhere. Effective leaders do not panic when this happens. Instead, they walk through a series of questions to discover not only what the obstacle is, but more importantly what the solution is for moving forward. While obstacles often can feel like an insurmountable wall, there is typically a way over, under, around, or through.

What’s broken? Before you can even consider options and solutions, it is essential to discover what is actually broken. Slow down, assess what is happening, and determine what isn’t working. Is it a lack of resources? Maybe the original timeframe for completion now seems unrealistic. Perhaps, you have the wrong people on your team, or the right people in the wrong roles? You might even discover that nothing is broken and that the obstacle is simply a natural result of your process. Gain input from others and come to an agreement with key leaders.

What’s working? Sometimes, the best way to handle an obstacle is to take a break, walk away from the project, and celebrate the accomplishments of your team. This provides the opportunity to reflect on progress, to cheer for team members, and to fill up the energy of your team members. Great leaders constantly celebrate others and cultivate sustainability through encouragement. You might be surprised to discover that upon your return from a celebration break, the obstacles no longer exist. In addition, assessing what is working might also lead to potential solutions to anything that you previously discovered was broken.

What’s confusing? There is nothing more challenging as a team member than to be commissioned to accomplish a project, yet be unsure what the actual goals of the project are. How do you aim for a target than you cannot see? It is crucial for leaders to listen to the objections or frustrations of team members, clarify the vision of the specific task, and redirect energies as needed to successfully complete objectives. Clear and concise should be foundational requirements for every leader when it comes to sharing the purpose and process for a project.

What’s missing? If you have cleared things up, celebrated the accomplishments of the team, and determined that nothing is truly broken, the final piece of the puzzle is to identify gaps. It might be that you have everything you need to accomplish steps “A” through “G”, but you then realized that you never created step “D.” Find the gaps, determine the people and resources needed to fill the gaps, and then move forward with creating the solutions required to achieve the expected results.

I have led projects with as few as 3-5 people up to entire camps with over 100 volunteers. It doesn’t typically matter how many people are involved or what the scope of the project might be. Obstacles are reality and leaders must have the tools necessary to confront the obstacles, reassess the process, and get the team moving forward again in a timely manner.

What questions am I missing that you might use to handle the obstacles you have experienced?

5 Perspectives of Leadership

Leadership is the process of moving people. It is about identifying leaders, discovering their gifts and passions, and moving them forward according to their dreams and goals. Over my years of leadership, I have learned that there are five basic perspectives regarding influencing others. Maybe they resonate with you or maybe I am missing some, but regardless, here is my list.

Individually – how do you invest in people? What do the one-on-one relationships in your life look like? Do you find those conversations revolving around yourself or are you working to maximize the potential of others? An effective leader must take the time to know their team, care about their team, and invest in each team member as an individual.

Organizationally – how to you build and engage teams? Often, these happens naturally due to projects or events within an organization. However, as you are working to build a team, what do you look for? Must everybody agree with you or are you willing to bring in some outsider perspectives and some individuals who will challenge the status quo. A great leader looks for diversity within a team and engages teams that will ultimately bring a project to a successful conclusion.

Intentionally – without a clear vision or strategy, the leadership process dies. It is the responsibility to not only guard the vision, but to lead in such a way that others embrace and support the vision. If only the leader knows the vision, they are missing a huge component of influence. We all typically work with greater efficiency when we understand the “why” behind a directive. Intentionality on the part of the leader helps to keep everybody on the same page and understanding why they are doing what they are doing.

Developmentally – healthy leadership produces fruit in others. The ultimate sign of effective leadership is when those you have been leading begin to lead others. Until this happens, leadership is most likely accomplishing tasks. However, when you can release other leaders to take over projects or even move successfully to a new venture, you are seeing the developmental fruit that comes from the hard work of developing others.

Concentrically – this perspective really weaves throughout the others, but is an important principle to understand. Leadership always starts with the heart or core of an individual or organization. Momentum begins with one person who then invites others into the process and now five people are on board. As momentum grows, it ripples outward like the remnants of a pebble in a pond until the fruit of leadership overwhelms the entire organization. Start small and trust the process to move your leadership to the fringe and beyond.

So, what am I missing here? Would you add to, take away, or reframe any of these ideas?

3 Steps to Get From Here to There

When I was still serving as a children’s pastor, one of the churches I was on staff at had never hosted a summer Vacation Bible School. This is typically a week-long event for elementary age children that is high energy and filled with games, crafts teachings, music, etc. The whole purpose of the week is to help kids know and follow Jesus better. Unfortunately, at that time, the typical week was very focused on the kids already coming to the church. My heart was to create an event that focused more on kids in the community who had never been to church before.

The church staff heard my dream and supported my vision. After six months of planning, the big day hit and I was overwhelmed to see 300 kids attend our first ever night. We did things very differently than a typical church event and it was a huge success. While I acknowledge that it was truly a God-led moment, there were also many things that I needed to do as the leader to see the vision come to pass. Upon reflection, there are three basic steps that will help us as leaders move our vision from here to there…from a dream to a reality.

Vision – throughout the Bible, we see stories of people with amazing vision that God brings to fruition (Daniel, Abraham, and Mary to name a few) and those who lacked vision and ended in defeat (Samson, King Saul and Judas). Without vision, we have no direction, no purpose and nowhere to see our passion manifest. Vision provides the answers to so many questions. Vision keeps us focused on the big picture when the little details seem overwhelming. Vision rallies others when they see our enthusiasm and it matches up with passion of their own.

My vision was to create an event that would attract kids to attend church and learn about God in a fun and high-energy environment. This was compelling enough to draw support from church staff and volunteers because I was so fired up about it that the excitement became contagious. A vision is not truly compelling until it keeps the leader up at night! What is that dream you have been holding on to that God might be surfacing right now? Write it down and keep it in sight!

Strategy – while it is a blast to dream and reach for the sky, it can quickly become an exercise of frustration if there is not a framework for accomplishment. This is what strategy provides. How many different components does your vision entail? How many people do you need to join the team in order to see success? What are the big rocks you must have in order to make progress towards achievement? Strategy is your game plan, your map, your flow chart. Strategy shows the basic route to get from here to there. Strategy does not require a lot of details, but it definitely requires a sense of direction and needs to get to your vision. And the best strategy is often created within the context of a team instead of one individual attempting to see all of the angles and possibilities.

My strategy was to split up the Vacation Bible School into as many different areas as possible and give away as much authority as possible to key volunteers. We had snacks and games and teachings and music. Multiple generations of volunteers were serving and one person was even in charge of gathering prizes (for free!!) from local businesses. Meetings were planned, checkpoints of accomplishment were determined and the strategy kept everybody moving the same direction at the same time to the culmination of our vision. What an incredible demonstration of the power of team! Without strategy we would have been a bunch of chickens running around, but with strategy we were a team of cyclists planning to win the Tour de France.

Tactics – here is where the rubber meets the road. All of the dreams and strategies must eventually land in basic, daily tasks. These are the practical steps needed to accomplish the vision. A journey of a thousand miles is completed one step at a time. It might seem counterintuitive, but the dream is actually in the details. Without the details, the dream remains a dream. With the details, the dream becomes a reality that often far exceeds our wildest hopes.

Checklists might not seem exciting but they prevent us from forgetting key components for our vision. Deadlines are essential and somebody has to be in charge of making copies, right? Practical tactics allowed me to see over 300 kids and almost 100 volunteers come together for a week that truly transformed hundreds of lives. And this event has continued to this day making a difference for hundreds of kids every summer for almost fifteen years.

So, how do we get from here to there? My suggestion is to start backwards. Determine the “there”, otherwise known as your vision. Write it down, let it sink deep into your heart and then, when it’s time to share, your passion will be contagious. Develop a team to help create the framework of strategy and then work out the details that will lead to accomplishment. And write it all down as you go. My greatest blessing is to see something that God had me start years ago continue to this day under the leadership of other people because if the vision is the right one, it will outlast the leader.

~ Mike

Starting Your Day Off Right

Mornings for me are best if I can sit by the beach, drink a cup of coffee and read a good book. Mornings make me smile when I can hug my pillow just a bit longer, keep the lights off or just watch a good movie. While I think we might have things messed up by demanding so much of our mornings, I have learned that my day changes drastically depending upon how it starts. Family and work rarely afford me the luxuries that I wish my mornings were filled with. I truly hope that I am not alone with this struggle! 

So, if starting the day right is so crucial, why do so many of us approach our mornings in a very haphazard way? I admit that I used to do this, but enough years and enough reading has taught me that I must be intentional about my mornings in order to help the rest of my day go much smoother. For good or bad, here are some of my best tips to starting your day off right. 

** A good morning actually starts the day before. I check my alarm each night and match it with known activities. On a work day, this is the same time every morning. On weekends it varies, but I still typically use an alarm to get up and moving. I set out my clothes when the morning starts with work and I have a general sense when I go to bed of when my first meetings or projects are happening in the morning. I’m already ahead of the game through preparation. 

** My morning alarm is honestly my biggest struggle. Whoever invented the snooze button is an evil person. My plan is a single snooze per morning and the goal is to not sleep through the snooze, but to lay quietly and just breathe in the morning. In this area, my plan is much stronger than my reality but I still need to have the goal and get closer to it on a regular basis.

** Plan time for some downtime. Yes, that might seem odd since the day has just begun, but it is amazing what some quiet alone time does for my mornings. Coffee, devotions, journaling or sometimes just scrolling Twitter is still some much needed “me” time to start my day. 

** Know your morning commute and make the most of it. Except for very rare occasions, we all know what the drive to work looks like. Rather than spending that time stressed and made at all of the other stressed and mad drivers, put it to good use. Podcasts are an amazing tool for the traffic drive. In addition, maybe you just need some good music or you can meditate or pray for people. Whatever works for you, let traffic be your partner, not your adversary. 

** Hit the ground running at work. While it is tempting to stand around the coffee pot for thirty minutes, this actually becomes a drain when the end of the day feels rushed and overwhelmed. Have a plan, work the plan and accomplish the plan. This daily process will compel you to get the next day off to an even better start.

What about you? What gets your day off to a great start? I would love to hear some ideas that I might incorporate into my own routine. 

~ Mike