Stoke the Fire

Dreamers and doers, you know what is difficult? Maintaining the fire.

It’s been a tough month with juggling time and fatigue. The full time job has been consuming. The babies, not sleeping. Home projects falling behind. The entrepreneurial side-hustle? Coals cooling.

If I’m going to use the locomotive as a metaphor, you can’t pull a train when the coals are cold. As I’m looking at my train sitting on the tracks, I know what it’s going to take to get it moving. I need to re-apply myself. One-step at a time, picking up where I left off. While it’s important to break and rest, the train needs to get to it’s destination.

What’s going to get the steam moving? Fuel. What’s my fuel? My purpose. What’s my purpose? My faith and family. Both of those get me up in the morning. I wake up alongside my wife and the kids act as an alarm clock, at 4am, 5am, or 6am and anywhere in between. That’s ok. I know I’m here to serve my purpose, the rest is nuts and bolts. Sometimes, you just need to remind yourself of that to get the fire going again. All the other stuff that slows you down is smaller and inconsequential. You just need to get the fire going again to blow through to the next train station.

As we dig and build out our visions using the various tool belts at our disposal, it’s important to feed the engine that drives it all. What is your purpose and are you feeding it? Are you stoking the fire?

From Draggin’ to Dragon: Burnout

Burnout is a very real scenario for leaders and if you don’t manage and deal with it, it can make your life toxic. When you find yourself really draggin’, you need to ask yourself why so you can get back to being that fire breathing dragon you are.

You know the feeling of being unmotivated, unproductive, on edge, dried up, desolate, etc. etc. We’ve all been there. There is a difference between the “I’ve been up all night,” to the “My soul has seized up”. That’s burnout. It’s claimed many from their mission and team. Recognizing it early is important so it doesn’t get out of control. On a spectrum from complacent to fried, I tend to ride the edge of the burnout wave myself. I push hard in my labor and it often gets me into mental/emotional trouble. I’ve come to know my limits well and when I need to throttle back.

  1. Break the streak: When your engine starts to seize up you need to take a break. Be honest with yourself. Get outside the situation and give yourself some air. Pray and take some time to get clarity. Open up to someone you are close with about it. Take a little time off if needed. Remember what it was like to be at your best and see what’s holding you back now. A. Do you need rest? B. Can what is broken be fixed? C. Do you need a new direction?
  2. Lay out a plan: Be intentional on your next steps. Use your break and clarity to set baby steps in either A, B, or C. Set your big goal and test out each step on paper to see what it looks like. Seek another voice for advice, like your spouse, a peer in your industry, mentor, or coach. Which direction gets you moving? Ask yourself “why?” and “how?” along each step.
  3. Get back to action: You have what it takes and it takes effort. Get started. Follow your baby steps and build momentum. Keep moving and digging at it. If you stall, give yourself a push or ask someone you can count on to keep you accountable. Assess along the way but keep your goal in sight, pivot if needed. Burnout will tell you a million reasons why you can’t. Build your discipline by acting even when you don’t want to. Yes, you can. Inaction will cause you more heartache and keep you down.

A great book I can recommend as a follow up is “Off Balanced” by Matthew Kelly. I’ve been through it 4-5 times and helped me gain perspective in a larger context.

I know, it’s not as easy as 1. 2. 3., there is no magic trick. It’s gritty. But you need to deal with it, so let’s go!

My Declaration of Independence

At age 10, my brother and I wanted new bikes. My dad said we could earn our way to one, so he fronted us a few cases of pop and dropped us off at a golf course to sell them 75¢ a can. Being little kids, most of the golfers had us keep the buck. We smoozed, we earned. I still have that bike, worse for the wear, but still have it.

At age 17, I needed money for prom and didn’t have a job. So a buddy and I started a lawn mowing business in the neighborhood, charging $10 a lawn, splitting 50/50. We undercut the big guys and took customers. Having a sheet of customers we had to attend to each week, we hired a friend with a tractor to help us get it all done. We ended up firing him because he didn’t finish lawns correctly. Earned prom plus some.

At age 25, after working in the hospitality business and doing event internships, I couldn’t find a worthwhile full time gig as an event planner. So I figured I’d get started myself. This was the start of the Righteous idea with Righteous Events. Lost a bunch of money and realized I needed to know how to run a business better. So I went for my second degree, this time in Entrepreneurship at Canisius. In this year of quarter-life crisis, I made a personal declaration of independence for myself. I swore off normal for greater.

At age 28, I presented a plan for a social media company at the New York State Business Plan Competition. It was terrible.

At age 30, I had to develop a business for my final project. Having a better eye for developing market research, Righteous Co. was born to help ministries and non-profits market themselves to their communities. Got an “A”. Well I wasn’t that good yet at market research and ultimately saw that it wasn’t a feasible/scaleable model in practice. Plus, I didn’t want to build websites all day.

Today at age 33, I’m repurposing the Righteous Co. brand and tying all of my strengths together in one platform to help others. I’m basing the idea around virtue and valor, a core need and hunger for people. By using my ability to connect with people, tell a story, along with a twist of experience in leadership, Righteous Co. is moving forward to its next phase. Perhaps its last and final in its ark.

I’m excited to hint to you my first offering which is also the first book that I’ve written. It will be a free digital download, “Iron Ore: The Journal of a Youth Minister.” It’s a witness of discernment, Love, and perseverance. Coming soon!

I welcome you to ride along the journey by following progress on the following…

RighteousCo.comFacebook page, Instagram@righteous_co