2020 Vision: Race & Racism

This is a wild time in our nation. Not to be colloquial but society is in a wilderness right now. The story of race has been cut open new again and everyone is trying to figure out what to do with it. I’ve been listening, praying, and reading the various voices in the conversation of race. Left, right, and holy. The 1619 Project, Thomas Sowell, MLK, The Breakfast Club, Candace Owens, BLM, Larry Elder, Kimberly Jones, and Allen West amongst others. I’ve listened to black voices in the Church about their experience around this issue, including a “Coffee Talk” conversation I had with Fr. Moses, you can find it here.

What this article is, a commentary and challenge to get back into a place of dialog and debating of facts. To think as an individual and break from whatever narrative you are immersed in is the foundation of civil discourse. That means educating ourselves beyond the spheres we frequent. We have carved out idealogical lines with our families, friends, social media, and news outlets. Made tribes armed with spears. This closes our minds. Let your fingers loosen and defang yourself. A return to prayer softens the heart and clears the mind. We need a lot more of God if we’re going to solve the problems we’re facing in the 21st century. 

What this is not, a full treatise on the topic. I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could solve or dive into all of the facts or perspectives involved in a quick read blog post but I would like to encourage you to tune into the various links and sources in the post for more reading. There are much smarter people engaged and my perspective is limited but what I will rely on are some of the black voices advocating in the scene.

While discerning my way through the conversation, something has become abundantly clear. There is a struggle of message in 2020. I think everyone can agree what happened to George Floyd was a terrible and ugly moment for the country and it was. Nobody cheered. Nobody celebrated. But the following month would have made it seem that the opposite was true. The nation exploded with fervor. The country took hold of passions and ran with them. 

A loud collective voice took over and led what should have been a peaceful movement of solidarity turned into chaos. Riots and destruction in the streets, proclamations that the nation is systemically racist, that police need to be defunded, and our history should be torn down. And you have advocates stoking the fire saying that it’s legitimate. I disagree.

Racism

As a white man in America, I find that it is a little intimidating approaching the conversation, not because I have a problem with talking about tough conversations or that there is any shame, but there is a pressure out there to think a certain way, to tow a line. Cancel culture is very real and limits discussion and opportunity. In a free and liberal society, free speech is one of the most important pieces of our heritage. This is the most difficult article I’ve written but my nation, my voice.

First off, if you are judging someone based on the color of skin, you need to check yourself. As Americans and Christians, that is not who we’re called to be. Judging on race is cheap and thin-skinned. It’s dehumanizing and embarrassing. It is important to remember to love one another, to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus told us this as the second greatest commandment (Matt 22:38-40). 

Our history is steeped in our racial divide. Slavery and the proceeding hundred years before the overturning of Jim Crow was terrible. As history, it’s important to read and learn about where we came from and have fought to overcome. It’s important to also know the history so you are not fed lies. It’s important to remember that it was blacks and whites who worked together to solve these problems. This isn’t an us versus them game as common narratives would claim. It’s going to be a just us mentality to bring healing and better opportunity for all.

The Challenge

I want to provide some contrast. If you’ve been observing, a lot of voices are saying that we need to listen. As President Obama has challenged lately, “make people uncomfortable.” Challenge: to listen to the other side. I’ve put down just a few samples of some of the most intriguing voices at work right now. The challenge here is for you to break outside of your tribe for a moment and pick another side below and listen to the argument. Go ahead. Hear it through. Is it convincing? What about it do you disagree with? Is there a common ground? Stretch a little.

Next level is to compare and contrast, who do you align with, and why?

Left

Baratunde Thurston – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZgkjEdMbSw

Kimberly Jones –  https://youtu.be/llci8MVh8J4

Center

Middle Ground – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VspjfNMPHyc

Right

Thomas Sowell – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS5WYp5xmvI

Eric July – https://youtu.be/pf_LQhcIO4g

Holy

Fr. Josh Johnson and Jeff Cavins –  https://www.facebook.com/AscensionPress/videos/574652393191720/UzpfSTU4MDc3NTMwNDoxMDE2MzU1NjEyMDI5NTMwNQ/

Fr. Pierre Toussaint, CFR and Fr. Agustino Torres CFR – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVxcB1qEQqg

Black Lives Matters

I haven’t heard one argument that claims that black lives don’t matter. The phrase “black lives matters” is something everyone can get behind. Black people and culture of course has a place in this nation and should be protected and invested in. Yes, they matter. 

Then there is the Black Lives Matters Movement, an ironclad identity that you would be foolish to oppose, because how could you ever get away with saying you don’t support Black Lives Matters? But here I am and here’s why I stand on this…

The ironclad wordplay is very clever, however there is much to BLM that I cannot get behind. First of all is in their mission, the disruption of the nuclear family, the unit on which society is built on. We know by stats that families that stay together have higher incomes, better health, and are overall happier. In a time when fatherlessness is at an all-time high for black families, why would we encourage otherwise? 

Secondly, Patrisse Cullors, the founder of BLM, claims the ideological framework of the movement is Marxist. That they are trained that way. Marxist? The same ideology that is responsible for over 100 million deaths in the 20th century? That sought to enslave the world in an unjust economic system where liberty and opportunity are snuffed out? I’ll have more to say on this in the fourth installment in this series, “Socialism the Great Enslaver”.

Thirdly, one of the founding members, Shaun King is openly advocating for the destruction of Christian property and holy imagery. He’s not the only one. Aside from the fact that nearly every society has portrayed the Lord in local imagery, including Black and Asian Jesus, the Lord is someone who we are made in the image and likeness of. Christian art reflects that. The removal of national sites should be a democratic process with a vote where people in a community have a say, not the roving bands of brigands with an ax to grind. Most importantly, we need to recognize this for what it is, a hate crime against religion. You have no right to the destruction of other’s property and this level of incitement to violence to a specific faith, is actually a crime. There have been reports around the country of churches being vandalized. The St. Louis reports of Catholics being assaulted by praying by the statue of St. Louis himself is terrifying. They didn’t fight back. This is Marxism.

I’m all on board with the fact that black lives matters. If you think BLM is worthy of a knee, look again. 

The Antidote

The greatest thing we can do as a country is to pray. If we’re going to solve anything, we need to put away our swords and do it together. If we are one nation, under God then let’s call ourselves back to that. Ourselves. Before we point out the splinter in someone else’s eye, we better work on the log in our own. For some reading this, you might roll your eyes at the God thing, but one thing is clear, we certainly don’t get our rights because of man.

It doesn’t matter what side of the lines you find yourself, this is a good time to check and see how you treat people. It starts in us and at home before we can ever go and change the world. If you have struggled in the past with seeing others who are different, through skin or ideology, gut check yourself. No, you don’t need to make a pressured social statement, just work on it. Stretch and learn. Lead with love. We have one home, let’s live up to what the country has set as our mission statement, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

If I can boil every conversation I have heard down to one point, it’s this. I hear a black community in desperate need of fair and fearless opportunity. We’ve been trying to solve this problem for the last sixty years through a liberal/progressive government ideology with terrible results, beginning with the Great Society. As Lyndon B. Johnson, a true racist, was heard saying, “I’ll have those $#% voting Democratic for 200 years.” I highly recommend Thomas Sowell, famed economist and advocate, to hear what he has to say about that experiment. 

It’s time for a free market and entrepreneurial approach. Everywhere the free market principles are executed there is a rise of opportunity to those people. England, America, post-war Germany and Japan, South Korea, Israel, and more. We are the land of opportunity and we don’t need to burn it to the ground, we need to turn it up around the country in places like Chicago, St. Louis, and Baltimore. Let’s give more opportunities to support black small businesses and incentivize raising families and communities. Let’s teach free-market principles and entrepreneurship at young ages and inspire and encourage the vision through. 

In addition, perhaps the most insidious is the long-running scourge of abortion in low-income communities. Planned Parenthood, founded by eugenist Margaret Sanger, is still targeting minorities with two out of every three surgical abortion sites in black/minority communities. The mindset of the Confederacy and White Supremacy, eugenics is the disgusting discipline of selective breeding. It is sadly still alive and well-disguised as women’s rights today. When black women represent 13% of the population and receive 30% of the abortions, there is a problem. As of 2008, that was over 1,000 babies a day. Over nineteen million since Roe v Wade. However, you won’t hear this on the news. If there has been a single effort at keeping the black community a minority, it’s this. I highly recommend you read Sanger’s words and read the abortion stats and not ignore this. This needs to end.

Lastly, we don’t need to defund the police and remove key protections for at-risk communities. What we need to do is have reform and better equip our police with the right training and accountability so they can do a better job at protecting justly. The vast majority of police are good but we do need to hear the fears of innocent people whose trust has been broken. Police do good work. Oversight, training, outreach, and reform can help rebuild relationships with police and the communities they serve. If we learned anything from CHOP/CHAZ, it’s that lawlessness is a disaster. We need to protect our communities because we’re only hurting ourselves. I’ve seen too many interviews where black business owners had their lives ruined because of lawlessness.

In Close

The benefit of hearing all sides of the situation and educating yourself is that you don’t just hear what one narrative is trying to sell you. There are so many problems facing our black brothers and sisters in society. It’s all of our jobs to make sure that we all rise together. This isn’t a black versus white issue. This is an us issue. We the people won the Civil War together. We the people beat Jim Crow and segregation together. We the people beat redlining and exclusionary banking together. And as we pursue the goal of “a more perfect Union”, we’ll beat our next hurdles together too.


Adam loves living out the vocation of marriage with his wife Ani, and proud father to Izzy and Wyatt. He loves God, getting outdoors, doing work that matters, and writing about things true to the heart.

2020 Vision: Introduction

There is a lot going on in this country. While I’ve been busy raising a family, building a ministry and a business, I’ve been away from advocating for Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness. There is a lot to say about what’s going on. That’s why I’m going to stand up and share my thoughts about this year, but not only that, it’s time to stretch and get active.

And a year it has been.

Big things are happening and “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Racism, Marxism, Desecration of the Faith, Desecration of our History, Vice over Virtue…

It’s time to get busy.

As a Catholic American man I don’t want to stand by and watch our country burn. Enough. This is has been a call to action. As a part of the effort; my daily rosary, phoning my legislature and executives, writing in this blog, and more.

This is the introduction of a six series stretch, focused on this year, about six topics that we need to talk about. I’ve listened and read enough over the last few months from all sides, it’s time to share and challenge the narratives wrecking our country and faith. On the schedule…

  1. Race & Racism
  2. America the Great Liberator
  3. The Great Hypo-cracy
  4. Unashamed Faith
  5. Socialism the Great Enslaver
  6. True Virtue

I hope you read along and share but more importantly pray and get brave.

No, we’re not looting but we are getting busy.


Adam loves living out the vocation of marriage with his wife Ani, and proud father to Izzy and Wyatt. He loves God, getting outdoors, doing work that matters, and writing about things true to the heart.

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?

Lead With Virtue: The Cardinals

Virtue: behavior showing high moral standards.synonyms: goodness, virtuousness, righteousness, morality, ethicalness, uprightness

How often do you consider virtue in your leadership role or organization? Not a lot? Let’s talk about how it can actually build up the core strength of your culture by intentionally giving it a home. I’ll be revisiting the various virtues and their application overtime but for now I’d like to give a broad overview for you to consider beyond your old college ethics class. If you’ve taken a personality test like the Meyers-Briggs or Enneagram, you may find these virtues helpful in shoring up your shortcomings.

Let’s start with the Cardinals or “hinge” virtues, four prime virtues that all other virtue hinges off of. Prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. These four have long history starting with Plato, working their way through time being refined by great thinkers such as Aristotle and Aquinas. Fascinating reads of course but these classics are just as relevant in the 21st century as they did in antiquity. Why? They speak to foundational character that is timeless.

Prudence: In other words, wisdom, taking knowledge and using it correctly. Are you making wise decisions as a leader? Are you giving permission to your staff to make wise decisions? Better yet, are you allowing and showing patience to your team so they can grow in wisdom, even if they fail. One of the greatest teachers is experience. Are you allowing yourself and/or your team to make mistakes that come with earned experience? If we don’t have that permission, albeit within control, then outside of the box thinking and creativity can be stifled. We lose depth and can stagnate.

Temperance: How are you temperate or reasonable in your work flow. If you’re an Enneagram 7 like me, you can chase ideas on a whim and get scattered pretty easily. Maybe you can get angry quickly as a 4 or 8. Working on your temperance strengthens your ability to control outbursts and time. Staying level and having self-control is important to leading stability.

Justice: Think about your team. Maybe they are staff, maybe volunteers. How are you treating them? Naturally, you’ll like some more than others but are you being equitable? Are you giving fair time and attention to each or are you punishing someone with unfair demands or even dialog? Maybe a hard working team member needs a justifiable raise. Maybe that failing or toxic member needs to be released? Communicating expectations and working on how you deliver justice helps build respect from your team.

Fortitude: Be brave. Leaders are faced with tough and sticky decisions or actions everyday. Creating vision, large investments, hiring/firing, accountability, etc. Indecision can slow down your progress and make organizations clunky. Bravery is action, even when you are afraid. Sometimes you need coaching or practice to move forward. If you’re a Enneagram 9, you might want to think this through.

Using the Cardinals is an easy way to check yourself as a leader and gives a little scaffolding to work from. Add these to your planner and ask yourself, how are you doing with them. You’ll find that by building off of this foundation of virtue, you’ll be leading a healthier team and more important a healthier you.


 

Adam Jarosz is the founder of Righteous Co. His vocation involves loving his wife Ani and two babies, Isabella and Wyatt. He also loves writing, hitting the weights, and building people up. Need advice on how to use your skills? Shoot him a message AdamJ@RighteousCo.com

Church, Get In The Game

Church, we need to get in the game.

By Church, I mean you and me, the Body of Christ. This means the faithful of course but I specifically want to address the youth and young adults out there. You’re not the Church of tomorrow, you’re the Church of today. Here is the field we are playing in and we need to get at it…

2019 A.D. in Buffalo, NY, the Church is taking a beating. Of course the Church has been through worse in history. Christians aren’t being fed to lions or lit on fire to illuminate the roads. But we have been better. What’s more, we can be better.

A few decades of erosion have been working on our foundation. Lack of engagement, uninspired faithfulness, relativism, and scandal have given our Church a weathered attitude. This is not the story of being Catholic. It’s time to snap out of it.

The Church which includes our parishes and Diocese as well as charities, schools, and ministries are sagging under the pressures. I want to use this moment of your attention to call you to arms. We can’t run from the fire, we need to run to it. 

It’s time to get in the game. Ask not what the Church can do for you, but what you can do for the Church. If we are the hands and feet of Christ, how are we moving? If our Body isn’t in motion, then we don’t move forward. 

Here is how you can help us win the fight for a better Church.

1. Pray: Make the time to get back into the pews (or chairs if the church is under repair) on Sunday. Be a part of the community prayer in the Mass. Show up, participate, listen, sing, learn, and reconnect. Pick up your bible and start with the Gospels or visit Jesus in Adoration. Pray for one another.

If you’re not registered at a parish and young adults are notorious with this, go to a parish and commit to the community. Stop bouncing around or leaning on the coattails of your parent’s registration. Belong and commit

Get in the game.

2. Time: There are plenty of roles that need to be done that just require some time and not a lot of training. Find them, commit to a time slot in a ministry that needs help. Greeters, core teams, catechists, money counters, Eucharistic ministers, and so on. Follow your strengths. Pick up the bulletin or look it up online and see a role that could use some hands.

Try things out. Find what clicks and stay long enough to be a leader and make changes if needed. Just don’t go in like a bull in a china shop. Be humble and learn from the role and the leader in place. 

Get in the game.

3. Talent: In addition to roles that need to be done, the Church needs your talent. You have skill. You’re good at that one thing. What is it? How can you use it in the Church? Ask someone how you can plug it in. Can you donate that skill? Can you apply that full-time?

Are you in banking or finance? Marketing and design? Build websites? IT? Barista and can make a good coffee? Set designer? Corporate trainer? CRM specialist? Chef? 

Get in the game.

4. Treasure: Yes the Church needs money to run. It especially needs funds to grow. I know, I know, you don’t want to pay for the scandal but let me put your mind at rest. 

Your donation in the envelope doesn’t go towards that. Upon This Rock doesn’t go towards that. Catholic Charities and Fund for the Faith doesn’t go towards that. The bishop sold his residence and some investments to do so. We’re also covered in insurance. If you’re running from the fire, it’s giving people on the front line less to work with. That’s us going backwards. 

Give your first fruits and be regular. Can you commit to 10% of your income? Shoot, can you commit to $20 a week? Lights need to be on, youth ministers need budgets, and the Church needs tools and people.

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” Proverbs 11:25

Roll up your sleeves, get in the game, and let the Lord use you and your resources. Come with a servant’s attitude. Take a bit of that drive you have for school and workplace and bring it to God’s House. Give your first fruits of prayer, time, talent, and/or treasure. 

Collections and participation are down around the Diocese by 10-20% this year alone. The older generation that has been supporting the Church is dying off. Imagine what we would look like if we brought our talent and resources back into the game? Run to the fire. Take this to prayer with you. Ask the Lord how you can help. He’s knocking. 

3Tips for Go-Getters

The 3Tips Series continues with financial planner, firefighter, and fellow former Disney cast member, Greg Smith. Greg joined me over good Mexican food and cerveza for a conversation about what tips he would share to leaders getting up and at it. As a go-getter himself, Greg provides some excellent tips to ground yourself with as a leader. Consider applying these to your routine. Here is what he had to say…

  1. Be mindful with your time. “Success does not sleep. When you look at the successful person, the day starts with a solid morning routine. Wake up early, hit the gym, eat a hearty breakfast all before getting into the office. That starts each day on the right foot so you can get at it.” After sipping a Corona he continues, “Be intentional with your time and plan out the day. You always need to be on too. You’re always on even outside of the office because you don’t know who you are going to meet and influence. Opportunity could be everywhere.”
  2. You are never too old to learn. “If you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards. You need to make the necessary steps to grow everyday, be the best you can be; continuing education, counseling, podcasts, reading, etc. You are never too old to learn.”
  3. Always put others interests ahead of you. “Whether volunteering or working, God’s blessings keep coming. Good people put others interests ahead of their own. As a firefighter, we have a duty towards all of our brothers and sisters in the community. Whoever you serve, you have the duty to them. Remember, even as a leader, you still serve your team.” Stopping to chew on his burrito bowl and think, Greg looked around the busy restaurant. As if catching inspiration from the hustle he continued, “An example of this is from Luke where Jesus left the ninety-nine for the one. We can apply this in any role we find ourselves in. The most vulnerable can get lost and we should keep an eye for that individual and work to find them. We need empathy towards their situation. The fruit of this will show in your work. It’s habitual and that habit grows like a seed.”

To wrap up, we caught up over life, family, and jobs. Before we polished off our food and beer Greg had one final thought, “Sometimes you’ll slow down and be tempted to stop. When you have a bad day, keep going. When you have a good day, keep going. Not all bad days last, just keep going.”


Greg Smith is a financial consultant for AXA Advisors and a Williamsville, NY volunteer firefighter. You can catch Greg out doing what he does best, serving others. Interested in finding out how Greg can help your finances? You can reach him at his email here.

Run To The Fire

I was talking to someone last week about the type of person they wanted to be, he told me that he wanted to be the kind of man that runs towards the fire, not away from it.

That really resonated with me in today’s climate. That’s a rare person indeed. Of course we all imagine ourselves the hero but when the flames are pouring out of a window, are we that person?

I’d like to think I am too. I was driving down the 33 a while back and I saw a house bellowing smoke off of one of the ramps. It was close so I pulled off quickly and followed a couple side streets to a house on fire. No response team was there yet. The fire was moving along, flames licking out some of the windows with a lot of smoke. It wasn’t a great part of town, many of the houses looked abandoned, this one included. I called 911 and named the address. Help was now on its way. It weighed on my mind that someone could be in there, unconscious. I was torn about going in to check, even going up to the door to see inside. Would I be a hero or would I be stupid? I didn’t know what I was doing. With no apparent distress I decided against it and watched. Help did arrive soon after and I watched as the teams did their work. I didn’t stay long to see anyone pulled out but I have wondered ever since, was someone in there? Could I have made a difference? I’ll never know.

Maybe it’s fear and self-doubt that keeps us back. Self preservation? Complacency? Maybe something else?

There are all sorts of proverbial fires that call us to action; fire with the family, relationships, work projects, life purpose, emergencies, etc. Do you want to be the kind of person who runs towards the fire? Or from it?

3Tips for Emerging Leaders

I love learning from people in action. It inspires me to be better when people are out there killing it, doing what they do best. I sat down with Director of Youth Ministry and entrepreneur, Lydia Zielinski, over a good cup of coffee to talk shop.

Lydia and I travelled to Poland a few years ago along with a contingent from Buffalo for World Youth Day. I really noticed her emerging leadership skills as she navigated her group through the rigors of pilgrimage. As a leader working both in a ministry and as an independent contractor expanding her business, Lydia offers plenty of drive and experience for any leader to learn from. I asked her what three tips she would pass on to other leaders if given the opportunity. Here is how she broke it down…

1. Communication. “Communicate well. Communication is key with people who share your vision. You need to be clear and concise with your team. By sharing your vision clearly and tapping what you need from your team, you can execute your larger mission.”

“I recently had an event where I really needed to lean into one of our partners for help. By building a healthy relationship leading up to this, I knew her skills well. From there we were able to communicate in a way that would utilize her strengths. When the time came, I knew exactly what I needed and how to approach her. I was able to be clear and to the point and we got the event done right.”

2. Delegation.“Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of you and your team is important to fill gaps. You have to assess and have a relationship with your team to know what they are capable of. Same for you too. By recognizing your own limits you can build a team you can lean on to cover your weaknesses.”

“I can’t do it all by myself. To reach our goals, I need to recognize others gifts. God has given you people around you to go beyond what you are capable of. This broadens the organization’s reach. People are capable and want to contribute. Use their gifts and talents accordingly. “

“As a leader and a businesswoman, I need to be confident in who I am. It can be intimidating. Be confident that you can tap others into your vision and then do so.”

3. Network.“I spent a lot of time traveling recently. For example, I was in Florida for a national conference that was focused on the challenges the Church faces today. It was a great opportunity to meet people from around the country. My advice is to not be afraid to connect with people as much as possible. Be available to people who are striving in their life. You never know who you’ll meet or how you can help that connection, or vice versa in the future.”

“Build up a network of pros that can feed off of each other. I have been reaching out to the outer circle of people I may know and filtering out the people who are into the same goals and visions. I’m not going to spend the time opening up to people who don’t share that vision professionally. I have to identify people who have similar thoughts, goals, and dreams build off of them. It can be counter productive otherwise.”

Special thank you to Lydia for sharing these tips. If you enjoyed this, feel free to stay tuned for more tips you can apply into your role. Keep up to date by signing up for “The Climb” at RighteousCo.com for the latest happenings, resources, and content.


Lydia is the Director of Youth Ministry at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Williamsville, NY. She is also working hard as an independent contractor with Juice Plus, delivering quality nutrition an food to the people. Lydia has a passion to write about authentic femininity and masculinity in her own blog here.

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!

Let’s Go!

I love being a dad. Totally. I love being a husband too and I’ll share that journey with you in the upcoming book but I find fatherhood to be one of the most intriguing things I have ever done.

I have loved watching Izzy grow over the past year in a half for many reasons but one thing I have been dwelling on has been her sense of adventure. For being a year and a half old, she packs a “get up and go” attitude that I’m actually jealous of. She’s a bold kid and I love that about her.

Izzy says a lot of things that sound a lot like an Ewok but the words she has down in English, she nails. Of these, her proclamation to “Let’s go!” just wants to get you moving. It has lit a fire in my belly a little to grow this adventurous heart. This past year we started to tackle the 22 county parks around Buffalo, packing up the girls to go explore and marking off the map with tacks on the cork board. I’m already thinking about what’s next on the board, what experiences to share with the family, where to go, what to see.

One of the greatest tales of adventure ever written, in my humble opinion, is the combined works from J.R.R. Tolkien of, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”. Reading the trilogy a couple of years ago and now going through “The Hobbit”, I’m just fascinated at the way Tolkien attracts the adventurous heart. It tickles a string that tells you, “Let’s go!”. I think when I get caught up in the ins and outs of life; paying bills, going to work, routine, we lose a little bit of that adventure imprinted on our heart. Sometimes all we need is a little hobbit to say “Let’s go!” to get you moving.

“I want to see mountains Gandalf, mountains.” – Bilbo Baggins