Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Milestones

As another year nears close to the end, it's time for me to reflect on the past year with my observations. I feel like I said "Happy 2012!", blinked and it was almost 2013. This is that feeling your parents told you about "when you get older" you'd understand. For this year's recap review, I thought I'd highlight a few milestones from the year....

I joined a new Bible study class this year that I love  - For those of you who grew up in the church, you've heard of Sunday School. Today it's called ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship) or at our church BFG (Bible Fellowship Group). Whatever you call it, I joined a new one this year. I had been praying for a long time to find the small group where I would feel connected to our larger church and this was  truly an answer to prayer. I serve at my church in a lot of ways, but needed that place where I belonged like every other church member. And God led me to it. It's a great ladies' class full of sweet women from all walks of life that, no matter where their journey has taken them, they praise The Lord. I am on a team of rotating teachers and I have an opportunity to do one if the things I love - teach. This was definitely a blessing from the year,

I saw 6 theatrical productions this year - I love the theater....the live, on stage version. If I could afford it, I would go to the theater every weekend somewhere. I saw 3 Broadway shows that came to Louisville - Mary Poppins, Wicked, and Beauty and the Beast.  And I saw 3 dinner theater productions - Dixie Swim Club, Annie, and Church Basement Ladies 2. That's one every other month, folks.  It will be hard to beat that record in 2013.

I drank the Apple juice and went to the dark side - After winning an iPad at work, I was so in love that I not only left my long-term love of Android, but my 14-year relationship with T-Mobile. I moved to AT&T to get an iPhone. It's clear why Apple is so successful....their technology just works. It's like comparing a Chevrolet to a Honda. Both can get you where you need to go, but the Honda is a whole lot more reliable and longer lasting.

I wrote 30 blog posts in 30 days - I've been blogging since 2005, soon to be 8 years. I'd always wanted to participate in the 30-day writing challenge, but always had one excuse or another. Tis year, even with my amazingly busy schedule, I decided in November to take the challenge on...and I succeeded. It was a good exercise in discipline and focused me to think about topics daily to pontificate about.  And it was a good diversion to the rest of my busy life.

I manage the most people I have ever managed in my career - Right now, I manage 13 people, soon to be 14. I list this as a milestone, not to be prideful, but to be reminded to be humble, to be constantly aware of the responsibility of leadership I've been given. This became clear when I read a yearly recap from two years ago and my team was one-fifth that size. God has brought me through some interesting days over the past two years and I pray He continues to lead me to be the servant leader He's called me to be.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First a Father, Second a President

People who know me best, know that there isn't a lot of things I agree with that our President stands for.  But given recent events, there is something I see in him that I admire.  

From the beginning of his presidency, his two daughters - Malia (14) and Sasha (11) - have not been much in the spotlight.  I remember children of past presidents - Amy Carter, Chelsea Clinton, The Bush Twins - during their lives at the White House being spotlighted on a regular basis.  It occurred to me during the last election how sheltered Malia and Sasha have been over the course of his first term.  I can only attribute that to the parental edicts and protection Barack and Michelle have made clear to the press and staff at the White House that they not be out front in the media.  Aside from some pictures around the holidays, and a report of them visiting a book store on Black Friday with their Dad, I wouldn't recognize them quickly because they aren't front and center.  A great testament to their role as parents living in the public eye.

Last Friday the country was rocked by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  Children as young as 6 were brutally murdered by a 20-year old shooter who entered the school on a rampage.  As the President addressed the nation shortly after the incident, I saw for the first time a man whose core had been shaken.  He was moved emotionally and I can't help but believe his heart was speaking not only as our President, but first as a Father.  It was the first time in his Presidency, I saw his emotions come out.  And, I couldn't help but reflect back to how his role as Father surely being priority in his life based on the lives of his daughters.

There are many arguments behind what can be done to avoid these tragedies in the future - from gun control to mental health assistance.  Mr. President, I plead with you to go to the Scripture you quoted the day of this tragedy and seek that which will guide your decisions.  Beyond the guns...beyond the mental health challenges....there lies the most important foundational basic....the sanctity of human life.  We weep over the loss of these precious young ones - many as young as six.  Yet, 7 years ago, if the mother carrying these young ones wanted to, she could have ended their lives, with the world praising her ability to choose.  Mr. President, may we begin to cherish and recognize life from the moment of conception and turn our country toward the basic truth - Life is a precious gift.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Lessons Learned from a Football Coach

This morning Charlie Strong, Head Coach of the University of Louisville football team, officially announced he was staying as coach here in Louisville.  The sporting news has been all abuzz about the courting Charlie has received of late from the likes of legendary football schools (i.e. Tennessee).  As I listened to his press conference this morning, I have to say, I love me some Charlie Strong.  Whether you bleed blue or red in this state, you can't help but see the quality that is there.  And so, as I often do, I wanted to share the lessons I learned...

1.  It matters who you work for - Charlie sang the praises of Tom Jurich, Athletic Director of the University of Louisville, for being an amazing man to work under.  Back when Louisville was 9-10, Tom extended Charlie's contract because he believed in him.  He's not forgotten that.  And although this contract extension could place Charlie in the top of the ranks in football coaches' pay scale, the final contractual agreement hasn't been discussed.  But, Charlie knows it will be fair.  Often times when we are lured by a bigger and better offer, we don't consider the current situation we're in.  Charlie has.  He knows Tom believes in him and that matters more than coaching for a legendary SEC team.

2.  Family comes first - Charlie said it had been a tough week with him being approached by Tennessee and contemplating the decision about his future.  He said he talked to his daughters and they emphatically said, "Dad, we don't want to leave Louisville." He said, by far, this was the deciding factor.  I remember when I was very young, my Dad was approached to take a position with his company in Pedricktown, NJ.  It would have placed him as Plant Manager, in a position to fix a very broken plant location.  After a few visits up there to help out, my Dad had to make a decision.  My Mom didn't want to move from Louisville because her Mom was here and she loved it here.  The cost of living was incredibly high in New Jersey at that time, and unemployment there was on the rise.  Dad knew moving there might get him a short-term win, but long-term it wasn't a good move for him or our family.  I'm thankful that advancement didn't win over family in that decision.  And one day, those Strong girls will say the same thing.

3.  Finish what you started - One of the things Charlie pointed out that made leaving Louisville difficult was that he felt like he hadn't taken the team all the way to where he'd hope to go with them.  He's definitely made great strides with this team in the short time he's been here with this year being invited to a BCS bowl.  But, in his heart, he wants to see a National Championship for Louisville Football.  We live in a world of people who don't finish well.  It's way too easy to throw in the towel and move on than fight the good fight.  I hang with most situations to the bitter end...sometimes to my own detriment.  But I'm not a quitter and I never want to give up.  The world could learn from Charlie that just because a prestigious position at a top school is dangled in front of you doesn't mean your work is complete where you are.  

You could read my post and be thinking, "Right, Rose, I'm sure the increase in pay had nothing to do with Charlie's decision."  I'm not blind to the fact that a significant increase in pay has an impact here.  But, if that was the only reason, I'm sure Tennessee would have matched or beaten his price if he played that game.  And he didn't.  I, for one, am glad Charlie is sticking around.  Well played, Mr. Strong, well played.