Final Numbers for the Haiti Challenge

There was no way I was going to process the reports from Haiti and not do anything.  It was impossible.  Over a two day period I watched Twitter and glanced at nytimes and cnn.com.  I saw the tragedy unfolding and knew that as a God-fearing man and father of a little boy that it was my responsibility to take action.  Families were being torn apart and forced into extreme conditions.  It was my obligation to assist in whatever way I could to the relief efforts. 

What I did was not revolutionary.  It wasn’t even my idea.  I was reading my Twitter feed and saw that Bebo Norman (singer from Nashville) was donating $5 for every person that mentioned that a link where you could donate: 

Help Haiti. Donate to Compassion’s Disaster Relief. Roshare & I will give $5 for every person that RT’s this link http://bit.ly/8VNyfF from TweetDeck

Bebo has 5,000+ people “following” him, so you can do the math and see how their bill could add up really quickly.  But the idea inspired me.  I talked to Katie about us donating, and then I decided to create my own Haiti Challenge.

I’m happy to report that my team raised $133 in six days.  The challenge was posted on Facebook and on my blog.  One of my blog readers then decided to match whatever I had to match.  So “Jack” is contributing $133.

Our grand total is $399!  Sorin just found four quarters in our couch, so you can tell people that the Haiti Challenge raised $400. 

I would like to thank each person who joined my team for this effort.  When people work together for a single cause, big things can happen.  $400 isn’t even a drop in the bucket for the problems in Haiti, but that money will certainly provide assistance to someone who needs it a whole lot more than we do.

(Stay tuned: my next post will include additional thoughts about this project and I’ll report when I write the check and where it goes.)

Last Day for Haiti Challenge

Tuesday January 19th will be the final day of my Haiti Relief Challenge.  In my last post, I challenged my readers here and on Facebook to donate to one of three organizations: World Vision, Compassion International, or Red Cross.  I asked them to post how much they donated (suggested $5 or $10) and I would match their gift.

 
(picture courtesy of Ruth Fremson NYTimes: Quikani Alakassis, 21, gave her 4-month-old daughter, Kiana Jean Baptiste, water from a bottle distributed by soldiers with the 82nd Airborne as she sits in her makeshift shelter on the grounds of the Pétionville Club.)

BREAKING NEWS::  one reader (“Jack”) has been inspired by this campaign and has offered to match what I’m matching!!    This means that if someone donates $10, I turn it into $20 and then Jack turns it into $30!  How cool is that?!?  Inspiration is a powerful thing.  There’s also power in numbers.  Do you know someone who might want to join our team?  Please pass this on and tell them that they can join anonymously by posting at the bottom (comments) of this blog. 

And thank Jack for Jack-ing up the donation!!!
Haiti needs our help.  Please consider a $5 donation.  

 (Photo courtesy of Damon Winter NYTimes: Quake survivors fight over goods that were taken from a destroyed home supplies store.)
(Photo courtesy of Ricardo Arduengo NYTimes: An injured boy in a hospital bed in Port-au-Prince. Many hospitals were destroyed, and those that were not are swamped.) 
 

(Photo courtesy of Damon Winter NYTimes: Marie François, in the foreground, who lost three of her six children, waits with a son and daughter for a delivery of fortified biscuits from the World Food Program.)

(Photo courtesy of Ruth Fremson NYTimes: Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne and members of the Navy loaded helicopters with food and water.)

(Photo courtesy of Ivanoh Demers)

Haiti Challenge

I admit I haven’t done much reading on this disaster in Haiti.  I’m just sitting down to write about thoughts that have been going through my mind for 24 hours with no time to process.  Yesterday the recurring theme on Twitter was, “Watching scenes from Haiti.  Wow.  Shocked.  Praying for Haiti.”

From where I sit on a daily basis I get my news from Twitter.  I fire up my iPod Touch and read “tweets” from people who make sense to me.  But this post is NOT about Twitter.  It’s about people’s reactions to the world.  My Twitter feed has given me a very unique perspective on this event from people who I highly respect.  I don’t hear from strangers.  I hear from very intelligent, thoughtful, and caring people.  And their response has been one of awe, compassion and action.  And that is what this post is about – action.

My life has changed since Sorin was born. The thought of my son suffering is unbearable.  And when I look at cnn.com and nytimes.com and see the photos of Haiti, I see news through a new lens now – awe.  I see it through the parent’s lens, and I know each person suffering is someone’s child.  And they need help.

As I said, I haven’t done much reading on this.  But really, what do you need to know?  You need to see pictures and hear a couple stories of what’s happening.  From the nytimes.com:

“You can’t do anything about the dead bodies, but inside many of these buildings people may still be alive. And their time is running out.”

–Eduardo A. Fierro, a structural engineer
inspecting quake-damaged buildings

Their time is running out.  I’m sitting on a laptop computer, sore from a hard day’s work, and ready to get some sleep.  But their time is running out.  

Compassion.

I have no other stories to share.  Do you really need one?  My purpose is very simple:  action.  It’s too easy to pass up opportunities to help.  I’ve done it so many times in the past.  Not this time.  I was inspired by Bebo Norman’s tweet where he said that he would donate $5 for everyone who repeated his plea (on Twitter) for financial support to Compassion International.  My challenge is this:  

  • donate $5 or $10 to World Vision, Compassion International, or the Red Cross (texting “disaster” or “Haiti” to 90999 will take it right out of your phone bill)
  • write on my Facebook wall that you did this (or comment on this blog post)
  • I will match your gift 

I started the challenge this morning, and I have 4 partners on my team

If you’d like to forward this blog post to someone who may be interested, please copy and paste right after you visit one of the three websites above.

Awe   =>>  Compassion   =>>   Action

3 Words for Twenty-10

I think new years resolutions set you up to fail.  Have you ever actually kept one past the third week of January?  On the other hand, I’m a big proponent of reflecting often on the details of life – where you’ve been, what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you’re going to do it.  The title of my blog, The Game Plan, should signal my readers that I believe in organizing strategies and executing the plan.  To my core I’m a teacher and coach.

In my last post I talked about articles by Michael Hyatt and Chris Brogan that are exercises in reflecting on the past and planning the future.  I highly recommend both articles.  It’s not too late to put together a plan for 2010.  In fact, I think without the pressure of the first few days of the year you can strategize with a more level head.

Chris Brogan has an exercise he does called 3 Words.  From his post:

Over the last few years, I’ve practiced something I call “my 3 words,” where I come up with three words that I use as guidance for how I should conduct my efforts in the year to come. I set goals around these three words. I build deadlines and projects around these words.

Here’s my 3 words for twenty-10:

catalyst:  A catalyst is someone or something that makes things happen.  I want to take more initiative with my family time (especially with a baby girl on the way).  Catalyst.  I want to add value to people’s lives.  Catalyst.  I want to take Katie out more often.  Catalyst.  I want to create excellent content on my blogs. 

athlete:  I understand the world of athletics; I think in terms of sports.  Athletes are into training, planning, practicing, performing, and then reviewing the whole process and doing it again.  Thinking of the word “athlete” makes me pursue my fitness.  Though I may not compete in a race this year, I want 2010 to be a solid year of training.  Athlete.  I want to prepare for each week (and month) as an athlete prepares for a game.  My life would be much more efficient and enjoyable if I spent a little more time preparing.  Athlete.  I also want to explore the idea of failure.  Athletes fail.  Failure is ok… if you learn from it.  I’m afraid of failure.  But if I fail I will know I’m trying hard and am fully invested.  “I’ve never failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

coffee:  This is my most abstract word.  Coffee this year reminds me of my morning routine.  Before my family is awake I’m up reading my Bible, journaling about life, reading a good book, and preparing for my day.  Coffee.  I’m also going to pursue a few more meaningful relationships for me and my family.  Coffee.  I want to host friends and family at our house.  Coffee.  I want to get into some strategic relationships with other Christian men who I can do life with.  Coffee.

Disclaimer:  These three words may mean nothing to you, and they can’t be fully understood from this post; it’s not meant to be all-inclusive.  But they have been pondered by me for over a week and I’ve internalized them and started to process them here.  Accountability is good.  Having goals is good.  Failure is ok.  Learning the process to growth is essential.

Oak Pruning Translating To Life Lessons

Many days of the week I say to myself, “I wish people could see what I see.”  As an arborist, I am daily in the upper portions of a tree’s canopy which gives me views of neighborhoods, cities and towns that most citizens will never see.  What’s the highest you’ve ever climbed in a tree?  Routinely I’m up 50-70 feet in the air.  If you’ve ever been in tall buildings and looked out the window, you a little bit  of what I’m talking about.  The view is just so different that what we see on a daily basis.

When I get really high in an oak tree, I notice things the average person would never see.  I also have a trained eye when I’m up there because I’m looking for dead wood to trim from the tree.  Sometimes the dead wood is really obvious because the bark is pealed off.  Sometimes it’s obvious because there’s no buds on the end of the branch.  And other times it’s obvious because a fungus has grown on the bark and it looks different that all the other branches.  But there’s also branches that have buds from last year, though they’ve died.  You actually can score (scrape) the branch with your hand saw to see if it’s green (alive) or brown (dead or declining).  Keep in mind very little of this can be seen from the ground.  You need to get on top of the branches and up close and personal to decide what comes out.

Dead wood is a part of a tree’s life.  There’s various reasons a limb may be dying or declining, but inevitably some branches will die and they need to be removed.  Isn’t the same true of life?  Wouldn’t you agree that there are areas of one’s life that have died, or are declining, and need to be removed?  In the Bible Jesus says

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit.”  (John 15:2)

We have dead limbs that need to be taken out.  And we have live limbs that need to be pruned so that they produce more fruit.

Are there areas in your life that aren’t bearing fruit?  This Christmas season is about “goodwill towards men.”  Do you have that?  Or are there branches in your life that need to be pruned away because they’re dead?  Maybe you have good limbs that need pruning so that they’ll produce more and better fruit.

I think I have a little of both.  I’m certainly bearing some good fruit.  But I have dead wood that needs to be removed.  I have habits that need to break – sinful actions of thought, word and deed that died when I committed my life to Christ.  Yet they still linger in my life.  I also have live limbs that are alive and healthy, but they need to be pruned so that they can continue to produce fruit.  This is where this lesson gets tough for me.  I have too many irons in the fire.  I need to focus on the important branches, the branches that will produce the most fruit (in relation to my direction in life).  This means some good things need to be pruned away.  It’s not to say that they won’t come back later in life, but right now I need to be focused on establishing family and career.  If it doesn’t produce fruit in those two areas, it probably needs to be pruned away.

As you reflect on the end of the year and the season of giving and goodwill, what branches in your life are dead and need to be removed?  What branches are alive but need to be pruned so that they produce more fruit?

Loss of Innocence

I understand you don’t want to hear any more about Tiger Woods, but I’d be withholding from my readers if I didn’t acknowledge what’s on my mind, and in fact what I’ve discussed with a handful of you.  My brother said it best, “It’s a complete loss of innocence.”  I know I’m kind of a dreamer, even an old-school guy when it comes to this stuff.  I’d even say I’m in denial about pro sports these days.  Here’s a few of the stories that disappointed:

  • Kobe Bryant and that girl in Colorado
  • MJ divorced Juanita after stories of his “women”
  • Brett and his divorce with Packers – he should never have to wear purple, it’s just not right
  • Alex Rodriquez and Barry Bond – two of the greatest players ever – steroids
  • Tiger Woods – the most recognizable athlete in the world, on voicemail trying to dodge his wife

I’m not going to write extensively on this, but as a huge sports fan who understands the importance of positive role models in society, I can’t begin to explain my disappointment.  Nothing is pure.  I know that.  I just really want a good story from one of these great athletes.  Looks like my last hope is Tim Tebow.

What I’m Reading – December 2009

Have you ever had the question posed to you:  “If you had one super-power, what would it be?”  I had this asked of me numerous times in college and the answer was always the same.  I wanted to fly.  I mean really, what could be any cooler than that?

But now I’m thinking that the super-power of that super-hero named Book Worm would be pretty cool, too.  You know Book Worm, from that one show.  Or was it a comic strip?  Or am I completely making this up?  Anyway, I’ve given up on my desire to fly.  Now I want to be able to read at super-human, yes super-hero speeds.  Because my library isn’t getting any smaller and my desk is getting cluttered with unfinished books.

It seems most readers that I talk with have the same problem.  We just can’t finish a book before we start another.  Then another.  And another. And soon we have four books going.  I remember having to do this in college because we had 4-6 classes per semester.  But now I should be able to pick up one or two books and have them finished before I start another, right?

Needless to say I’m not reading fast enough and my attention-deficit disorder is getting the best of me.  So here’s what I’m reading right now:

There’s actually two others I’ve consciously put down until this list gets shortened, so I’ll save myself the embarrassment.  If I had the powers of Book Worm I wouldn’t have to worry about this.

So what are you reading?

Things I’m Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a great time for family and reflection.  It’s a holiday that everyone can agree on and this is evident in our culture’s universal celebration on this weekend.  Of course as I’m writing this plenty of people have moved beyond Thanksgiving towards Christmas and the Black Friday event that’s gotten completely out of control.  But still, Thanksgiving is a great weekend.

Briefly, let me reflect on what I’m thankful for.  Let me start with the Big Rocks:
  1. Family:  Katie is such an amazing mother.  She works so hard and makes me so proud.  Sorin is healthy and a joy to watch as he plays throughout the day and grows up before our eyes.
  2. My job:  While this isn’t a career for me, Bill at H&H Arborists is an excellent employer.  I’ve learned a lot from him and had an opportunity to grow in my leadership and management.
  3. My parents:  mom and dad are right across the street and have helped with Sorin and other duties around our house.  They are very giving individuals, both of their time and their resources.
  4. My in-laws:  Steve and Sue are very welcoming and involved in our lives as we work into parenthood.  
  5. My relationship with God:  My rock and my Savior.  All comfort and security is found in the Creator.
And then I’m thankful for many things that are along a different line of thinking.  Let me explain:
  1. My gifts and abilities:  I am discovering day after day how God has established qualities in me that show how He will use me in this world.  Sure, I’m frustrated with certain areas of life (I’m not in the career field I want to be in) but he’s given me passions and skills, thoughts and ideas to where I can see where this is leading me in the future.
  2. Social Media:  I have the ability to keep up with so much information right now.  I follow top notch pastors from around the country.  I hear industry tips and best practices from exercise specialists who are further along in their career than me which motivates me and my business plans.  I have relationships with friends on Facebook that weren’t possible years ago because they’ve moved away.  Social media has allowed me to be hyper-connected and it’s a really good thing.
  3. Things that are FREE:  With so much information and good products available, think of what we get for free.  Google has made everything knowable within seconds.  My blog freely allows me to reflect on life and share it with whoever wants to listen (all five of you).  Twitter allow me to listen to and write to thousands of people on a variety of subjects.  And YouTube allows me to watch U2 live from the Rose Bowl, all for free.
  4. My health:  I love running.  I won’t be winning any races any time soon but working out is enjoyable for me.  I’m always up for a challenge and my goals are changing by the season.  
  5. My career goals:  God gave me the passion for exercise and education.  I feel like I’ve been charged with helping people become healthier individuals and this is an admirable calling in life.  God has instilled this in me and continues to bless me with the thoughts and ideas required to have a successful business and affect on my community.
  6. The Office and Community:  Katie and I laugh weekly very hard when we watch these two shows.
  7. Sorin’s Puma sweatsuit from Grant and Jes:  You’ve got to see him in this – he should have one of these outfits at every stage of his growth.
I’m very thankful on many different levels.  We live in a very privileged society and we should never forget that.  

Goal Setting

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.  ~Author Unknown

How true is this?  Have you recently analyzed your goals in life?  Could you list your top three priorities on a sheet of paper?  How are you spending your time?

Goal setting is an exercise that requires our daily and weekly attention.  I am very easily distracted, and I’m not alone.  In today’s age of technology there are so many things that battle for our time, and they often win… unless we have a set of goals in place.  These goals need to address what’s important in our lives and no one can create them but ourselves.  We must internalize them and make them our own.
One of my biggest challenges in helping clients become more fit and lose weight is to help them understand the importance of goal setting.  “I want to lose weight”  This is a bad goal.  “I want to be healthier.”  This is also a bad goal.  Why are these bad goals?  Because they don’t give me enough information.  They’re not SMART goals:

Specific           (what do you want to happen; why; how)
Measurable     (how will you know when you’ve accomplished your goal?)
Attainable        (are you in over your head or is your goal within reach?)
Relevant          (is it your goal or someone else’s; how does it fit in your life?)
Timely             (to be completed next week, next month or next year?)

This is a criterion I learned while studying physical education in college.  While it first seemed a little over the top, I now realize how essential these five components are to proper goal setting.  So without a goal we will never accomplish what’s important to us.  The world distracts us so we need to focus.  And when we establish a goal, it needs to have the five SMART components.

Challenge:  

  1. write one short-term goal to be completed this week
  2. write one long-term goal to be completed within one month

Only Do What Only You Can Do

One of my favorite pastors is Andy Stanley from North Point Church.  Andy is the son of Charles Stanley, who my mom grew up listening to.  So it’s kind of fun to see how the next generation takes after the first, both in preaching and in listening.  Andy probably delivers the clearest message I’ve ever heard.  He’s very compelling and I tune in weekly to his leadership podcasts

Years ago I was going through a book with college ministry leaders by Andy called Next Generation Leader.  One chapter was called Only Do What Only You Can Do.  The description went like this:  the less you do the more you accomplish.  I got the idea but I struggled to put it into practice.

I was leading a team of students that put on our weekly meetings for the Link, the college-aged ministry of Blackhawk.  I knew that it was my job to get my team to do more work.  The more they took ownership the better our team was performing.  It was their job to get the equipment to the venue, get the equipment set-up, put together the script for the night, and make sure all the media components were cued up.  But after that there was nowhere to go.  That was the final product.  It worked, it was good, but there was nothing left for me to do.  There was very little that only I could do.  So Andy’s principle didn’t fully sink in.

Fast forward to Summer 2009.  I’m working at H&H Arborists as the lead worker on a crew of three.  Bill, the owner is busy all summer doing sales while the crew is out doing everything from pruning to removing trees.  It’s a young crew – with eight years of experience I’m the veteran. 

My job is to figure out how to complete each job efficiently and safely.  As the only man on the job with real experience, this can only happen so fast.  Thankfully Bill is very willing to take precious time on the job site to train the guys on many days where the job requirements are appropriate.  (I say this because many other tree companies don’t value or practice intentional training like H&H.)  So now my job is to balance training with being a productive crew. 

After a few weeks I’ve developed the guys’ skills.  They can do light pruning, mostly from the ground.  Soon one of the guys is comfortable in the tree so the crew is getting better.  And this is where Andy’s principle really started to sink in for me.  Now the crew is to the point where they can function in certain situations and I’m tempted to work along side them but I can’t.  There’s other work that only I can do.  Sometimes work gets done fast when everyone works on something together.  There’s accountability and there’s encouragment when you’re side-by-side.  But if I’m doing something that they could be doing, there’s something I’m not doing that they couldn’t do.  This isn’t always the case, but I’m challenged daily to evaluate how to get the work done most efficiently. 

Only do what only you can do.  It’s become a simple principle to understand but an important one to practice.  Businesses move forward when they’re efficient and this is one step to that end.

If you’re in a leadership position, are you doing thing other team members could be doing?