My “day job” centers around changing to get results. We focus on corporate culture, process, getting the right people in the right seat on the airplane and do it all to help organizations improve their bottom line; business is after all in business to make money. We start with leadership teams and stress that if they don’t “buy in, walk it out and admit they might be ‘the problem’ in their organization” then there really is no reason work with us. And we impress upon people that change has to start with the person who looks back at them in the mirror.
“What am I willing to do that no one else is willing to do?”
In a 2-day training we offer, attended mostly by team members from the C-Suite to the janitors of the organizations we work with, we repeat that question over and over. What we encourage people to move toward is in no way easy; when they say, “I just can’t do that. I can do some of this stuff but I can’t do _______.”, we repeat that question. When I took the job, I knew it would be different than anything I had ever been a part of, not because of the actual tasks but because it was leadership done in a whole new way.
“Leaders don’t develop more followers, they develop more leaders.” (Tom Peters)
What I didn’t know was how much what I “do for a living” would lead to my doing life in a totally different, and million times better, way and how it would impact our family. It made me really work on me and stop pointing at what my Miller Men were doing that caused the chaos my brain lived on. It established a hard truth that I can’t expect anything around me to change until I am willing to work on what part of me is road-blocking the desired results I wanted: a great relationship with my husband and kids who we’d equipped with love, truth, respect and a belief that we were proud of them even when they messed up; kids we could confidently launch into the world and who’d be amazing doing whatever it is that sets their soul in fire.
My hope is to someday help “non-corporate types” to move toward living life in a similar way, specifically families and schools. Not just parents/ guardians – the whole family. Not just in our district offices or with building administration teams, but in classrooms. To help families and kiddos and classmates see that they can be good to themselves and to each other and hold each other accountable to how they as a group agree to treat each other when they are together. To encourage them to see they have a voice and a say in the world but that they also have a responsibility to hold themselves to any standard they’d expect from someone. To see that the key to stuff they want to change isn’t being help by someone else – it’s in their pocket; might be buried deep, but it’s in there.I don’t know how to do any of that yet and have no idea where to start: I have no money to begin, no “proof” outside of my story that this stuff works if you work at it and no real circle of influence – I know a lot of people but “knowing” and “having influence with” are miles apart.
As I wrestled with the loss of another kiddo in our community that made a permanent decision based on what I am guessing was a temporary issue/challenge/moment/problem, I kept hearing “What am I willing to do that no one else is willing to do?” I had spent the day answering texts, sobbing, consoling others, being consoled, frustrated with feeling like this was the “cause of the moment” for some, angry that the first kid we lost this school year didn’t create an outcry, feeling like I’d been screaming for years that the monster taking kids wasn’t just one thing and no one bothered to listen, talking through stuff with school folks, hearing “we have to do something”, hearing “our schools need to do more”, wanting to “call people out” for saying one thing but having actions that don’t line up with their words, changing my profile pictures and posting words to make myself feel better. None of that was my being willing to do anything different than what everyone else was in some way doing. I’d spent the day focusing on all I couldn’t do. I was drained and feeling completely helpless, like so many others. Our kids had just said goodbye to one of their friends Saturday and came to school on Monday to the news they’d have to do it again this week.
I looked at My Fave last night at 7:30 and said, “I’m going to take my meds and a couple of extra for some sleep help. I’m just so tired.” He replied, “Not too many please.” Code for: find rest, don’t quit – the world needs you. (Thank you, Jesus for him.) I woke up at 3:45, still not knowing what I could do, wanting to cry and certain if I did the tears wouldn’t stop, to a verse that encouraged me to change my thinking toward what I can do:
“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)
I can do good. Write. Listen. Have empathy. Teach J and C empathy. Stand up and speak. Have courage. Be brave. Teach J and C to speak, have courage, be brave. Plan strategy. Organize. Encourage. Think differently. Help others think differently. Hold myself accountable. Find ways to be proactive. Avoid “reaction without a plan” as a solution. Learn. Love my husband. Love my kids. Dump my ego. Believe the good in others. Be intentional. Let go of anger. Stop pointing fingers. Be okay with making an impact in my little corner of the world. Be the pebble in the pond that creates a ripple effect. Be affected by the ripple effect. Take care of me. Light the candle of another but not set myself on fire to keep others warm. Be in relationship. Say the things, with good intent, that others are afraid to say. Promote community. Share my story – share it over and over and over.
I don’t know what your list of “I can” is made up of but I do believe with every ounce of my soul these two things: 1) Nothing around me can change until I am willing to change and 2) When me-focused becomes others-focused there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Not really a new concept; been around about 2,000 or so years: “Greater love has no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
We want different. We want change. We want hope. We want people to be here tomorrow. Maybe the how to all of that and more can be found with an honest look in the mirror and a single, challenging question: “What am I willing to do that no one else is willing to do?”
Change begins with the person we see in the mirror. Nothing will be different until we are and we’re in desperate need of something different.♥