Together

 

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For several years now we have been attending Orange Conference. Every year it allows us to hear new innovative ideas, meet new people and get refreshed to go back and impact our communities. This year was different for me though. Coming back home it was tough. I had all these awesome ideas and left Orange inspired. On the drive home, there is this spot that I see and since I was a little kid it always marked that I was home. This year, I panicked. All these thoughts of doubt, dread, and the feeling of being isolated started to creep in. I started to process all that was going on and decided to come up with some ideas to keep me motivated after Orange Conference.

One of the things that I did to stay accountable and start to look at ways to implement what I had learned into my work with youth was simply to talk to friends. I love being able to connect with old friends from Orange and making sure I touch base with them afterwards helps me to stay motivated. We talk about different situations, ideas and I can share about new ways to help youth. There is a sense of accountability that forms when I can reach out to community of people that I trust

I don’t always have the answers though so I have been committed to reach out to Orange Specialists. This group of people get it and want to use their knowledge, resources and expertise to help you out. From touching base with rural strategy to urban strategy to all age groups, reaching out to Orange Specialists has given me a new way to move forward.

I have also decided to attend Orange Tour. Sometimes, it is tough to actually get to go to Orange Conference. With Orange Tour the party comes to you. I am excited to go this year, get refreshed and find out what people are doing in my region to impact youth and communities. Check out more about Orange Tour here. 

If you are having trouble staying motivated or feel isolated in the work that you’re doing, then find your tribe. Find the people that are working with a similar goal in mind and have the same passion as you. The impact you can have collectively is more than you can do alone.

Working with Self-Care

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As leaders we often get caught up in looking out for other people, we truly forget to look out for ourselves. Even typing that last sentence I felt weird making the statement to look out for yourself. It really is important though. Getting pulled in so many directions it is easy to get overwhelmed, feel burdened and lose sight of the work we do. For me, when this happens I usually end up getting super anxious and then lazy; as if what I am about to do won’t have any impact. What do you do for self-care to help you refocus and get in the game? Here are some ideas that I try to use

Goals

Every week, usually on Sunday nights, I set up a few goals for the week. I hit the big events that I need to crush, but also remind myself to get in the gym, read more, or create goals to positive habits. For instance, this week I have a goal to get in the gym four times. This helps me know that I need to do it four times, but that I won’t beat myself up one morning for sleeping in (like this morning). I have the rest of the week to make up for it and can plan accordingly. What goals are you currently working on? Make sure they simply aren’t work related, but related to your personal wellness, growth and your relationships.

To Do Lists

Sometimes I just make to-do lists for the sake of making a list. I love being able to sense that I actually accomplished something when I can cross it off the list. Even if one of the items was to “cross off an item on the list.” The sense of accomplishment helps me to build momentum through the day and tackle some projects, break down big things into small tasks, and allows me to visualize my work so I can stay on track better. Personally, my confidence is tied into a sense of accomplishment. To-do lists are a great representation of this, and can even be tied into your goals. At the end of a day, even when I feel like I haven’t done anything, I can look back and say that I had a really productive day and it was a step in the process.

Phone-a-Friend

I am a highly relational person, so one of the best things for me to do when feeling anxious or overwhelmed is to call a friend. This helps me to vent, process information, hear what they are doing and even get some external motivation. I can be my own worst critic. It takes the perspective of others to help push me through some hurdles.

Treat Yo’ Self

This is probably my favorite self-care strategy. Treat yo’ self is simply based around rewarding yourself for what you do. For me, I set up my work time into 30 minute increments, with a 5 minute treat yo’ self time to be on social media, play a game, or look up how the Quantum Realm will be used to defeat Thanos. Seriously, this has helped me to be a better worker, learner, and feel better. Sometimes, I treat myself with a milkshake, or a new outfit for bigger moments. In college, I saw post about someone who put a gummy bear on every page of their book to help motivate them to read more. Whatever it takes! Use these rewards to help motivate you, change your attitude and stay focused.

Practice Gratitude

This is tough for me. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally, cynicism does. I have to intentionally look for ways to show gratitude. Usually, this looks happens at the end of the day as I journal. I take inventory of my day and write down three things I am grateful for. Other times, this looks like a note to my wife or a text to a friend. For me, practicing gratitude has helped me to take a realistic look about the situations I am in and lessens the weight that I can feel.

Working with youth can be tough at times. It can feel like a pebble in the ocean, but what we do does matter. By thinking about self-care as you work you can be better reminded of the impact you make on the lives of others.

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Day 2 is all wrapped up and it was great day of learning and processing all the challenging topics and new ideas that speakers presented. Yesterday started with a main session with some great ideas and quotes from Doug Fields and Andy Stanley with an entire day of workshops. I have posted notes to these workshops and my favorite quotes from the main session below. We love podcasting with our friends at YMSidekick and you can find our breakdown of the day here.

Main Session 2

Doug Fields

We can do more together when we recognize we can’t get there on our own

“We is greater than I” (better together) WE>I

We have created in ourselves, Consciously or unconsciously, the role of individual ministry leader

There will be no statues built in your honor. Great leaders don’t do it alone.

We>I

I need you here.

Culture doesn’t change because we desire it to change. It changes when the organization is transformed. The culture reflects the reality of the people working together every day. Transform it by relying on each other.

Andy Stanley

We can do more together, when we lead the church to stay focused on what matters

IF we get the “one” part right, everything changes… because once upon a time ONE, Won.

when we function as one, the world can change.

Oneness –We will be united on that, Jesus is the christ, son of the living God, Messiah, and if you stay focused on that, that will drive and move you forward. This is a common denominator and we have common ground. It should galvanize our passion, and our passion for what one another is doing.

He prayed for our oneness, our unity: John 17

Unity is mission critical, if we are not one we will not win.

Disunity disrupts the mission

Imagine a world where people were skeptical of what we believe, but envious of how we treat one another

Be the Bridge – Latasha Morrison

The Grown-ups Guide to Teenage Humans – Josh Shipp

Partnering With Parents in The CityDr. Deborah Tillman

The last day of Orange is coming up and is full of expectation. Check back later to see how Orange Conference 2018 wraps up.

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The first night of Orange just wrapped up and even though it is just starting there is a ton to think about and inspire us to do more. There was great conversations about how to innovate in your team, create space for the church, justice and hip hop to come together, leader tips from movement leaders and techniques to bring out the best in your team. Check out the workshop notes from todays YouLead sessions and my favorite quotes from the main session.

Volunteer Recruitment Makeover with Tom Shefchunas

Techniques to Get the Best Out of Your Team with Amy Baker

Hip Hop, Justice, and Faithwith Joseph Sojourner , Sam Collier and Lisette Fraser

Main Session Highlights

 

Gerald Fadayomi

If you could only pray for one thing for the next generation what would it be?

If Jesus could pray for only one thing, what would it be?

John tells us, Jesus would pray for Unity, that we would be one

Being one does not mean you think the same way, but that you are moving in the same direction

Unity is setting our differences aside to make a difference

Unity is finding common ground for the common good

Unity is the realization that we can do more together

How can the next generation believe that here is a God who is for them, forgives them and loves them if we cant do those things for one another.

Reggie Joiner

It is not what you build that matters, it is what happens in you, what happens to you, what happens in the process as you build it as a team and work together that truly matters.

We can’t ignore what is broken

Nehemiah was able Leveraged whatever he had. So, we must leverage everything we have, access, knowledge, privilege for those around us.

We cant rebuild anything without it costing us something

Go see for yourself, proximity changes perspective. Go see the struggles of others for yourselves

Nehemiah challenges others to do something they did not know how to do.

Everyone Nehemiah needed to rebuild the town, was already in the town. The volunteers, the people you need to rebuild the broken community around you is someone to breathe and rally a group of people around a new vision.

When things seemed desperate, Nehemiah takes people and fills in the gaps to fight for their families. When you see Moms and Dads standing in the gap for their sons and daughters, you don’t want to face that.

Rally and inspire every parents and families to show up, take their part and make them the champion of their sons and daughter.

Expect to see God, but be prepared to see a God that you didn’t expect.

How we work together will change how a generation sees God.

Don’t forget to get a full breakdown tomorrow morning by checking out our podcast with YMSidekick here.

#OC18

Orange conference is here!!!

We will tweet and post a ton of information over the next few days.

Be looking for posts recapping each day including notes from workshops, main stage speakers and highlights of all the fun.

We will be podcasting with YMSidekick each day to chat about Orange and processing all the great stuff we have heard. Check it out here

Orange has posted a bunch of great resources, schedules and information on the Leader Blog, check out these links:

Schedule

Resources

Social Media

Live Stream

This year is going to be awesome and can’t wait to share it all with you!

Appreciate

 

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Showing appreciation for others is a big deal. Whether it is a pat on the back, a high-five, or an award, valuing the work that others do is important for an organization to flourish. These tokens of appreciation go a long way in building relationships, rapport, trust, loyalty and investing in the emotional bank accounts of your team. Many people have the misconception that appreciation is linked to finances. It can be, but demonstrating appreciation goes further than a buck or two.

Appreciation, and honoring, people doesn’t just go from the bottom position of an organization to the top. It has be invasive of the culture in which you are a part of. How you appreciate the low-rung on the ladder speaks volumes to those looking to be a part of what your organization is doing. Here are few things to think about in showing appreciation to those who are getting their hands dirty with you to improve the lives of youth.

Make it personal

Finding out what your youth workers love to do in their off time is a great way to show appreciation. Maybe it is letting them leave an extra hour or two from work, or getting them a movie ticket, or putting the playoffs, or the big match, on  in the meeting room. When working with volunteers, I often ask them what their love language is so that I can best show appreciation. Some of the things I have done is babysat the kids of the leaders so they could do a date night with their spouse, we’ve done giant dog piles, talked them up in a big meeting and or simply wrote them a thank you. Look for ways to honor the people that are working alongside you in a way that makes it personal to them.

Make it fun

Fun is a core value that can change the atmosphere of your organization. Making the way you appreciate people fun is part that. Rent out giant soccer, get lunch catered, buy a dozen donuts, or have a wacky clothes day. Do a big awards ceremony for your staff and volunteers (watch the Office episode about the Dundies for inspiration). When fun is involved in how you appreciate youth workers, it creates excited, generates momentum and establishes culture.

Make it part of the culture

When you begin to show value to the people that are part of your team it becomes a catalyst for great things to happen. People get more excited for the work they do, they begin to form bonds between one another and are willing to go that extra mile. When you lead by appreciating others, that same attitude spreads to others  and builds momentum for a great environment to be a part of.  Make appreciation a part of the culture by doing it routinely and publicly.  Before you dive into staff meetings, take a moment to recognize people and for others to do the same. Throw a party!

Do the people on your team feel valued and cared for? How do you know? What can you do today to help show them that you appreciate all the they do to impact the lives of youth?

Partner Up!

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Someone once told me that “if your dreams don’t require you to ask for someone else’s help, then your dreams aren’t big enough.”

You should want to, and have to, partner with people to accomplish the purposes you have for your group, the youth you work with and even for yourself personally. Finding those partners can be hard, especially finding people whose purpose and passion go to the same beat as yourself. They are out there though, simply waiting for you to say “hey.” Here are some ideas that I have used to created networks of people and organizations to partner with.

Find/Build a Network

Most cities have networks and organizations that all have a similar goal: to see youth succeed. Start by joining one of them. Share your ideas, what is working for you and see what other organizations are doing in the community. See where you can step up to help others and create partnerships with specific organizations to help you meet the needs of your own. In the rare case that a network doesn’t already exist, build it. Find the niche that you are looking to fill and connect with others through word of mouth, research and reaching out.

Who is Running With You?

Who are the people that are keeping up with you, or even in front of you, as you champion for youth? Find those people and buy them coffee. See what they hope to achieve in their work and encourage one another along the way.

How can I help You?

Partnerships are about give and take. Make sure you are giving just as much as you are asking of others. Step up for others, be professional, help others to win in their projects and programs and soon you will be too. Don’t expect others to show up for you when you’re consistently too busy to step up yourself. Have a mindset of helping others succeed and you’ll find that your own success is coming along as well.

Bump-Set-Spike

As you work there will be opportunities for various events or programs that you won’t be perfect for. It may not be the best fit for a variety of reasons. However, I bet you know someone that would love that opportunity. When you partner with people you help set others up to be successful, you make introductions for others that help them open up new doors in their work and lives. After all we are all on the same team.

Partnering with people can be so much fun. You’ll find some new friends, achieve amazing things and have fun along the way. Look out for one another, support one another and always be looking for ways to help someone else out.

Lenses

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The way we think about youth today matters. People are inclined to either view youth as an asset or as a liability.

This thinking can be considered to be either from the perspective of strengths or deficits. This small difference can change how we interact, serve and work with youth. It can be a challenging concept but think about the past week, how have you seen the youth you work with? 

Seeing youth as assets, and creating environments and conversations based on the strengths of the students allows youth to find a greater joy, peace and sense of self then just looking at their deficits and the things that are not working for them. Even the things that youth lack become an opportunity for better relationships, growth and learning than simply a problem.

If we ask people to examine our own lives they are sure to find deficits, things that are missing, ways that we have failed, and our less honorable moments.  A different, strength-based, approach creates a sense of personal accomplishment, looks at the relationships of youth and allows youth to develop in a way that helps them build grit in order to overcome the challenges of life. This distinction is the lens in which we choose to see the world.

When you choose to interact with youth, and even their families, through the lens of their strengths it changes the attitudes and perspectives of those involved. There is now hope where things once looked bleak. There is new life, because someone has decided to look for the strengths where others missed the opportunity. Youth are able to engage in the world around them in a positive manner, they can see what is going well for them, they feel competent to accomplish tasks and meet expectations, and allows the relationship between adult and youth to be a positive one.

There are three basic ideas when we shift perspective to the strengths of youth:

  1. All youth have strengths
  2. All youth can be motivated by a caring adult
  3. Just because something is not a strength, does not mean it is a deficit, it is an opportunity

Here are some great questions to start asking youth in order to look through the lens of their strengths:

  1. What is working well?
  2. If you said one good thing about yourself, what would it be?
  3. What do you like most about your friends? Why?
  4. How do you think your friends would describe you?
  5. Who is someone you look up to? Why do you like them?
  6. What do you do to blow off steam?
  7. What is life like when you are most at peace?
  8. What gives you energy?
  9. How have you overcome the challenges in life?
  10. What is one thing you can do that would help improve _______ in your life?

Youth are more capable then we realize. However, during life it takes caring adults to help show them their strengths, not just berate them on failures. The conversations you get to have with youth as you walk through life with them helps to reinforce that they belong somewhere, that they are significant, that they have something to offer the world, and they are worthy of love.

 

Hitting the Curve

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The ability to roll with the punches that life throws at you is an undervalued skill. When trying to undertake some venture there will ALWAYS be curveballs. I think of the movie ‘Major League’ and slugger Pedro Cerrano. He could crush the fastball, but whiffed at hitting the curveball.

For many of us we are able to hit the fastball well, the expected things that come up, the things we have planned for. What sets people apart is the ability to hit the curveball, to adapt and crush it even when the our perfect plans seem to fall apart.

I have experienced so many curveballs in my life, from the day to day to major life shifting ones. I don’t hit them all, but I have come up with a “go-to” strategy when something does come up.

Breathe

   Breathing is a huge thing for me. It helps me to get rid of any extra emotions. Those pent up frustrations, worries or anxieties that can hit like a 250lb middle linebacker. Simply breathing helps me to refocus my energies into what I can control.

The Questions

   After I have refocused I go through a series of questions. These questions help me to bridge between my feelings and the next step. They are something like this:

 

What can I control?

Why does this change the plan?

Why am I______ (frustrated, anxious, disappointed, etc.)?

(Then, I take a moment to reflect on this quote from the wise man, Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan, ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”)

What is the biggest win I can still accomplish?

What do I need to do to accomplish it?

 

New Game Plan

    Then I begin to piece together the fragments of my former plan, assess what resources I still got and look for a new game plan that accomplishes the most possible outcome. I freak out sometimes, and I don’t always get it right. You won’t either. Learn from the past mistakes to help you plan for the future. Be flexible, learn to adapt on the fly and roll with the punches. Soon, you’ll hit the curveball.

Community

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Community is vital for our live to thrive. We need people to walk through life with, laugh with, cry with and challenge us to be the best version of ourselves. It can be messy and there can be tough conversations. Yet, through the highs and lows of community we can firmly say, “worth it.”

I get excited for opportunities to spend time with people who have similar life trajectories, values and passions. I also love spending time with those that vary from my own, but there is something wholly unique about dreaming and planning with people who are on the same page as you are. 

For me, community happens at the Orange Conference.  I get to spend time with people who make me laugh, grow and scheme about how to take over the world. Orange offers a place for people who value young people, parents, and entire communities to come together in community. 

Every year, I mark this conference as my go too event. I take off work, hustle rides, and do whatever it takes to get me a seat there. It is at Orange that I met a group of people who understand the value of relationships, who wanted to champion for the lives of young people and who strive to leave the neighborhoods they are a part of better for having been there. It is where I felt that I belonged and could add into the conversation that I have aligned my life around. 

There are plenty of opportunities to find community. There are meets up with Orange Leaders to help think through curriculum and strategy, games to play, amazing coffee to drink, and Chick-fil-a lines to wait through (seriously, all worth it). Follow people on social media and arrange a hang. I would love to hang out!

Come to Orange Conference this year, lets laugh and dream together. You were made for this, lets add your voice to community that is changing the world.