Have you completed your mid-year review? (Part 2 – Plans)

In my second installment on the subject of a personal mid-year review I want to focus on the steps taken towards achieving our goals. My yearly beach vacation provides pure moments of introspection which lead to a clear sense of direction.

Why walks on the beach are easy

Each time I go to the beach there is nothing more relaxing than walking along side the water’s edge, feeling the coolness as your feet embrace the sand. Sounds peaceful because it is. I can walk for miles only to turn back and do it all over again. This is much different however if I was to walk on the dunes, where the loose sand slows me down and where my feet dig deeper. Additionally, a storm can change my initial thoughts on the distance. When assessing your plans and directions it is important to understand the path you have taken and the surrounding factors.

Assessing Plans and Direction

Once our goals are reviewed we need to make sure our plans are aligned with our objectives and that we are walking on the right path. Are you on track to achieve your goals? Are you making decisions and creating habits that get you closer to your goals? These questions are not meant to intimidate but rather calibrate your compass. It might not always be easy – waves can rise up the shore line unexpectedly or a storm might be on the horizon – and you might need to make some adjustments. Knowing your direction will allow you to keep pushing forward.

I admire King David for his raw sensibility to life. While the bible describes him as a “man after God’s own heart,” King David experienced many ups and downs. He made mistakes, errors in judgement, but kept his compass towards God. I think that is why he continued Psalm chapter 37 with verse 23:

“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

As God plants seeds of desire for His people, He also provides clarity and strength for the road ahead.

Great leaders continually assess the path they are on and are not afraid to make adjustments when needed.


Have you completed your mid-year review? (Part 1 – Goals)

I start this post with a question that becomes relevant every summer. A mid-year review is supposed to provide an assessment of the year at the same time we consider the road ahead. While most will recognize this question in a corporate setting I apply it to my personal life as well.

Every year, around June and July, my family and I take a much needed vacation to the beach and unplug from the busyness of life. Over the years I’ve come to enjoy the simplest of moments as hidden blessings. Through all the running around that is my regularly scheduled life, these moments allow me to slow down and find true perspective. This is where a personal, mid-year, self-assessment starts.

For me this is a natural exercise in which I have identified three simple actions. In this first installment of a three-part series I will focus on goals and meaning.

Reviewing your Personal Goals and their Meaning

Just like setting goals is important so is reviewing the meaning of them. In the corporate setting these are easily identifiable through the lens of profitability, growth and sustainability. On the personal side it is much deeper than that. Reviewing personal goals cuts through the heart. While goals need to be realistic and feasible, personal objectives should also align with your mission in life. This is why one should ask the question: What is the true reason for my goals? For me, no one provides better perspective to this question than my better half.

The reason I enjoy a 6-hour road trip

During our yearly trip one of my wife and I’s favorite activity is the actual 6-hour road trip down to the beach. During this time our kids enjoy a movie (or two… or three) while we drive and talk about what is on our hearts and on our minds. Those moments have provided some of our most sincere and thought provoking conversations. My wife cares enough for me to cut through the selfishness and assess my goals’ true motives. There is no better way to review your personal objectives than by looking at their meaning.

Setting goals helps you stay focus through your daily journey, but doing it with a healthy heart allows for true fulfillment.

I’m inspired by the scriptures and how they help me keep my path straight. King David wrote one of my favorite chapters in Psalm 37. I believe the topic of goals and their meanings are reflected in verses 4 and 5:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this…” 

The context of this scripture evokes righteousness and victory as a result of our commitment to the Lord. The beautiful thing about this relationship is that God is the one changing our hearts and molding our desires to His. And His desires are greater than our own life. Seeking Him allows us to better understand our place and our goals. Delighting in Him provides us perspective in setting goals that matter beyond ourselves.

Great leaders aim for meaningful and selfless goals.

Marriage will kill you

Twelve years ago a beautiful woman dressed in white walked down the aisle in my direction. She was amazing and all I could think about was the life ahead of us: enjoying our youth, building a family and growing old together. April 18, 2003 was the day I died. Well, sort of; that was the day I was supposed to die.

You see, I didn’t know much about marriage. In fact, I didn’t know much about life. But as a recent Christ follower I knew Jesus’ biblical teachings instructed me to care, protect and provide for my wife. It seemed simple. After all, I was a kid in love – an expression so often (mis)used as an unbreakable feeling. Perpetual. Dying in this context was in my mind a noble image of me taking a bullet for her; getting in front of a car for her; doing anything just to keep her alive. To me that was the essence of a God-inspired marriage as shown in Ephesians 5:25.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

But, by the second week of our marriage (yes, it didn’t take long) I was faced with my biggest weakness: selfishness.

I remember it like it was yesterday. We returned from our honeymoon and I was invited to go out with the guys. I promptly accepted and my bride stayed home.  What seemed like a small incident quickly became a larger pattern of my self-centeredness. I was choosing me instead of my wife. I was slow to recognize it or understand it. I thought I had good intentions to back me up but my actions proved me wrong. Miscommunications quickly became frustrations, which slowly led to complete disconnections. Over the first few years of our marriage the joke that “marriage can kill you” wasn’t so funny at all.

That was until mercy and grace spoke to me.

As I’ve sought God through the years, He’s provided me with older and more mature men to give me perspective. These relationships have shown me that selfishness has haunted men since the fall in the Garden of Eden. I was not the only one going through this. This wisdom woke me up to the fact that my marriage is in a constant battle for attention. And I will only be able to overcome it if I’m to recognize the full dimension of my role as a husband through the eyes of Christ.

I think this is why the apostle Paul spent so much time addressing men in his letter to the church in Ephesus. The onus is on the husband to love like Christ so to make our wives holy, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish (Ephesians 5:27). I finally realized that to love my wife like Christ is to die die to myself and my desires in order to create an environment where she is recognized and treated for the jewel that she is. And the beautiful thing is that this commitment is mutual (Ephesians 5:24). This attitude has been a blessing in my marriage because not only have I died to put my focus on my spouse, she too has died and her interest is on me.

So marriage is supposed to kill you. It’s not easy. It requires intentionality. And I often fail at it. Putting work first, rating the interest of other family members higher, making the satisfaction of my needs a priority. There are so many other things trying to kill me. I simply choose to die for something better: my marriage.

I still have much to learn but recognizing it allows me to be the husband that Christ prepared for me to be. One that reflects the sacrifice of Christ. That is the true essence of a God-inspired marriage.

Has your marriage killed you yet?


Raising leaders – the parenting example

One of my biggest joys is being a father to our three children: Caden, Blake and Ava. Being a parent is a blessing, a commitment and a responsibility. But it’s not easy; if you have children you know this. Children love to test boundaries and mine are no different. It is part of their curious nature as they explore the world around them. Our goal as parents is to prepare them; to raise adults; leaders who are well balanced and ready for the road ahead.
Nothing highlights the importance of my role more than when I travel for work (maybe it’s because of the insecurity I feel anytime I fly). The week before I travel I often find myself questioning my actions and assessing if I’ve prepared them to the best of my abilities. The questions are simple: What if I don’t make it through this flight? Will they be ready to take on the world around them? The best way I’ve found to respond is to teach them from what I’ve seen and experienced. I make an effort before I travel to speak truths to them. These are moments of empowerment as I see their eyes grow with every word I speak. The world needs more leaders and I get to shape them daily.
Balance Pride with Humility
I don’t ever recall my father telling me to be proud of our family’s name. I do remember the stories of his youth. He respected his father deeply; the tone in his voice was stern when he spoke about him. I want our children to experience something more. I want them to be joyful and proud of our family name. More than the Portuguese heritage it carries, I want them to view our name as synonymous to kindness, hard work, integrity and a love for God. These reflections allow pride to co-exist with humility. Furthermore I want my children to be humble enough to recognize others first. While we are confident, we must not convince ourselves to always know everything. Humility often grants leaders the opportunity to lead.
Balance Responsibility with Respect
I remember my father working long hours with night shifts a regular occurrence. He never sat me down to talk about responsibility as an action but he demonstrated it daily. I remind my children of their responsibilities as being members of our family: to help out around the house and clean up after themselves (not all tasks completed result in monetary payment) and to prepare for the day ahead (doing their homework, pack their lunch, brush their teeth, etc.). And while I let my little girl know that she can do anything that boys can do, I specifically share with my two boys how they are to protect the family while I’m away. But none of this is complete or “whole” if they don’t respect their mother, their siblings, family and friends. Reflecting respect for others provides leaders the authority to lead.
So how do you parent? Do you prepare them for leadership? Did your parents provide a lesson worth sharing? Please add to the conversation by commenting below.

Share Your Story

The following blog post was first published on the Hope Community Church website as part of the Marketplace Matters Ministry. I’m honored to serve along side other Christ-followers who find purpose in their work. If you live in Raleigh-Durham, I encourage you to visit us and attend one of our monthly networking and leadership events.

One of the keys to success in the marketplace is for individuals to connect on a personal level. I have found this to be true in my own career, spanning two continents of work experiences. But don’t just take my word for it; this reality has also been proven through numerous studies and is well described in Gallup’s Q12 workplace evaluation. This assessment links employee’s personal connection with profitability, productivity, safety and customer loyalty. I can honestly say that my level of satisfaction for work has been directly correlated with the relationships I’ve created on a professional and personal level.

A true connection happens when we share more than just our successes. Yes, it is good to share in the ways  one was able to climb to the top of a mountain – the summit can be anything you have envisioned doing: the launch of a business, the roll-out of a new product, or even the creation of a new brand. Still, the biggest growth happens when we slip; when we are holding onto a ledge, too afraid to look down; when the weight of the world challenges our climb and weighs us down. The desire of our flesh is to sustain all the pressure and make it to the top by our own strength; bruised to the bone. We want to be the main character of this story. But that role has already been taken.

Another prominent part awaits us.

In God’s epic story He shows us his relentless passion and pursuit for a people gone prodigal. Our role is to share God’s unending love for us and fulfill the Ministry of Reconciliation, as presented by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18:

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

The Cross was a pivotal moment that changed history and made all believers ambassadors of Christ wherever we go: in our neighborhood, at the grocery store, at our kids schools, and in the marketplace. We have a role to play; one of great importance. While the corporate landscape certainly provides challenges to the sharing of your story, humility is key when connecting with others.

To better understand our role in God’s story we have to first recognize the 3 biggest challenges we face in our sharing, and how we can focus on “playing our part.”

1.    Living a busy life keeps us from truly connecting with others – When was the last time you took a lunch break and simply spoke with a co-worker about life? Focus on recognizing the brokenness in people. We hear bits and pieces of people’s stories when we hang out by the water cooler. We connect with others when we share in their brokenness.

2.    Living in isolation keeps us from being real with others – When was the last time you shared about your own struggles? Inviting others into your story of brokenness allows you to share how God has reconciled you. We are all broken. Being real provides credibility to our position and helps others to feel we are reachable.

3.    Living only for our own objectives keeps us from making a difference in the lives of others – When was the last time that you put your plans aside to aid a co-worker? Impact people by following through with actions of understanding and caring for others (as hard as it might be). Showing consistency between your message and actions fosters authenticity.

Ultimately, what you do matters! Share your story! A life might be changed for eternity!

Learning from your connections

I’ve often heard successful leaders say: recognize and connect with people smarter than you. In fact, one of the most common traits in successful leaders is how they expand their circles of influence by connecting with people. Stephen Covey recognized it as One of Seven.

Leaders know that connecting with others allows them to be impactful in their role. But it is more than mentorship; it goes both ways. We are meant to live in community and connecting with others allows for mutual growth. I’ve experienced this truth as I’ve juggled my responsibilities as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, neighbor and co-worker. We are all made to lead but successful leaders recognize the need to learn from others.

I don’t think there is a better way to describe it than by mentioning one of my favorite bible verses, Proverbs 27:17,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

This truth transcends culture and generation. Plus, it applies to both our personal and  professional lives. Throughout my journey God has put people along my path that have changed my life.

Personal growth

I will always remember my Thursday morning Men’s Group. We met every week to read into God’s word intentionally as we shared our struggles and weaknesses; as well as our dreams and passions. These men became my brothers. We shared great moments of inspiration that helped us become better husbands and better fathers.

Professional growth

My father-in-law first introduced me to this notion of work as an act of worship. I first heard it when I was still in college. I believe that connection provided me a strong foundation for my academic and professional success. Now-a-days, I’m engaged with other professionals who believe in a higher calling for the marketplace. Together we have learned to better manage work projects, business goals and career decisions. You can check out more on the Marketplace Matters website.

Through these connections I have learned to believe more in myself. My gifts and skills exist for a reason and I have been placed in a position to learn and grow. Whether at home or at work, my relationships have shaped me into a better man. A better leader.

Who are you thankful for? How have your relationships shaped you and contributed to the person you are today? Share below and keep the discussion going on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Ambition and Contentment: Can they co-exist?

I would like to unpack two words that have been a topic of discussion with the people closest to me: Ambition and Contentment. In a world where we are taught to push for the limits and never give up on our ambitions, I have been placed in a position to consider contentment just as important. Still the question was posed to me: Can they co-exist? So I went ahead and looked up the definition of both.
a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
a desire and determination to achieve success.
a state of happiness and satisfaction.
When I read the description for both words I noticed something obvious: they are not antinomies; meaning that one doesn’t negate the other. And as I looked inward I found that to be true. I mean, I’m pretty ambitious but I’ve often found myself content with life. Ultimately, anyone can live with both ambition and contentment but it is a balancing act and it is not always easy. I believe the best way to balance both is to first check, Where am I headed?
How do you define success?
This can be an intriguing question. Defining success can be a challenge and it is shaped differently for each person. Still, understanding what success looks like allows me to know where I’m headed. It’s a reminder to check the map; to review intentions; to see if my actions are getting me closer to where I want to be. This is true for an individual or an organization. At work we create mission statements and visions. We should do the same individually and with our families. Where we want to be is just as important as how we get there. Defining success for yourself is a good start!
I look at ambition as fuel. Fuel, ideas running through my mind at odd hours of the night, hopeful to see my project come to fruition. But it is also what reminds me to reconnect with my family and build memories that last. It all depends on your goals for life. Ambition is healthy when based on pure motives. Ambition is not greed. Ambition is a never-ceasing attitude that helps you achieve your goals.
I see contentment as a mile marker. These are checkpoints that remind you of how far you’ve come. It’s a great way to check on the progress you’ve made. Like ambition, contentment is an attitude connected with your motives. Contentment is not apathy. Contentment smiles back at you, sometimes reminding you that your goals don’t need to match that of others.
The answer
I believe both ambition and contentment can co-exist. I’m ambitious to grow in my career, but I’m content with how I’ve been impactful in each of my professional roles. I’m ambitious to provide financially for my family, but I’m content with how I’ve contributed to meet their needs.
I don’t want people to think this is easy because it is not. So many times I kick myself because I want more out of life: a bigger house, a nicer car, more money. I don’t think I’m alone with these feelings. Still, what I’ve noticed is that these feelings only come up when I compare myself with others. Their house. Their car. This is where contentment can ground us. In many cases it provides a reality check.
I consider contentment to be fundamental in recognizing the blessings around me. It is that mile marker that allows me to recognize how far along I’ve come in my journey. And success for me is being a leader at work and present at home. So I might not always boast the largest paycheck. In choosing to be present I’m fulfilling something that money can’t buy; spiritual and emotional leadership for my family.
What do you think? Can ambition and contentment co-exist?

One more day until the first blog post is published

The wait is almost over!