“How do you eat an elephant?” This was a question my Grandpa would frequently ask me when I was young boy. I was always puzzled by it and could never remember the answer, luckily, my Grandpa would kill my “cluelessness” by telling me that the way you eat an elephant is by taking one bite at a time. Now I’m sure my Grandpa wasn’t the only person to tell this saying, because as I grew older I heard it from many different people. But looking at where we are at today, this homespun truth has never become so prevalent than now. Because I believe as Leaders, there are a lot of so-called “ELEPHANTS” in our life. These elephants are Tasks and goals that we think are insurmountable and seem impossible to achieve. Of these many challenging goals and tasks that we think of, the most common I have found is the idea of Changing our World for the Better. When talking about goals, one of the biggest objectives for Leaders is to Change our World. And as big as this goal maybe, rest assured, because it is achievable, in fact, people all through history have been doing it. For example, in the 1800’s there was a boy who said to his Mama that he wanted to grow up and change the world, and years later, he invented something called the Light Bulb. Over 180 years ago, a little boy in a log cabin prayed to God saying, “Lord help me change this world!” And even though he had lost 8 prior political elections, he would not give up and would later become the 16th President of the United States and create some of the most prolific legislation in American History that would ultimately impact millions of lives across the globe. Today, a man in a Ford Truck with a bumper sticker on the back saying “WorldChanger” was going through the McDonald’s Drive-Thru and paid for the people behind him. You see, changing the world is a great goal to have, but I have found from my own experiences that it isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. Its a collaborative effort that never gives up and comes with the understanding that we are all in this together. It all starts by taking one step at a time and it’s the littlest things that can make the Biggest Differences. We have to come to the conclusion that an Outward Impact starts with an Inward change. A change in our attitudes, a change in our outlooks, and even a change in our hearts. And that since we only Live once, than we better think Twice about the choices we make and start believing in a world changed for the better. So I have a question for you, do you have any elephants in your life? Better yet, do you want to Change the World? Because if you do, than please know that “We” can achieve this goal by taking one bite, one step, and one choice at a time. Keep the Fire alive and always remember to stay hungry! 🙂
It’s a simple question that each and every one of us is asked on a daily basis. The majority of responses to this question are things such as:
“Oh, it was ok!”
“It was so stressful.”
“You have no idea!”
“I don’t know, what day is it again?” … Lol
The fact is that we tend to live very, very super busy lives, especially when it comes down to this time of year and Finals are the only thing we can think about. We began to settle into our own little world and begin to be busier than a Squirrel at an Acorn Farm. 😉 Seriously though, Life gets hectic this time of year and with that, we often find ourselves in a negative atmosphere or mindset.
The battle of the day takes its toll on our every molecule, we get busy, we get stressed, overwhelmed, burdened, and mentally dehydrated at the end of the day, quite frankly, feeling exhausted. Trust me; we’ve all slipped on those pair of shoes. But allow me to share something with you: no matter how much you hurt, no matter how much we stress, no matter how heavy the burden maybe, please know that the arms that hold the universe are holding you tonight.
We must challenge ourselves to break the negativity of our own little worlds and realize that we were made for so much more.
You see, we were meant to be happy, not hurt. We were meant to be successful, not stressed. We were meant to be blessed, not burdened. We were meant to be tough, not tired. Simply put, we were meant to have a great day! I’m finding that relaxation is just as important as productivity and when I let my burdens go and begin to trust God, my day is officially made.
As leaders, we can’t afford to let ourselves get mentally drained or allow ourselves to be bankrupt of joy, we must strive to restore ourselves with new vision, new energy, and new growth. And all these things come from the Man upstairs.
As the dawn of tomorrow begins and you journey on and finish up Dead week and study hard for the Finals, I hope that you’ll return home and someone asks, “Hey, how was your day?”
And you’ll be able to respond and say: “My day was super great!”
We’ve all had that exciting moment where we get that letter of acceptance in the mail. Your Senior Year of High School, you apply to dozens of schools, filling out scholarship apps, and taking the ACT more times than Einstein. It’s definitely a very busy year. But nothing is as Awesome as when that college you’ve been waiting to hear back from finally says, “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted…” Well, I remember when I was applying for college, one of my acceptance letters came in a big bright orange folder. When I opened it up, it read these words: “Welcome to the Cowboy Family!” That day was a defining moment in my life, not only had I been accepted to OSU, but I had become part of huge family of Cowboys. Now when most people think about a Cowboy, they think of John Wayne, Oklahoma State, Chuck Norris, and yes, Tony Romo’s Team. But to me, being a Cowboy means more than just a mascot. You see, back in the old west, a cowboy was known as the toughest, strongest, and most diligent people out there. They could get the job done, no matter the costs, conditions, and even no matter the weather. These guys were committed to their job and worked hard. Whether it was herding cattle, being a ranch hand, blazing a new trail, or even branding cattle, you could expect a Cowboy to never give up until the job was done. Now, everyone knows about the news at Oklahoma State and the investigation going on. Many people on campus are taking it hard, and I agree that it’s a tough issue. But one thing I know is that our campus is resilient, and we know how to get things done. We are Cowboys, in fact, we are a whole family of them. One of our themes on campus is called “Branding Success”, and no matter what the outcome, that is something that we as OSU students do everyday, we brand success by improving our grades, learning new things, researching scientific data, increasing our scholarship, reaching out to a new friend, polishing that resume, pomping that homecoming float, & so much more. We brand our successes on OSU, because everything we do stakes our claim, makes our mark, and leaves an impact. Regardless of what is being said about our school, what matters is how we respond. We can choose to respond negatively or we can choose to keep our heads and keep moving forward. It’s time to get back to believing the old Cowboy way, by never giving up. We’re all in this together and we’re the toughest cowboys in town. The day is dawning & the cattle are waiting. The time to saddle up our horses is now, because we’ve got a new trail to blaze. Cowboys Never Give Up and neither should we. Cowboys keep moving forward and get the job done! Long Live Cowboys! Long Live OSU!
Do you ever feel like your life gets super busy? I mean, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives where time simply escapes us because of the constant demands of our daily schedules. Simply put: we get caught up in our own plans, calendars, agendas, so much that we forget to take the time to listen to the needs of others. So, the other day I was on my way to college and to avoid the construction of town, I decided to be like Rodney Atkins and “Take a Back Road” to class. As I’m taking the back road to class, I notice that there are no cars, no traffic, no construction. Feeling good about life, I then crank up the radio to listen to some music & hear some wise financial words from money expert, Dave Ramsey. Oh Boy, Life couldn’t be better 🙂 As I’m listening to some great commentary and driving down this traffic-less road, I begin to zone into my own little world and forgot everything around me. Before you know it, Dave Ramsey is talking about one of my favorite financial topics on the radio about how to plan for retirement while in college 🙂 At this point, my mental juices are flowing, getting so caught up in the moment, I’m driving and then, all of a sudden, I blow right past a stop sign without even thinking. What was even worse was that a Police officer was right there at the intersection of where I crossed. Immediately, as soon as I did this, I looked behind me and saw red and blue lights. I pulled my car over and talked with the police officer about what I did wrong, admitting that I was guilty as charged. He said to me, “Mr. Baumgarten, I pulled you over because you didn’t stop at the stop sign. In the future you need to make sure you stop, look both ways, consider other traffic, and then proceed with caution.” He gave me a warning and we both went our separate ways and even though I did violate a traffic law, the officer did his job greatly and made me thankful for the Awesome police officers that we have in our country. As I went on with my day, I couldn’t help but think of what leadership truths I had learned from this event. You see, often times we get caught up in the business of life, the fast lane of life if you will, and forget to stop, look around and consider others who might come our way. In our daily lives, we must be willing to yield to what’s important, for if we don’t, it could be costly, not in just terms of a ticket, but in terms of time and opportunity. You know, in this life, I don’t want for one second to miss out on what’s important. I don’t want to get so caught up in the world of ME, that I forget about the universe of everyone else. Each one of us was called to serve a very special purpose, but if we don’t take the time out to STOP and discover that important purpose, than how will we ever fulfill it? In this life, I don’t want to roll passed any opportunity, any chance to change a life, or any purpose that I’ve been meant to accomplish. Sure, it’s easy to get distracted, but we must remember to stay on course. We must stop, look around, consider those who are around us, and then proceed with life cautiously, seeking out opportunities to serve and being aware of the positive change we can make. And that, my friends, is what Life all about!! 🙂
Just the other day I was driving by a high school football field and saw the players getting ready for a much anticipated year, but beyond the football players practice, you couldn’t help but overhear the shouts of the cheerleading practice that was happening right across the street. As I listened to what the cheerleaders were chanting, I realized that they were doing a familiar cheer that we’ve all heard before. It went like this: “Let’s Get Fired Up! Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.” Over and over again, the cheerleaders kept practicing this chant, with each cheer getting louder and each motion becoming more precise. As I heard this, my mind went back and thought of two things: 1). When I use to play basketball in high school, every game our cheerleaders would do this chant and as a player it was indeed encouraging to hear. They were trying to get people excited, pumped, enthused, and, yes, pardon the pun, “Fired Up” about what could happen next for our team. The idea was that if everyone got involved, enough people would get fired up and began to really root for the team. The fans then could positively Impact the Atmosphere and ultimately help our team get a Win! When we look at life, it seems like many people are looking for a Win. They’re in a game, a game called life; a game that shows no mercy, a game that is brutal, it’s unfair and often times we’re up against its odds. But when life knocks us down, we must be willing to get back up. Just like the fans at the game, we as leaders have the opportunity to Impact the Atmosphere. We have the opportunity to make or break someone’s day, an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. We need to be excited about what will happen next, to get others involved and say the words “Let’s Get Fired Up” to a very dry, cold, and desolate world. That choice starts with each of us. 2). The second thing I thought of was the words “Fired Up”. Sure, we get fired up about football games, cookouts, museums, TV shows, competitions, food eating contests, lol, among many other things. But , in this life, what does it mean to be completely fired up about something? When I think about these two words, I think about a torchbearer. Before there were flashlights, there were people who would carry torches of fire and light the way for the people to see, because if anyone was fired up back then, it was these guys, literally lol. They would guide, direct, and lead people into the right direction. I went to my dictionary to see what the word torchbearer actually meant verbatim, it gave me this golden definition, “Torchbearer: One, such as a leader, who imparts knowledge, truth, or inspiration to others.” I want to ask you a question, “By this definition, are you a torchbearer?” I know many of us are about to start school or already did, and there is nothing I crave more than to be a person who impacts others with truth, knowledge, and inspiration daily. There are people in our schools, communities, and in our own lives who are looking for guidance, direction, and leadership, we must ask ourselves, “Will we be the person that is willing to take the torch and lead the way?” Each of us have a fire that burns within us, a fire of influence that can inspire, motivate, and impact others in a positive way, but for what purpose will this fire of influence burn for? We must remember that though some people are silent, their hearts are crying, crying out for a friend, will we be that friend? In this dark world, so many people are looking for the light, a fire of inspiration, if you will, when in truth, we as leaders are the ones who are holding the Flame. We must desire to be fired up, but not just about material things, but about the impact we make on someone’s life. We must be the “torchbearers” and carry the flame into today’s dark world, people who burn with passion, model the way, believe in the future, and share their spark. This spark starts at the Heart. So no matter what you’re starting, whether it is school, college, a new job, a hobby, or even starting retirement, please know that each day is an opportunity where we can impact our atmosphere, we can positively influence someone’s life, and we can ultimately change our world. We must always remember to be a Friend, to Fuel the Flame. Be the Spark. Be Motivated. Be Influential and be the “Torchbearer” we were meant to be. “Let’s Get Fired Up!”
“Learning Leadership From Chicken Nuggets”
The other day a friend of mine challenged me to try to do something random, to get out of the norm, to dare to be different, and break through the monotony of everyday life. This challenge has caused me to really focus and pay attention to the little things in life, it’s made me become more aware of my surroundings and the people around me. So, with this challenge in mind, I visited Burger King for lunch on the road this past week, I don’t normally like going through the drive thru, because you don’t get to meet as many people as you do inside. When I walked into Burger King, there were indeed A LOT of people there, standing in 3 lines waiting for there orders to be taken, it was definitely Lunch rush hour haha. I hopped in line, waiting for my order to be taken, as I waited, I couldn’t help but notice a mom and her younger son ordering in the front, the boy was pleading for a chicken nugget kids meal, but the Mom said no. Having to explain, she looked at her 6- year old son and said, “Honey, those chicken nuggets don’t have the real chicken in it, it’s artificial stuff. You want the Real stuff, because it can help grow stronger and it will be healthier for you.” Now, as I heard this conversation, I thought, “Wow, this mom just made a great point.” Not only in terms of setting healthy eating habits for her son, but also from a leadership perspective. You see, a lot of times in life, we settle for the artificial stuff, sometimes we have artificial chocolate artificial Attitudes, artificial friends, and sadly, many times we can tend to live artificial lives. But just like the mom at Burger King, I don’t want to settle for the imitations. I want the Real Stuff. We weren’t meant to be Artificial, we were meant to be Authentic. We must choose to be Real.
So, 3 things we can learn:
1). Artificial things may look better, but Authenticity is what counts.
2). When we are Real with ourselves, we become Real with others.
3). When we choose to be real, we will grow into better individuals and healthier leaders. #Food4Thought
Arlington, it’s one of the biggest cemeteries in the world, not to mention one of the most moving. It’s known as the final resting place for nearly 300,000 service men and counting. It is where the price of our freedom is perhaps the most obvious. The graves are well marked, the markers standing as if to create the final military formation. The lines perfect in every direction. However, Arlington is more than just a cemetery; it’s a hallowed ground, honoring the many men and women who have given their lives for the sake of their country.
Within the business of life, it’s easy to take our freedom for granted, but to a schoolteacher named Martha Cathren it’s a priority. On the first day of school at Joe .T. Robinson High in Little Rock, AR, students walked into Mrs. Cathren’s classroom expecting a typical first day of school. But to their surprise they found Mrs. Cathren’s classroom empty, not one desk in sight. One puzzled student asked, “Mrs. Cathren, where are the desks?” Mrs. Cathren replied and said, “You get a desk if you can tell how you can earn it.” One student said, “Mrs. Cathren, is it by making good grades that we get a desk in your class?” Mrs. Cathren replied saying, “You ought to make good grades in my class, but that won’t earn you a desk in my class?”
Another student said, “Is it by being on our best behavior in your class?” Mrs. Cathren then said, “You will behave in my class, but that won’t earn you a desk either!” All day long class after class kept asking, but no one could come up with the right answer, at the end of school, Mrs. Cathren invited all of her students into her classroom and said, “Since no one has been able to figure it out, I’ll tell you.” Martha opened the door of her classroom and in walked 27 veterans, some wearing uniforms from years gone by, but each one carrying a school desk.
As they carefully and quietly arranged the desks in neat rows, Martha said, “You don’t have to earn your desk…because these brave men already did. They along with thousands of others went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers, so we could have the freedom we have today. No one charged you for your desk, but it wasn’t really free. These men bought it for you.
My friends, the greatest lesson we can ever learn is the principle of Living to Serve. The next time you’re looking for an example of this lesson, think about Gettysburg, think about Vietnam, think about Arlington, but most of all, think about your desk and the price it cost. Just remember, that while All gave some, some gave All.