Making turns is required to get to your destination. Very rarely are our journeys a straight shot. Life is a series of intersections with decisions to make on which way to turn.
Last Monday started off just like every other workday for me. I am a creature of habit. My routine consists of getting up, taking a shower, getting dressed, taking my vitamins, reading my Bible, grabbing a cup of coffee and heading out of the door by 7:30 a.m. In that exact order.
My commute is less than five minutes. A good portion of that trip is down Main Street. According to the National League of Cities there are 7,644 Main Streets in the United States. I am particularly fond of our Main Street in Acworth, Georgia.
I take it to work every day, but have also taken it to some of the most important experiences in my life. It is the route I took to coach hundreds of games, to propose to my wife, to the hospital for our children’s birth, just to name a few. This Monday was different though. As I approached the traffic light in our Historic Downtown, I took a left turn to get to my destination instead of a right turn. I was headed to City Hall, not the Community Center.
Our City Manager retired a little more than two weeks ago. At a special called meeting on June 25, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen chose me as his successor. I was humbled and honored. This week, I want to share a few things that have been on my heart and mind as I arrive at this new intersection:
Do Not Fear Making A Wrong Turn
Ever made a wrong turn and ended up in a not so good neighborhood? It can be scary! If you have made that wrong turn before, you know what I am talking about. You become uncomfortable, worried, and anxious
I felt all those emotions as I made the turn that morning. Am I smart enough to do the job? Do I have the experience? Will people follow me? All the doubts that each of us have experienced at one point or another in our leadership journeys. Fear of making a wrong turn will leave us stuck at the intersection. Sometimes you just have to pick a way and go.
Wrong Turns Are Part Of The Journey
I know this. No matter what wrong turns I have made, I have always arrived at my destination. Safe and secure. The wrong turns we have made in our past do not determine our future destination. You grow wiser from each wrong turn and it helps you choose the right direction in the future. Journeys are never straight. They are full of left turns, right turns, and wrong turns. The route can be bumpy, winding, or have some potholes. Have faith you will end up at your destination.
Enjoy the Ride
I am a competitor. I grew up playing baseball, basketball, football, and wrestling. I have coached each of these sports as well.
One of my favorite things to compete with is the GPS on a long trip. Beating the GPS requires making sure every turn is efficient, that you do not get stuck behind slow drivers, avoid traffic jams, and you limit pit stops!
The problem is, I can be so focused on beating the GPS that I do not enjoy the ride. I pass right through and miss all the beauty a trip has to offer in architecture, landscape, and nature in general. Sometimes we must let our foot off the accelerator, take our eyes off the destination, and enjoy what the ride has to offer.
Be Excited for the Future
We have two lakes in our community. When you have bodies of water around, fog happens. As leaders, we can get so entrenched in the day to day activities that it is difficult to see through the fog of it.
The future excites me. I have always defined vision as the ability to see further. Fog, disguised as busyness and distraction, can limit our ability to see further. For me, I need space to dream. When I am intentional about creating space in my world, it helps me see further. It creates an excitement for what is possible.
Serving Your Community Is A Worthy Cause
The purpose of this blog is to inspire a generation of community leaders to make the turn from ordinary to extraordinary. Community leaders use their influence to better others and the world they live in. They are local educators, public servants, business owners, pastors, and volunteers. All are difference makers in local communities.
I have served more than twenty-one years in the field of Parks and Recreation. That role has allowed me to serve my community in ways I could have never imagined. It is something that I do not take for granted. I consider it a worthy cause.
I started with the city as a summer camp counselor in the summer of 2000 and transitioned into a groundsman cleaning bathrooms, cutting grass, and doing trash. In 2005, I was appointed Director of Parks and Recreation at the age of twenty-three. I was given a tremendous opportunity at an early age by our elected and appointed leadership. Looking back now, I can honestly say they saw a lot more in me than I saw in myself. That is what good leaders do.
Over the last week, I reflected back to experiences in the early part of my career. I remember walking into Georgia Recreation and Parks Association events and being the youngest Director in the room. It invoked feelings of inadequacy, lack of preparedness, and fear of failure.
Those moments of feeling this way were short lived this week. I cannot tell you how many people in our community and on our city team have encouraged me and offered to help in any way they can as I transition into this new role. The calls, emails, and texts meant the world! Many of these people read this blog and you are greatly appreciated for your investment in my life.
The transition to City Manager challenges me. I need that. Sometimes I can play life way too safe. I could have stayed a Parks and Recreation Director until retirement and been just fine. In life, we have to make turns that stretch us to reach our full potential.
Turns are required to get to your destination.
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
Does fear leave you stuck at the intersection? What have you learned from the wrong turns? Are you enjoying the ride or focused on the destination? Are you giving yourself space to see further? Are you serving your community the best you can? Are you stretching yourself?