The Power of the Other

I recently read one of the most encouraging, powerful, and yet, self-evident, books. The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud is the great reminder that our culture has, yet again, misguided us. Especially here in the United States, we value independence. We celebrate people who appear to succeed on their own. We aren’t, however, told the entire story.
What you know instinctively, though, is that your best and worst seasons in life weren’t entirely about the market or your skills. Your best and worst seasons were also about who was with you. For better or worse, your friends and family were playing a large part in the results of those seasons and whom you were becoming. I know that my greatest accomplishments and challenges overcome have been, and will be, in close relationship with others.
In his book, Dr. Cloud identifies four approaches, or corners, to connection. In order for you to truly succeed in life, we need to intentionally avoid the first three corners and seek out the fourth corner. His four corners are:
  1. Disconnected, No Connection – I see this corner often in men who say, “I can pull myself up by my bootstraps. I’ve got this!” Or, you might be new to a town or job. Instead of seeking true connection, you maintain your independence, further isolating yourself.
  2. The Bad Connection – Because we are all made for connection, you might find yourself connected to a person who makes you feel inferior, guilty, or something is wrong with you.
  3. The Pseudo-Good Connection – Where Corner Two connections leave you feeling bad, Corner Three connections make you feel good. That can’t be a bad thing, can it? You just might find yourself surrounded by people who only tell you what you want to hear. Remember The Emperor’s New Clothes?
  4. True Connection – This is the corner where you want the best for others, and others want the best for you. As Dr. Cloud puts it, Corner Four connections, much like a Navy SEAL parachuting into hostile territory, ask themselves and seek the answers to three questions:
    1. Where am I?
    2. Where is the enemy?
    3. Where is my buddy?

You can recognize these Corners in just about every aspect of life. And, I believe we will do ourselves and our loved ones well to seek out and cultivate true connection with a handful of people…people who will help us arrive at a better destination.

Question: How has a healthy relationship helped you achieve greatness or overcome a challenge?

Taking Care of Business

Six weeks ago, the world lost one of the most amazing men to ever live. In case you haven’t heard, my grandfather, Jacob Paulk, went to his Heavenly home on February 24, 2017. Our family has obviously missed him dearly. And, the farm has experienced quite a transition, also. Papa Jacob left large shoes to fill, and I am humbled to carry on part of his legacy. I wrote about his influence in my life and our business in last month’s newsletter. Please check it out here.
One thing I’ve concluded that Papa Jacob did better than anything else was taking care of business. Personally, he took care of himself, his health, his relationship with God, and his relationships with friends and family with great intention. Professionally, he took care of his business every day with great focus on the smallest details and the broadest vision.
I’ve concluded that my mission in life is to take care of all God has entrusted to me…much like Papa Jacob took care of all God entrusted to him. I encourage you to also take care of all that has been entrusted to your care: your time, your health, your job, your family, your friendships.
Question: What are the most important things you take care of?

Growing in the Same Direction

Last month, Jorjanne and I went to the Catalyst Conference. Attending this event with our closest friends has become an annual tradition. If you aren’t familiar with the Catalyst Conference, check out their content and the people who speak. They are extremely genuine, wise, and inspiring.
Getting away a couple of times per year is a strategic part of our marriage. And, getting away together is a strategic focus of my closest friendships. I’ve learned that getting away together with Jorjanne and my closest friends regularly for a conference or special event provides at least 5 benefits:
  1. Taking a regular trip provides cherished memories that last a lifetime.
  2. These trips also allow us to grow in the same direction through the content we each experience at a conference. This common growth also provides new conversations and vocabulary that we use to continually benefit each other within our group.
  3. We can later share this information with our other friends, family, and team members to help them also grow in this same direction.
  4. By leaving home for the getaway, we are able view our everyday lives with a new perspective that we wouldn’t have recognized by staying home.
  5. Our friends, spouse, and other family can help us solve problems we may not have been able to solve while in the forest of daily life at home.
So, the next time you are invited to a conference GO! Or, if you’ve passed up the opportunity to attend a conference, take the lead next time and invite a few close friends to join you.
Your future healthier family will be glad you did.
Question…What conference has had the greatest impact on your personal, relational, or professional growth?

Freedom to Fail

This morning I actually got up early to work out…okay, my dog was barking (I think he’s scared of the dark) and woke me up 10 minutes before my alarm, so I got up. In any case, I just read the most refreshing and reassuring passage of scripture.

“…but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33

This passage of scripture was included in a short devotion by Bob Goff. If you don’t know Bob, read his book, Love Does. Bob must be one of the most joyful, passionate, and whimsical people on the planet. In his devotion, he talks about how God loves us even through our failures. Fortunately, God doesn’t want us to keep score of our screw ups versus successes. He calls us to think differently. Bob closes the devotion with a powerful thought… “I’ve realized that I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

As you think about your various projects, responsibilities, and relationships, are you striving to succeed at things that don’t really matter?

If I want a healthy family, I must strive to succeed at things that matter. Engaging conversations with Jorjanne and the boys matter. Staying current on my Facebook feed…not so much. Consistently encouraging my boys matters. Eating dinner at home matters. Staying busy at work or another meeting late into another evening…not so much. Get the idea?

If you’d like to read the entire devotion, check it out here.

Dinner Time

Next Tuesday MPC hosts Life Lessons Over Lunch. We host lunch on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month and invite the entire farm family. Usually, anywhere from 10-30 people eat together, and we watch a video message by North Point Community Church. The messages are very helpful. In fact, we just completed my favorite North Point Series of all time, Destinations: Direction, not intentions determines destination. But, just as helpful as the messages, is the opportunity for me to pour the drinks and our entire farm family eat together. We don’t all work in the same physical locations, so everyone doesn’t always spend time together throughout the work week. While it is only an hour, Life Lessons Over Lunch allows us to grow  together as a group of people who all have hopes and dreams and fears; and what better place to grow than around a table together with food!
Eating together as a family is very important. Many times during the year, Jorjanne, the boys, and I end up eating at a ballgame or between practices. But, I cherish the evenings when we eat at home. The boys finish their homework, we play a little, and then we eat dinner together,  with no agenda other than enjoying each others’ company.
Every family needs to eat together. If possible, eat at home. And, eat together regularly. Dinner provides such a wonderful opportunity to serve each other, listen to each other distraction free, and grow together.
Bottom line…dinner as a family makes for a healthy family.
Question: What is your favorite dinner?

Value Adding

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my company and our purpose. I have a mission statement. But, frankly, I’m not crazy about it. I don’t consider myself a wordsmith. In fact, I’ve never written anything and thought, “That’s it! Chris, you nailed it!” Jorjanne writes things regularly that amaze me. But, I don’t consider myself that person. If it wouldn’t defeat the purpose of this being my blog, I wish she could write my blog posts…I would definitely write more often, and you would enjoy reading more. Anyway…

My company is in the business of adding value to the crops we grow and are grown around us. We make all kinds of juices and powders from the muscadines that are grown on our vineyard that add value to our customers’ lives. I love this idea of adding value.
I define adding value as “the act of improving or adding worth.”
This definition extends beyond just the products we make. In fact, my leadership style is born from this definition. One of my goals as the leader of my company is that each person considers himself or herself better for having worked with me.
As Jorjanne’s husband and my boys’ dad, I also aim to add value to their lives.
So, as you interact with your family and friends this week, ask yourself, “How can I add value to his or her life?”
I think everyone will enjoy the resulting product.

How to Know What the Next Move Should Be

I just realized that my last blog post was almost 8 months ago! Oh my goodness…where has the time gone?!?! Since I last posted anything here, life has been a blur. For starters, I was elected as Irwin County’s newest County Commissioner. My business has continued to grow, and we recently brought on four new team members. As time continues to fly by faster, my business becomes more complex, and I am asked to make decisions that impact many people, I made a serious investment late last year in my leadership. I hired a coach.

What kind of coach, you ask, did I hire? I hired an executive coach. This person has so many experiences from the business teams she’s led. And, today she works with a large leadership and small business consulting company. Needless to say, she is highly qualified. I’ve worked with tennis coaches before, but I’ve never worked with such a personal type of coach. Much like a tennis coach, my executive coach starts with the fundamentals of my game. The only difference being that my executive coach’s first assignment was reading about and then writing my values and vision instead of hitting ground strokes. My executive coach’s goal is to help me lead my business towards the vision and preferred future she has helped me craft. In the midst of uncertain times, she has helped me chart a course and clearly communicate it with my team. But, the beautiful part of working with my coach is that she has helped me gain perspective and ideas for bringing clarity to my situations.

In his book, Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge, Dr. Henry Cloud makes the argument that leaders, much like any other closed system in the universe, are doomed for disorder without an external input of energy. In fact, leaders need energy and guidance in order to maintain order within themselves. Energy keeps us going, and guidance points us in the right direction. You can find this energy and direction from trusted friends, mentors, and books. I have a couple of close friends who help me navigate personal and business decisions. And, my executive coach is now also providing energy and guidance as I navigate complex business decisions.

My coach is a serious investment. But, the energy and guidance I gain in leading my team far outweigh the costs. If you’ve ever wondered what the next move should be, I highly recommend you work with a coach. You’ll be glad you did.

And, here is a great resource and another super helpful resource.

Question: What is the best quality of your favorite sports coach?

What is #ABetterIrwinCounty

Over the past few weeks and months, I have been posting and sharing pictures and thoughts online with the hashtag #ABetterIrwinCounty. For an explanation of hashtags, click here. For an explanation of #ABetterIrwinCounty, keep reading.

I believe in Irwin County. I was born and raised here. I was educated here. I was also taught to dream here. I believe in our natural resources. I believe in our fields, orchards, and vineyards. I believe in the people of Irwin County. I also believe in what Irwin County could and should be.

A better Irwin County is built on the realization that we are all here for only a short time and should leave things in better shape than when we found them. A better Irwin County is home to healthy farms, healthy industries, and healthy small businesses. A better Irwin County also makes it safe and a pleasure traveling to these places. Lastly, if you live here, a better Irwin County includes you having great relationships with your family, friends, and coworkers.

This belief in a better Irwin County prompted me to run for the 4th District’s County Commissioner’s seat. When I see examples of what makes Irwin County a great place to live and lead my business, I am sharing them online. I’d love to see what you believe makes #ABetterIrwinCounty, too. Please use the hashtag #ABetterIrwinCounty when you share your pictures and thoughts. Also, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see what I believe makes #ABetterIrwinCounty.

One question: What do you believe makes #ABetterIrwinCounty?