a Call to Leadership

“A good leader has a compass in their head, and a magnet in their heart.”

-Howard G. Hendricks

A quality leader tends to be an enigma, but that shouldn’t have to be the case. Consider the authority figures in your life. Teachers, pastors, friends, politicians, family, employers these are the people who shape our lives. Now how many of those authority figures do you look up to for guidance? A leader evokes that from you with ease. Far too often we force ourselves to follow authority figures that we simply don’t trust. We do this because we know that they should be creating these feelings in us. We do this because we desire leadership. We are social beings, and the very act of our humanity causes us to seek out a leader that can keep us safe. When our authority figures fail to lead us they are denying us a natural craving. Only chaos can come from that.

I’m quite public with my disdain for the term “millennials.” The label that simultaneously categorizes an entire generation and assigns blame for problems that should belong to us all. My argument is that the disarray of my generation, both real and perceived, spurs from a lack of leadership; from that violation of the natural order. I hate to sound like a cynic, but it is too late for the older generations to do anything. They can attempt to explain away the problems with their labels and theories, yet their time to lead has come and gone. The issues that face us will be overcome by my generation.

We “millennials” are often accused of being narcissists who demand that everything in life be handed to us. The truth is found to be a little different. Perhaps it’s not that we demand too much, rather that we fail to demand enough of what we really need. Our entire lives we have been told that we can be anything. That is an idea we hold sacred in our society, and rightly so. Though somewhere along the way a lie crept in. A lie that says because we all have infinite possibility, than we must all be equal. The result is that we did away with the notion of leaders, and consensus became the dictator of our every action. Don’t get me wrong, I know that every person is of equal value and that a consensus of the whole is a useful tool for understanding. The problem is that it fails to accomplish anything. We are a diverse people so there will always be dissent. Only a leader, with that compass in their mind, will pick out the best course of action and make it happen. What’s more is that a leader, with that magnet in their heart, is able to unite a group in order to accomplish a goal.Because of our diversity, a group could never unify itself without a leader.

We must not allow leadership to remain a mysterious quality. It belongs in the natural order as much as seeking shelter or some other basic need. Every person is of equal value, though thankfully we are not all equally the same. Within our social groups everyone of us possesses a different set of strengths and abilities. The beauty is that through a little effort each of these talents can be refined into a specific type of leadership. Every moment of our lives is a chance to lead and to follow. A good leader is an excellent follower, and vice versa. Every moment we must choose to be more, the status quo only hampers solutions. We need to become a people of character that demands the best of each other and of ourselves.

I’ll leave you with this. Our way of life requires leaders. Only a leader can put the chaos to rest. So demand that authorities be quality leaders. In return give them the trust and respect they deserve. And should they break your trust, put your abilities to work. Demand of yourself the leadership necessary. Each of us has that ability, that will, and that responsibility.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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a consensus wouldn’t have built the car

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beautiful chaos

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Last night at 11:53pm I glanced at the clock and had one of those moments that are hard to explain. Maybe it’s existentialism, or maybe it’s sleep deprivation. Regardless, at 11:53pm last night I had to stop and ask, “what in the world am I doing with myself?!” Let’s paint the picture. I’m sitting on the edge of a futon in my small, dimly-lit bedroom. Next to me is a cast aside textbook that was explaining the evolution of the correctional system from the Code Hammurabi onward. In the background some French pop artist is singing extremely fast about love an death or something. I was sitting there trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to write a blog post. my laptop was open in front of me and I had several tabs running. One was a Wikipedia article on Andrew Sullivan. Another was an op-ed on why too much democracy creates a breeding ground for tyranny. On Youtube there was a clip from the movie Dead Poet’s Society. And the finally a poem from the 17th century telling virgins what to do with their time. And I know, none of that is overtly important. my illustration is to show you the chaos of that moment. The clock read 11:55pm before I realized what had caused me pause. The beautifully chaotic moments that I regularly allow into the inner sanctum of my life, the one’s that I honestly enjoy, are accurate visualizations of my mind. my hope in sharing this with you is that maybe you’ll understand me a bit more. maybe you’ll understand that when I write excitedly in a ranting tone it’s spurred onĀ  by a false urgency of so many thoughts. And maybe if you’re someone I interact with in my life and you ever encounter me silent know that it’s not because I have nothing to say. Rather it’s because I see a dozen thought processes spiraling out and I can’t seem to pick the correct one fast enough. I am constantly searching for a single thread amongst the chaos. I don’t always find it, but every day I continue the search.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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Break of Day

I have walked a thousand miles and I will walk a thousand more. Searching. Always searching. All to find the break of day. Possessing a passion for life that leads me on. Constantly seeking whatever should come next. On this path I often find obstructions. They are distractions and demons, wholly determined to bring me down. Time and again I painfully rise, Infinitely better for having lived the previous day. I’ve come to believe that the end point is but a small part for now. my concern becomes rising each day prepared to grow evermore.

I have walked these thousand miles. And I will walk a thousand more, all before the break of day.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Personality and Shoes

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As Forrest Gump said, “you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes.” Well these are my shoes, and they sure don’t hide much. I got these as something to wear instead of my hiking shoes. Though the other night during my commute I pulled into this local Conservation area to check out the river. Of course now they’re dirty. I guess as much as I try to fill the role of a typical university student, I can’t hide that I’m really an outdoors junky at heart. That I belong somewhere else. And I suppose I’m okay with that.
Peace, Love, and Happiness…
–Joe

free writing for better writing pt2

author’s note: this continues the series where I take a free writing prompt and present it to you in it’s rough form. this is all in the effort to create characters for my fiction work.

A Perfect Day

deep breath. Smell that? it’s a warm spring morning and there was a thunderstorm last nite. I see the leaves dripping, the winding dirt path is slightly muddy, all around there is a surreal glow as the may sun hits the foliage, and crashing though my thoughts is the sound of countless song birds beckoning to each other. As I shoulder my pack I smile at my friend. Let’s do this.

we begin down the trail turning the bend and losing sight of the car. Our goal today is to reach the overlook, to see for miles. But that doesn’t really matter, does it? What I’m doing, where I’m at, and the time of the year are all second rate to who I’m with. What makes it a perfect day is spending time with a friend. It’s about catching up, laughter, discussing life, and meaningless shit. That’s what brings me to life more than anything else.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Context

Merry Christmas!

I write these words out, and you can only assume that I mean them. But have you noticed the power words have when spoken? When you hear someone say something you can know fairly well what they mean.

I’m the kind of guy who typically says merry Christmas this time of year, but I’m not offended if you say something else. “Blessed Advent,” “Happy Hannukah,” “Joyous Kwanzaa,” seasons greetings,” “Happy Holidays,” etc., etc. Here’s the point, what you say does not matter as much as what you mean.

As I was leaving a small store earlier today the gal chimed after me “Happy Holidays” I automatically replied my thanks and left, it felt hollow. Similarly I had the college instructor who told us to have a great weekend; but it was empty, acting only as a dismissal. Then there was my classmate who, after talking in the hallway for five minutes or so, saw the time and had to go. As she rushed off she told me to have a great day, and I couldn’t help but smile. Somehow you can tell when someone genuinely means it like she did. I don’t know how to explain it any better, and I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I guess just next time you interact with another human being, be genuine. Don’t pretend. Those around you can tell, and will appreciate it. Gaudate!

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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free writing for better writing pt 1

Authors note: this is the first part of a series of free writing pieces I’ve been working on to improve my articulation and hopefully be able to create fictional characters infused with my personality. All of these posts will be typed using first draft, including possible poor punctuation and random capitalization. It’s a process.

I dream of being a senior park ranger at a remote national park outpost. To get there I need a bachelor’s degree, Federal agent training, and an EMT license. And above all, experience. I strive to build a resume that will stand out above the rest. Everything comes at a cost though. First of all it costs home I will not find my dream job here in missouri. And pursuing my dream will most likely require moving regularly. It will also cost time. no one attains my dream position straight out of college, it often takes 8-10 yrs to be hired as a senior ranger. It costs money and energy. I have to earn my degree while simultaneously attaining several certificates and balancing a part-time job and volunteer work (again resume building). This all takes energy that I cant use for leisure, friends family. I will lose contact with some of those friends, through my neglect. The lack of Leisure time may very well cost my sanity. These costs must be weighed to determine the appropriateness of my ambitions. and these ambitions may change I’m young and this life is an adventure im taking. It’ll be fun

I am Bernard

This All Saints day I’d like to take a moment and give you a view of my patron, Saint Bernard

My name is Bernard. I am a gentleman. I am an adventurer. I am a scholar. I will always be a friend of the traveler and of the lost. I love the outdoors. And I pursue mountains, both real and metaphorical. I am a saint. I am a sinner. I am Bernard.

You should go listen to this like a good person… “Litany” –Matt Maher

Who is your patron saint? Is their someone living who you model your life after? I strongly encourage you to find a saint and a mentor. One to pray for you, the other to call you to the carpet every once and awhile…

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Labels

I have a love/hate relationship with labels. I enjoy the responsibility that certain labels bring with them, but I fear fitting any stereotypes that inevitably come with said labels. It’s kind of like Taylor Swift not wanting her music to be one genre or another, because people will expect to hear a certain sound. There is freedom in being undefined.

So I do usually distance myself from labels. Despite this I found myself taking a personality test. And when it came back saying that I was INFJ I was kind of doubtful. How can a computer program accurately place me into one of sixteen Myers-Briggs archetypes with only ten minutes of answering questions? But I brought myself here, and curiosity bid me to read further. I would proceed to be shocked as it went on to describe me.

I am Introverted, iNtruistic, Feeling, and Judging (INFJ), a personality that makes up less than one percent of the population. Being introverted I prefer solitude and become exhausted by prolonged social interaction. My intuition leads me to be imaginative and curious. Also, I tend to focus on future possibilities. Feeling describes my empathetic and sensitive self. So introversion and judging were my top two characteristics by far. The judging aspect being the very strongest. Judging is categorized as being decisive, thorough, and highly organized. Valuing predictability and planning. Reading all of this was rather overwhelming and fairly accurate. So I continued reading.

The article described INFJs as having an inbred sense of idealism and morality, creating an entirely altruistic person. We are dreamers, but not idle dreamers. desiring to make a lasting impact. And though we are soft spoken, we have strong opinions (*read: highly decisive and painfully strong willed), and will stand firm for our beliefs. Friends might mistake INFJs for quiet extroverts, but must remember that we are empathetic socializers who need alone time to decompress and recharge. We sometimes react irrationally to criticism, because we see our actions as a full honest effort (kinda thickskulled). And finally, we work to exhaustion, often with no regards towards the ill effects it has on us.

As wary as I am of labels, this was an interesting endeavor. And I am curious to know if my personality may change as life circumstances change. Both my introversion and judging scored very high. But intuition and feeling were closer to the line. It makes you wonder, but I guess only time will tell.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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