Well, my Labor Day Challenge is over! It’s been 6 weeks of consistency , perseverance and tons of blogging! I appreciate that so many of you followed along and supported me throughout this endeavor. I learned new things, spent time with family , talked to the masters, swam and rode, attended leadership conferences, supported TRiO, and gave some awesome presentations (and here). I would like to wrap it up by being completely honest on my progress throughout the 42 days by assigning a grade to each activity I was trying to uphold throughout the challenge.
Running – B – I have still ran my long runs and even trotted outside from time to time, but I never got the consistency I desired due to my ever-growing schedule and obligations. I will, however, never stop running, or keep running as long as I can because I know the long-term benefits it has instilled in my life.
Eating Healthy – B – I ate well about 90% of the time during the past 6 weeks. There were days, like my baby shower weekend, where I threw caution to the wind and ate everything in sight. I mostly ate well during my routine and average days, eating lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains and my fruits and veggies. Some days I went with my good friends Ben and Ethan to the buffet on campus…that never ended well. I did not track my caloric count as close as I should have, and I know that it is a great way to hold myself accountable.
Praying – A+ – This is a habit that I really wanted to start during the challenge, and I can gladly say that I have kept to it the entire process! I am not an intercessor or prayer warrior, but I am laying the foundation of consistency that is needed in my life.
Going to the Gym – C – This is one area where I started off strong and faltered late. I will be honest, I got busy and tired and just pushed it aside. I need to spend another challenge focusing solely on going to the gym and making it a priority.
Reading my Bible – C – I read my Bible on and off throughout the challenge, but not as much as I had wanted. I was following a daily Bible reading plan which I did not enjoy, and Murr told me to start reading books of the Bible that I enjoyed. I started reading from the New Testament and really enjoyed it, but did not read it as consistently as I should.
Reading Everyday – A+ – I was soaking up any material I could read during the Challenge. I finished several books…”The Success Principles,” “108 Skills of Natural Born Leaders,” “Weird,” and almost finished “Greater than Yourself.” I even listened to several audiobooks. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time reading, and I wish that I could have spent more time reading. I am excited about my future reading and would encourage you to do the same!
Be a Leader – A – I decided to post a leadership quote everyday on Twitter and to work on my leadership qualities, and I am excited to say I did well on this challenge. I had an awesome phone conversation with Dan Rockwell, the Leadership Freak, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I know I have a long way until I become the leader I want to be, but I will work on it everyday until I become the man I want to be. (Follow me on Twitter @ryan_eller_EA)
Spend Time with the Pup – A – I spent time with Lucy nearly everyday, teaching her new tricks and loving on her! She can now get her towel and put it back in her crate when I ask her to! It is very nice to have a dog that cleans up after herself.
Get Organized - A – I created lists, calendars, notebooks and followed through with them until I became more organized. In full disclosure, I am nowhere near as organized as I should be, but I am going to continue to work on it until I am efficient in that area of my life.
Spend Time With Friends – A – I spent more time with my friends during this 42 day challenge than I normally do. I went to the fair with good friends, watched a few OU games with friends, and certainly went on shenanigans with my good friends Ben and Wes. I enjoyed good times at NSU’s Homecoming, went to awesome events with Murr, and met new friends at my leadership conferences. I feel as if I am closer to many of them after this process than before!
Floss – F – If I could give myself and F- in flossing I would. I never got into the habit of flossing and I know I need to start. It does not help that my teeth were falling out, but I really have no excuse, I just did not do this consistently…or much at all.
Sleep – C – I know this is going to make me sound like a baby, but living with a pregnant woman has made my sleeping habits horrible! Even if we go to bed early I have a hard time falling asleep. She is either snoring (loudly) or moving too much for me to sleep! I did work hard on getting to bed early, and there was only about 5-6 nights were I stayed up entirely too late. I guess the only positive to the lack of sleep is that it is training me for when the baby comes!
Dress for Success – A+ – I am still excited about this one! I tried to dress as well as I could everyday, and besides the one day I spent the night at my parents house and left my clothes at home, I did dress as nice as I could everyday! I am not a GQ model, and I do not have the best style, but I made a conscious effort to dress well everyday.
Be Prompt – B – I showed up for work on time nearly everyday! I got busy sometimes or stuck behind a slow driver, but I made it to work on time almost every day the past 6 weeks. I will continue to work on being prompt in my everyday life.
Give Thanks – A – I wrote nearly 40 thank you notes. Sometimes I would need to write a few in a day to catch up and I still have some to send out, but I was pretty consistent on writing a note. I really enjoyed expressing my feelings on paper and letting people know how proud I was of them or how much they meant to me. I hope that it is a habit I continue forever.
Journal – B+ – I journaled almost daily and only had to catch up on my journaling a few times. I am happy with the habit I picked up and I am now excited about journaling for my Sweet Baby Jane.
So…what did I learn throughout this whole process? What advice could I give you about trying to improve your life? I learned that I took on too many challenges at one time. I learned that I don’t have the self-control and discipline I would like to have in my life. At the same time I learned that I am capable of much more than I even know. If I could do it again I would pick 1-3 things to focus solely on for six weeks until I mastered that area, then I would try something else.
A few areas I truly thing are going to remain a habit. Eating healthy, journaling, reading, dressing well and being prompt stuck well. Some areas need 100% of my focus to become a habit…going to the gym, flossing, and reading my Bible are areas I still need to improve upon.
I do think I will keep this type of challenge for the rest of my life. I am going to start over with going to the gym for the next six weeks. I have six weeks until Sweet Baby Jane comes into our lives, and I want to look my best when she comes! I’d hate for her first view of me to be anything but the best.
I challenge you to pick one area that needs some work in your life, or one area that you could improve upon even if it isn’t a weakness, and work for 42 days on your own personal challenge. Work on that skill or lifestyle change until you have mastered it, and then move onto something else. You can do this…make it happen. There is no better time than now and no better person to do it than you. If you would like some accountability feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly help you with your challenge.
One more day down on my Labor Day Challenge and this journey is almost over. This weekend I had a great time, in fact, it may have been the best weekend of the past six-weeks: I attended our two baby showers.
I know what all the men out there are saying, “You went to your baby showers??” Not only did I go to my baby showers, I very much so enjoyed them! I was able to hang out with family and friends, and of course with Kristin and Sweet Baby Jane. We ate cake (I know, not very healthy of me), punch, and even had a cookie and milk bar. These ladies know how to do it right!
Jane got soooooooo much stuff. I don’t think everyone can understand how much we have already. We could change Jane three times a day for the first 9 months and still not use all of her outfits. I know we will eventually run out of diapers, but we have nearly 2,000 by my rough estimation. We got a mattress, crib sheets, books, and so much more.
It is still surreal to me that Kristin and I are having a baby. I don’t know if it will ever hit me that Jane is coming, but having the showers sure helped. The nursery is put together, we have all the supplies, and even a car seat. I am prepared for her arrival, but I do not know if I am ready. I know I will be a good dad, and I know everything will be great, but it is hard for me to even fathom how much change is coming in our lives. I am excited about this change, and I know it will be for the better.
Throughout my entire Labor Day Challenge I have challenged myself to be consistent, try new things, and organize my life. But this whole process is nothing compared to the challenge I am about to face. I am excited, I am prepared, and life is going to be great. I already love her with all my heart, and I look forward to meeting her soon! Being her father will be my greatest challenge, but the most rewarding one too.
Welcome back to the Labor Day Challenge. Throughout this whole process I have tried my best to journal and document my progress and experiences. I decided to journal everyday, and this blog has facilitated this part of my challenge over the past six weeks.
My mom is an exceptional writer (check her out her website), and she challenged me a long time ago to start a blog. She told me that I would enjoy conveying my thoughts and that even if no one read my blog I would start to build confidence in myself and my abilities. I don’t always take her advice, but I did on this one, and she has been right so far!
I have chronicled everyday of my Labor Day Challenge, and it has been a fun experience for me. My readership has gone up, but not by much. A few people have subscribed and even commented, but this process has been mostly about me. I have been trying to grow and develop into a better writer, leader and person. Journaling my process has been influential in my growth, and that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
I challenge you to start writing, either in a journal or on a blog! It is free and easy…here is a video on how to set up a wordpress blog.
Welcome back to my Labor Day Challenge, 38 days in and things are great! Today I went to OKC to the Oklahoma Division of Student Assistance Executive Board meeting. ODSA is the state organization for all the TRiO programs in OK, which governs the Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Centers and McNair Scholars Programs. The TRiO programs serve over 25,000 students in Oklahoma alone, and over 800,000 students nationally. There are nearly 3 million TRiO alumni across the nation, and most of them have moved on to become undeniably successful individuals.
TRiO programs are targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. TRiO works and is important to the development and structure of the United State’s future.
ODSA’s vision is to promote and preserve the TRiO programs in Oklahoma, and I am very excited to be able to sit on this board. We discussed the different state initiatives, conferences and workshops upcoming for our membership, and delved into the opportunities which await our students.
I believe in TRiO, and I encourage you to support TRiO too. If you know of any students who would benefit from these services, find a TRiO program near you and encourage them to sign up! Challenge young people and old people alike to use all the services they can to follow their dreams. TRiO works!
On to day 37 of the Labor Day Challenge, and I can see the end of the tunnel! I wanted to challenge myself in many areas, and one area that needed improvement was our financial budget.
I am married to a CPA. She is so much smarter than me when it comes to money and numbers and finances…well most areas, but especially our budget. So, when I told her I would like to create a monthly budget to follow she was very excited. Unless you are an accountant or married to an accountant you can not understand the excitement a CPA can get when talking about creating budgets and spreadsheets. I was also excited because I just had finished reading the “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and was ready to take complete control of our spending.
We are fortunate to make more money than we spend and to only have debt with our house and student loans. It makes it easier for us to budget and gives us the flexibility to quickly pay off debt. We now sit down at the first of each month and agree upon a proposed budget, plan to spend our entire income (whether that be for debt or savings or for entertainment), and plan for surprise expenses. We looked at what we had spent our money on in the previous months and made an educated guess on all of our budget expectations.
We have not stuck 100% to our budget, mostly because we are still trying to figure it all out, but this has been an incredible process for our family. Talking about money once a month for an hour has been much more pleasant that talking about it several times a month for short periods of time. Since we agreed early in the month where are finances are going we have been positive and agreeable about money and spending throughout the month. We both know where our money is going and how much is being spent, and our communication has been better. Amazing how that works, huh?
This is certainly a habit I will stick with for the rest of my life. I know not all of my challenges this past six weeks will stick, but budgeting will.
I challenge you to start taking ownership of your money and spending. Read Ramsey’s book as a reference on how to start, it should only take you a few days and will completely alter your mindset on money. Talk to your family about the things you spend money on and come to an agreement about your budget.
Money is a main source of stress for most people, don’t allow it to be a stressor for you. I know you can do it.
Welcome back to the Labor Day Challenge. I don’t know how many people are still reading, and if you are even engaged, but I have really enjoyed giving you an insight into my life, and I have certainly been challenged. This weekend was NSU’s homecoming weekend, and it is always a great time.
The festivities started Friday with the annual golf tournament, which I usually participate in, but I was forced to miss it because of the awesome Ozarka Leadership Conference. When I arrived to Tahlequah at 7 p.m., my old friends from college were waiting for me and ready to get the weekend started. I went with my father to the Come Home to the Dome festivities, and was able to see many old friends and colleagues. I saw my first little brother from my days as a Lambda Chi, Scott Weartherman, who had been traveling all over Europe for the past six weeks. I saw many of the people who have challenged me to be the best person I could be, and I was grateful for the opportunity.
During my Labor Day Challenge I have spent a ton of time working on things I need to improve upon in my life. On area I wanted to improve upon was my relationships with those who have supported me over the years, and NSU’s Homecoming was a great opportunity for me to do just that.
This Thursday night Jerrod Murr and I traveled to the great state of Arkansas to present as keynote speakers at the Ozarka College Student Leadership Conference. It was amazing. I do not think I could emphasize enough how well this event went, and how much fun we had during the presentation.
Jerrod and I started out on our way to Melbourne, AR at about 7 p.m., considerably later than our planned departure of 5 p.m. I had been looking forward to meeting up with Murr to discuss the Labor Day Challenge, our opportunities with Experiential Adventure, and our events with Believing in a Better Way. As discussed in the car, Murr is my third favorite person to road trip with, after Kristin and my dad. We get lost in conversations of our vision, goals and dreams. It is often hard for us to pay attention to the directions because we are so entangled in our conversations. This happened several times on the long trip through Arkansas.
If you have ever traveled in Arkansas, you know that there is only one straight, flat road in the entire state – I-40. Since we weren’t traveling to Little Rock or Memphis, we took the curvy roads from Tahlequah, OK to Fayetteville, then east-bound on 412 through Harrison all the way to Melbourne. Highway 412 is a collaboration of highways in Arkansas, and it will often travel the same route as 3,4 or even 5 other highways.
It is very easy to get turned around on these curvy roads, especially in the dark of night and especially when in deep conversation. Murr and I talked so much that we more than once had to stop and make sure we were on the right path. Regardless, we made it into the beautiful town of Melbourne at about 2 a.m. and checked into our romantic bed and breakfast, the only lodging in town.
After a quick breakfast and shower, we headed to Ozarka College to meet up with Deltha Shell, the director of Student Support Services. Deltha has been a champion of our services and even had us come and speak at her Student Leadership Conference last Spring. I was fired up because I get many opportunities to facilitate groups and lead workshops, but rarely do I get the chance to be a keynote.
We presented about momentum, and how students could use their momentum to achieve their goals and enhance their vision. Despite a slow start, the presentation went extremely well, and was by far the most well-received presentation I have ever given.
During my Labor Day Challenge I wanted to expand my business with Experiential Adventure, and this was a huge step in that direction. Murr and I left inspired and uplifted about our futures, both together and separately. After presenting at this event, I am even more sure now about my future and my decision to pursue my passion.
What are you doing to pursue your passion? Is there an area of your life you would love to follow but are too scared to get there? I challenge you to start heading in that direction, it is never too late.
I am rolling through another week of the Labor Day Challenge! This week I followed the advice from the book I just finished, “The Success Principles” and contacted someone who is currently achieving the success I aspire to someday have. I follow a man named Dan Rockwell on Twitter (so do over 75,000 other people) who goes by the Twitter name of Leadershipfreak. Mr. Rockwell is a man of many talents. He serves as a pastor, writes a uber-successful blog, travels the world as a leadership consultant, and is obviously a Tweeting expert.
I decided to step out on a limb and contact him and asked if we could talk. He promptly replied to me and we set up an appointment for a phone conference. I was so excited! I had so many questions to ask and so many ideas I wanted to discuss. Mr. Rockwell called exactly when he said he would, and we spoke for nearly an hour. We talked about our dreams and vision, our goals and ambitions. We talked about what my future entailed and what his future entailed. Our conversation was very uplifting and inspirational for me, and I hope that he felt the same way.
He told me a story of the time he interviewed Jack Welch, the guru of corporate leadership and former CEO of General Electric. He told Mr. Welch that he was one of the 1.5 million people who followed him on Twitter, and asked if Mr. Welch would follow him back. Mr. Rockwell played it off as a pipe dream, but now the Leadershipfreak is one of the 29 people Jack Welch follows on Twitter. All he did was ask, if Jack Welch would have said no or played it off as a joke, Mr. Rockwell would be no worse off than before he asked. However, he did ask, and Jack Welch did follow him, and there is no doubt that has played into his success.
I challenge you all to ask someone you want to emulate for some advice. The worst that could happen is they would say no, and the best that could happen is what happened to me…you could hang up the phone inspired, grateful, and more motivated than ever. I challenge you to contact someone you look up to today, you have nothing to lose.
Who would you love to have a conversation with if you could? Have you tried reaching out to them? What’s the worst that could happen?
Welcome back! I am so excited, I just finished “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield! If you have been reading this consistently, you know I have been raving about this book throughout the entire Labor Day Challenge.
I literally feel as if this book has altered my outlook on life. Canfield is an extremely successful person as a motivational speaker, author, radio host, entrepreneur, coach and trainer. He is best known as the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, which currently has nearly 200 titles and 112 million copies in print in over 40 languages.
Starting with chapter one Canfield gives you the tools and advice necessary to be successful. He tells you to take 100% ownership of your life and to stop making excuses, he shows you how to declare a vision and set goals, and how to create relationships that benefit your success. I have never read a book and immediately wanted to reread it, but “The Success Principles” kept me captivated, motivated and inspired. After reading this book, I truly feel I could do whatever I wanted in life.
I have been known to say that every person should do a few things…have a list of goals, have a bucketlist, and run a marathon. I now tell everyone I see they need to read “The Success Principles.” If you have a desire to be successful, if you want to do more in life, if you want to break the status quo…read this book. I vouch for it 100%.
Have you ever read a book that changed your life? Is there any books you think I should read? Let me know!
This has been a great weekend for my Labor Day Challenge. Friday I spent time with my TRiO folks at the ODSA Fall Summit and even got to listen to the masterful Jerrod Murr deliver a rousing speech to motivate our membership. Yesterday I ran with the awesome Fleet Feet group, and then watched OU dominate Texas in the Red River Rivalry. I was even able to spend the evening with the wonderful Kristin and Lucy the Pup. This morning Kristin was at Just Between Friends, basically a resale convention for mothers. She loaded up with a car seat, stroller, two bases, a high chair and several Dr. Seuss books! So excited!
Since she was busy, and the weather is so nice outside, I decided to air up the tires on my bike, strap on my cycling outfit (it is really tight…don’t worry, I won’t load any pics), and take a nice Sunday afternoon ride. I didn’t have a route to ride or anyone to push me along, but I thought it would be nice to just see the area on my bike. If you get right outside of Broken Arrow, the area becomes beautiful, and is a perfect place to ride or run.
I got my bike in July for my birthday, and have been wanting to ride much more than I actually have. One reason for my Labor Day Challenge was to force myself to do the things I had been putting off, the things I had wanted to do, but hadn’t actually done. I had been lazy, there have been multiple chances for me to ride, but I haven’t. Today was the day! I was not doing anything productive (unless sitting on the couch updating Twitter is productive). I took a few steps out the front door, got on the bike and pedaled away! I went through the neighborhood, onto the main side streets in Broken Arrow, and then after about 4 miles, I was all by myself on the back roads of Wagoner County.
Let me assure you of one thing, I do not like being alone. I am well-known on my campus for asking people to walk around with me during my errands, or even to my car from the office to grab my wallet. My student workers make fun of me, and my good friends know to go with me without asking. However, this ride was nice. After my initial panic of being alone, I was able to clear my mind and really think about my life. There are so many changes happening right now. My wife is pregnant with our first child, and if that wasn’t enough, I am switching campuses to NSU Broken Arrow after being in Tahlequah for 10 years. I will serve all new schools and all new students. To add to that, my family is growing and my career goals are shifting. Life is always changing and I haven’t wanted to think about it, but on my ride I was able to think through some issues and feel refreshed and refocused.
I only went 12 miles, which was long enough to make my legs feel like Jell-O and my heart rate rise! I hope to ride again soon, and even get good enough to compete in a sprint triathlon or even a half triathlon. I am rejuvenated and excited about my future, all because I got off the couch and did something I’ve been putting off. That is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
What have you been putting off that you need to do? It can even be a small thing, like cleaning the garage or calling a family member. Take the initiative to get that thing out of the way, and I promise you will feel great!
Welcome back to my Labor Day Challenge. Friday I went to the ODSA Fall Summit. This was a great opportunity for TRiO personnel in Oklahoma to meet together and discuss the state of our association and programs. I’ll be honest, things are tough in TRiO right now, especially in OK. We serve tens of thousands of students in the state, students who need our services. These students are the first in their family to go to college, they are low-income, and they more often than not a minority, working part or full-time, living with someone other than their parents or on their own. We have high school students who are homeless, college students who try to support their family while being in school, and students who need tutoring and advice just to get their college degree.
Last week we found out that some of our most prominent programs lost their funding, and it is very hard. Not only did our colleagues lose their job, but over 1,000 students lost a support system that would help them achieve their dreams. President Obama and congress have decided to either cut funding or provide level-funding for our programs, even though most in congress admit we must get kids into college. They are cutting off their nose to spite their face. Things are tough, but we will survive.
Jerrod Murr, founder of Believing in a Better Way, delivered a passionate and inspiring speech to the association, telling us how to find motivation in our everyday life. He said that we are the “facilitators of dreams.” He told us that we are the ones who create change in our students lives, we are the constant voice of support that helps them move forward in life. After his speech I was ready to go meet with some of my students to help them achieve their dreams.
I am impressed by our leadership in ODSA. Scott Cady, our president, is strong and fair, and continues to stand up in the face of adversity to lead our association. The members of our programs are passionate and motivated to help our students create a change of culture in their families. I am inspired by my colleagues, men and women who do whatever it takes to help their students. I am excited about the future of ODSA and TRiO, I know we will not be defeated, we will not be silent, and we will triumph. TRiO Works.
Last night I did not blog, mostly because I was hosting a workshop with the Association of Black Collegians at NSU. As a part of my Labor Day Challenge, I inspired to be a keynote speaker! I know being a keynote for NSU ABC was not speaking at the White House, but it was an amazing opportunity and I am so glad I was invited.
We started off the event with dinner on campus, where I met with the leaders of the group, who inspired me in so many ways. These students are goal-driven, intelligent, passionate and fun-loving. We discussed our dreams and goals, and I was fired up! We started the workshop discussing communication, leadership, and professionalism. Below is my prezi for the workshop:
I was really excited about this workshop. I felt it would be a challenge professionally, culturally and personally. Although I talk in front of a crowd all the time, I rarely get an opportunity to be a keynote presenter. I am very skilled in experiential education, but not a polished speaker. I left the evening enthused, excited and full of hope. I know this is the life I will lead, I am going to take whatever steps it takes for me to pursue my dreams. Thanks for facilitating that for me ABC.
Tonight I spent part of my Labor Day Challenge walking my favorite pup, Lucy. I love Lucy! She is a two-year-old golden retriever, and I think she is the sweetest thing God ever created. She literally smiles and has been an absolute joy to Kristin and I. We brought her home when she was just 8 weeks old and a pile of fur!
She is so smart, and she loves to learn. She can fetch, sit, stay, roll over, lay down, balance things on her nose, put up her toys, get in her crate and so much more. When we go into the living room to eat (don’t judge us), she just goes patiently in her crate and waits for us to be done! We don’t even have to ask her. She loves us more than anything in the world, until she meets a new person. The only real problem we have with her is that she gets too excited when she meets new people and wags her tail too hard when we wake up in the morning.
I know we need to spend some time with her because a new joy is being added to our family, and Lucy pup is going to have to take a back seat for a while. She will spend more time outside, be ignored at times, and not walked as often. I know that she will be sad and wish to be with us, but I know she will be a good older sister to sweet baby Jane!
I wanted to love on her more before time got away from us, and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did. I know it sounds silly to treat a pup like a family member, but if you knew Lucy like I did, you would love her too!
This past weekend at the SWASAP SLC, I met Juan. Let me rephrase that, I met Juan again! Juan is a student at Weatherford Upward Bound at Weatherford Community College in Weatherford, TX. (That sentence gets an award for most uses of the word Weatherford) Juan is an outstanding young man, one with character, values, and strong leadership skills. Of everyone I met at SWASAP SLC, Juan had the most refined set of leadership skills. He was patient, kind, thoughtful, respectful, and easy-going. He was never over-bearing, he spoke with authority, and he was eager to learn.
This is what Juan wrote on my Facebook wall after camp:
As you can tell, Juan wants to be a lawyer. He plans on attending Baylor University and is working on becoming a better student and a better leader. Here is his scholarship-winning essay he wrote about leadership which was posted with his permission. I am proud of you Juan and I will believe in you no matter where you go.
Everyone is a leader whether they realize it or not, but what distinguishes a good leader from an average leader are five very important qualities: trustworthiness, communication skills, respect, determination and responsibility. There are all qualities that I feel I display, and this is why I feel they are important.
One of the first things that a leader needs is to be trustworthy. Trustworthiness is very important because if the people who need leadership can’t trust their leader then the project will fail. The next thing a leader needs to have is great communication skills. One reason people are unable to communicate and feel left out is because the leader can’t or won’t share his or her ideas. Being respectful is the third characteristics that any great leader should have. If a leader doesn’t respect the people that he or she is leading their followers will not cooperate with them. A leader must give respect in order to receive the respect that he or she feels they deserve.
Determination is a must and it must shine through as a good leader. The reason that determination is so important is because if the leader is not determined to accomplish the task at hand, then he or she is setting a terrible example for the rest of the people in their group. The fifth characteristic that a leader should have is responsibility. They must be responsible because there is a date that something is due and someone must take charge. Therefore the person that takes charge of the task is the one that is responsible for the outcome of the task.
These are things that good leaders should have, but are not the only qualities that they need to possess. I don’t consider myself a great leader like Dr. Martin Luther King or George Washington, but I do believe that I am a good leader. Every time I have been given the opportunity, I have risen to action. One of these times was in my math class, I was put in a group of five, and we had five days to finish the project and very little class time to work on it. My group didn’t work the first two days, and there wasn’t really any communication between anyone. So I began to work on the project and assigned everyone a part in the project so that no one would feel left out. On the fifth day, I took it all home to put in order and turned it into the teacher. We ended up getting the best grade in the class.
I think these five qualities make a great leader, and I hope that one day I can be considered on as I continue to reach for my goals and learn more about leadership.
Juan, you are a great leader, and I look forward to seeing great things from you!
Welcome back to my Labor Day Challenge. I am physically wore out from a great weekend at the SWASAP Student Leadership Conference, but I am mentally and emotionally fired up from the activities we accomplished, the people I met and the future of our students. This will be a short post tonight, since I am finally home and spending time with my beautiful wife and soon-to-be daughter.
I wanted to share with you what Benito Soto from Houston posted on my Facebook wall…
This is why I do what I do…this is why SWASAP hosts these leadership conferences. I am continuing to be inspired by students who are fulfilling their dreams all across the USA. I love SWASAP, I love leadership conferences, and I love experiential education. These students are igniting my passion with their passion, and that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
I am still at SWASAP SLC, and I am having an unbelievable time. I am literally meeting some of the best and brightest the southwest has to offer. I am following through on my Labor Day Challenge, and focusing on the leadership conference this weekend. Today we heard from Shannon Hernandez, the coordinator of the John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute, who thrilled the students with hands-on activities and initiatives. The group traveled to Dinosaur Valley State Park to volunteer with the park department where the students gladly picked weeds, cleaned out gardens and moved materials. As an added bonus we were able to explore the park and see the dinosaur tracks!
On the way back from our community service project I rode next to Rachel, an extremely intelligent and inspirational junior in high school. She truly inspired me in so many ways. Rachel is a first generation college student, meaning no one in her family has a college degree. She grew up in the north side of Houston and is a participant with Lone Star North Harris Upward Bound. As a participant in Upward Bound, Rachel gets career and college guidance, as well as a summer program that allows her to receive tutoring specific for her post-secondary success.
Last night I challenged the students to determine their most important goal. I asked them to declare their dream, their passion, their vision. I challenged them to start declaring their goal, to say, “I am going to be a physical therapist!” or “I am going to graduate in the top 10% of my class!” To tell everyone they meet that they were going to achieve their dreams.
As we talked on the bus, Rachel looked at me very sincere and asked if she could share with me her dream. She said that people say she is crazy, that she can’t achieve her dream, and that she was nervous to tell me. After encouraging her to share, she said that the thing she thinks about all the time, the thing she was most passionate about, her main dream…was to cure cancer. I told her that was a lofty dream, and asked her how she would achieve her dream. Excitedly, she shared that she had spent time at Rice University this summer with a biomedical engineer studying DNA code and causes of cancer. She told me that she was planning to either attend Rice or the University of Philadelphia because they were some of the best places to study biomedical engineering. She detailed to me the necessary steps to be accepted into those universities and what scholarships she had applied for. She had researched the universities that would fit her personality best and her needs to be successful. She declared to me that she was going to become an oncologist so she could further promote cancer awareness and cure cancer. She was so determined, so honest, so passionate that even if I wanted to, I could have not convinced her she couldn’t cure cancer. After our conversation she had me convinced she could cure cancer, or do anything else she put her mind to.
I told these students that they are the future. They are the next doctors, lawyers, educators and professionals who will guide this earth. When I meet young people like Rachel I know we are in good hands. She gives me hope, she gives me inspiration, and I am genuinely blessed to be here this weekend. So many adults give up on their dreams and ambitions, they get swallowed up on the hassles of day-to-day life. These students are different, they have a burning desire to reach their goals and dreams. I hope to have their passion, I hope to empower others as they empower me. I am learning so much, and that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Hello from Glen Rose, TX and the Riverbend Retreat Center. I am facilitating and speaking to almost 100 of the best and brightest students from across the SWASAP area. SWASAP is short for Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs, and encompasses all of the TRiO programs from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico. I was brought in to provide experiential learning activities for the students as they traverse their leadership journey at the SWASAP Student Leadership Conference.
As a part of my Labor Day Challenge I wanted to present at a leadership conference. I will be here tonight until Sunday, and I am already loving my time here! These students will be equipped the tools necessary to be leaders at their high schools and colleges, they are being provided with direction for their dreams and ambitions, and will no doubt be successful. I love asking these students their dreams because I see their eyes sparkle when they talk about their passion. These are not average students, these are exceptional students who decided to take time out of their busy schedule to attend a leadership conference. These are students who want to be doctors, lawyers, nurses, educators, and leaders. These are students who see all of the obstacles that have been placed in their way, and fight through them. These are students who will one day be leading this world into a new frontier.
I will post about the SWASAP SLC everyday this weekend…I hope to profile a couple of students over the next couple of days and let you know the type of individuals I am working with here. As usual, I came here to teach, and I am being taught. I am learning how to persevere, how to dream and how to survive, that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Welcome to Day 24 of my Labor Day Challenge! I am nearing the end of another week, and it has been packed full of Challenge activities. I am definitely ready for the weekend, especially because I am going to Glen Rose, TX to facilitate at the SWASAP Student Leadership Conference. I am pumped, but more on that throughout the weekend!
Today I am absolutely worn out, mostly because I spent most of my lunch break with a good friend, Cay Percifield, who gave me swim lessons. Swimming is one of the hardest workouts for me. I consistently fight the water and struggle for air. Usually more water ends up outside of the pool than started in the pool, therefore, I knew I needed some help.
I swam with Cay partially because I would like to become a better swimmer. I am someday going to compete in an Ironman competition. It consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2 mile run. The area I am weakest in is swimming, and I need to learn how to smoothly glide across the water now so when I am ready to train 100% I will have the tools needed to be successful. I am learning this now, even though I do not know when the right time for me to train for an Ironman will be (It is certainly not now).
I strapped on the skin-tight shorts and goggles (you have to look the part) and headed to the pool. He taught me proper freestyle technique, proper breathing technique, and even how to do the flip turn at the end of a lap! I had a hard time forcing my head straight to the side when catching a breath, and felt unnatural when flipping and kicking my feet. Towards the end, however, I felt much better about my swimming stroke, my breathing and even my flip.
Even though I went today to become a better swimmer, the real reason I swam was because I love spending time with people who are passionate. Cay swam competitively in his youth, was an all-stater in high school, and excels as an athlete. I love spending time with someone who is passionate about what they are doing, they are the best people to learn from. Cay was an excellent teacher because he was excited to teach me new practices and techniques. He really did care about how I was doing and wanted me to do well. I hope this exudes from me when I am facilitating, working with students or speaking to a group. I hope people are able to recognize my passion and want to learn from me. I certainly learned that today from Cay, and that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Welcome back. I am over the hump and past the halfway point of my Labor Day Challenge. I, of course, can not achieve any of this without your support, so keep it coming! I also can not do this challenge without becoming organized.
I have been known to have the organizational structure of anarchy, and every time I am asked my greatest weakness in an interview, I immediately think of my lack of organizational skills. (I of course, never admit to it, I cop-out and say something like…”I am too passionate” or “I just work too hard!”) Although I am an excellent interviewer, the fact remains that I am poor at staying on schedule, I lose things often, and I forget things when I go places. Not once, but twice last month I stayed at my parent’s house, and brought undies, undershirt and socks and forgot slacks and a dress shirt. Twice! I have put in hard work (made my student workers work hard) and prepared for a school visit, only to show up and have left everything in the office. I have been known to double-book, forget dates, and show up late. This all stems from the poor execution of organizing my life.
When I was a kid, I loved being organized. Actually, I had by far a cleaner room than my sisters, and would even sort out my drawers and closet. I would lay in the floor and rearrange my baseball cards by different orders, only to find myself sorting them differently later. Some of that still remains with me today, and my closet is a good example. I place my shirts in the same direction on the same type of hanger, organized by type of shirt and even by color. I tell you all of this to let you know that I have a sense of organization, just not a grasp of it.
Therefore, I have started organizing my life. I went through our house and sorted everything when we had our garage sale. I cleaned my car out today and moved stuff where it needed to be. I even organized the attic and the garage. Outside of my home, I started using my calendar, making sure to mark events immediately and creating a daily to-do list. Whenever I get a new task or tell someone I am going to do something, I write it down and mark it off by the end of the day. I have been creating a weekly to-do list as well, and trying to do my hardest task at the first each day knowing it will give me the boost needed to finish the rest of the list.
I don’t particularly enjoy this challenge, it is something I struggle with daily. However, I know that if I do not start getting organized now, I will never achieve my dreams, and that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Day 21! You know what this makes me think of…
I am halfway there! I spent my middle of the Labor Day Challenge day waking up early, eating some great food, working, and hitting the gym. I love the Challenge so far, and thanks for following me on this journey.
As part of my journey, I wanted to challenge myself to listen to an audiobook on my commute. Today I finished Zig Ziglar’s “A View From the Top,” and I can’t wait until I get to listen to another one. I have previously listened to Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow,” and I am going to try to find another audiobook to listen to on my commute.
In “The Success Principals,” Jack Canfield talks about how important listening to the masters can be during your commute. He says “the average person commutes 30 minutes each way to and from work. In 5 years, that is 1,250 hours in the car!” I commute twice that far, so that is 2,500 hours in my car, which is about 105 days! Think of all the audiobooks I could listen to if I committed to it…all the knowledge I could gain from the masters of certain fields.
I have really enjoyed my time during my commute lately. The hour goes by faster, I start work refreshed and come home reinvigorated. I challenge you to go to the library and get an audiobook, buy one, or get one from a friend. You could either listen to the same song on the radio, a trashy morning show, or listen to a master talk about how they became successful in a certain field. I have forgone the radio and sports talk to educate myself for life, this is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Have a great day!!!
Happy Sunday to you! I hope it is wonderful, I know mine has been…I am 20 days into my Labor Day Challenge, and I used today as it was intended…as a day of rest. I even took a nap this afternoon. I love naps, and I think I may write a book someday about the importance of naps. It is one of the things I mastered in college, as a necessary tool to survive the late nights (of studying, of course!). However, I also used today as an opportunity to try and contact professionals who are already successful in the fields I would like to pursue.
I think it is unbelievably important for everyone to try and learn from people who are already successful in the areas of your life you would like to improve. Jack Canfield hits on this subject in “The Success Principles,” where he tells his readers to find the most successful person you know, and try to learn as much as you can from them. He tells a story about a hairdresser who was prepping him for a TV interview. In true consultant style, he asks the lady what her dreams and aspirations were, and she told him she would one day love to own her own studio. He asked her why she hadn’t, and she hadn’t tried anything because she didn’t know how to open her business or even how to start. His advice was to go to the most successful salon owner she could find, and offer to take her to lunch to see how she had become successful as a business owner. He said if that owner didn’t want to go to lunch, go to someone else, and then someone else until you found someone who was willing to talk. His bet, as is mine, was that mostly everyone is willing to talk about the things they are passionate about, and are willing to talk about the things that were necessary for them to become successful. I took this advice to heart and emailed or called several people who I admire and would love to emulate. So far, I have had no reply, but I am going to keep asking until someone lets me in and gives me some advice. (I also asked very prestigious, busy people, so I knew it was going to be slow going.)
I want to be an experiential learning expert, so I contacted Karl Rohnke, a man synonymous with experiential education. He helped found Project Adventure, the godfather of experiential learning in the world. I have been to a PA training, and I want to go back. These people are living my dream, they just have been doing it longer and are in Boston.
I want to be a leadership expert, so I contacted John C. Maxwell, the world’s premiere expert on leadership.
I want to be successful, so I contacted Jack Canfield, the writer of over 80 New York Times Bestsellers.
I want to be more sacrificial, so I contacted Brett and McClain Baggett, people who literally have given up their belongings to follow their passion.
I want to be a consultant, so I emailed Daryl Essensa, an already proven consultant.
I want to be able to provide CEU credits for counselors, social workers and therapists, so I contacted someone already giving credits.
I encourage you to find the people you know who are successful in the areas you want to be successful in, and contact them in some way. Go to a training, attend a conference, email them, call them, send a letter, Facebook them or follow them on Twitter. You have nothing to lose by trying to learn from them, and everything to gain. I know I have yet to be successful in this endeavor, but I am going to keep trying until I get the advice I need to be successful. I hope this to be a habit I keep for the rest of my life, that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
I wrote a long post about spending time with my friends on Day 18…and it has disappeared… I will rewrite it soon, but the OU game is on, and I am going to spend time with my good friends the Peakers and watch the game! More soon…
Welcome back to the Labor Day Challenge…I hope you are having as great a day as I am! I stayed up way too late last night (not what I have set out to do during the 6 weeks), ate too much food, but got to spend some great time with some great friends. Today I got up super early and ran with the great H1, and then headed to RSU in Claremore to facilitate at the Hilltop Challenge Course.
I love going to the ropes course, both as a participant and as an instructor. Today I was an instructor, leading activities for the Rogers County Leadership Group. I love being able to work on the course so I can practice my facilitating skills and hone my debriefing techniques. I am very passionate about experiential education, and a ropes course gives me an opportunity to pursue my passion.
We started out with activities on the ground, trying out some name games, icebreakers, initiatives and team building exercises. Our sequence was as follows:
Milk the Cow
Thumbwrestling in Stereo
Rock, Paper, Scissor Olympics
Fast Finger Olympics
After having a great time on the ground, we graduated to the low ropes course, were we completed Wild Woozy and dominated Islands. After lunch we moved to the high ropes course, where the group moved quickly through the course, pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone. I belayed the incline log, and watched as participants fought through fear, physical exhaustion, and preconceived notions of their ability to climb the course.
I literally got to see people live up to mantras I have set forth for myself throughout my Labor Day Challenge. It inspired me to keep going strong, especially since I have been struggling in a couple of areas of the challenge. If these people can push through to build confidence, self-esteem and leadership, I can do it too. I hope to become an excellent ropes course facilitator, I would even like to someday have my own course. I am doing the things now to make those dreams a reality, that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Two weeks! I have been at the Labor Day Challenge for two weeks! Things are going well, and I am really enjoying the things I have been doing. A few things I have coming up…contact DC about TRiO, I am in the process of contacting professionals who inspire me in someway, I plan to check three things off my bucket list, take guitar lessons, meet up with someone about the Ph.D. and much more!
Yesterday I did something for my Labor Day Challenge that I absolutely love…I spent time with my family. I have been blessed with an amazing family all the way around. My parents and siblings are awesome, and we have had a great relationship. My mom is my confidant and advisor, my dad is my best friend and we talk everyday. My sisters challenge me and they married wonderful men, who I love. My mom’s family has been a source of constant joy and when I am with the Morrisons I love it. Kristin’s family is fun, and they truly have accepted me as their own.
This weekend, however, I hung out with the Ellers. It was Ma’s 73rd birthday, and we met with Ma and Pa, some of my aunts, uncles and cousins for a late lunch. In true Eller fashion, Kristin and I were invited at an hour or so ahead of time, and we wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else! Ma is the sweetest person I have ever met. Her middle name is Grace and she exudes grace and love with everything that she does. She has the ability to make you feel like the most loved person ever, and when you walk in the room you know she loves you more than anything else. (Everyone feels that way when around her) Pa is one of the funniest people I have ever met, and if there is anyone who I act like the most, it is him. I don’t just love Ma and Pa, we go on double dates with them…My aunts are all sweet and kind and have true servant hearts, which is great cause the men in my family (besides my dad) are ornery to the bone. Some people have to try to be ornery, but we have to try to not be ornery.
I will talk more about my extended family in an upcoming post, but know I could talk about my family forever. Regardless of your situation or your family relationships, I challenge you to go out of your way to spend time with the people who have known you your whole life. A few things are guaranteed, you will be taxed, you will get busy, and life will go by too fast. One day my grandparents will be gone, and it will be the hardest thing I will have dealt with in my short life. This is why I need to spend time with them when I get the chance and I am glad I did yesterday. I am not guaranteed tomorrow, but I have today…I will make the most of it. This is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.