Define or Refine by Jere Johnson

​This guest post is from my youngest brother.  You’ll appreciate his insights. 
There was a young man years ago that failed in his job, failed in his business, failed in public office, had a mental breakdown, lost the love of his life, and then was elected to be our President.  No, it was not Donald Trump, but our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.  However, what many people do not know was that in almost every year that he suffered a setback, he responded with a success in another area of his life.  

Everyday, people all over the world experience tremendous success and/or devastating failure. But it is how they individually respond that will determine if their circumstance will define who they are or refine who they will become. 

While watching my son at a basketball game recently, he made a poor pass and was taken out of the game and was ridiculed and embarrassed by his coach on the bench.  I could tell by my son’s body language that he allowed what the coach was saying to define who he was in the moment.

A defining moment is an event that happens to a person that is seen to clearly start a change for future occurrences.  These moments can have both positive or negative effects.  In many cases it creates a negative response or effect for the person involved.  

A salesman who loses the huge bid is defined as a can’t-close-the-deal guy or a player who misses a last second shot and loses the game is defined as a loser.  Are these defining moments actually true?  The sad reality is these moments can label a person and convince them that they will always be a loser.

But there is hope!  

Countless men and women in history used their defining moments and turned them into refining opportunities for growth and future success.  To refine something you put it to the test by making the necessary changes to become better.  Lincoln could have allowed all these past failures to define him, but he used each situation to refine and change for greater successful.

Where are you at today?  Are you being defined by what others are saying about you or are you using their comments/actions to refine you to something greater? 

The greatest person to ever walk this earth (no, still not Donald Trump) was defined by the leaders of his day as a lunatic, liar, and loser.  He was mocked, mired, and maligned to point of death.  Society’s defining moment for him was his death, death on a cross. But this is not how it was finished.  He knew that his death did not define who He was, but it was merely the beginning of His refining moment…his resurrection three days later.  This labeled lunatic, liar, loser was truly our Lord, Jesus Christ.  

Christ throughout the Bible shows us so many societal defining moments He turned to refining ministry.  How can you follow the greatest leader to ever live and take devastating defining moments, and create redemptive refining moments in your life?  

Here are some practical ways to move beyond defining to refining:
1. Get a notebook and write down every time someone “defines” you…you can’t do this or you will never do that…use these moments/times as fuel to refine and re-stoke your fire for greater goals.

2. Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from what you can do.  Coach John Wooden preached this maxim to his UCLA teams and 10 National titles later we all knew their greatness.

3. Believe in yourself.  There might be a day that you are the only one who does believe in you, but never give up on something you truly believe in.  Your next sale or shot is counting on you to come through. 

4. Next chance you get, prove them wrong and show them no matter what they say or what they do, you will not be defined by it, but take what they say and help it refine you into something greater!

I don’t know about you, but I am glad that Abraham Lincoln was not defined by his failures, but used them to refine who he ultimately became, a great man of compassion and secured freedom for all future generations.  It’s now your time…don’t let anything or anyone define your life. 

YOU refine it to an amazing successful future!

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Jere and his wife, Stacey, live in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

Leadership Outside of Your Walls by Jim Johnson

Last fall, I began something with my leadership team that has proven to be very meaningful and productive.  We periodically will get outside of the office to meet with community business leaders and entrepreneurs to learn how they succeed in their areas of expertise.  These “field trips” have so far taken us to a local pickle factory (Sechler’s) where we learned how the new owner of this 90+ year old business increased profitability  through simple innovation.

We’ve met with a sales executive and process improvement executive at a local, family-owned bakery (Aunt Millie’s).  We learned how innovation has increased their local sales reach to the other side of the planet. We discussed strategies of employee engagement and how to build a lasting company culture.

Soon, we will be meeting with an executive who has vast experiences in community outreach initiatives as well as experience in serving the Governor of the State of Indiana (now Vice President of the United States).  One of our focus points will be how leaders can (should) positively impact their communities through their invest of time/talents.

These experiences have opened our minds to how we lead, how we serve our teams and our members (customers) and they have pushed us to continually challenge ourselves to innovate.

If you lead a group of leaders, I encourage you to periodically go beyond your offices and discover what gems your community has in it.  There is so much to learn from the leaders around you.


Healthy Habits for Leaders 

Today I was at Haverhill Elementary School leading  another session in leadership. Today we talked about developing healthy habits. You can see from the pictures the kids were getting into this.

We talked about journaling, exercising, being grateful, doing a random act of kindness, and reading a good book among other things. We’ve encouraged the kids to bring their journals back in a month to see how they’ve been doing.

By doing habits such as these, we will become healthier leaders and ultimately happier leaders. 

What kind of habits are you developing your life that’s making a positive difference for you?  Comment below.