I did it.

Our spunky two year old Cora has learned the art of the blame game. You know how it goes—

Caroline did it! (If Caroline simply touches her face and it apparently really *hurt*.)

Daddy did it! (When Tyler puts her to bed at her regular bedtime but she isn’t ready.)

Mommy did it! (When I brush the tangles out of her hair very carefully but she wasn’t having it to begin with.)

Just the other day, Cora bit her tongue while snacking and talking at the same time (I feel your pain, sweet Co). And after the tears were dried and she processed what happened, she proclaimed-- ‘Cora did it!’

I had to keep myself from laughing, of course. But what an example of owning up to a problem! The mind of a child is often a refreshing reminder to us all, and this was a great example.

How many times would it be easier to say—he did it, she did it—rather than

I did it. My bad.

A two year old can remind us all that one of the most powerful statements can be—it’s my fault. I own this. Although that can be very difficult and go against our pride, it is fundamental for leadership and for all relationships in life.

So the next time you blub up at work, are at fault in a relationship, or even if you bite your tongue, please proclaim '(insert your name) did it.'

Thanks for the life lesson, Cora!


Let me catch my breath here.

On Monday mornings, my team routinely has conference calls at 7 am. For those of you with little ones, you can picture the household at 7 am with a one and a half year old plus two dogs eager for breakfast (Well, we have a Great Dane so correction: one dog and one horse eager for breakfast), so my husband and I have tried to map things out for these Monday’s so I can take the call and chaos is minimized. And we normally do well…

This Monday was a little different.

I was preparing to be gone for the week for a work sales meeting. He also had some traveling in place and Little Miss was going to Grandma’s for the beginning of the week. Speaking of which, this is what happens when Little Miss goes to Grandma’s. Poor girl, she’s suffered through Rice Krispies and this all week.

I had just finished chasing the little one around the house, up the stairs, into the toy room while carrying her luggage (why does a one and a half year old require more luggage than Mom and Dad combined?!) and my time frame rolled around on the call. Perfect timing! This pregnant lady was literally panting. Like breathing into the phone, sounding like a Derby horse that had just ran the race. Panting.

I tried to smooth it over—jumping straight into my piece for the day but I just could not catch my breath. I tried shortening my sentences, choosing the quickest way to say whatever needed to be said to get through my report. I’m sure it was so obvious (and awkward) to my team mates that I couldn’t talk and breathe that morning.

Eventually I had to stop and say,

“I’m sorry. I’m out of breath here.”
“I just ran up the stairs after the little one.”

(Embarrassing that’s what did it)

And with that statement, my breath came back to me. Amazing, huh? Pausing for a few seconds gave my lungs time to settle.

Lesson learned.

The days are sometimes long and tough. It is ok to say “I’m out of breath here” rather than go on, doing a sloppy job just to get through something. Literally and figuratively, we will run out of breath from time to time. It is actually quite freeing to admit you can’t keep up, take the pause you need to re-group, and then get back to work.

Daily retreats, if you will, can look different for all of us. But they are so important. Trust me, my team mates could hear me suffering on the other line; folks in our lives can tell when we’re struggling and need a moment. Don’t be afraid to admit it—don’t be like me and try to “fake it till you make it”. I was on track to a sloppy update which wasn’t fair to anyone who had given up time to be on the call.

Young Professionals: we must be willing to admit when we’re out of breath. This will only serve us and those around us better as we admit we have reached a limit. But, take a moment and be willing to get back to work, not using it as excuse to cut out. 

Oh and note to self: DO NOT TAKE THE STAIRS during a conference call for the next three months. 

The Shift

High School and College can be a flurry of extracurriculars, right?

Sign up for EVERYTHING

Build that RESUME

NETWORK and build connections

And although over time we learn to channel our efforts and be a part of impactful organizations and endeavors, I believe that young professionals lose our zeal to sign up. We go from stage to stage of our thinking on “the extra stuff”.


High School & College: It’s all valuable; I need to do it all!


Post-College: Wait, did that time spent amount to anything?


Early Career: I need focus; no more “extras”


So this shift for many of us has taken place…

We don’t raise our hand to join an organization, volunteer for a project, and lead outside of our day-to-day responsibilities with work. We don’t mosey down the street to meet our neighbors as we once did in college in a dorm setting or in the classroom. Why? We don't have the time or energy or focus to do such. 

I get it.

There are seasons in life that call for this and some opportunities, although great ones, are not good for us individually and our life circumstances. After my first was born, I felt the tug-of-war between raising my hand to lead initiatives at work, for our church, and other professional and personal opportunities.

After learning from some wise professionals, here are a few bits of encouragement on how to think about leading in our personal and professional lives:

1.       Essentialism

Is it an opportunity with a YES said with 90-100% certainty? Then yes, it is. All other options are a big NO. We MUST be committed and passionate about the opportunity at hand. Don’t let guilt lead us into taking on any option presented in life.

And opportunities don’t always come about at the team meeting or through a weekly email update. I’ve had some great mentors share that sometimes it’s not at all about “raising your hand”; it’s more about presenting the plan. By taking an idea to your manager, one that you are 100% excited about, you can not only commit to the right things in life but also be the initiator behind those great ideas.  

2.       Serve

A list of excuses doesn’t shadow over the fact that serving is important. I hear many young professionals say—“When I’m retired” or “If I had work-sponsored service projects”. But we are called to serve in our communities in some fashion in the here and now. 

What organization or group can we get behind both with our resources? Time and money are both resources we can offer, along with numerous others. We discussed the money aspect in a previous post:

3.         Network, always

Never lose site of the value of networking. This doesn’t always comes in the form of meet and greets and often takes more time than we millennials expect to put forth.

I sometimes forget that networking is about building credibility and building credibility is about proving character over time. So networking is not for the short-term—it is a lifelong process of connecting, following up, and making things happen.

Someone else is better to inform our generation of the “how to’s” but our reminder is the value of finding opportunities to do this and scheduling time for such a valuable part of our lives.

Now it's our time to make another shift into thinking about our involvement in the workplace and in our communities. 

Money and Millennials

I have two motivations for this post, and I’ll be fully upfront about them both:

1.       I want Millennials to understand their footprint when it comes to money.

2.       I want you to learn about EDGE.

Sometimes we Millennials forget our influence—to vote, to work, to serve, and to give. Money and Millennials. Believe it or not, those two carry quite influence.

By 2018, Millennials will have more spending power than any generation—surpassing the Baby Boomer generation.

In 2015, the expected spend of Millennials was $2.5 trillion.


This group of young people carries influence with the money they spend every single day. If there was ever a time to be shaping our financial plans and goals, now is the time. We must see that the $2.5 trillion spent in 2015 determines more than just Apple’s marketing strategy for the future—this money determines the influence made upon communities of people. Churches. Organizations. Missions that have a vision for the future with success that hinges on Millennials.

Don’t each of us want to leave a legacy? 

I had the opportunity to give this talk last year on “Leaving a Legacy” which includes some of the information shared in this post:

 A few practical applications based on this information for Millennials:

1.       Do we have a functioning budget that identifies areas of excess?

Budgets only work if we visit them on a regular basis—for some this is weekly or monthly. Several friends are huge fans of Mint, an app that allows you to set financial goals and track them according to your plugged in bank accounts, credit card(s), etc.

Let’s not make light of things like a “shopping problem”, eating out way too often, or splurges that throw off our entire month. The online shopping world makes this a terrible temptation, huh? Remember that building our legacies will not include the times that we stayed in a rut and continued overspending on something so minute.

2.       Do we have financial goals?

Set some financial goals for yourself and share them with the people that need to know. Paying off student loans by a specific month and year, doubling your annual giving to a specific organization, and purchasing a home by a certain time frame with 20% down are all great examples. Be specific when it comes to your timing; for me, this is the fire I need to stay on track and not deviate from the plan.

3.       Do we have a partner to achieve these goals?

I remember setting up an appointment with a financial planner after college graduation and accepting my first job. I felt utterly silly. What did I have in my name? A bachelors degree and a few cows. Seriously. But I am so glad that I made that contact and have built financial plans with this person. We all need a partner who is an expert in this space and is someone we can trust. Have someone on your team that is thinking for you in this area, deciphering all of the complicated financial lingo, and keeping you on track to achieve your goals.

4.       How do we think about leaving a legacy?

It is so tempting to avoid giving generously as a Millennial. We have college loans, vehicles to pay for, young families to support all while being in the early stages of our careers.

But think about our money’s impact both positive and negative. The more we grasp on to it tighter and tighter for self-interest, the more it takes over and consumes us. We may become excellent at budgeting and saving but have our identities wrapped up in $$$. On the other hand, becoming an excellent steward while giving generously becomes a healthy cycle and starts us on our path to leaving a legacy.

These words don’t come from someone who is acting as if she has this figured out, nailed down, and living out well. I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with excellent examples of stewards who give generously in their communities. These are their words of wisdom and the proof is in the pudding with those folks—years of consistency and years of leaving a legacy.

On to motivation number two:

I had the great opportunity last fall to participate in EDGEx (video shared earlier) at America’s Best Hope, and this was only possible because of an organization called EDGE. If we’ve spent more than ten minutes in conversation around personal and professional development, we’ve likely discussed EDGE, an organization I’ve been blessed to be a part of for almost four years.

EDGE mentoring is a faith-based organization focused on mentoring millennials by partnering emerging leaders who are hungry to grow with seasoned mentors who want to invest in the next generation.

If you are a young professional, man or woman, seeking mentorship that reflects this focus above, check out EDGE: