how to reach Mars

IMGP9160In all of history, only 12 people have walked on the moon. A lifetime of study and preparation, many years of training and practice, teamwork, and the perfect performance of gazillions of rocket components and wires had to synchronize exactly to make those outer-space steps possible. It was inspiring and challenging to hear about the missions and visit the Kennedy Space Center with my team. Many of the principles that enabled those amazing accomplishments are also relevant to the big goals we attempt today.

Which of the following can you apply to your next challenge?


No one had ever put a man on the moon before, but dreamers believed it could be done. They envisioned it, and then they figured out how to make it happen. Today, we must do the same – look ahead, see the future, consider the possibilities. Lane Arbuthnot, an engineer for the Apollo 11 flight, encouraged us to imagine ourselves five years into the future: What is your dream? What do you envision for your life/family/work/mission? How do you want the future to look? and then ask “What will we need in order to reach the goal?” IMGP9162


Astronauts gave their lives in pursuit of the mission. We may or may not have to pay the ultimate price, but a great dream will cost us something. I am asking myself these questions: What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to risk? Financial security? Reputation or ridicule? Comfort or convenience? Time? IMGP9169


When we visited the Launch Control Center, it was interesting to observe that all the work stations faced away from the huge windows with a view of the rocket and launch pad. Each person’s concentration and attention were vital for the success of the mission – they were not mere spectators. Are there things in your life you need to re-arrange in order to better concentrate on your dreams and goals?IMGP9197


In the Launch Control Center, the “Public Affairs Officer” desk sat right next to the “Launch Director”. That openness provided honest communication of launch attempts – successes and failures. Today information and truth is powerful and necessary for alignment and accountability. I know that I often underestimate the need to communicate vision, expectations, feedback, and gratitude. How about you? What could you communicate more often or more clearly?public affairs desk


Although the rockets and spaceships are definitely impressive, the tour guides consistently emphasized how important the people were to the mission. Over 400,000 worked together on the Apollo 11 flight! Human Resources played a crucial role on the leadership team; hiring, developing, and even firing when necessary…ensuring that all collaborated well. Every person counts when accomplishing an incredible mission! How are the relationships on your team or in your family? Do they know they are uniquely important? Is each person maximizing their strengths?

For NASA, the next goal is Mars! Many people working together will apply these principles to make that dream come true. What is your dream? What will it require?

a 30-year celebration

fireworks digitalphoto KeeratiWhere did the time go? How did I get here? Am I really that old? Did I ever imagine when I was first starting out that I would arrive to this point? Has it been worth it?

This year I celebrate 30 years working with the organization known as cruI started out 30+ years ago with enthusiasm, belief, energy, a bit of trepidation and the support of family and friends. I stepped out of my comfort zone, moved to a new state (and eventually new countries), and I took on challenges that I wasn’t sure I could actually accomplish.

I believed that I could help change the world.

I learned a new language, developed my strengths, grew in weak areas, tried new experiences, tasted new flavors, and worked with some of the most incredible people in the world. Sometimes I made mistakes and poor decisions. I loved working with others, dreaming dreams, and creating something new.

I believed that – even with my weaknesses – I could make a difference.

I trusted strangers. I loved those who were lost; I helped others grow. I changed because they taught me new ways. I asked for forgiveness and forgave those who hurt me. I shared my time, my home, and my heart with many who became life-long friends. I said good-bye too many times.

I believed that people can change.

I laughed. I cried. I mourned. I celebrated.

30 years have gone by, but the adventure continues.

I still believe…


Are you following your dreams? What do you believe?

how to form a real team

“One of the problems some teams have is the assumption
they are a team… when they aren’t.”
Mark Miller

IMG_1068I am just home from a 10 day trip to Panama City, Panama. I was part of a Latin America area-wide conference for both Leadership Development/Human Resources (LDHR) and Operations personnel in my organization. It was a historic meeting; we’ve never had that many country representatives for those positions… and we’ve never held a meeting together to emphasize how important partnership is in our work.

I loved the opportunity to mentor and coach the new LDHR leaders. It was thrilling to watch their vision and passion transform into deeper understanding and action steps. I believe there will be a lot of progress in how these important people care and develop the staff and volunteers in their respective countries.

I also enjoyed working with my Latin America Area Team to lead the event, teach the lessons, and consider future next steps. Since we are a virtual team – we all live in different countries and meet usually only by Skype – it was a treat to interact together. Before I left for the trip, I read an article about the difference between work groups and “real teams”. Some of my teammates put these principles of real teams in action while we were together.

Connect – “How are you doing?”

Some of my teammates showed true interest in me as a person. They asked questions about how was I doing, comments I made, and my personal life – not just our work. They encouraged me after I taught a session, and they gave sincere feedback about how to improve. They invited me to eat meals with them, to help with some of their tasks, and to give my opinion on projects. We were not just siloed individuals working alone on separate pieces of the job; we were interdependent, and I felt valued and cared for by my teammates who demonstrated this characteristic of “true teams”.

Deepen – “What do we need?”

In some of our conversations, we were talking about emotional, stressful, frustrating or challenging topics. Some of my teammates avoided or tabled the complex and conflicting issues, while others actually initiated the deeper conversations. I really appreciated it when my team mates challenged my attitudes or the way I was dealing with some of my feelings. “True team” members understand that differing perspectives and opinions are a benefit to teamwork, and so they face and resolve misunderstandings and conflict. My teammates built trust when they invested the time to look at the harder, deeper issues with me.

Dream – “Where are we going?”

Besides looking at personal and conflict issues, my “real team” members also took time to dream about the future together with me. Although we are aware of problems and lack of resources and man-power, we also knew that our work and our efforts meant we are making forward progress. I greatly valued the times when we talked about building a caring culture, learning from mistakes, changing old paradigms, and finding new hope. That kind of conversation makes me want to work as part of the “real team”.

Have you experienced working as a “true team”? What elements of “true team” are important to you?

realization of a dream

Do you have a dream? Something you long for? Want to see happen? Wish you could change?

I have lots of dreams… personal growth milestones, work goals, hopes for my children, my friends, my community, my world.

Not every dream comes true, but they come true more often if I have given my best effort to make the dream a reality.

We enjoy visiting local coffee shops whenever we travel. We met Dazbog Coffee Co. in Denver, Colorado, and I love the history behind the dream they made come true. Certain elements of their story helped make their dream a reality…

Vision – Leonid and Anatoly Yuffa had a dream. They envisioned a better life – freedom, democracy, opportunity – a new way. On a cold, quiet evening in Russia they were pensive, reflective, talking together… and a dream was born. I am often too busy to slow down and think, but new creative visions don’t come to my mind when I am running from one thing to another. I need to take time to think, process, and dream…

Do you take time to discover your dreams?

Values –  Successful organizations, families, and people know their key values; they carry them around or post them on the wall as a constant reminder. The Yuffa family chose to combine old world heritage and tradition with new technology. They committed to a quality, rich cup of coffee, and these values permeate all that they do. Sometimes desperation to make something happen tempts me to drop my standards or set aside my values, but that will only detour my dream. Consistent values are the bedrock and the decision filter for any new venture.

Do you know and live by your values?

Unique style Red, black and yellow details are on everything: coffee cups, bags of beans, clothing line, and posters on the wall. They name their coffee blends based on the history and character of their homeland. When you walk into a Dazbog café, the Russian influence is obvious. I am often guilty of trying to live someone’s dream rather than my own – trying to look like, act like or produce like another. That’s not a good strategy (!), so I am learning to live comfortably in my own skin… and pursue my unique dreams.

Are you comfortable with your unique style?

Celebration Turning dreams into reality requires hard work, perseverance, focus, wise choices, the right people, …and God’s blessing! When I go after a vision, I can focus so much on achieving the dream that I forget to celebrate the steps along the way. The Dazbog way “celebrates life itself in each and every cup”. From their profits they give back to community projects to help make the world a better place. I want to remember to celebrate progress and process and not just a finished product. I have a sense there will be many more realized dreams that way.

How do you celebrate on the way to your dream?

dream on

I had a special dream for this summer. I wanted to take a crazy family road trip from New Mexico to Wisconsin to see my husband’s family at the lake. It had been almost 10 years since we were there last; so much had happened during those years, and we were overdue for a re-connect. Our children were super excited about the idea, and months ahead we began to plan. We chose late summer dates when all seven of us would be available to travel together.

We began to dream.

Then in the spring, my husband’s mom, “Nanny”, became very ill. She was diagnosed with lung cancer, and it didn’t look good. She was weak, struggling to breathe, and doctors were not sure she would be alive in August.

I had to let go of the dream to focus on the present.

Phone calls to family no longer involved fun travel plans. Instead, the discussions focused on doctor appointments, testing for damage extent, treatment options, fears of losing Nanny quickly, a possible immediate flight to Wisconsin for my husband.

I was angry. I was disappointed. I was scared. I felt cheated of my dream… and I felt guilty for thinking about my own desires when something much more important was at stake. My heart was in knots. I wished I’d never had the dream. One minute I wanted to drop everything and fly to accompany her. Next minute I wanted to deny the harsh reality and still have my uncomplicated, fun trip.

I finally surrendered the fight and set my dream aside.

It was time for a new dream – health, healing, time for Nanny. We adjusted the plan… four of our children made their own trip north in early summer – in case the later trip never happened. My husband called almost daily for status updates and stayed ready to travel at any moment. I prayed… a lot.

Miracles happened. Chemo worked. Nanny endured one treatment, and another, and another. Not a cure, but more strength and more time…

Time for a dream.

We have just finished an incredible week in Wisconsin with the family. All seven of us – and a dog – traveled through the night to get here. It was crazy… and fun. I still can’t hardly believe we are all here… playing, laughing, crying, singing. We are eating meals with Nanny. And she sits with us at the campfires. And she is doing well.

I’ve learned it is OK to dream… as long as I hold the dream loosely. Sometimes I have to let go of the dream as it can never be. Sometimes the dream changes form or time. And sometimes the dream comes true, a surprise or a gift undeserved. But being afraid to dream is not the answer. Dreams mean life has heart and hope. Events to look forward to and people to spend time with. Goals to aim for and memories to cherish. Life is better when we dream.

What is your dream? Is anything keeping you from your dream? 

motivation and encouragement

photo courtesy of

I really enjoy mentoring young leaders.Others have told me that I am an encourager, and after many years, I think I finally believe that is true. For that reason, when I came out low in “motivation” in a recent 360 evaluation, I took that feedback soberly and began to ask questions and do some research.

I originally thought the two actions were similar and wondered how could I be good at one and weak at the other? When I compared the definitions between encourage and motivate, I realized there are some key differences.

Various dictionaries define the two words this way:

Encourage – 1: to inspire with courage, confidence, or hope, 2: to stimulate, spur on, 3: to give help or support. Synonyms are: inspirit, hearten, or embolden – the idea being to fill with courage or strength of purpose, or to raise one’s confidence especially by an external agency.

Motivate – 1: to provide with a motive, 2: to give incentive to; move to action; impel. Motivation = a motivating force, stimulus, or influence

I checked the Bible also, and there are very few references to motivate or motivation – most references warn against wrong or evil motives. Encouragement, on the other hand, appears at least 35 times – often associated with strengthen and perseverance during action already in process. says that, “Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control….”

Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, (intrinsic/extrinsic motivation), suggests that the factors that motivate people can change over their lifetime, but respect as a person is one of the top motivating factors at any stage of life.

I recognize that I am basically a self-motivated person. I wake up in the morning with motive, incentive, purpose.I don’t need someone else to move me to action… I am already ready to go! As the day goes on, however, I can get discouraged, worn out, or tired by the struggles, conflicts, and challenges that battle against my goals and desires.

That is when I really appreciate encouragement from others… a bit of “You can do it!” or “I believe in you” keeps me moving forward..

When someone has a vision, dream or calling, I love to encourage them… letting them know I believe in them, cheering them on when they are battle-weary, and looking for ways to provide resources to help them.

I realize that I am weak when others lack desire, vision and motivation. If they don’t already have a goal, something they want to accomplish, or a purpose for action, then I feel at a loss for how to help them.

From my study so far I have learned that I can improve my ability to motivate by communicating and imparting vision better and more often. I can also ask others what motivates them and learn about incentives and reasons for action. I can work to treat people with respect. Maybe one of the most important things I can do is to pray for the person. Motivation is going to grow from within… and it is God who is best at changing the heart.

Do you like to motivate or encourage others, or maybe both? How do you do that?