let them fly

IMG_0971 crop
My “baby” (just finished her freshman year in college) boarded a plane this morning to take an international flight… all. by. herself. I am a bit nervous. I am anxiously awaiting updates as she makes her way through three flights, three airports, immigration and customs, money changing, and a bus ride to a destination where she will finally connect with friends. I will be counting the hours… minutes… seconds?

I go through second guessing… Is she ready for this? Did I tell her everything she needs to know? Will she get stuck somewhere?

And then I remember… I raised her to do this. I am not an overly protective, micro-managing, hovering type of mother. I want her to be confident, try new things, step out of her comfort zone, take adventures. I want her to figure it out on her own… or be able to ask for help. I want her to make her own (wise) decisions, trust her instincts, lean on her faith, be strong and not afraid of the unknown. 

I want this for all my children… and I want this for those I supervise at work and in ministry. One of the hardest things to do is to let them fly on their own… be in charge, take over, make the decisions. One of the key lessons in leadership is: get. out. of. the. way. Let others lead.

Will they make mistakes? Yes.

Will they make poor decisions? Sometimes.

Will they need help? Sure.

Good training, modeling, and coaching is crucial, but there comes a time when it is really only our pride and our fear that stand in the way. I have seen many leaders that hang on to leadership for too long, wearing too many “hats” of responsibility that could be released to others. I’ve done this myself. But I’ve learned that when we sense a lack of leader candidates, they oftentimes step up only when we are out-of-the-way and there is a real gap to fill.

It’s OK to feel nervous… to worry a bit from the sidelines… even to remain available for a quick touch-point .. but it is not OK to hold them back by our own fear or selfishness.

Let them lead. Let them go. Let them fly.

Is is hard for you to let go? How have you learned to let others lead?

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?