Significant events change our lives. They serve as mile markers specific to our personal life’s journey. These mile markers allow us to reflect in a way that only those directly touched by these events can.  This time last year I was leaving a life changing leadership conference.  What I could not have known at the time was my that my life was about to change again dramatically. As I drove 5 hours home from that conference I reflected on the theme of the last 3 days; MAKE. The theme was “make”, we are makers. God made us to make. What had I made so far in my life, what was left still to make? Knowing who made me certainly helps guide my path. I had detached myself for those last 3 days from the business of life, the constant chatter of email, cell, and text. I had let my mind forget the situation that was about to dramatically change me.

The closer I got to home to more obligations to participate in the life I had crept back in. My wife and daughters had missed me and were expecting me home. Work had piled up and the grave illness of my father could not be ignored. I gave him a call. He was somewhat lucid but I could tell the cancer, cirrhosis, and broken hip from a bad fall were taking over his mind. I longed to share with him what I had experienced, but it was too late for that conversation in this life.  One week later he died.

If culture is a belief system formed by a group of individuals then how do these significant events alter that culture? Do you think its possible that my personal life could be so dramatically impacted and that those profound changes could be isolated from how I interact with those I lead at work? I have had people say to me “I keep my work life and my personal life separate”. I say that is bull. We are all human, significant events, these mile markers impact us all. We bring those core changes with us into whatever we are doing. If I had chosen to be bitter about my fathers death, bitterness would have infiltrated my teams culture. If I had chosen to be deeply depressed, a dark cloud would have moved over our team. It is not that I have all the power to change a culture, it is that we all have some power to impact our culture.

So I leave you with this, get to know your staff. Build key relationships that let you discover who they are entirely. Be the type of leader that allows both your staff and your own life mile markers to enhance your culture.

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