Nine Minute Moments


In my last blog, I shared the painful struggle of being fired over 20 years ago. As a result, I began a 20+ year journey of learning to choose well, lead well, and finish well.

Being fired all those years ago was an incredibly painful experience. I lost confidence in my abilities, felt like a total failure, and simply wanted to crawl into a dark cave and lick my wounds. I seriously thought about giving up my YMCA career and starting all over in a new field. I had to make a choice. While on the surface the choice was between two career options, in reality it was a choice to either pull out of the self-criticizing death spiral I was in or let failure win. When you’re in the never ending cycle of defeating thoughts, it’s pure choice to replace those negative thoughts with ones that start to speak truth to your soul about who you are and Whose you are. Choose truth.

Last month, a former colleague and friend asked me to attend his retirement celebration. I put it on my calendar, but when the day arrived I started to hear excuses building in my head:

  • It would take 40 minutes to get downtown.
  • Parking would be atrocious.
  • I had so much to do, that not going would make my day much easier.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because I had wrestled with a very similar issue a couple of years ago and wrote about it. Yet here I was faced with the same choice. I had choose to remember the lesson I’d learned then – relationships trump to do lists. Choose relationship.

Dan Webster is the founder of Authentic Leadership ( and a mentor. He has a phrase he uses – nine-minute moments. If you add up all the seconds that first-string NFL players are actually blocking, tackling, throwing, etc,  the total live action in a game is 9-12 minutes. Yet they prepare physically, mentally, and strategically over 80 hours for that one contest in order to raise their potential to make a difference in the football game.

I relate that to our choices. Each and every day we make little choices that don’t seem to have much impact. We choose what meeting to attend, when to speak up, what we listen to, when to confront and when to avoid. The right small choices prepare us for our nine-minute moments. Those times are when relationships hang in the balance, when truth is challenged, when your gut is clenching and your heart pounding because you know making the difficult but right choice has huge consequences – personally and professionally.

What nine-minute moments are you facing? Choose well.

4 Blogs Worth Following


I get a lot of e-newsletters and blog notices in my inbox. Very few are ones I’ll save or flag to read later.  Here are four that top my list.  Three are about leadership, one is about your stomach!  Enjoy!

UnCommon Leadership  – Ed Chaffin

I like how Ed Chaffin thinks!  He coaches all over the world and focuses on the people issues we all face.

Leading with Trust – Randy Conley

Randy is the Vice President of Client Services & Trust Practice Leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies.  He was selected as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders and writes a great blog on trust in leadership that is highly practical.


Intentional Leadership – Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers.  His blog in intentional leadership is down to earth and practical.


Evins Mill – Gastronomy

Not only a great retreat and get-away place, but fabulous food – and the chef shares his recipes here.


No voicemail…don’t call back!

Why do we call back numbers who don’t leave a voicemail? 

I made a telephone call recently and when I got an answering machine, I realized I’d dialed the wrong number.  I hung up, dialed correctly, and had a great conversation.  About 20 minutes later, the phone rang and a woman asked:  “Did you call 615-202-xxxx?”   I explained that I had realized my mistake when I heard her answering machine and hung up.  She then hung up on me.

I’ve come up with three reasons why we call back unknown numbers:

1) In our information deluged society, we fear we’ve missed something important, so we call back to make sure we are ‘in the loop”.

2) Curiosity gets the better of us.

3) We can’t stand not knowing who tried to call us.

I’ve made a commitment not to call back numbers that don’t leave a message.  If it was important, they’ll make sure they connect with me.   Why do you think we have this compulsion to return phone calls when they don’t leave a message and we have no idea who they were?


Unplugged and Free

The other day I was heading to an all day session with the National Speakers Association, and I realized about two miles from my home that I had forgotten my Smartphone.   I was running too late to go back and get it, so I just went on.  Something profound happened that day – I experienced freedom.  It was delightful to drive and not also be talking or thinking about who I needed to call.   I just enjoyed the day – unplugged and free.

 In 2003, the University of Utah did a study comparing drunk drivers to cell phone users. We weren’t texting then like we do today, so this was just talking on the phone.  They gave the alcohol group enough orange juice and 40% vodka to reach .08 BAC and then had them drive a course in a simulator.  They had cell phone users – with no alcohol – do the same.  You guessed it.  The cell phone users had greater impairment than those who were drunk – even with a head set.  They had more accidents than the baseline drivers or the drunk drivers.

 Distraction is a terrible thing.  Whether distracted in work, in driving, or in faith, losing our focus is dangerous – for ourselves and others.  Distracted workers make mistakes more, distracted drivers crash more, and distracted believers sin more.  So unplug that Smartphone while you drive, turn off your email reminder, and experience freedom.  It will change your life.   It may also save your life!

Share your plugged and distracted stories!

Diary of a Farmville Widow


I confess!  I was a farmer!  Was, you’ll note!  My son got my husband and  I started on Thanksgiving Day.  I had heard about Farmville, that it was addictive, so I decided to try it out carefully.  I set up my farm, got my first chicken, and fertilized my son’s crops.  I grew up on a farm, so I thought maybe I’d have an advantage – but no dice!  Two months later, I quit – but not before I laid awake at night worrying about my tomatoes (when did I have to harvest?) and received countless offers to buy fake Farmville dollars with real cash(the logic escapes me unless you’re the owner of Farmville).  I’d also ticked off most of my non-Farmville friends on Facebook with the continuous requests for fertilizer, rescuing baby calves, or claiming mystery eggs.

My husband is still farming – and I’ve become a Farmville widow.  Early in the morning I find him at the computer planting, upset because he’s running low on fuel, or  coming to bed later at night because his peas need to be picked.  He recently lost his dog (didn’t feed him enough kibbles) and spent an hour talking to our son figuring out how to get him back.  He even has an XL spreadsheet that shows the best ROI for each crop in terms of time and money.  He’s asked me to introduce him to my friends so he can get more neighbors and a bigger farm (I didn’t – I want to keep my friends), and he’s constantly in a race to see if he can level up faster than our daughter-in-law.  On the bright side, I have more time to tweet and to blog about integrity.

As for me, I’ve joined the Facebook group I Hate Farmville.   I also got lots of words of encouragement from friends –“We knew you could do it – way to go”.  Thanks – I like having friends.

 Share your stories about Farmville and it’s impact.