Sunday, September 07, 2014

Some Advice on Leadership

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I have a lovely online friend on Facebook that tagged me to give her some advice on her efforts to start a school in her area. I was flattered and surprised, but wanted to help, and so I sat down and wrote out seven of the lessons I've learned in my efforts to lead in my community.

As I read through them, I realized that I have never taken the time before now to sit down and think through the things I have learned over the past eight years. And so, I decided to record them here, as a way of reminding myself of the lessons that God has given me. 

And if they can possibly help someone else along the way, that is wonderful! 

Well, here's my advice, for what it's worth!

1) PRAY. I could never have had the strength and inspiration to wade through all the kinds of challenges and difficulties that DO happen, without it. Keep a constant connection between yourself and God. He has a much better view of things!

2) SIMPLIFY. If you are an idea person like me, you may have all kinds of grandiose, complicated plans that you're musing about, but I would advise you to scale things down to what you can realistically handle. There will be time to add more things as time goes on, and you have a better idea on what will be required. K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, sweetheart!)

3) FIND YOUR "WHY" AND STAY FOCUSED ON IT ALWAYS. If you haven't already read it, take the time to read the book "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek. Our "Why" is the most important ingredient to successful leadership. Make it the center of everything you do!

4) DO NOT TRY TO PLEASE EVERYONE! It is an impossible thing to try to do, and it can never, never, NEVER happen! So do what you can to help others, but don't own their problems, and be prepared to be criticized. Sometimes, the criticism is warranted, and you need to listen.

However, there are often people who do not wish to have the responsibility of leadership that still want to steer the boat with their strong opinions. These people will usually criticize you no matter what you do! So, don't change your direction, unless a trusted, wise friend or mentor gives you advice to do so. (And if they do, LISTEN and follow it!) Just don't change things constantly in order to please others. Follow that inner voice-- your gut, the Spirit, whatever you want to call it-- and trust that you are going in the right direction. If someone doesn't like how you are doing things, allow them to go and start their own!

5) USE THE INTERNET. Have a website, use social media, and stay in close email contact with your community. If you have a teenager in your family or among your friends that can take on the social media presence for you, do it! You probably won't have time to maintain all of these yourself, so find some good help, but always have an Internet presence that accurately represents who you are and what your vision is. That way, like-minded people can always find you.


There will be times when people will tell you how awesome you are, and you might begin to buy into it. DON'T! Just bring them back down to earth, and remind them that you are just a mama with a dream, and are doing your best to see it through. It's sad, but true, that there are some people that might even try to put you on a pedestal so that they can knock you down.

Just don't ever get up on that pedestal-- it's lonely and cold there! (And it's a LONG way back down to earth!) Stay down on the ground with everyone else, and keep your principles and ideals and your "why" up on the pedestal.

I had an amazing mentor once remind me, "Peoples are peoples, Rachel," and it's true. We are all children of God, just trying to do our best.

7) KEEP YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT. Your husband and your children and your God are the most important things in your life, so be sure to never let your dreams and goals harm those precious relationships. Be 100% willing to step away from-- or completely drop-- whatever it is you're doing if it EVER harms your family or your principles and beliefs.


Love, Mama Rachel

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July in Full Swing

Just another July morning at our house!

It was actually a pretty slow and hot week for us here in AZ. Let's see...

It was the little girls' last week of swimming lessons. They have had such a great time, and it's been strange to have the house quiet in the mornings-- weird, huh? I don't think Eryn ever got her face wet, but they tried! Avalon did get brave, and went all the way under the water. I think it was a fun and exciting opportunity for them to have something that was all their own.

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The little girls at swimming lessons
Lliam spent a lot of this week at S---'s house. They are really working hard to get a band going, and I'm happy to have him spending time with a good family. He's helped them with dinner and even went to an extended family gathering with them.

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Lliam and his friend, S--, making dinner

There's a lady in our ward here that I actually grew up with in good, ole Ammon! We went to girls camp and school together, though I didn't know her all that well. (I was close friends with her big sister. She was in Wade's high school class.) She ended up spending some time in Idaho this summer, and actually ran into Granna and Morganne at the humanitarian center in Idaho Falls, where they and Grandma Nielsen and Aunt Colleen and Uncle Jim work as missionaries. It was awesome to have her bring me back a picture of Granna and Morganne! :-) The Humanitarian center is such a special place-- I wish we had one here in AZ! 

Granna and Morganne working hard at the Humanitarian Center

I forgot to mention that last week Daddy and I went to a 40th anniversary production of Saturday's Warrior. I cried-- okay, ugly sobbed-- during the song "Didn't we love him?". I had forgotten how emotional that part was going to be for me. There is nothing more difficult than watching a child make choices that you know will harm their spirit!

Bonny has been working all week on redecorating her room. Actually, she's been working on it for weeks, but finally got paint to finish painting it this week. We moved Grayse into Bonny's room, and Eryn down to share a room with MacKenna. So far, it's been working great!

Bonny and Grayse in their beauteous room.
(All design and work done by Bonny!)

Bonny is so excited to be planning a trip to Europe with a homeschool group next Spring. She has started saving every penny she makes, and has worked hard teaching ballet and babysitting to earn what she needs. I am VERY excited for her to go, too! Lliam says he wants to go, but is still looking for a job. We'll see-- it would be so awesome for them to both go!

Everyone is doing well and Ronan's war wound has healed. Pa came down for his (kidney transplant) surgery, but they had to postpone it, because he's had a terrible sinus infection. This morning when he called, he told me they may not operate until the 21st! So Pa's just staying with Ann and Dan, and Lliam is on hold for being his caretaker until then, it sounds like. We'll keep you updated on that.

My 92 year old Grandma Nielsen with my cousin's daughter at her baptism

Earlier last week, sweet Grandma Nielsen had a pretty bad fall in the middle of the night, and spent the night on her knees, until her hospice caregiver came the next morning. :-( So, the family has all rallied around to call her every night to check on her. She has a strong testimony of the importance of missionary work, and so she is doing what she can, even for her great-grandchildren on missions, including keeping their pictures up on her refrigerator. I have a wonderful grandma and love her VERY much!!!

And now, for some more pictures of the precious people in our family!

Fun and happy Fiona

Davy likes cereal!

I love Eryn's toothless grin!

Silly Grayse

MacKenna has a contagious smile.

Ronan tinkering, as usual.

Lovely Dierdre is really growing up!

Love, Mama Rachel