Authentically fake or authentically awesome? You decide.

1484615917_cad5ab7172It’s practically human nature to constantly examine how we can benefit from someone else or what someone else can do for us. That concept is not foreign to online relationships.  So often, we are consumed with what we can gain from someone else that we forget to be genuine and have an authentic persona.  This goes for both personal and business profiles online.  What does “authentic” or “genuine” look like. Well that depends. Are you a genuine person or do you portray a false exterior? That’s for you to determine…that’s on you.  You can be genuinely fake, or you can be genuinely awesome. I prefer to strive for awesome.

Here are a couple platforms I look at often and have to make authentic decisions daily:

Facebook: When people comment, ask questions, send private messages both to my personal or business, there is one practice I like to keep. Reply first and look at their profile second. So often we want to see “who is this person talking to me?” Unfortunately, it alters how we respond. Try responding first. Discipline yourself to look at their profile later….or even never. Treat them like a valued human being not the sum of a few numbers or job title.

Twitter: Simple, same as Facebook. reply, talk to, engage and be decent with respect to those who are interested in talking to you.  We all remember the early times on Twitter and how scary it might be to talk to a stranger. Likewise we all remember how wonderful it felt to have someone respond to you with pure humanity. Be that person. Pay it forward. Be genuine. Love people.

Instagram: When people “like” your pictures or comment, respond. When someone comments or follows, take a minute to look at their profile….not who they are, but what they post. Look for content first. If you like it, follow it. If not, don’t, but give it an authentic look at content before you decide.

Thanks to Clay Hebert for the push to write this post. It’s good to be inspired and to act on it. Your online actions will make a difference in someone’s life, and even if you never see the fruit of it, it’s happening. Choose to be awesome.

Thanks for reading…

Photo Credit: colinaut’s

What I’m Learning About Balance

Cuddling with multiple devicesI’ve been thinking through this idea of “balance” in life.  Sometimes those of us who are super caught up in the digital world find it easy to wonder what’s wrong with the rest of the world that isn’t. I mean, I’ve made so many friends and have learned *so* much through my online communities that I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with the rest of the world that isn’t as neck deep in it as I am!  The truth is, we all need a little bit of balance in our lives.  As a city girl, I can use a lesson or two from those we might consider “disconnected.”

It’s vague but I do remember life before smart phones and constant connectivity. While I do believe it helps to enhance relationships, I do think it’s important to unplug from time to time. To sit through a meal with a friend or significant other without constantly checking our Twitter feeds or Facebook page.

Those of us who are friends online can all agree that the “face to face” really seals the deal and makes a true authentic friendship. Why then, do we ignore those right in front of us? We can become so desensitized to life around us that the beauty of silence becomes a figment of our imagination.  Sometimes silence is great and sometimes it’s okay to enjoy the beauty in the world without having to Instagram it (although I *do* love Instagram).

Finding the balance is key. Having friends outside the tech and online world help balance me. So, if you fall too far to one side or the other, take a look at what you’re missing on both ends and seek balance. I promise there are amazing benefits to both.

photo creditadactio

What a Decade of Volleyball Taught Me

volleyballFor nearly 10 years, volleyball was my true passion.  I never aspired for the Olympics or anything but I always aspired to be the best I could be on whatever team I was on.  I knew I would never be a professional athlete, but I will tell you, the lessons I learned have proved invaluable for where I am today.  I learned a lot about leadership, trust, hard work and teamwork.  Allow me to break that down.

Trust: I leaned to trust my coach and to understand that he or she could see the whole game going on from a “big picture” perspective. I played my role but understood that if the strategy, plan of attack and defense shifted, it was for the better and I needed to do whatever I was told to do in order to fight for the win.  Today that translates to my current job in how I trust and follow the leadership of my boss, Pastor David Hughes. I don’t always have the big picture but I will trust his leadership and that he has the best in mind. He see’s the whole picture and I need to play my role to the best of my abilities to chase after the “win.”

Leadership: I was always blessed with the role of team captain or co-captain. I found that my attitude and presence could be positive or negative and my example would set the tone. I had to lead even if that meant being the only positive one on the court or encouraging good behavior off the court. It wasn’t always easy and I had my moments of failure for sure but it taught me how to be a leader today.  Sometimes I encounter negative people and I have learned that I need to choose to lead according to the vision of my boss and what he values.  I work at Church by the Glades and we have an incredible group of people who come and encourage us weekly, but occasionally, there are those who want to criticize the vision. Strong leadership means, even if I am personally attacked for supporting the goals and vision, I will stand my ground because leadership is not about popularity.

Hard Work: To be a strong athlete it takes a lot of training. Not just on the court, but in the weight room and even in a room with pens and paper discussing plays and strategy. It takes a lot of discipline to work hard when it’s not game day. Today in life, it’s still true. There are so many areas of life that we might write off as less important or boring and so we don’t work hard at them. There will always be a time to shine, but if you don’t work hard, when it comes, that time to shine will be mediocre at best.

Teamwork: I was only one player out of 6 on the court. I had a role to play and I needed to do it well. The other 5 had their own roles and I couldn’t do it all. We all had to become great at the position we were in. This taught me to know my strengths and to work hard at perfecting them. It also taught me to surround myself with other people who are doing the same. There is so much freedom in knowing where my strengths are but even more in knowing where I’m weak. Rather than spend all my time trying to get my weaknesses up to a sub par level, I have found that there is far more power in a team with diverse skill sets.

This post was inspired by a simple question asked of me by Pastor Mac Richard. He simply wanted to know what my years of volleyball taught me and how I use that in my life today.  It really did cause me to analyze my experiences and how they have prepared me for the calling and purpose in my life.  How has your life experience prepared you for *your* calling? Maybe you are being prepared right now? Work hard where you are because the skills you develop are not without purpose.

photo credit: JasonC29

Amanda’s 3 Words for 2013

Amanda BurgosHey there friends! Meet Amanda Burgos.  A sweet and intelligent 19 year old woman who has asked me to be a mentor in her life. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her better and I think you will too. A few weeks ago, I wrote my “3 Words” for 2013 and it’s something I’ve asked her to do as well.  As a bonus, I’ve asked her to journal daily.  She’s supposed to record her “wins.” That means, every single time she does something that filters through one of her 3 words, she writes it down. If the day goes by without a win, the page stays blank with the date up top. Looking forward to seeing what 2013 has in store for this beautiful girl! So, here they are, Amanda’s 3 words (super proud of you, girl!):

Now:  There are so many things I want to do in my life and I’ve talked about doing them but it’s been just talk. I want to put my words into action. Today matters, and I’ve realized that if you want something done you have to go out and do it NOW. The more you wait for the “right time” the less likely you’ll actually do it. I want to get off my butt and do the things I talk about doing now.  Some examples are to get healthier, building better relationships, making better time management choices. God calls us to act now, to forget about yesterday and not worry about our future. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.

Live:  Not only am I going to do all of the things that I can do now but I want to make sure I’m having fun. I fully believe that God wants me to enjoy my life and live it to the fullest. Even at The Wave we talk about living; living for life change, living for our tribe and just living. I want to take those concepts and make sure that in all that I do I find joy in it. That in moments I find myself stressed out I remember that Gods got my back and He’ll take care of me.

Grow:  Right now I’m at a point in my life where I want to make sure I am learning and growing and I want to make sure I keep the same mindset throughout 2013. I believe this year is going to be huge for me but I won’t go anywhere if i don’t continue to grow. I believe that no matter what age and point in life we are in, we always have the choice to grow. I want to grow for a purpose. I know I want to be in ministry and I know I am getting those opportunities at Church by the Glades so I need to make sure I take advantage of that. I want to make sure I put God in the center and use Him to help me grow in all the aspects in my life. I want to grow in my relationship with Him, as a leader, in my ministry, in my relationships and in my home.

My 3 Words for 2013

3219004793_a0d5a6de82_bIt’s here, and I’m jumping into 2013 with both feet! I’m not a fan of waiting until New Years to make a resolution. I believe that if you are going to make a change, today will always be the best day. You either want to or you don’t.  What I’ve really grown fond of is Chris Brogan’s concept of choosing 3 words I can focus on to make this year productive and goal driven. This is my first year doing it and I’m pretty excited! You can read Chris’s post on 3 words here, and here are mine:

Spontaneous. I love to make lists. I love to have a plan. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun doing it more and more. While I think that’s great, I know I need to make some room in my life for some spontaneity. Do things, go places, try stuff that isn’t planned and might seem just a little out of the ordinary for daily life. I remember when my whole life was filled to the brim with spontaneous living and life was always an adventure. Although it probably won’t consist of an all night drive for a few hours in Paris (yes I’ve done that), I do anticipate fun. I always want to make sure to have fun in this life.

Intentional.  This sounds like it’s in direct opposition to my first word. Let me explain. I want to treat every moment, conversation, interaction with intention. It can be hard with so many devices, tools, and conversations all happening at once but I want to remember that I was created with purpose and I want to live that way.  My good friend Joycy is amazing at living life this way…It inspires me every time I watch it happen.

Inspire.  This year I will focus on not only inspiring those around me but to be inspired as well. I want people to feel encouraged and inspired after spending time with me. In turn, I will expand my horizons by reading more and changing up the topics of content I consume. I am well aware that means that I will likely watch a couple shows on the History channel. Ha! I am hoping the people I connect with will gain an “I can do it” attitude both in health/fitness, and in life.

Those are my words for 2013. What are yours? I’d love to know!

photo credit: derekskey’s

Trading Bitterness for Hope

I have issues. You have issues. Everybody has issues. We have all been disappointed, let down, hurt, or have simply made bad choices that have impacted our life negatively.  Agreed? Moving on.

Faced with this realization, you have a couple of options. You can either choose to be bitter or you can use it to propel you forward and to help others do the same. As Pastor David Hughes says, “Nobody ever bittered their way to a better life.”  I believe that with all my heart. I have lived on the bitter end of life and trust me, freedom is much better. I understand that the wrongs that have happened to us warrant anger and sadness. I understand that someone legitimately hurt you and you truly were the victim.  It’s not wrong to feel this way, but I don’t agree with choosing to let it dictate the rest of my life, and I hope you don’t either.

How are you using your past and your pain to help other people?  I’ll be very real with you. For the past 14-15 years I have struggled with confidence, self esteem, and body image issues. Every day I wake up and decide to make smart choices and choose not to believe the lies in my head. I thank God everyday that He loves me enough to show me my true worth. Then I take that realization and I share it with other teenagers and girls that I meet who may not feel like the beautiful person they were created to be.

That’s one way I use my “issues” to help others move past their’s and be able to find hope and encouragement in life. What are you doing to change the world around you?

Thanks for letting me be real with you….

Designed to be Awesome.

There is some pretty amazing talent that crosses the stage at Church by the Glades.  From the musicians to speakers to even our announcement teams.  They are all entertaining, funny, articulate, confident and they perform with excellence.  It’s always fun  to watch.  This past weekend I was asked to help out with the announcements.  Typically it’s done by the amazing Fred and Heather duo. These two have great stage presence and communicate so well (not to mention hilarious!).  Fred needed a female counterpart and all other options were unavailable, so I was asked to step up to the plate.  How awesome, right!! A great opportunity to be on the stage!! I will tell you that was *not* my initial response.

I immediately began to compare myself to everyone else I had seen grace that stage and internally listed all the reasons why I could never be good enough to do what was being asked.  What I realized was that I was comparing myself against the personality traits of others. I thought, “I’ll never have the energy that Heather has or be as funny as Fred.” The truth is, while that may be true, it doesn’t matter. I decided to be the best Summer I could be with the personality that belonged to only me, and guess what?  I felt comfortable in my own skin and had a blast!  I was created to be me and only me. You were designed with a personality unique to you. There’s nobody on earth like you or me. So, own it. Rock it. Go be awesome.

Make Your Life a Special Occasion

Today I unpacked a couple of boxes filled with china that my mom passed down to me.  As I was carefully unwrapping the beautiful set I began thinking about when I might use such nice dinnerware. Thinking through special occasions, holidays, dinner parties, etc. It made me realize that we save all the beautiful things in life for these so-called “special occasions.”  Fine china, ornate candles, great wine, even certain pieces of clothing are put away for viewing only until that “moment” comes.

As I get older, I am reminded that life is a series of moments and experiences. Why should I wait for something special to happen before I celebrate life?  Who says a Tuesday can’t be special to me because I say so?  I believe that each day is a gift, and there’s a reason I exist to experience it. If that’s not special, I don’t know what is. So maybe I will eat my scrambled eggs on fine china and burn that candle that has been on my shelf for years. We get one life. Live it up. Each and every day can be a special occasion. Your choice.

Goals. It’s not too late to be awesome.

Remember at the beginning of the year when you made that list of goals you wanted to achieve this year? Yeah, remember those?  Remember thinking, “This year is gonna be AWESOME!” We are half way through the year and I’m asking myself if I’m truly on the right track to accomplishing any of the awesome.  Are you?  Maybe you set goals you have no control over. That’s the biggest problem I’ve discovered in goal setting and expectations. So let’s drill down on that. Here are a few statements that we can turn into actual goals.

  • Lose 20lbs = “I am going to work out 3 days a week and stop eating junk food.” Next step: Try some new fitness routines, get some new running shoes (I like these), and get rid of the junk food in your home.
  • Be more generous = “I am going to set up an automatic online payment to my church or non-profit.” Next step: Research local or national non-profits that you want to be a part of. I choose both locally and nationally.
  • Get more blog traffic = “I will be my authentic self and produce interesting content.” Next step: Schedule time in your week or month to write. I keep content ideas in Evernote.
  • Make new friends = “I will go places I’ve never been to meet people I’ve never met. Both on and offline.” Next Step: Follow some new people on Twitter. Jump in on some chats. Make an effort to attend local meet ups.
  • Make a difference in the world = “I will volunteer my time at a local establishment to help improve someone else’s life.” Next Step: Search for places you can volunteer. I choose to volunteer my time to mentor teenage girls at my church.

The list goes on and on. Take a minute. Evaluate your “goals” and turn them into action steps. It’s never too late to be the awesome you want to see in the world.

Photo credit: Kylesteed

Are You Wasting Resources on Good Projects?

There are plenty of really good ideas out there.  Plenty of really good ideas that you know you can implement into your strategy.  It’s great to have an arsenal of good projects in your pipeline, right?

I disagree.  Having a lineup of good projects is not the answer.  You first have to consider a few things.

  1. Does it target the right audience?  Recently we had the opportunity to use our 2,000-seat auditorium to host a concert for a couple bands that are well known nationally. Sounds great, right?  Not for us. They are well known nationally but not by the people we are targeting.  Getting 2000 people through our doors sounds great until we recognize they aren’t our primary target.  For instance, if you sell dog toys and treats, you aren’t looking to fill your store with cat lovers.
  2. What kind of resources will it consume?  When you start to allocate your resources and count your costs, remember to include more than hard dollar signs.  Consider manpower and time spent. Not just yours, but your team as well. For us that means all the way down to the janitorial staff and paid security.
  3. Does it fall in line with your ultimate goal and mission statement?  The clarity of that has to come from leadership.  If you are responsible for leading the vision of your company or division, make sure it’s clear. Give your team the freedom to run the idea through the filter of your vision to make sure they are on point with the team’s objectives.

Good projects that do not fit into the scope of your goal might be a misuse of resources.  Not all good projects and ideas are for everyone. Although it might not fit into your strategy, it might for someone else you know….and sharing is caring.

Photo Credit: Tax Credits’

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    Summer carries a passion for relationship building and 10 years experience in marketing/management. A confessed “Twitaholic” in a serious relationship with her iPhone, she shows no desire for recovery, as it showcases her passion for social media and the ability to connect and engage on an exponential level. Read more...


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