When you take a good look at yourself, how are you growing today?

Grow or die. Eat or be food. Time always moves forward…so the ageless Darwinian question when you look in the mirror: How are you growing today?

I fancy myself as an inspirational leadership coach. Part of my own growth has been the commitment to produce good leadership insight every Tuesday morning – the chronic weekly commitment is helping me grow (174 weeks in a row now!)

But the last three weeks really stretched me: I’m not very good at living alone.

Melinda and Katie ventured to the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern most point on the continent of Africa. I was missing them from the Denver airport.

The day after Father’s Day, my youngest daughter Anna and I put Melinda and Katie on an airplane for a 17 day adventure to South Africa. Then Anna went to Colorado for church camp, leaving me home alone for 8 days. Woohoo!! you may say…or like many honorable people I know, you could say: Welcome to the club, it’s not all bad.

Anna in the Colorado high plains, on the annual church youth trip. No cell phone signal helped her grow. Me too.

And so the growing began: I decided not to fill the time with beer. That was growth. I also tried really hard not to work all the time. More growth.

But the sharpest growing pain happened in the Denver airport: It was day 12 of my solitary adventure. I was tired, cranky and lonely from three days on the road, including two days of hard facilitating and a four-hour weather delay. After 11PM, feeling terribly alone in Terminal B, I ached for the voice of my wife and kids. No problem, I pulled out my cell phone and called…

My son Ben is working another summer in the Montana mountains, leading adventures at Flathead Lutheran Bible camp. No cell phone reception on the trail.

Ben was backpacking in the Montana mountains. No cell signal. Anna was camping in the Colorado mountains. Again, no signal. And Melinda and Katie were at the tip of South Africa asleep in a remote vacation home. Strike three. For the first time in my life since cell phones I couldn’t connect with at least one person in my immediate family. Ouch. Forced silence.

In the midst of long meditative prayer I saw the abundance in my solitude: in the silence I realized my family was traveling fancy free, a luxury only affordable by a few.  My sitting alone in the Denver airport was one of the simple acts of service required to make their journeys possible. That was a real growth moment: Our faith grows the most when we listen the most.

Good leaders make a habit of searching for deeper meaning in the growing pains of a good life.  And we find ways to be grateful, even when tired, cranky and lonely.

In what ways are you growing today?