A Few Words From Paul: What does all this mean?

I have referenced Victor Frankl’s work, Man’s Search for Meaning, many times throughout my career and in my personal life. So many times, that I should ask everyone before I mention it, “Have I told you about Victor Frankl already?” You know you are getting old when you start to tell the same stories repeatedly. I keep telling myself they work so I keep on telling them. Persistence, I guess.

Anyway, I believe we all go through tough times, and if we are not, we need to push the envelope a little more because that is where personal growth happens. Phrases like the following: “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” “I never said it was easy, I only said it was worth it,” “No pain, no gain,” etc., etc., etc. Most all of these focus on the meaning we assign to the events that take place in our lives. We can endure anything if the “why” is strong enough.

It is our choice to create the meaning we attach to any event in our lives. Always.

Things happen and we decide what they mean to us. Usually, we do this through the stories we tell each other. Even more importantly, we do this through the stories we tell ourselves. That inner narrative is so crucial to our success, our vision, our leadership.
Those of us that can tell a different story – one of meaning, one of hope, one of possibility – can do amazing things with the time we have.

Unfortunately, many of us tell a different story. A story of excuses. A story of lost opportunity. A story of unfairness.

What is your story? What meaning do you attach to what happens to you in your life? I recently finished the book, The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith, and it blew me away. I read so much that it is rare for me to get giddy about a book, but this one did it to me. It speaks to what we do at LeaderShape…helping people find their purpose, their meaning, their vision.

I could not stop thinking about the differences between having a vision and having meaning or purpose in your life. Is there a difference? I think so, and I think the big one is that if you have meaning behind your vision, you keep going. You persist. You persevere. You do what it takes to make it happen.

You also realize that having meaning or purpose in your life may be enough. All you need to have a wonderful life.


I wonder how the world would be different if everyone just knew their purpose. How they are uniquely qualified to make a difference in the world. Even without the accomplishment of achieving your vision, I think we would feel a little more secure and be a little more resilient when things happen in the world that we don’t understand.

Take a few moments today and think about your purpose. Not your vision, but your purpose. Why you are here.

Share it with us at LeaderShape.

That’s our purpose.

Paul is the President of LeaderShape and pinches himself everyday for that opportunity. He is a father, son, husband, athlete, avid reader, eternal optimist, and sucker for the underdog.

LeaderShape Alive: Change

By: Joanna Lindstrom, L Professional Writing

Is change such a bad thing? Sometimes our reluctance to embrace change makes us think so. Or, perhaps it is a false notion that change is associated with the negative.

carolinekFor Institute graduate, Caroline (Welch) Kipp, change is an important part of her vision.

A year before her roommate, Heather, attended the LeaderShape Institute, Caroline created a vision to change the journalism industry with journalists who report with integrity.

That vision started with her. After graduating one of her first jobs was working for a small, weekly newspaper in Denver. In the newsroom and during interviews, Caroline dedicated herself to her vision, leading by example. She maintained all ethical reporting practices – distance between advertisers, interviewing multiple sources, reporting controversial topics, and ultimately creating unbiased, professional stories.

Then, somewhere between the world of social media and rising independent bloggers, the journalism industry radically changed. Journalists of today work for themselves, instead of papers. Blogs and social media have all but replaced paper newspapers.

Caroline changed with it but has ultimately stayed true to her vision.

After her job at the paper, she worked in communications for the school board association and now, working in public relations for a growing town in Colorado.

“My profession and the world of journalism has changed, but the essence of my vision remains the same,” Caroline said.

Caroline continues to lead by example, but this time in her office and not in the newsroom. She has to tackle difficult communications projects like writing the town’s “blue book” for every election season. This requires her dedication to writing with integrity, and writing both sides of the issue with an unbiased perspective.

No matter where her professional life takes her, Caroline’s dedication to communicating with integrity will come with her.

“Information will always be a vital piece of our world, and the way we get it is changing rapidly,” Caroline said. “In a time where facts become true just by virtue of being posted online, journalists who report with integrity – and the PR folks who provide that information in many cases – are simply vital.”

What’s your story? We want to share all stories of LeaderShape visions and the ways they have adapted and changed over time. Leave a comment below or send us an email.

img_20160307_201446Joanna (Thomas) Lindstrom is a writer/editor and the third roommate of Caroline and Heather. She primarily writes grants for medium-sized nonprofits but also dabbles in blog, newswriting, and fiction. Joanna lives in Colorado with her husband, toddler, and slightly neurotic Schnauzer. She loves living close enough to meet with Caroline and Heather regularly. Visit her online: lprowriting.com


LeadeShape Alive: Vision

By: Joanna Lindstrom, L Professional Writing

1441829273490Vision directs us where we are supposed to go. For Heather (Shaw) Haubenschild, vision has directed her profession, her faith, and her community.

With her strong community in place and unparalleled enthusiasm, Heather set out to accomplish her vision: to provide necessary, community-based services for children with special needs at little to no cost to the family.

It started with her. Upon graduating from college, Heather landed a job working with the local “child-find” agency that helps identify children with special needs and match them with services. This was an important part of her journey because she not only learned about services available in her state but, perhaps most importantly where there were gaping holes.

“Across all sectors and services, respite care was virtually non-existent,” Heather said. “I’ve heard Colorado ranks 49th out of all states in terms of providing respite care for families with children with special needs.”

Profession, vision and need soon intersected with her faith. For years, Heather and her family attended a the large and thriving community, Southeast Christian Church. While the youth and children’s ministries were thriving, there were no services for children with special needs. The choice for these families to not attend was far easier than being called out of worship to go the nursery several times, or even the fear of being judged.

Heather went to action. She spoke with the children’s ministry team passionately about the need and set a plan in place. Within months, the volunteer-led Sensory Friendly Room was opened. The first volunteers were Heather and her husband who provided weekly care for four children with special needs.

Today, six and a half years later, the Sensory Friendly Room is now an integral part of the church ministries with 12 regular children, paid staff and many volunteers.  Each week volunteers provide a safe, welcoming environment for children who are considered “higher needs.” Children can choose their own activities to help them grow in their faith their own way.

Just this year, Sensory Friendly Room expanded to include six children in the Buddy Program. In this program, teenagers are paired with a child who needs a little extra support in their typical Sunday school room. Children involved have special needs that require some additional assistance in large groups.

10429303_427866284038361_8366151989328106430_n1And the vision keeps growing! Beginning this year, Heather started partnering with the nonprofit organization, Night Lights, that provides a monthly night of respite to families with children with special needs. Night Lights specifically partners with local churches – like Heather’s – who have the resources, rooms, and volunteers in place to provide this needed night out for parents, free of charge. Unlike many respite programs, this is available for all children with special needs AND their siblings. Volunteers are paired one-on-one with all children and they do all the things they would with a “babysitter” – play games, do crafts, watch movies.

As Heather has transformed services for children with special needs in her community her greatest desire is to now watch it grow to a place of long-term sustainability. That’s long-term vision where all of us LeaderShape graduates are directed.

We want to share all stories of LeaderShape visions coming alive. What’s your story? You could be featured on an upcoming LeaderShape blog. Or maybe your vision has been adapted since your original retreat. If so, you’ll relate to next week’s blog story about Heather’s roommate and confidant, Caroline.

img_20160307_201446Joanna (Thomas) Lindstrom is a writer/editor and the third roommate of Caroline and Heather. She primarily writes grants for medium-sized nonprofits but also dabbles in blog, newswriting, and fiction. Joanna lives in Colorado with her husband, toddler, and slightly neurotic Schnauzer. She loves living close enough to meet with Caroline and Heather regularly. Visit her online: lprowriting.com