I've been fascinated with how people grow ever since I can remember. As I grew, that extended to what helps companies grow ... and by extension, what helps our country grow.
As I learn more, things have taken simpler shapes.
I believe each of us was born with a "thing" that we can uniquely do.
We all have a thing. And my thing is helping you use yours for something good.
This is today's quest for every leader - helping the people that come along with you know how and why they matter so that when they walk in the door the can say, "Count on me".
One of my first clear memories is filled with urgency. I was sitting on a stool watching Mom cook dinner and asked how long I had to live. "Most people live to 78 or so", she said. Though I couldn't calculate the difference, I remember the revelation — life was finite and I had already used 4 of those years. A near-panic sense of urgency hit in that moment that is alive in me to this day: there's so much that I want to do and so little time on this planet.
It took me until age 11 to put the plan in writing: dedicate my life to development and improving this country in every way that I could; create revolution in our views of education from birth through death; and help every person explore a rootedness in faith and belief in God. I wanted to help us all work, live and love each other better. Sing a lot. Write a lot. And maybe be the Secretary of Education.
A few decades later, Dave said "I want to work with you the rest of my life.", prompting the realization that I had found all of me in us —The Uhriks. I recalibrated my life quests around this beautiful awareness and it has enabled me to be at peace with the pace of things and to continue in the purposes I felt at four. Now Dave and I are working on a 100 year plan to feed purpose in the lives of as many people as we can.
There is a scripture I love that says that God will give you the desires of your heart. The word give in that instance means "to plant, to place — like a seed." It's clear that my desires for our country and our development as humans were planted early in me and has just grown deeper roots.
The connecting themes of development at the individual, community, country and world levels have followed what some see as an all-over-the-place career. I've worked deeply with about 48 companies, including lots of auto manufacturing suppliers, been a people development executive for Space & Defense, an owner/editor/writer for a daily online news source, taught Six Sigma, Lean and Kaizen, been an inpatient counselor for alcohol and drug recovery, and been a speaker, a teacher and helper in a some really diverse situations. I've learned more in the past seven years than in the previous decades or education adventures in the path of co-owning a manufacturing plant, keynote speaking and leading workshops. But I think my career really took off in 4th grade when I was introduced to 4-H and started the record book and service learning.
I've met and learned from a lot of famous people and that's offered me an empowering realization: the world is small and anything can happen, any time.
I've never given birth but count 15 adults, 20 children and 44 employees as family and Dave and I love our four furry dog faces too. We live in a modest house with a magnificent view where we can see rainbows end to end. That may sound cheesy, but I do live in the real world of health crises, supply chain drama, inclusion issues, financial pressures and family concerns. Grabbing a daily dose of hope and gratitude in a morning walk is an act of courage that yields dividends all day. And I love inviting friends to shuck their masks of fear and disappointment in favor of hopeful, fresh eyes ready to see the opportunities for growth in the day's difficulties. Like a good workout, our weeks are filled with stretches and muscle building.
And my hope is that America Becoming gives you an approach to personal growth that is useful for your core people, your community, your country and your world.