The Primitive Podcast: Jimmy Moore

Posted by Kade Wilcox | April 5, 2021

For a lot of leaders, the path to leadership is like a moving target.

Some days you hit the objective right on the mark. 

Most days you don’t.

But it’s always at the end of the day when you’re able to connect the dots, that you realize where you are in your leadership journey is the sum of your hits and misses, and not one or the other. 

For the CEO and president of the Children’s Home of Lubbock, Jimmy Moore, this could not be more accurate. Uncover more from this exceptional leader with an exceptionally diverse background, only on The Primitive Podcast.

Connect with the folks behind the episode: Jimmy Moore and Kade Wilcox

Kade Wilcox: Hey guys, Kade Wilcox here, host of The Primitive Podcast. On this week's episode, we have Jimmy Moore. Jimmy is the CEO and president of the Lubbock Children's Home. We had just a really great conversation about his background in leadership and his unique journey into the leadership role he has now. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Jimmy and I'm confident you're going to get a lot of value and insight out of this episode.

Jimmy Moore: It blows me away because if you'd asked me this years ago, I would have said I'm not a leader. Everybody sees things in us that we cannot see. We're our toughest critics. I want folks to walk in and know that they have just as much a skillset to be leading or guiding people to the proper places. My role right now is to make sure that I can enable them to do those things. Whether that be that we switch roles, or we cross-train in different departments, but today I would say more than anything is allowing them to make decisions, allowing them to see failure as an opportunity to get back up and try it again.

Kade Wilcox: Well, Jimmy, I really appreciate you joining The Primitive Podcast. Thanks for being here. Really excited for me to get to know you, but also for those who listen to the podcast. So for those who don't know Jimmy Moore and the Children's Home and all that good stuff, tell us a little bit about you and your background and the work you do.

Who is Jimmy Moore?

Jimmy Moore: Oh, wow. There's going to be people find out a lot about me because I've been to so many different places. Jimmy Moore grew up in the little town of Morton, Texas. Of course, grew up in a world of which I call my Brady Bunch world. My mom was previously married, my dad was previously married, and I happened to be the last of all the siblings. So I got to witness a lot of good, bad, and ugly growing up. And I come from an abusive background as far as a family. Unfortunately, my dad was killed by my mom through domestic violence. So you'll learn a lot about why I do what I do. And of course, being the youngest I didn't quite understand it at that time, but you know, I've used it today throughout the trek in history of what other job I've taken, or whether it's been choosing my wife and you name it.

 

But yeah, I've held plenty of jobs in this area. It's not because I couldn't keep one. It was just because, I always tell people it's hard to hit a moving target. And I have worked in the law enforcement side here in Lubbock County. I have been an athletic coach at several schools here in LISD. I have been a collegiate coach, both on the women and men side of athletics. I've been Athletic Director at Lubbock Christian University. I've been a principal here in the school district. I've been an HR director here in the school district.

Kade Wilcox: You don't look that old.

Jimmy Moore: That's what they tell me, but I'm telling you, if you look close enough, you find some gray. So I've held a lot of jobs, but I think I've held them because that's kind of been my path. And I didn't realize years ago what I went through in my life.

 

But now I look back and I can see where things were just working to align to where I am today. I'm a happily married man, almost 33 years. I have two adult children and now I have four grandkids. My son is in Hawaii with one of my grandkids. So I have to get my wife there soon. And I have a daughter here in town with the other three kiddos. So my life is what you would call, I guess, fulfilled in some ways, but at the same time knowing that as God calls I go.

Kade Wilcox: That's awesome. How long have you been at the Children's Home?

Jimmy Moore: I have been at the Children's Home now for almost five years. I have recently returned and am loving every minute.

Kade Wilcox: That's awesome. So for those who aren't familiar with the Children's Home, maybe just give us a little bit about the vision and the purpose, and the background of the Children's Home.

The Children’s Home of Lubbock 

Jimmy Moore: Okay. The home, of course, our vision is manifesting Christ through excellence in childcare. Our mission is to take care of kids in a collaborative environment, to make sure that we reunify moms and dads with their kids. That's the ultimate goal. We work with the state department, which we would call the Department of Family and Protective Services. And like I said before, our goal is to make sure that if kids need therapy, if families need therapy, that we can reunite families and get them back together. That's not always possible. Unfortunately, there are parents who give up during the process, or the judge or the state decides that there needs to be a separation. And therefore we try to find foster families and we try to find adoptive parents to take care of these kids moving forward. We also take care of kids that, a lot of people wouldn't realize this, from birth to age 21. Within the last two and a half years we've started taking care of the older kids because once they foster out, who do they have to look to? If they do not have family in the community, if they don't have good friends or any type of connection, we want to make sure to help them get there. Therefore we started what we call a Supervised Independent Living program (which we call SIL) and we help those kids get on their feet. And they also have a soft place to fail or fall. If something happens, they know that we're there. We don't want to just do a lot of hand-me-down, but we try to teach them to be productive citizens.

Kade Wilcox: How many kids do you have under your care at any given time?

Jimmy Moore: Oh, goodness. We could have up to 110 at any given time.

Kade Wilcox: And does it fluctuate based on those variables you were sharing a moment ago?

Jimmy Moore: Yes. And even with the pandemic right now, you know, we have more kids who have not been placed back with families or have been reunified with you know, cousins or aunts or uncles or whoever it may be. But at the same time, those numbers have increased for those who are needing a place to stay. And so I think this past year we've seen 186 statewide who have slept in offices because there's no placement. And that means they have to go two consecutive days to be counted. So that's 186 kiddos. And that's a high number.

Kade Wilcox: Is this, you mentioned the pandemic, has this been one of the more difficult, kind of, seasons that you've experienced in all your, all your years being connected and associated with the Children's Home?

Jimmy Moore: It really has. And I will say part of that is, is because, you know, you don't have control of it. Usually, in any situation you have some say so, or some ways to strategically make some things go away, or make them comfortable. In a situation where you're dealing with 110 kids and then another a hundred staff members, and you're trying to tell them day after day that things are going to be okay, but I'm not walking their walk or living their life, it makes it really tough. You start looking at some of the, what we call vicarious trauma, parallel processing and, and trauma. And that means that maybe some of the staff who have had hurt in their life are looking at a kid now, and that's a rea-surging, I guess I'm trying to say re-emerging. And now they're struggling.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah. And all being exasperated by, by, like you said, a circumstance you can't control and the pandemic and all the, all the variables that come with that. So when you think of your role at the Children's Home and your role of leadership, like when you think leadership in general, what comes to mind? How do you see your role as a leader?

Me? A Leader?

Jimmy Moore: It blows me away because if you'd asked me this years ago, I would have said I'm not a leader. Everybody sees things in us that we do not see. We're our toughest critics. I think mine is distributed leadership. I want to be able to, for folks to walk in and know that they have just as much – and I don't even want to use power – but just as much a skillset to be leading or guiding people to the proper places. My role right now is to make sure that I can enable them to do those things, whether that be that we switch roles, or we do cross-training in different departments. But today I would say more than anything, it's allowing them to make decisions, allowing them to see failure as an opportunity to get back up and try it again. I went to Harvard years ago. Backdoor to Harvard is what I always tell people.

 

I was in the Principal Leadership Academy and I just happened to be going through the courses and it was paid by H.E. Butt. So thank you, HEB. And I enjoyed every bit of my time, but on the way out, I had one of the professors there at Harvard pull me to the side and say, "Hey, we want you to come back next year. All paid trip. All your expenses are paid for, but we see you as someone who can help us in our programming." And that's probably the first time I have been kind of set back and floored. I've seen a lot of things happening in my life that I didn't believe in as far as what was leadership. But that was one time I was like, "Wow. Okay. It is true." I guess it took Harvard to tell me that, but anywho, I just think when it comes to leadership, it's hard for me to pinpoint Jimmy being a leader, but the only way I can see it happening is through the Spirit. And I'll be honest with you. It's not Jimmy in the flesh. It's what's been instilled in me that I never knew that could come out of me.

Kade Wilcox: You know, that's interesting you say that. What, why do you, what's your best guess on why so many leaders feel that kind of imposter syndrome? I mean, like, why do you think that is?

Jimmy Moore: You know, for me, I live in an introverted world myself. And so for me to come out of that introverted world and to be able to speak out, is exhausting. I get home, I'm tired. And I'm wondering if it's, it's just the fact that you know, we know that we're made in His image. And we know all the things He had set before us, but when you go back in time and you start reading, I don't think there was anybody who stood up and said, "I'm the world's best leader."

Kade Wilcox: Right.

Jimmy Moore: And I think it's innately built in us to second guess ourselves. And, and so I kind of take it from that standpoint is that in the flesh is, we can't understand it, we can't fathom it. But for others, we rely on them to kind of decide who we are and what we are. There are probably many leaders walking Avenue Q right now.

“You’re better than this.”

Kade Wilcox: Yeah, yeah, no, that's good. I, I sometimes struggle with it because I'm the most acutely aware of my own failure and my own shortcomings. And so to kind of process those realities that are kind of in front of you, and also consider yourself a leader, can sometimes be difficult to work through, you know, because, you know, those shortcomings and where those gaps are. So, thanks for sharing that. You mentioned a second ago kind of empowering your people to embrace failure and working through that. How have you, as a leader, dealt with failure and tried to learn from it and kind of handled and processed failure?

Jimmy Moore: Well, you know, I just know that the next day I'm going to wake up and someone's going to ask me to take on another task. That's one way. The world has not stopped evolving or revolving because Jimmy messed up 24 hours ago. I think one of the things I've learned years ago, and it was probably through a six-foot-three, white gentlemen, who I would call my dad today. He kind of filled that role. He saw something in me years ago. Fortunately, I was a guy who was able to take on the role of being a basketball player. I never thought I was good enough to get a scholarship, but I did. And it paid for my education. But it took that gentleman to pull me aside one day and say, "Jimmy, why are you running around with a certain group that you're running around with?"

 

And I didn't have an answer for him. But I think I know today because they were more apt to accept me no matter if it was good or bad. And he said, "You're better than this." And that's all it took him to say, “You're better than this. And this is what I want you to do.” And you know, for how old is Jimmy today? I can't give you my real age. So 50 some odd years later, you know, here I am with this connection with this gentleman. And I think a lot of it, too, was I didn't have the male role model that I needed. I had a strong female role model and I didn't have a male role model. So I think a lot of it when I look back, is just, it's just about the people crossing my path at the right time to, to really repeat probably what I already knew, but I had to hear it from someone else. Whether that was school teachers, to people around the corner in the neighborhood. Just here, recently, someone, someone cornered me and said, "Jimmy Moore, you were such a quiet kid in school." In my mind. I was like, I was the worst kid in school. How in the world can they say I was the quietest kid in school?

 

Yeah. And then I may be able to share a story with you later that really impacted me about leadership. You know, I may do it now, if you don't mind.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah go for it. No, please.

Jimmy Moore: I attended a funeral of a great baseball coach that I had when I was younger. A little league baseball coach. At that time that he took me in on his team, I was struggling. I felt like, in my life, we were homeless. I was staying in my grandfather's church because we didn't have anywhere to live. And for a kid growing up, that's hard on the image because people look at you, they know, you know? The talk gets going in town and everything else. Well, this family took me in and they dropped me off every day after practice at that church, but never questioned whether or not I was homeless or not.

 

So he passes away. The family calls me. I go to the funeral. And when I get there, they pull me up to the front to sit with the family. And I'm like, "Wow, why am I even here?" You know? And then, so I go through the whole funeral. They asked me to speak and talk about G.W Lions. And I got up and I spoke. We go to the gravesite and I was a bad kid in my image. When I was a sixth-grader, I was going through what they always say, “He's going through puberty, he's going through having problems.” And I was ugly to my teacher. Her name was Ms. Outhouse, and she'd give you a clue. And so I took it and just ran with it and tried to be the tough bully type kid and not listen to teachers. But I'm at the gravesite.

 

And this guy comes up to me and says, "Hey, you know my wife." And he explained that his wife is this lady who was Ms. Outhouse. Well, there was a show that was on many years ago where a guy would go back and apologize for all the things he did wrong. That was on his bucket list. Well, she was on my bucket list. And the guy came up to me. I go, "Hey, could you please tell her," and I pulled out a business card and I gave it to him, "that I so much apologize that I was such an ugly kid." And whatever. And he goes, "Oh, no, she never complained about you being a bad kid." But that was something I was living with my whole life. And I think that's what kind of kept me back, too, from whenever people talk about leadership. It's like you said before, I had all these blemishes that I could remember that were on me. And so I looked at it more like a tangible than an intangible.

 

Accepting the Invitation to Leadership

Kade Wilcox: That's really good. Thanks for sharing that. You've already alluded to quite a few people that have seemed to make a big impact on your life. And so have you, in your lifetime, experienced, like, the benefit and the power of, kind of, people inviting you to things? And I don't mean like literally inviting you to things, but just the affirmation they've given you, you know? You were talking about that gentleman who said, "Hey, you're better than this. You can do better than this." And so how has that played a huge role? Do you think in your leadership journey of people just inviting you to think bigger, to be better, and to, you know, just kind of move beyond some of those things you're experiencing?

Jimmy Moore: Yes. And just, you know, again here recently, one of them was Russ. You just talked about Russ and having a conversation with him and just listening to all the words he was saying, and I'm like, "Wow." But you know, just this morning, this week actually, had an organization call me. It's called Network 1:27 after James 1:27. And she spoke out and she says, "Jimmy, hey, I need to get you on the board. You have so much to offer for us here on the board. And really, I would like you also, because I think you can do it, lead this conference in 2023." And I'm like, "What? Me lead a conference?" So all those things that they steadily come no matter what age you are. And I think this other thing that we've done for so many years is that you had to be a certain age to be a leader.

 

You had to be maybe at some time a certain race to be a leader, or you have to be a certain, you know, male or female to be a leader. And so we come through all this, this thought that's out there. But it's amazing who comes to you later, who will come to you later and say, "Hey, how about this?" And they don't know you no more than the man on the moon, but there's something that they see in you. So I think that's one thing that I have seen as I get older, is that, “Jimmy, if someone did this for you, what do you do in return, because you know, you've gone through the steps?” And, and that's where I find myself today. There was a little, a young man, that has some street basketball that he does here in town to help build up youth and keep them off the streets.

 

And he called me a while back. I was like, “Well, why did he call me?” Well, it dawned on me. I had cut him. I was a coach and I had cut him from the team. You know, how many people that you cut from a team call you back years later and say, "You are a role model in my life"? That doesn't really, you know, to me, that doesn't add up. That's the last person I want to call is the person who cut me, unless I'm calling them to say, "Oh, look at me now." You know? But he called me and said, "You know what? You're the first person who believed in me who was going to give me an opportunity to be part of a program. He said, "But if you can recall, I didn't make my grades. And you told me you have to get your grades up in order to play." I'd forgotten that story. So I look at those things, too. And you know, every time you turn around with, on the streets, no matter what you're doing, you'll find the example of what you've been called to do.

Kade Wilcox: Really good. I think that a leader has a lot of responsibilities, but I would say that one of them is this idea of invitation, you know? Inviting people to, you know, maybe it's seeing themselves as they truly are? Or an opportunity like you've talked about, you know, like Russ inviting you to consider this type of thing, or whatever. I mean, it's, so many people are never invited to think bigger or do bigger or do differently. And so it can be a powerful thing. How do you look at, or how do you approach, your own personal growth? You know, you have all these things kind of coming at you. You're trying to carry at least in some part, the burden of your house families and the children that you're caring for. So how do you, how do you focus and approach your own personal growth to stay inspired and encouraged and always growing?

Jimmy Moore: I think I usually jump on the thing that I'm more apt to say no to. I am, I mentioned before being an introvert. I think one thing about introverts, we know how to say no enough to stay in our little corners, but anything that gives me just a little bit of uneasiness is a thing that I probably need to be praying on a little bit more to take on those challenges. And what I've learned from those is that's what's created the growth in me – it’s taking on things that are not easy. You know, there's so many times that things have been pretty easy that've come my way. Whether it's been, “Take this job; we'll give you a raise.” But when you start looking at the overall picture of it, “Take this job, get this school from being a low-performing school to being a top-notch school in the state, and you have three years to do it. If you don't do it in three years, we're going to find someone else to do it.” How many people take those jobs? Or come into this situation that we're facing now, even at the Home. There's a federal lawsuit that's out there. We may not be around the same way we were around five years ago, but we're depending on you to come in here and tell us which direction, or show us which direction, or lead which direction we should go.

 

And I think I take those opportunities more than I ever had. I get older and I blame it on energy, sometimes. I was like, I don't know if I have the energy to do this. And that's the honest truth in some ways. And when I think when I say that I'm talking more of a mental thing because you know, failure is okay, but enough failure can consume a person.

 

And they just feel like they're, you know, probably had all that they could take and would probably not take up some of those tasks that are presented before them. But I think a lot of it is, is just, I want to grow. And I don't want to be one of those people, as I worked in the HR field years ago, where it comes a day that I have to make a decision whether I have the energy to do it. It's not based on the salary that I'm making, but it's based on the effort I can put into it.

 

Advice to Jimmy’s Younger Self

Kade Wilcox: That's good. This is my favorite question to ask. But if you could speak to your younger self, you know, think, you know, in your twenties, thirties, like knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself if you could go back years?

Jimmy Moore: Well, the first one would be, "Jimmy, you're not going to be a professional basketball player." I would say that. Yeah, I hear that so much. And it's okay to dream. But that would be the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say is, "You need to start doing more in your community. You need to start volunteering. You need to start giving back." I think of so many things I could've done in the little town of Morton, Texas, that was probably not, that I didn't see at that time. Whether it was going to nursing homes, whether it was going to hospitals or serving differently in the church or, you know? There are so many things out there that I felt like I could have given up then. The thing that I started to see is you see a lot more people going out and doing community work than you've ever seen. A lot of that started because school starts pushing it far as the upper level/collegiate, and they want to see it on your resume.

 

But just to, what it gives back to you, as far as that it's not about you. In the end, it's about what you can do for others. I wish I would have been able to take that on much earlier than I did in my life. And of course, that may be the same thing. People may say, well, you used to do those things for us, but to me, I didn't do it. Not quite as much as I needed to.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah. That's good. Thanks so much for your time. And thanks for joining the podcast. It's been really great to get to know you.

Jimmy Moore: This has been awesome. I appreciate what you do. And anytime you need anything like this, know that the Children's Home of Lubbock has many angles and opportunities out there that we'd be willing to help.

Kade Wilcox: That's awesome. Thanks, Jimmy.

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