Chronicling 40: Day 180 of 365

Fellowship

In 40 years of living, I have had my share of fellowship.  There were times where it seemed easier to not only find my tribe of people, but also have an abundant amount of time for them.  There have also been times where it has been harder, and my time for others has been trumped by responsibilities.

When I was a child, I had all the time in the world.  We could do nothing and enjoy being together.  As I got older it was about doing “things” and things cost money.  Until I got a job, I didn’t have the money.  When I got a job, I didn’t have the time.

Isn’t that how it is?

When we had our first born and decided I would stay at home, I had the time… but I didn’t have the money.  When I started taking on side work, I had the money, but didn’t have the time.

This crux never seems to change.

But, I fully believe that fellowship with others is incredibly important and even the introverts shouldn’t close themselves off completely communing with others.

But, what the latter part of the last 40 years has taught me is to be far more intentional about that fellowship.

  1.  Carving out time for friendships, that includes phone calls… text messages… and face to face time.
  2.  Being more judicial in who I invite in my circle… my space has no room for negativity and drama.

Chronicling 40: Day 179 of 365

ELEVATE

This was not my word for 2018, and I admit I almost changed mine when I heard this one.  I love everything about “elevate”.

You can elevate yourself to a higher standard of living.  You can elevate your business to a higher standard of operation.  You can elevate your situation by making changes that take you out of the pit and on to higher ground.  You can elevate your friendships and relationships by making them a higher priority in your life.  You can elevate your faithfulness by being more disciplined or serving more deeply.

Elevating is a moving upward, not just forward.  Rising.

And my favorite part of the word elevate, is that is does not have to be a lonely journey.

When I elevate, prayerfully I am elevating others with me.  When I rise to the occasion, I inspire others to rise.  When I find success, I help others find success.  When I find freedom, I help others find freedom too.

So long as I don’t elevate myself or anything else above God… rise.

What if I fall?  What if you soar?

Speaking of rising up and elevating, my heart lies in helping other leaders rise up and feel equipped to do what the Lord has laid before them.  I am grateful to find a tribe of like-minded women.  Join us at the LeadHer Conference in October!

LHC1

Chronicling 40: Day 177 of 365

CONFIDENCE(1)

Oh to be courageous.  To have the courage to face the world with gusto, walking forward into one adventure after another.  Carefree.  Worry free.  Brave.

When we think of people who are courageous we see them as someone who fears nothing.  Like warriors who enter the fray, confident that victory is theirs for the taking.  We see the risk takers who are willing to put it all on the line, not worrying about how things can go wrong but instead embracing everything that goes right.

Perhaps it is due to age and growing wisdom, but I see courage as something entirely different.

I see courage in the person who is absolutely terrified but takes that step regardless.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but action in the face of fear.

Some of the most courageous people I know are the ones who stared fear in the face.

Chronicling 40: Day 176 of 356

Balance

Balance is a very common word for not just the “Word of the Year” but also New Year’s Resolutions, commitments after women’s conferences, topics of books.  Often when we talk about balance, we mean to try to find a way to take everything that we are doing, interested in, committed to, etc. and make it work in a way that doesn’t cause us stress.

The intention is usually not about giving up anything, but instead finding a way to keep doing it all but more efficiently.  We don’t want one area of our life to take up more time or attention than others.  Or, we may even confuse balanced with off balance.  I mean that we may use this term incorrectly to describe a feeling of balance even when the cards are not.  It’s sort of like playing jenga, moving bits and pieces around where it appears to be balanced… but one false move and the whole thing topples over.

When people say that want balance, they really don’t want equity of all things in their lives.  Few people will say that they want to spend equal time with family and at work, but instead really intend to spend more time with family and less at work.  They claim a desire to strike balance, but that’s not balance.

This begs the question, if we are using the word incorrectly… is balance really something we want?  Or, is there a better word for it?

If you are curious, ask some questions like:

  • What does balance mean to me?
  • How does being balanced make me feel?
  • Is balance what I desire, or is the feeling I really want?
  • Is there a better word to describe that feeling?

Chronicling 40: Day 157 of 365

skeptic

This spring we said goodbye to our elderly dog.  She had been with us for seventeen years and it was incredibly hard.  We learned very quickly that our younger dog had never been taught to alert us to go outside to use the restroom.  Because he was brought into our home with an existing, experienced dog… and one that was aging and using the restroom more often…

He had become dependent on our routine for going outside. 

He never learned to alert us because he never needed to.  She would bark, or we would let her out on our normal schedules… and he would follow. The first day after she passed, he went to the bathroom in the house.  It was nearly 8pm.  The poor thing hadn’t been out since early that morning.  It wasn’t that we forgot about him.  We interacted with him throughout the day.  He never alerted to needing to go, and we too had become dependent on her routine.

Once we realized that he had never learned, we realized we needed a new routine.  It’s about five months and he has just finally begun to let us know that he needs to use the restroom.  If I am sitting near the door, he will walk over and paw at the door.  He still doesn’t alert, but this is a huge deal.  I’m thankful my desk space is near the back door.

This experience with our dog has made realize how easy it is to just go with the flow of things, to get into habits (good or bad), and how long it can take to change those habits.  We have extended this little dog so much grace, as he is learning.  I wonder if I extend that same amount of grace to others who are faced with new circumstances…

… learning a new trade, skill, talent…

… breaking an old habit …

I also wonder if I am extending the same grace to myself, as I am trying to learn and grow.

Chronicling 40: Day 112 of 365

EMTodayIt’s crazy to me, to think that I have finished writing a book.  Sure, it could use some finessing before it’s actually published… but I did it.  Completed.  Done.

I have over 20 years of experience, knowledge, leadership, and wisdom poured into these pages.

But, before I could pour out myself onto these pages for others to read…

Someone had to pour into me.

Leaders who invested time in teaching me, guiding me, and setting an example for me.  Teachers who spent time talking me through topics, pointing me toward resources, and preparing me for days I never knew were coming.

Twenty years ago, through even the more recent days, these influential people wouldn’t have known where their gifts to me would have ended up.  They gave none the less.  They taught, led, guided, advised, and shared with me anyway.

Their gifts were not in vane, or wasted, even if they will never know what became of them.

Do not ever discount the gift that your experience, wisdom, and talent can be for someone else.  You may never see the harvest of the seed you planted, but if you are sowing wisely… it does not wither and die.  Instead it grows, matures, produces good fruit, and drops seeds along the new way.  The harvest begets a new harvest.

I was invested in, and now I invest in others.

Chronicling 40: Days 106-109 of 365

hope

I have so many words today.  It has been a busy few days, we had company visiting … which meant prepping the house, then we were taking a day out of town ourselves for some family time.   So many things have happened in those days, so much I want to speak about.

I had so many things to do, that I literally made a spreadsheet to keep track of everything.  My days were scheduled to the second.  There was no margin.  Normal things (like posting daily) were cast aside for no other reason than the fact that I could without the world ending.

I was trying to decided if I was really going to try and recap all of my thoughts over these last 4 days into one post.  Would it make any sense?  Would it be all over the place?  Would I write one single piece or make 4 dated journal entries?  I created a graphic on canva to us for the post.  No matter how many times I tried to upload it into wordpress, it wouldn’t.  Error.  Error.  Error.   Was the enemy trying to thwart my words today?

Bound and determined, I was not giving up and decided to scroll through the graphics I’ve used in the past which sit in the wordpress media library.  It caught my eye…

HOPE.

All of these things I felt compelled to talk about are scenarios I have no control over, I can’t comprehend them, I can’t explain them.  From my own short temperedness to the shooting at a small church in Texas.  I could throw words at this screen, but what would they mean … how would they help?  They don’t.  You don’t need my words, you need the words of Hope.

1 Timothy 1:1 tells us that Christ is our hope, and hope is an anchor to our soul (Hebrews 6:19).

Matthew 12:21 tells us that we put our hope and trust in Christ, because he is a better hope than anything else (Hebrews 7:19)

2 Thessalonians 2:16 tells us that we have been given hope through grace, and purified by that hope (1 John 3:3).

1 Timothy 4:10 tells us that our hope is fixed on God, and is in God (1 Peter 1:21).

Titus 1:2 encourages us that it is an eternal hope, and we hold to that hope (Hebrews 6:18).

1 Timothy 5:5 tells us of the widow, who despite her circumstances is fixed on her hope in God… praying day and night.  Hope is active pursuit of Him.

Yes, we are in trying times.  Life is difficult.  Sometimes we feel like Job.  Our calling isn’t comfortable.  We may feel more like Jonah.  Shame weighs us down.  We connect with the Samaritan Woman.  The word is fallen, and we feel like the Israelites calling out to God to save us from our own messes.

The days are hard…

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians  5:8)

And people will look to us, because we have hope and wonder how we can find peace in the midst of chaos…

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15)

We will praise Him in the storms, because we have hope…

to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  (Ephesians 1:12)

Will not act as the world expects, but we will be…

rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, (Romans 12:12)

So that we can find peace for today, and days to come…

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

 

Chronicling 40: Day 102 of 365

listenvshear

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.”  ~Stephen R Covey

The other day, I was having a discussion with a friend.  I was attempting to make a point, but first I needed to establish the context of my point.  Before I could even get to the actual point I was trying to make, she interrupted me and began to dissect the context.

This is a classic example of listening to reply versus to understand.  It was as if she was scanning every word I said looking for the opportunity to respond, instead of listening to my full point before responding.  Before I knew it, we were off on a tangent and I never even got to my initial point.

In years past, I had always considered this idea of listening to respond as something that only reared up in unhealthy relationships without boundaries.  My belief was that for a person to behave in such a way meant that they thought themselves better than me, superior in some way (experience, intelligence, etc.) or that the person was controlling (interrupting to control the flow of conversation back toward themselves).

This particular instance set that notion into a full stop, as this was a person I have a great relationship with.  I began to wonder if this behavior is more prevalent than I thought… and even question if I was also culpable.  Do I listen to respond when I should be listening to understand?

It can be said that listening is an automatic thing that happens, unless you are hearing impaired.  It is simply the picking up of sound being made.  Hearing is where we actually pay attention to what the sound is.  If you’ve ever zoned out when someone is talking to you, or fallen asleep watching television, you’ll understand what simply listening is.  I can hear the sounds, I know that noise is being made, but I can’t tell you any details about the sound.  I may know someone is speaking to me, but unable to recall what they said.  I may know that I am in a noisy room, but couldn’t tell you who or what the noises are originating from.

Hearing is a conscious decision to listen to the details, so that I know who is speaking, what is being said, what the noises are.

If you are planning your response while the other person is talking, you can’t actually hear the other person.  Why?  Because at some point you cut off hearing the other person and instead focused on the argument or comment you want to make.  As you are formulating your response, you can’t hear what else is being said.  In the situation with my friend, I believe this to be true.  The reason she couldn’t hear my main point was because she was hung up on the detail that she wanted to respond to.

If we start day dreaming or doing other tasks, it means we are disinterested.  If we don’t want to hear what the person is saying we can literally shut down our reception of the information, or we can lean into selective listening/hearing… where we only hear what we want to hear.  Management consultant Bryan Golden says:  “To make it yet more challenging, even when listening intently, you tend to filter what someone is saying through your own biases. You may assume you know what someone means because you jump to conclusions before they finish talking.”

All of these come down to the same bottom line, bad or poor communication skills.

The more I looked into the topic, the more I realized that we are all complicit in poor communication in some way, shape, or form.  Perhaps we would all do well to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19), then we’d be less apt to be angry.

Chronicling 40: Day 101 of 365

Failure

I remember as a child, my mother only saw my grades twice per 9 weeks.  The first was the mid term progress report, the second was the end of term report card.  Other than that, unless a teacher called her for some reason, she had no idea what my grades looked like.  She had no clue if I had homework that night, nor if I had remembered to complete projects and turn them in on time.  Today, I can log onto my kids’ school site and pull up their grades in a matter of seconds.  I know every test score, every missed assignment, and even some of the ones coming down the road.

Because of this, it is nearly impossible for my kids to every fail a subject. If I was a parent who didn’t care, I could avoid looking at the site.  I could just let cards fall where they may.  As a parent who cares, I can now see the impending failure and begin negotiations.  Do we need to hire a tutor?  Should we ground our child from electronics until grades are up?  Shall I contact the teacher to create some sort of extra credit assignment to make up for missing grades, or find a way to turn in forgotten work even for partial credits?

As far back as I can recall, failure has not been cast in a positive light.  If our children fail at school, we ground them until they can become “more responsible” or hire in tutors to fill in education gaps.  If our children fail at a sport, we tell them to increase their practice times and dissect their plays to find out where improvements can be made.  We do things for them without even asking them to try because we determined what they can and can’t do.  And, we reward them for simply trying versus letting them feel the sting of defeat.

We tell kids when they fall to get back up and try again, focusing on continuing to work for success.  What about talking about what we learned from failure?  Why do we not allow our children to learn the consequences of failing a grade or subject?  Why do we take away the magnitude of lessons learned by making mistakes or failing to achieve their goal versus being content to walk away with a participation grade or trophy?

I have learned far more in the moments when I failed at something than when I hit gold right out the gate.  When I try something and it doesn’t work out, I must engage my critical thinking skills.  Why didn’t this work?  What was missing?  Did I make a mistake?  Was I using the wrong materials or did I miss a step in the process?  Or, is there simply a better way?  The more I engage my critical thinking skills the better off my next endeavors will turn out.  I’ll take those answers and apply them not just to the current project at hand but also in the future.

Don’t be afraid of failure, but learn from it.

When it comes to my children, I would much prefer their failures and mistakes to happen while they are in my home and I can help them grow from it.  Too many handle everything for their kids, send them off to college or out into the real world and they don’t understand how to cope with failure.  A failed class will result in teaching your children how to better prioritize their time.  A failing grade that pulls your child off of the team teaches them about consequences and how to be mindful of the requirements of participation.  A repeated grade teaches your children that mom and dad can’t fix everything, and sometimes they have to go through it to grow from it.   And, instead of coming to their rescue, it can help our children learn to navigate these issues on their own.  My asking the teacher for extra credit opportunities is a lot different than if my kids come up with the idea on their own.

In life failure teaches us what not to do again.  It teaches us processes and ways of thoughts that don’t work.  It helps us find our way to success.

If I am not failing, I’m not trying enough.

Failure can be a beautiful gift.

Chronicling 40: Days 99 & 100 of 365

Setting Goals

Yesterday, I spoke to a group of business women about setting effective goals.  Many of us have read the self help books, attended conferences, watched motivational speakers, and listened to podcasts that cheer us on to achieving our goals and wildest dreams.  Which of these people are taking the time to sit down with you and telling you how to get started?  Who is helping to develop your strategy from point A to point B?

Author Brian Tracy said:

“One of the greatest tragedies of our educational system is that you can receive 15 to 18 years of education in our schools and never receive a single hour of instruction on how to set goals.”

The fast facts…

You are 10 times more likely to be successful if you set goals. You are even 3 times more likely to be successful if you write your goals down.  You are 68% more likely to be successful if you break them down into small actionable steps.

So, why… if we know all of this… are people not more successful?

Because only 3% of Americans have written goals, and only 1% of those revisit their goals regularly.  That 3% is primarily made up people who have come from homes where goal setting is common and expected.  The majority of Americans are not writing goals, because they’ve never been encouraged or taught to do so.

When we haven’t never been taught to, we often set goals that are too big or vague.  We set goals that we can’t measure, unable to have any tangible signs of success.  We focus on the end game so much that we forget about all the steps that need to happen just to get off the starting line.  We become afraid, intimidated, by goal setting.  We don’t know where to begin.

So, while I could teach several workshop on this topic…I’m going to give you a start on goal setting with a simple example.  Imagine you were planning to run a 5K race.   You’ve never run a 5K before, but it seems like it isn’t that big of a deal.  You search online and find that there is a 5K tomorrow, register, and show up dressed to win.  The starters pistol is shot, you take off and not too far down the path you find yourself winded and unable to run any further.  Why?

You didn’t prepare your body for the race.

If you had called your friend who regularly runs marathons, she would have helped you come up with a plan to prepare for the race.  You would have started with a walking plan that included short distances of running, that gradually increased over time.  You would have started with a goal of just running 1K, then 2K, etc.  This gradual increase prepares your body so that you can eventually run the 5K without any effort.

In order to achieve your goals, you have to not only understand what your long term achievement is… but also all of the steps that it takes to get there.

Let’s say, for example, you want to start going to the gym 3 days a week.  In order to do so, you must wake up 1 hour earlier each day.  Since our bodies are accustomed to getting up at 6am, trying to wake up at 5am is going to be a chore.

Most people, would set the alarm for 5am.  Day 1, when the alarm goes off… they hit snooze and commit to try again the next day.  Day 2 comes along, snooze.  Day 3, snooze.  Why? They haven’t prepared their body.  They will never make it to the gym (goal) because they haven’t managed to get up on time (action step).  After a certain amount of time, they feel like their goal isn’t achievable and they give up.  We justify this by making excuses, convincing ourselves that it’s just not the right time and we should start this goal when our schedules clear up or our life isn’t as complicated.

Instead, if we know the goal is to get to the gym and focus only on that… it is easy to be discouraged.  Instead, we should focus on the action step… getting up earlier.  If my body is accustomed to getting up at 6am, asking it to wake up at 5am is a stretch.  So, I break down the action step into small increments.  Instead of waking up at 5am, I set the alarm for 5:55am.  Asking my body to wake up just 5 minutes earlier is reasonable.  Once my body acclimates to 5:55am, I can move the alarm back to 5:50am, 5:45am, 5:40am, etc.  As I move towards 5:00am, I can begin to implement some physical activity.   I may not have time to get to the gym yet, when I wake up just 10 minutes earlier.  However, I can do 10 minutes of yoga in the living room.  When I’m getting up 30 minutes earlier, I can go for a walk around my street.

Using the above example:

Goal:  Gym 3 times per week.

Action Step:  Waking up 1 hour earlier.

To-Do List:

  • Wake up at 5:55am
  • Wake up at 5:50am, 10 minutes of yoga.
  • Wake up at 5:45am, 15 minutes of yoga.
  • Wake up at 5:40am, 20 minutes walking in neighborhood.
  • etc…

We have made a big goal (yeah, we are in the 3%), and we are writing them down (13% more likely to succeed).  We broke it down into small, incremental, pieces that fall on our daily to do list (now we are 68% more likely to succeed).

Not only are we writing down these small steps, but we have also given ourselves something measurable.  A goal that is too big and vague, is hard to measure.  Small pieces on our to do list are tangible steps that we can cross out.  We can track our accomplishments as we move toward our goal.  We can celebrate the small victories on our way to our larger dreams.

Set a Goal.  Establish your Action Steps.  Break Down into your To-Do List.

There is a lot more I could say about this, and I could probably teach a full day of workshops on this topic.  But this, this is a good start.