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.

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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.

Chronicling 40: Day 95 of 365

foodwine Back and recovered from Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, can I just say I long to go back already.

If you have never been, here’s the gist of it.  Throughout the “countries” area of Epcot are special booths set up that represent countries around the globe.  For every 1 country that is normal represented in Epcot, 2 more are added.  You travel from one end to another, sampling foods from these various countries.  Either brands they are known for, or recipes that are from the country.  There are also a few booths that are sponsored by certain companies that had menu items that exclusively used their products in the recipes.

To be clear, you pay the admission to the park, and then you pay for all of the food/drink you select from the booths.  There are so many booths and foods, it would be impossible to eat them all in one day.  So, if you want to try everything or even at least 1 item from every country, plan to attend the event for a few days.  Even with walking time, taking a few bathroom breaks, and going on just 2 rides… we probably didn’t even try half of the booths.

That all said, overall the food was amazing.  Each country booth would have 3-4 food offerings, 1-2 dessert offerings, and then 3-5 beverages options.  While it is the food and wine festival, each booth had water and some offered non-alcoholic beverages that were from the country.  Also there were options of beer, wine, cocktails, champagne.  Each booth would give you a suggested food/beverage pairing.  Because each booth had just a few offerings, you really never had to wait long for anything.  And the lines at the booths never seemed to be overwhelming.

Most booth offerings were a good sized sampling, but nothing you’d qualify as a meal.  Leaving plenty of room to move on to the next booth.  But occasionally you might get a larger portion, a richer food item, or something a bit heartier that filled you up faster.  We used the few rides we went on as a break between these food items.  Overall, the quantities are small enough and with it being more of a grazing your way through the park… you don’t really end up overeating.

My Favorites:

Canada’s Soup and Steak.   Ireland’s Warm Chocolate Cake.

It’s open through November 13th.  If you are planning on going, save some money and head into the Festival Center, at one of the gift shops you can purchase a lanyard for $67+ tax that has “tickets” you can redeem for food/drinks at the booths.  There are 8 tickets.  We determined that the best value was to use the tickets for anything that cost $8 or more.  Otherwise we paid cash for anything under $8.  Many of the items on the menu were $3-$5.  I took advantage of this buy always pairing 1 high price item with 1 low price item per booth.  If the food item was over $8, I’d pick a lower price item.  Get a bottle of water at one of the first booths and refill it at water fountains along the way, and you’ll save a bit more.  We spent the entire day and evening there, and I think my total cost for food/beverages was $90-$100.

When you consider what it would normally cost to eat while traveling, breakfast/lunch/dinner… and for all the variety of food we ate… I think it was a good deal.

Would I bring my kids?  No.  My eldest who is 18, would probably find plenty to eat… but the younger two are too picky for these booths.  Also, the food is already “assembled”, so you are not going to be able to ask for special requests for kids.  For example, one booth had crispy chicken, cornbread, with red eye gravy.  The chicken was stacked on the cornbread with the gravy drizzled over the top.  You can’t ask to “hold the gravy”.  So, picky kids can’t have it their way.  And there were not very many booths that offered kid friendly fare.  You also spend a lot of time eating, and if they want to go on more rides… someone has to give. However, if your kid is an adventurous eater/foodie and could care less about the rides… you might have better luck.  They do have the normal food places in the various countries open as well, so you could choose to let your kids eat off those menus… but expect longer lines, and higher prices.

Personally, I see this as a great girls trip, or couples trip.

Chronicling 40: Day 88 of 365 #MeToo

#MeToo
It was just a few years ago, that this exchange happened:
 
Neighborhood boy knocks on our door to ask the girls to play. The girls head out to talk to him, I’m just on the other side of the door listening.
 
Boy: You guys want to play?
Girls: No, we are going to hang out here today, just us girls.
Boy: “I’m going to tell your mom that you are being mean to me, and get you in trouble, unless you play with me.”
 
At that point, I had to have a “no means no” conversation with a 9yo boy.
 
No. Is a complete sentence.
No. Is an acceptable answer.
 
The foundation of what led to the current ” #MeToo ” movement flowing through social media begins when girls feel as if they have no voice, no power, no choice. When they feel threatened to comply. Manipulated to comply. Coerced to comply. When others feel they can wield words and actions against them, without any repercussion.
 
The more people who are willing to share their #MeToo, the more we realize how widespread this is. But there are those who can’t post their “Me Too” story because their safety is priority, because they are still healing, because for whatever reason they can’t. They are still brave and strong, and survivors.
 
For those of us who say “Me Too” , we are not just speaking it for ourselves… but for those who can’t speak up yet.
I’ve shared some of my “Me Too” on Twitter.  It wasn’t easy.  And as I addressed the first, another came to mind, then another, then another.  Oddly enough no matter how many situations and groups of people I have removed myself from, it still happens.  For every one I shared, there were probably 2 more that I just couldn’t bring myself to bit “submit”.
Lord, that we would bring up our daughters with voices of strength, conviction, and resolve.   That we would bring up our sons with compassion, mercy, and seeing women with such value that they would never mar her with words or actions.
A few days ago an image rolled through my Facebook memories, in essence it was a screen shot of a conversation that stated:
There should be some sort of unwritten code among women, that if a guy is making you feel uncomfortable that you can approach a group of women and whisper that a creepy guy is bugging you, and ask if they mind you pretending like you belong to their group.
1.  No matter what ladies, if you are near me, there is always an empty seat with your name on it.  We’ll laugh and pretend we’ve been besties since the womb.  If you need a ride out of that place, I’ll make room.
2.  We shouldn’t need such a rule.