Tag Archives: leaders

5 Friday Faves – Writer Jeff Goins, Refugees, Community, Situational Awareness, and a Memorial

Happy Friday. Summer’s coming on hard here with temps into the 90s for the next week. Hope you get to play hard and rest hard over the weekend. Here are my favorite finds for this week. Enjoy!

1) Writer Jeff Goins – I am so excited about Jeff Goins‘ latest book. This is his 5th book – Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age. It arrived 2 days ago, and I’m already deep into it.

Pre-ordering this book was an excellent plan, because the Barnes & Noble store near us is having to re-order already just 3 days into the launch. These books are flying off the shelves.

Why? Goins has already proven himself as a fascinating story-teller and wise counselor regarding creative work and turning dreams into reality. This book is a thrilling culmination of all that for those of us who want to put our work out there and make a living at the same time.

In Real Artists Don’t Starve, Goins gives 12 principles of how to actually be effective and successful as a creator (whether it’s music, writing, painting, or any other creative work). Reading his principles and the stories of artists and crafters through history give not only hope but tools through which we can make a living with our craft.

I’m so glad I bought this book early. Reading it is like having a successful and kind mentor guiding me through the next steps of my career. Whatever your passions, you will glean so much from Jeff Goin’s own journey and wisdom.

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age – Jeff Goins

28 Lessons From Great Writers, Artists, and Creators on Mastering Your Craft – Ryan Holiday

2) Refugees –  We never want to lose sight of the plight of displaced peoples – of refugees. Photographer Steve Evans and writer Zee Jenkins put together a beautiful and riveting photo essay – Trail of Tears – Refugees in Greece. Take a look and remember this is happening every day.Photo Credit: Steve Evans, Life Force Magazine

3) Community – We need each other. Community is something we experience when we reach out to those around us to help in whatever way we can. Community is also receiving that help when we are the one in need.Photo Credit: Army

How do we teach and model community to our children? How do we raise them to be situationally aware and compassionate to those around them? Please share your experiences (in the Comments below) of what you’re doing to raise up children to be adults who are socially responsible…who genuinely care about those around them.

This little video went viral and you’ll understand why. Beautiful!

4) Situational Awareness – This is a life skill that fascinates me. In fact, I wrote about it in detail here . Situational awareness is a discipline of being tuned into your surroundings in such a way that you can be alert to a threat or crisis before it actually happens. It came to mind this week when I saw this fascinating video below about things we can easily miss if we’re not alert to our surroundings. Watch Evan below.

Hopefully it didn’t just make you uncomfortable. Hopefully it made you think how we might not just be aware of a threat or a crisis, but that we might intervene early enough to change the situation. To get avert the crisis and to get help for that person in trouble.

A friend of mine lost a brother to suicide. His was a terrible impulsive final act and his family will grieve for a long time. What about those who show signs of depression or deep sadness? Maybe we can help there as well. It’s tragic when the family has to fight alone for the life of a loved one. I don’t have answers here, but we all have community agencies who can help us.

5) A Memorial – The news cycle is fast and fickle. We hear news (usually bad news) and then while we’re still coping with the fallout, media moves on. We forget too soon, even when that’s not our desire. Today is my older brother’s 71st birthday. Robert died suddenly 10 years ago. His online memorial is here. Today, I remember him. Also today, I want to remember 17y/o Sarah Harmening.Photo Credit: 11 Alive News

I did not know her at all until a bus accident in Georgia sent many to the hospital, and her life was gone. Still, the little I know of her made me want to pause and remember her with you. Below you will note her journal entry, written on that bus sometime before that accident. As she herself wrote, I believe with her that, in her life and in her passing, “God is going to do incredible things”.

Photo Credit: Facebook – The Alabama Baptist Newspaper

Breaking News: Multiple Huntsville Church Passengers Injured in a Bus Accident Outside of Atlanta

Another terrible incident that was short-lived in the news cycle was the slaughter of 28 Egyptian Coptic Christians last week. Again, in this moment, I want to memorialize them and…remember them.

Gunmen in Egypt Force Coptic Christian Pilgrims Off the Bus and Kill 28 – Declan Walsh and Nour Youssef

Don’t Look Now, But… – this is a hard read about the ambush and killing of these Egyptian Christians. This article found me and I’m glad I read it although it was disturbing. I don’t know if all the details are true, but this is true: 28 lives were taken and bear remembering.

This Friday Faves was not as light-hearted as most are. Still it’s what continues to resonate in my head and heart going into the weekend. Be safe out there, pray for one another, and let’s be kind to those around us…we never know what a difference that can make.

Bonuses

The Ultimate Character Test Any Great Leader Passes – Carey Nieuwhof

Mom: Let’s Stop Drinking the KoolAid – OK…this is a rant on our focus on nutrition for our children – which is a good thing until it becomes an all-consuming thing. Good article wherever you stand on this.

YouTube Video – Real Life Trick Shots – Dude Perfect

Monday Morning Moment – Are You Ready For Your Workday? – Lessons From Cintas

Photo Credit: Food & Beverage Magazine

Next time you head to the restroom, take a look around. Unless it has just been stormed by a tour group that needed more than the usual service, you can get a sense of readiness. Not the readiness of the restroom, but of the person or agency servicing it…and you as a customer. I wrote about this level of customer service once before  here. Why I wrote about clean restrooms then is why it begins my topic today. Clean restrooms demonstrate a sense of pride and caring. We want restrooms to be ready for the workday. How about our own readiness?

Readiness is defined as being fully prepared and willing to execute.
It is not just about being prepared for one’s workday. It’s also a ready-set-go willingness to be on our toes, stepping up, taking the ball, and scanning both the horizon and the lines drawn on our playing field.

When a Cintas truck rolls into the parking lot, I can almost smell the clean linens and uniforms inside. Their branding includes this mantra: Ready for the Workday: A confident image, clean facility and safe workplace start here. Here’s their commercial that I just saw this weekend, It got me thinking about the broad reach of readiness in the workplace.

My husband walks out of the house ahead of me every morning with his computer bag and a thermos of coffee. He has his schedule on his phone and he keeps a journal. He has thought about the day. He is prepared…the willingness to execute then comes into play as he goes out our door and enters his company’s door…and all the rest of the doors of his day. Both are disciplines – the preparedness of readiness and the willingness to execute.

Readiness keeps momentum going and momentum has huge impact on business and workplace excellence.

After watching the Cintas commercial, I went to their website. What a feast for anyone wanting to learn about leadership and a healthy workplace culture. Check out their Code of Conduct and Business Ethics page. Nothing on their agenda about Business Casual – and everything about dressing and performing aims at positive impact, and helping their customers do the same.

The website’s drop-down menu displays a variety of helps and services. Honestly, it’s hard to believe this company is for-profit based on the generous sharing of information for helping others (their customers and competitors) be “ready for the workday”.

I want to close with some of the quotes from the Cintas website – both from their own founder and from writers who speak for and to their own leadership. Enjoy.

Corporate culture is the single most important distinguishing factor between greatness and mediocrity. It is a major reason Cintas is different from our competitors and other companies. It is our ultimate competitive advantage.” Richard T. Farmer, Cintas Founder & Chairman Emeritus

A key to our success has been a culture that encourages meaningful, respectful relationships between the company and our employee-partners and the commitment to always do what’s right. This spirit of teamwork, camaraderie and trust has become our most important competitive advantage and is a cornerstone of the Cintas culture.” – Richard T. Farmer, Cintas Founder & Chairman Emeritus

“Those who rise to senior leadership levels in almost any organization have one critical attribute in common — they’ve embraced soft leadership skills. This includes having the ability to build relationships with the people you work with. There’s never been a leader in this world without people who wanted to follow them — and the first step to getting people to want to support you is to get them to like you. Take the time to get to know the people you work with, and learn what’s important to them.”Karlyn Borysenko

Be transparent. Insincerity and evasion chip away at trust, so whenever you can, be transparent about what’s happening with the business. Of course, there will be confidential data you can’t disclose. Carolyn O’Hara of the Harvard Business Review notes, ‘regularly distributing other information—like financial results, performance metrics, and notes from board meetings—shows that you trust your employees, which in turns helps them have greater faith in you.’”Lee Polevoi

Don’t micromanage or give step-by-step instructions. Instead, provide guardrails while giving [employees] the freedom to find smart and creative solutions.Chuck Leddy

Photo Credit: LinedIn – Cintas

Hope you enter your workplace ready for the day today! The best part of Monday is its own possibility of a new beginning. Of course, that sort of “Monday” can come any day of the week.

On ready!

6 Essential Leadership Skills That Will Advance Your Career – Karlyn Borysenko

Building Trust in the Workplace – What Business Leaders Can Do – Lee Polevoi

Agile Process Management: An Approach For Business Success – Chuck Leddy

16 Things You Should Do at the Start of Every Workday – Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes

6 Tips For Building Momentum  During Change – Sallie Sherman

Why Preparation Is Better Than Planning – Craig Jarrow

Being Ready For Your Workday Feels Great! – Advance Preparation Is the Key to a Successful Day – Craig Jarrow

What Does Casual Dress Really Mean Today? – 6 Wardrobe Tips For Career Success – Lynn Taylor

Monday Morning Moment – 7 Skills of the Top Leaders of Tomorrow – Whatever Your Age or Stage – with Matt Monge

Blog - Tomorrow's Leaders - Mojo companyPhoto Credit: The Mojo Company

[From the Archives]

Leaders of Tomorrow. What age group came to mind? Probably not your own. Maybe that’s one of our dilemmas in life and work. We either think we have already arrived as tomorrow’s leader today (ugh!). Or we stop thinking of how we can develop into that change agent of tomorrow because we’ve fixed our course…or settled into what we know already. It’s served us well so far, right?

Here’s my Monday morning gift to you: an introduction to the person, writing, and wisdom of Matt Monge.  Earlier in his career, he worked in finance (credit unions, in particular), and had fascinating titles like Chief Culture Officer and Vice-President of People and  Development. Currently he is is president of The Mojo Company, a leadership development consulting firm. His Facebook page bio reads: “My mission? Make the world a better place by helping people, leaders, & workplaces be more human. Depression fighter. Keynote speaker. Head of The Mojo Co.”

Blog - Monday Morning - Matt Monge - Leadership is about serving - FacebookPhoto Credit: Matt Monge Facebook Page

I read everything Matt Monge writes. Even his promotional video taught me more about leadership (you’ll want to take notes).

Monge posted a blog a few weeks back and I’ve been thinking through it since… It’s his 7 Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders Are Developing Today. I decided to post his bullet points here and how they stirred my thoughts on skill development today. [Don’t miss reading his thinking on this and other leadership topics in links.]

  1. Being Others-Oriented – While other employee development folks have moved away from “servant leadership” language, Matt Monge continues wisely to be a strong supporter of it. I, too, am delighted by leaders who continue to seek out the greatest good for both employees and customers. The bottom line is best served here. As the years go by, or as tribes are built, our temptation is to coast in this area…making the negative assumption that someone else is serving while we’re the idea leaders. As leaders go, so go the organizations.
  2. Persuasion, Logic, & Negotiation – First, Monge sees top leaders as practicing persuasion and negotiation differently “not with power, position, coercion, or even deception; but rather through logic, reason, and with an eye toward the good of the whole.” It’s funny how unaware leaders can be in thinking that manipulation and coercion go unnoticed by employees under their authority. It’s always better to do the work of taking the high road of negotiating and persuading. When we engage in the give-and-take of healthy debate and problem-solving, it’s a win-win for everyone. It does require time, trust, homework, and humility.
  3. Reframing – This is a discipline of looking at a problem or situation from different perspectives. Monge talks about doing this in such a way that we wrestle with our own biases and blind spots. Reframing can make for a decision or problem solved that have wider success or effectiveness.
  4. Knowing How to Think about and Make Decisions – Monge makes the distinction of being decisive vs. being a good decision-maker. I love this because often we experience leaders who get the job because they are decisive. Period. Full-stop. What does it take though to be a good decision-maker? To become an effective leader is to examine how we make decisions – what are my decision-making processes, who are my guides, what are those factors that always weigh in on my decisions? [Monge names those factors as presuppositions and core values. We need to think about what those are.]
  5. The Ability to Work and Build Community with Others – This is such a core value of mine and yet after years in my career, it bears refreshing. I’m reminded, as Monge writes about this, of the Old Boys’ Network. Today, maybe it’s less-gender-defined and called other things, like C-Suite executives, or even tribe. Still, if it’s a few making decisions for the many, it’s not community. Monge’s constant message is that the strength and health of an organization is in the community. Leaders must do the work of leaning in to their colleagues (outside the executive suite) to draw on the wealth of knowledge there and to affirm the value and varied roles of those coworkers.Blog - Matt Monge - human - twitterPhoto Credit: Twitter
  6. Leadership – The leaders of tomorrow are continuing to develop themselves toward that future. We can be always learning, always growing – not necessarily just like other leaders in our lives, but learning what we need to learn to remain relevant/useful. Resting on the laurels of past successes or doing “what we’ve always done” will eventually pull us to the sidelines. I’m in the painful, personal throes of dealing with this right now myself. Shaking it off and moving forward!
  7. Understanding Humanness & Emotional Intelligence – Monge defines emotional intelligence as having “four basic components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management”. Foundational to emotional intelligence, in Monge’s thinking, is this whole element of humanness. As the workplaces of the future give way to more and more technology, we will be wise in tuning into the growing need for humanizing our organizations and our human employee experience. Being tech-savvy and not people-savvy misses what could be. Leaders of tomorrow, take note.

So that’s it for today. I love Mondays because they bring another opportunity to hit “the refresh” key of our work lives. We are not only motivated for the week ahead – differently than Fridays when the focus is the weekend – but we’re fresh in our view of our work community…and hopeful.

Matt Monge and others like him give me the encouragement I need to cast off from the safe, still shore and re-enter the fast and deep water of today’s work environment, determined to maneuver well there…and maybe even coax other quality people back in from the shallows. Whatever our ages or sensibilities, we can work toward being tomorrow’s leaders of excellence.

Monday Morning Moment – Matt Monge on the 7 Skills of Tomorrow’s Top Leaders – Whether You’re 26, 56, or 72

Blog - Tomorrow's Leaders - Mojo companyPhoto Credit: The Mojo Company

Leaders of Tomorrow. What age group came to mind? Probably not your own. Maybe that’s one of our dilemmas in life and work. We either think we have already arrived as tomorrow’s leader today (ugh!). Or we stop thinking of how we can develop into that change agent of tomorrow because we’ve fixed our course…or settled into what we know already. It’s served us well so far, right?

Here’s my Monday morning gift to you: an introduction to the person, writing, and wisdom of Matt Monge.  Earlier in his career, he worked in finance (credit unions, in particular), and had fascinating titles like Chief Culture Officer and Vice-President of People and  Development. Currently he is is president of The Mojo Company, a leadership development consulting firm. His Facebook page bio reads: “My mission? Make the world a better place by helping people, leaders, & workplaces be more human. Depression fighter. Keynote speaker. Head of The Mojo Co.”

BLog - Matt Monge - TomorrowTodayGlobalBlog - Matt Monge - TwitterPhoto Credit: Cues, Twitter

I read everything Matt Monge writes. Even his promotional video taught me more about leadership (you’ll want to take notes).

Monge posted a blog a few weeks back and I’ve been thinking through it since… It’s his 7 Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders Are Developing Today. I decided to post his bullet points here and how they stirred my thoughts on skill development today. [Don’t miss reading his thinking on this and other leadership topics in links.]

  1. Being Others-Oriented – While other employee development folks have moved away from “servant leadership” language, Matt Monge continues wisely to be a strong supporter of it. I, too, am delighted by leaders who continue to seek out the greatest good for both employees and customers. The bottom line is best served here. As the years go by, or as tribes are built, our temptation is to coast in this area…making the negative assumption that someone else is serving while we’re the idea leaders. As leaders go, so go the organizations.
  2. Persuasion, Logic, & Negotiation – First, Monge sees top leaders as practicing persuasion and negotiation differently “not with power, position, coercion, or even deception; but rather through logic, reason, and with an eye toward the good of the whole.” It’s funny how unaware leaders can be in thinking that manipulation and coercion go unnoticed by employees under their authority. It’s always better to do the work of taking the high road of negotiating and persuading. When we engage in the give-and-take of healthy debate and problem-solving, it’s a win-win for everyone. It does require time, trust, homework, and humility.
  3. Reframing – This is a discipline of looking at a problem or situation from different perspectives. Monge talks about doing this in such a way that we wrestle with our own biases and blind spots. Reframing can make for a decision or problem solved that have wider success or effectiveness.
  4. Knowing How to Think about and Make Decisions – Monge makes the distinction of being decisive vs. being a good decision-maker. I love this because often we experience leaders who get the job because they are decisive. Period. Full-stop. What does it take though to be a good decision-maker? To become an effective leader is to examine how we make decisions – what are my decision-making processes, who are my guides, what are those factors that always weigh in on my decisions? [Monge names those factors as presuppositions and core values. We need to think about what those are.]
  5. The Ability to Work and Build Community with Others – This is such a core value of mine and yet after years in my career, it bears refreshing. I’m reminded, as Monge writes about this, of the Old Boys’ Network. Today, maybe it’s less-gender-defined and called other things, like C-Suite executives, or even tribe. Still, if it’s a few making decisions for the many, it’s not community. Monge’s constant message is that the strength and health of an organization is in the community. Leaders must do the work of leaning in to their colleagues (outside the executive suite) to draw on the wealth of knowledge there and to affirm the value and varied roles of those coworkers.Blog - Matt Monge - human - twitterPhoto Credit: Twitter
  6. 6. Leadership – The leaders of tomorrow are continuing to develop themselves toward that future. We can be always learning, always growing – not necessarily just like other leaders in our lives, but learning what we need to learn to remain relevant/useful. Resting on the laurels of past successes or doing “what we’ve always done” will eventually pull us to the sidelines. I’m in the painful, personal throes of dealing with this right now myself. Shaking it off and moving forward!
  7. Understanding Humanness & Emotional Intelligence – Monge defines emotional intelligence as having “four basic components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management”. Foundational to emotional intelligence, in Monge’s thinking, is this whole element of humanness. As the workplaces of the future give way to more and more technology, we will be wise in tuning into the growing need for humanizing our organizations and our human employee experience. Being tech-savvy and not people-savvy misses what could be. Leaders of tomorrow, take note.

So that’s it for today. I love Mondays because it’s an opportunity to hit “the refresh” key of our work lives. We are not only motivated (like we might be on Fridays) but we’re fresh in our view of our work community…and hopeful.

Matt Monge, and others like him, gives me the encouragement I need to cast off from the safe, still shore and re-enter the fast and deep water of today’s work environment, determined to manuver well there…and maybe even coax other quality people back in from the shallows. Whatever our ages or sensibilities, we can work toward being tomorrow’s leaders of excellence.

5 Friday Faves – Emotional Intelligence, Hand Massage, a TV Commercial, 40% Rule, Zelda – & a Bonus

Blog - Friday Faves

Friday is here again…and I’m looking back over another week that went by in a blur. Glad to share some of the discoveries of this past week. Would love to hear about your week’s finds (comment below).

1) Emotional Intelligence – This is a concept that’s been around for awhile now, but I never really read about it until this week.  Matt Monge’s article for The Mojo Company sparked my interest. He described 6 symptoms of leaders with low emotional intelligence. Here’s the definition: “Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” 

Two of Monge’s points were: 1) Leaders with low emotional intelligence say “I’m sorry you feel that way” more than “I’m sorry,” and 2) Leaders with low emotional intelligence often blame the people they hurt for the situations leading to them being hurt. Daniel Goleman has written several books on this topic including Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. The very cool thing about emotional intelligence is that it can be developed. The big dilemma is whether bosses who tend not to be bothered by their impact on personnel would buy into this or not. Incorporating such concepts in personnel accountability metrics might provide some incentive. I’ve added graphics below that helped me further understand emotional intelligence.Blog - Friday Faves - Leadership - Emotional IntelligencePhoto Credit: Self Study History

Blog - Friday Faves - Emotional Intelligence - grid - dollieslagerPhoto Credit: Dollie Slager

Blog - Friday Faves - Emotional Intelligence - low & highPhoto Credit: The King and Queen

2) Hand Massage – My dad is 93 years old. He has Alzheimer’s. I can’t imagine he has ever had a hand massage in his whole adult life until this past week. The memory care unit which is now home to him has this lovely activities director. One of his first days there, she brought over two warm washcloths and wrapped both his hands. Then she began massaging each one. He just melted into a relaxed, soothed puddle.  One of his repetitive actions is to scratch his hand which he does to distraction. Hand massage is such a thoughtful, therapeutic act. It never dawned on me to do such a thing. Midway down an excellent piece on Alzheimer’s by staff at University of Maryland, massage is recommended as treatment to calm these patients. So glad Dad is where he is with these engaged caregivers.Blog - Dad and hand massage

3) A TV Commercial – We all discover human interest videos through our social media sites. This is my favorite for the week. The #SharetheLoad video produced by Ariel (a washing detergent we used overseas) in India is beautiful. The message is a father’s regret that he modeled for his wife and daughter a very passive role in the home. Even as an older man (the commercial goes), he determined to make that right. Whether it happens or not in such homes today, the message is a powerful one.

4) 40% Rule – So I found this Fortune article on my Twitter feed. Sidd Finch wrote about Jesse Itzler’s encounter with David Goggins, a Navy Seal. during a 100-mile relay race. Goggins was running the entire race without relay partners. Itzler was so intrigued by this ultra-athlete that he actually invited him to live with Itzler’s family for a month. Out of this time together came the book Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet. Goggins taught Itzler about the Navy Seals’ 40% Rule.

Itzler explains, “He would say that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it. And that was his way of forcing us to get uncomfortable to figure out what our baseline was and what our comfort level was and just turning it upside-down.”

“The 40% rule, the SEAL explained, is the reason why even though most people hit a wall at mile 16 during a marathon, they’re still able to finish.”

Blog - Friday Faves - 40 percent rule - David GogginsPhoto Credit: Just Go Fitness

“I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done.”David Goggins

Blog - Friday Faves - 40 percent rule - Navy Seals - David GogginsPhoto Credit: AZ Quotes

5) Zelda The Legend of Zelda is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. I recently wrote briefly about it here. Koji Kondo wrote much of the music for the video game series. Blog - Friday Faves - Video Games - Link of The Legend of ZeldaPhoto Credit: Cogswell.edu

Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar has posted two covers so far to showcase how beautiful the music is and how well it’s captured on classical guitar. I wrote about the first cover previously, and here’s his second piece. Happy 30th Anniversary, Legend of Zelda.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence (with featured article “What Makes a Leader?” by Daniel Goleman)

10 Signs You Have Exceptional Mental Strength by Jessica Stillman

BONUS: If you got this far, you will be so rewarded! Very few people in my life watch American Idol, and this is its final (15th) season. I am not fond of the whole reality show murkiness of it, but the performances of these gifted young people and the judges (Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr., and Jennifer Lopez) are captivating as well. I want to post videos of two amazing performances from this week’s elimination show (elimination meaning the week the field of contestants narrows to the Top 10). The first video is that of La’Porsha Renae who may very well become the final American Idol. This one can sing!!!

We were overseas when American Idol’s first season aired. I don’t actually remember how I saw Kelly Clarkson in that competition, but I remember following her. She was the first American Idol winner, and the rest is history. To be honest, Kelly Clarkson was off my music listening grid…until now. The song she wrote and performed, Piece by Piece, deals with the painful subject of a father who deserted her as a young child. The song also celebrates the very different man she married, the faithful father of her daughter. This song may make you cry. Wow!

Monday Morning Moment – Stewarding Our Influence Well

Blog - Influence - Alex & Stephen KendrickBlog - Influence - Tony Dungy Son - BPNews net (3)Photo Credit: BPNews.net

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

We are all influencers in one way or another. How we steward our influence is strongly affected by those who have influenced us.

[This Monday morning moment has a spiritual bent, but the principles apply, whatever your belief system. It would be disingenuous for me to write about influence without including the impact of following Christ and Christ-followers in the mix. Thanks for your understanding of this.]

When I was in graduate school, my days were heavily committed to class time, clinical work, research and writing. Meeting with my thesis advisor was a regular “intrusion” into that schedule. For weeks, I would arrive late to our meetings, excusing myself always with some sort of “more important” fill-in-the-blank.  Communicating “more important than our time together”. My advisor was one of the most gracious women I’ve ever known. She was always spot-on ready for our meeting, having read my latest submission, with her notes in hand. If ever I was “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants”, it was with her.

Finally, one day, without warning, she nailed my tardiness for what it was…and I will never forget her for that. She taught me so much about professionalism and excellence in practice, but she taught me most in this area of honoring a colleague. I will always be grateful to Rose McGee for that.

Since those early years in my professional life, there have been many influencers in my life. Bosses, supervisors, coworkers. Some influencers had more celebrity status, but because they wrote for people like me, I soaked up their wisdom.Blog - Influence - Priscilla Shirer - BPNews net (2)Photo Credit: BPNews.net

Ben Kirksey recently wrote a short piece entitled Are You Worthy of Workplace Imitation?. It got me thinking of how my own workplace processes have changed because of those mentors, friends, and coaches in my life. 7 points of stewardship came to mind:

  1. Time – We all have the same amount. Honoring others’ time does matter – being interruptible, not shortchanging people, keeping and being present in meetings. It’s a balancing act, but we want to be dependable and resourceful in this area.
  2. Tweaking – only when absolutely necessary. Show you value others’ work. Give up control whenever possible. Whenever possible, trust their ownership of their work.
  3. More questions/Less Advice – We jump to advice (or direction). Learning to ask thoughtful and compelling questions is a discipline worthy of our time and effort. Jesus was masterful at this.
  4. Genuine Affirmation – To be truly known is such an empowering gift. General praise or cheery compliments are nothing compared with informed and specific affirmation. You affirm my thinking and hard work on a problem, and I will apply myself even more.
  5. Building Capacity – Investing in others’ success at work while, at the same time, expecting the most out of yourself, builds capacity all around. This collective commitment to the work and each other delivers. Building capacity is a “both/and” arrangement. We can’t cast vision for it effectively, without digging in ourselves.
  6. Leading by Influence – I have rarely enjoyed a position of authority…it is by influence that I have both learned and led in life. Authority has its own cross to bear in that the responsibility for return on investment sometimes interferes with relationships. Too bad, really. It’s through the relationships that we can see a greater return…as we steward influence.
  7. Perspective – I will never forget a workplace story about a creative director and his lead creative. They rarely agreed. In fact, as the younger man tells the story, their discussions could become very heated over the direction of any given project. Then there would come a moment when his boss would say, something like, “Let’s get some coffee.” or “It’s lunch time, let’s grab a bite to eat.” No matter the seriousness of the conversations, this older man was able to bring relational perspective to bear. Their relationship was more valuable than any project decision. I daresay the work didn’t suffer from this perspective.

I am so grateful for those who have influenced my work. As mentioned before, they include some whom I have never met physically. The Apostles Paul and Peter, and Jesus himself teach us volumes on stewarding influence well.

Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.1 Peter 5:2-3

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Philippians 2:3-8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:8-9

Do you have a story of an influencer in your life and how that person changed the way you work? I would love to hear it through the Comments below.Blog - Influence - Jesus

Are You Worthy of Workplace Imitation? by Ben Kirksey

The People Skills of Jesus by William Beausay II

The Management Methods of Jesus by Bob Briner

5 Friday Faves – Fall Trees, Handling Change, Naming Our Grief, Cool Job, and an Icebreaker Question

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  1. Fall Trees – Is it a sugar maple or a yellow poplar? I don’t know, but isn’t it beautiful in the Fall leaf-turning? In the first year of our marriage, Dave and I lived in New Haven, Ct. where I was teaching and he was finishing his Ph.D. In the Fall, the sidewalks of our street were carpeted with these new-fallen soft yellow leaves. It was a magical time…just weeks after our wedding. I will always remember walking those yellow paths in the brief days before the snow came. The leaves dried and became crinkly. When the wind blew, or we crunched and kicked the leaves along, they blew up into the air. As if in a dance of joy. Sorry, there’s a deep romance in my heart that stirs at the sight of these trees in their Fall glory. Love!Fall yellow leaves by Shay WhitePhoto Credit: Shay White Photography

Blog - Fall Leaves Covering SidewalkPhoto Credit: Ann Williams, pinterest.com

2) Handling Change – Change is part of our lives every day, yet we struggle with it. Coming to grips and making peace with change helps us to move ahead to whatever is next. When Brian Dodd talks about handling change, he is speaking to pastors and church leaders. However, there is wisdom for any of us going through change in his article on the strange struggle of Jacob – wrestling with God (Genesis 32:22-32).

  • Change affects those you love.
  • Change costs you some change.
  • Change can be lonely.
  • Change takes time.
  • Change requires struggle.
  • Change does not leave you the same.
  • Change requires grit.
  • Changes requires humbleness.
  • Change is necessary for you to get better.
  • Change allows you to see God.

“Change is a true constant to be leveraged.  Not a temporary burden to avoid.” – Brian Dodd

Another related study on Genesis 32:22-32 I found helpful is Broken But Blessed.2015 October - Blog, Fall, Trees, Sadie 048

3) Naming our Grief – Grief always has a name and naming our grief helps us to heal. Having lived overseas for many years, we understand “Hellos-Goodbyes-Hellos” – both the sorrows and the joys of them. As the years go by, we experience job changes, relocations of friends and family, and deaths of loved ones. In a few days, it will be the 13th anniversary of my Mom’s Homegoing, and every day I still think of her. That grief definitely has a name. Sometimes grief feels more vague, like a sadness with a cloudy source. When I found this piece Because Grief Has a Name by Abby Alleman, it touched my heart. She says it well:

“Naming grief is our heart acknowledging its significance and place in our lives. In this way, grief is a friend, like Sadness from the movie Inside Out. It teaches us the shape of our own unique story and guides us to tastes of the ‘fullness of joy’ found in God’s presence. Acknowledging and entering grief also guards our hearts from the calcifying effects of the denial of pain, hurt or loss. Instead of resentment, bitterness or hatred, we get healing, strength and hope. We also become those who grieve well with others. This is a true gift.” – Abby Alleman

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4) Cool Job – Interaction Designer – Complete Beginner’s Guide to Interaction Design – I am not going to say much about this because my ignorance will became obvious quickly. My first hearing of this job was around the supper table this week during our community group (Movement Church). Brian is an interaction designer. As he talked about his work, I was captivated. He works to make internet resources available to a set of consumers all over the world, and does it in such a way that is so user-friendly that even I could maneuver painlessly on that website. When you enter a website that gives you exactly what you need without bottlenecks, extra steps, or language that puts you off, then an interaction designer is probably at work unnoticed in the background of that site. Thanks, Brian, for what you do. Wow!Deb's BlogPhoto Credit: Interaction-Design.org

5) Icebreaker Question – I love icebreakers. They are a fun way to get to know a little bit more about the people around the room or in the meeting. This week, I was in a situation where the following question was used to get us started:

When was the last time you did something for the first time? What was it?”

I had to think a minute, but then it came: Soothing my wee granddaughter as if it was all up to me to settle her, even though her mommy was in the next room. [The next time will be much easier.]

What was your most recent “doing something for the first time”? What’s a favorite icebreaker question can you recommend?

Blog - Icebreaker questions - howdoyouplay.netPhoto Credit: Howdoyouplay.net

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Is Our Yes Still on the Table? Re-Visiting What It Means for Us to Follow God

Blog - Yes on the Table“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Over two decades ago, my husband and I put our “Yes” on the table. We have been praying and thinking a lot about this lately – is our “yes” still on the table?

As a teenager, I thrilled to the words of Isaiah’s response to God’s inquiry. “Here am I. Send me!” Sitting around a campfire with other teens, challenged about our life direction, and singing “I Surrender All“…I first put my all-in “yes” on the table. At 15, tears of joyful release washing down my cheeks, it seemed the only response possible to a God who loved me so much. Today, “all” seems different, more complicated. Or is it my heart that’s changed?

We’re revisiting our “yes”. All I can think of is Jesus’ response to His Father’s will. Hours before He would give His life for us on a cross, He wrestled with the meaning of that “yes”. Jesus, this One who was from before the beginning, part of the Triune God, sinless, and perfect, poured out His human heart to His Father:

He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”Luke 22:41-42

In that moment, He revealed two huge truths to us who follow Him. 1) No matter what God’s will is, (fill in your own blanks here), He is worthy of following. How glorious to spend our lives in His redemptive will – so much larger and full of love and purpose than we might, on our own, choose for ourselves.

2) Because of how big God is and how small we feel in our human frames, there will be times  we bend toward a different road, a cleaner path, with plenty of shade (Jonah 4:5-6). Jesus is kind to show us that struggle…yet without sinning in it.

This “yes” on the table has also been described as giving God a blank check. Essentially telling Him we acknowledge His Lordship in our lives. There are some reading this who may chafe at that. He has given us minds to make thoughtful, impactful decisions. For me, the idea of signing my name to a “blank check” and giving the checkbook back to Him is a test of my heart, and the affections and motivations of that heart.Blog - Blank Check

I love how Simon Peter responded to Jesus during a point in their journey when others left them, having second thoughts:

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”John 6:67-69

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” – There is no other life I want apart from knowing and following the God who pursued me through Jesus . No. Other. Life.

Still, we revisit our “yes”, our “blank check” when God confronts us with a possible course change – a turn in the road that could take us away (again) from family and friends we cherish, colleagues we choose, and work we have loved. Blog - Yes on the Table (2)

We have been in this place before…and we receive it again. I may be at this desk in this place, clicking keys a year from now…or more. Or we may be in a very different place. Wherever we are, there is grace for us (and for you), and glory for God…and all will be well.

Today, again, with trembling hands and resolute hearts, we lay the “yes” on the table. Whatever, wherever, God, we are trusting You, as we’ve trusted You before (even just minutes before this) to do what only You can do with our lives when they are wholly Yours. With wet-palmed excitement, deep joy…and peace…our “yes” is Yours.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

[P.S. There will still be times that peace is shaken…it could be today…but I know from God’s Word, an old hymn, and experience that perfect peace can be ours as we keep our hearts fixed on Him. Fixed.]

A Blank Check – Randall D. Kittle

A Blank Check – A Devotion by Chris Hendrix

8 Reasons for Leaders to Give God a Blank Check – Chuck Lawless

Remembering 9/11 – and the Day Before – A Story of God and a Girl – a girl whose “Yes” was always on the table, a life gloriously lived.

Life Skills – Stewardship of the Essential in the Workplace – 5 Helps

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A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.                      Proverbs 16:9

“He who believes in Me [Jesus], the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12

5 Helps to Keep Essentials in Focus

1) Pray – do business with God on the issue of stewardship of work.

2) Re-visit your job description/annual goals. Do they match up?

3) Determine when you’re sharpest or freshest & guard that time.

4) Practice intentionality with meeting invites & other distractions.

5) Do what only you can do whenever possible.

Books, blogs, and experts abound in the field of leadership and workplace productivity. A challenge for me at work is the constant press of the urgent, and the seeming necessity of meetings upon meetings. I actually don’t really mind meetings; processing in group is my method of choice for information-sharing and developing strategies. Yet, there are those colleagues of ours whom we depend on for deep thinking and creative planning and who need time in quiet to accomplish that.  Too often their work-day is packed with people (either across a meeting table or through electronic communications). They’re then less able to be proactive in their thinking and more prone to reactive decision-making.

Shane Parrish (@farnamstreet) wrote about this phenomenon several months ago. The title of his article was intriguing: “Most of what you are going to do or say today is not essential”.

I don’t want to spend my life doing things that don’t matter, especially in the huge investment of life at work.

In the above article, Parrish continued: “If you’re a modern knowledge worker, odds are you’re going to go to work, read some emails, reply to some emails, attend some meetings, grab a coffee, have lunch, attend another meeting or two, catch up on emails, and finally head home. You’ll be busy from the moment you get to work until the moment you go home. When you do find a nook of time, you’ll likely be bombarded with beeping, dings, calls, and other people who only need a sliver of our time. After all, they too have something urgent to do. They too have a deadline.

After a long day, you’ll come home mentally and physically drained. Eventually you’ll reach a tipping point and say enough is enough. The very next day you’ll head into the office vowing to change things. You’ll start to think about how to work more productively when, ding, a meeting invite pops up for an urgent meeting to decide the fate of a product.”

Later in the article, he said, “Sure we do more busy work, but we’re doing less real work. To get any real work done we come in early, stay late, or both. That’s the only way we can get some peace and quiet.”

We must take a step back from our hectic workday and refocus our thinking on why exactly do we have our jobs anyway. Why were we given the responsibilities we have or how are we to use the authority/influence we have? Are we being good stewards of what is absolutely imperative or are we just ticking off what is necessary? We have to recapture the essential elements of our work before they’re lost in a muddle of ineffective organizational structure.

There has been lots written on effective leadership, workplace productivity, and time management. For me, these 5 helps encourage me in resetting my priorities when I lose balance or energy or joy in the work:

1) Pray – really do business with God on the issue of your stewardship of your work. Are you being faithful in the essentials?

2) Re-visit your job description and annual goals. Do they match up or have your time and mental energy been outsourced to other activities eroding your creativity and productivity?

3) Determine when you are the sharpest or freshest and guard that time of the day for the most essential thinking and decision-making you need to do. “Silence” the distractions for that block of time.

4) Practice intentionality in dealing with meeting invites, drop-ins, phone calls, or email. Urgent matters will come up and may need only your attention for some part of them. Just beware that you don’t fall into a habit of doing what may come easy – for example, filling up your day with meetings generated by others leaving you with little time for  your own responsibilities.

5) Do what only you can do whenever possible. You’re in the position you’re in, hopefully, because you are just the right person for that job. What is it that you need to be focused on? You don’t just ignore the other needs of the office or organization that vie for your attention, but you help work out how best (either through a process or another person) those needs are met.

What has helped you in stewarding the essentials in your work life? What are your particular challenges?

Shane Parrish – What You Do Today Is Not Essential

Biblical Time Management

Michael Hyatt on Cutting Your To-Do List in Half

Time Management Matrix

5 Tips for Increasing Workplace Productivity

5 Real Tips to Get More Done at Work