Good Ole Boys are not that good.

There is nothing worse than the ‘good ole boys’ club. You know, that group of men who think they rule the world.  Their decisions are the only decisions, women are to be seen and not heard, we all know at least one!

‘Good ole boys’, let me tell you a little something about intelligent women who are authentic in the way we conduct ourselves.

We can negotiate a deal based on facts, needs of the organization and can produce a win/win when possible.   We are not people who will play “good cop/bad cop” or “wink, wink” at another in a meeting, especially a male,  just to open the door to a later conversation. We have more respect for ourselves and our significant others than to “wink, wink” at anyone!   We do not sit back and let people, no matter the gender, walk all over us.  We will not stoop to the levels ‘Good ole boys’ want us to so that we are seen and not heard.

We are able to have intelligent conversations that will result in compromise.  We can be pretty and intelligent all at the same time, imagine that!  Women in leadership are just as productive as men and more productive than the ‘good ole boys’ because we work out of ethical and moral behavior.  We make decisions that will take our organizations to the next level every day with honest and non deceptive conversations.  It is said that women make better leaders because we are compassionate!  In all honesty, I learned my leadership skills and continue to develop under strong male figures.  Men who respect others based on their talent, not their gender.  Men who are TRUE leaders because of their strong character, morals, and values.

Don’t underestimate a good woman in a leadership position.  We speak our minds in an assertive way, not aggressively.  We treat others with respect, always.  We solve problems well. We care about people, regardless of if they are in the club.  We seek authentic, professional relationship.

I am thankful for leaders who understand the value of respect to others.  I am thankful for the way a good leader, male or female, seeks to build up those around them.  I am thankful for the strength I have to not give in to any ‘Good ole boy’!  I pray the self awareness of people who put themselves above others is revealed to them and they want to change.  We all have areas to work on right!  Maybe the ‘Good ole boys’ eyes will be opened by authentic, honest, forthcoming people who call this unacceptable behavior to their attention through honesty, authenticity, and respect!  The best way to teach is by example right!

“Simply”….is it really what it seems?

“Our job is to simply populate the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Richard Sterns-Unfinished) When I read this sentence the word “simply” popped out at me. “Simply” to populate the kingdom of heaven sounds so incredibly easy. How can it sound so easy but be such a daunting task? Do WE make it hard?

My job, career, is serving as the Executive Director of a United Methodist Church in a town that is drowning in drugs, causing all the problems that come with addiction. Our city has turned into a low-income, welfare filled town. Walking down the main street of our city breaks my heart. There are so many who look like they have no hope. I want to shake them and say, “There is hope, you can turn this around, the high from drugs does not have to be your high! You can experience the love of Christ, the hope of a future, the love of a church family.”

Our church is not perfect, we have the stereotypical “christian” sitting in our pews. We also have people who truly care about “populating the kingdom of heaven”. They are being the church instead of talking about the church. There are many who attend church,  then walk out the door and turn back into the person Jesus does not want us to be; hypocritical, gossipy, cynical.  But, there are many who take the sign above the door seriously; “You are now entering the mission field”.

How simple is it the “populate the Kingdom of Heaven”? To reach others for Christ, to help people understand getting to heaven is not about how often you attend church but the relationship you have with Jesus Christ. Sure, worshipping God with a community is important to spiritual development but what happens outside of the church is just as important. The personal and ongoing relationship with Jesus is the key to “simply populating the Kingdom of Heaven”. The difficult part is helping people understand there is more to it than “saying” you are a believer of Christ.  There is also action involved, doing, being the hands and feet of Christ, being in community with Christ.   There is a God who loves us beyond what we know as love. Our time on earth is short.  We are on earth working toward eternity.

I ponder the statement: “Our job is to simply populate the kingdom of heaven” with a heavy but hopeful heart, knowing there is so much to do.  Wondering if it is so simple, that we make it hard.

I’ve taken a couple of days to let this statement settle in my heart. I know the only way to the kingdom of heaven is through Jesus.  I want YOU to know, accepting Jesus is truly simple and that is the key to the kingdom of heaven.  The hard part is being and doing and loving and living as Christ calls us to live.  The hard part is understanding the Father (God), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (the one God gave us to live in our hearts) as the Trinity.  We spend a lifetime trying to grasp the concept after we accept the job.  The hard part is making the changes in our selfish, worldly lives to BE like Jesus.  To forgive, to extend grace, to be patient and kind, to live the fruits of the spirit.  The struggle is real; and worth it!

What does it mean to “simply populate the kingdom of heaven” to you and how are you helping to do just that!

Staff Meetings Stink…..or do they? 

Staff meetings stink.  They really do!  Whether you are running them or participating in them they are just not fun!  Except mine of course!

The purpose of  a staff meeting is to distribute information right.  To gather those you work with and make sure everyone is on the same page, update about  organizational issues, to bring issues to the table for discussion and hopefully decisions.  This week I had the most unusual staff meeting I’ve ever had. Really, in my 25 years of working and staff meetings I’ve never encountered anything like it.

My staff consists of 15 people who attend staff meetings and another 15 or so who are a big part of the organization but not full-time and daily members of the larger organization.  Each week we gather and I try really hard to have good information to share or educational topics that will help us all to grow in our jobs.  This week we had a guest, Larry Bolden, the creator of an organization called Wellspring.  It is a ministry to help people grow deeper in their walk with Christ in a very unique way.  Wait, don’t stop reading because I brought up God!  Please!  You can learn more about Wellspring at a later time.  You gotta hear about this staff meeting.

So, Larry  leads my staff into a time of sharing, from our heart, our true heart not a false or inauthentic place, but a genuine place.  He asked one simple question.  (Let me tell you most of us are going through the Wellspring journey at this time.  Some are further along than others but there were several at the table who have not experienced Wellspring at all.)  The question was, what have the personal/relational benefits of Wellspring been to you?  The way Larry set up that one simple question created a safe, authentic space for this staff to share; to be vulnerable, to learn more about each other, and to love each other well.

Staff become an extension of family after a while.  So often we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our chosen families.  At times, boundaries are overstepped. Families broken, people broken because of unhealthy work relationships.  Just as our families need to have healthy boundaries, so does a staff.  At this meeting, all typical business boundaries went down the toilet.  All gloves were off.   We were a room full of people who genuinely care about each other and showed it! As we shared the ways Wellspring has helped us in our relationships, conversations, communication skills, how to work better with each other, how to understand each other, and how to care for each other, this staff grew closer as a team.  We let our guard down long enough to remember we are people, who are important to each other, to God,  that we need each other, we need to encourage each other, love each other well.  Relationships were healed. People genuinely loved others as Christ models for us, just as the Golden Rule says we should.

This type of meeting took courage. It is not easy to balance friendships and supervisory relationships in the work place.  This meeting was dangerous in overstepping unspoken boundaries.  It was ok though. It was passionate, affirming, compassionate all at the same time.  It was the single meeting in my career that I will reflect on for years to come.  It was that special.

Wellspring changes the way you think as a leader.  It will change your organization because it will change you.  This particular staff meeting changed us. The space to be vulnerable with staff – unheard of!  Healing. Relational.  Living from your heart. Amazing! If you want to learn more about Wellspring I’m here and a big fan!  Love Well.  Even your staff!

NYC Here I come!

It is always fun to visit your kids in THEIR  homes!  Its great to have them ask you to take off your shoes. Its really hard not to say something like “really? I have to take my muddy wet shoes off, hum!”  It is fun to see what traits you’ve given them and what they’ve grown to care about.

The best part of the weekend was our Friday Night pizza party!  Yes, two grown women sitting in bed crushing a pizza and bread sticks – and I mean CRUSHING in a city that never sleeps!  It was the best!

Actually, the best part of the weekend was just hanging out with my girl.  We didn’t do anything but we did everything! We made memories that can never be taken away!

We visited the 911 Memorial together, she was 10 – I was 34 on September 11, 2001. Two perspectives on the day that changed our world forever.  The moving stories, memorabilia,  personal memories of where we were and what we felt that day.  It brought me back to a time in my life that is personal, painful, and changed our country forever. It also made me appreciate just where I was and what I was doing.  On my train ride in I sat with a person who was on the 67th floor of the 2nd tower.  The fact that he is alive is a miracle in itself.  It made me sad to hear his story. He tossed his marriage out the window and has made choices that have hurt him.  He saw the aftermath of 911 as “you only live once, have fun” but now realizes fun comes with those you love!

Relationships are unique.   Going to the city you would think we would want to pack the weekend with all kinds of activity while all we really wanted to do was visit, walk, talk, drink coffee!  So, we did.

Leaving today was hard for both of us. We won’t get that time back.  We cried and hugged and promised another trip soon.  A longer trip.   Probably doing the same things, only more of it!

While waiting at Penn Station for my train today feeling sad and alone, I noticed more than usual police and military presence.  I couldn’t help but think, “if today were my last day on earth would I have regrets”. Will this be the last time I say goodbye to my daughter?  Will I see my other children?  Will I see my husband at the other end of this trip?

I felt myself mourn the loss of a marriage and a family but celebrated the family I have now.  Remembering the choices I’ve made to get here.  Thanking God for his willingness to come into my life and turn the messes I make into good if I let Him.  Enjoying the smells, sights, sounds, touch of life.  Watching the hustle and bustle of Penn Station on a Monday morning I thought about the hundreds of stories standing around me.  Watching expressions, how people treat each other, seeing laughter, tears, people embracing people.,,,,,,,,

Love the one your with.  Love the God who created you.  Don’t regret…….be kind to others.

Simple Pleasures

  

Who would have thought the first smell of freshly cut grass would be so pleasant.  Enough so that it stopped me in my tracks today.  

Running, literally, from meeting to meeting today, the smell of the first cut of the season was purely delightful.  Spring has spring.  Snow is done. The air is warmer.  The smells are crisp and the birds are happy.  

What a surprise that something so simple and expected could be rejuvinating.  It made me think about how simple life can really be and how complicated we make it.  I am the biggest offender of packing to much in, raising my stress levels to unbearable.  God stopped me right then and there, before the most difficult meeting of my day, to say: I got this. It’s easy.  Trust me!  

Relief! Simplify.  Take one extra second to notice something ordinary and appreciate it!  Rejoice in it!  Let simplicity sink into your day. Smile!  That one second is worth it! 

Monday, again, really!

It’s finally Friday!  And then comes Monday. Again. Quickly. Furiously. Without fail.  What is that! When did Monday decide to arrive again?  How often is the weekend so much fun that it is over before you realized it started! Not party hardy fun or get so drunk you can’t remember the weekend fun, but relational, conversational, energizing fun!

What happens to us when we just enjoy the moment with friends, food, conversation.  Experience hard, heartfelt “belly laughs” over good, clean, ridiculous life experience shared among people who don’t know each other well, but care about each other in ways that go beyond acquaintances, not to cross the line of good friends.  No shop talk!   It is rare! Not making fun of others or talking about others but laughing about situations life hands us.  Maybe even situations that at the time weren’t so funny but now, later, the humor is gut wrenching!

Stop and think of the last time you experienced the kind of laugh that is deep, meaningful, painful to the abdomen!  Let yourself remember the story, the moment, smile, laugh again, feel the emotion!  Its good!

I challenge you to approach your week with the Joy you are remembering right now!  The joy conversation and relationships bring.  We all have these moments in common.  There are not many things everyone alive has in common but this is one of them.  We have all experienced deep meaningful joy.  No everyone chooses to see, acknowledge or feel it, but it is there. The challenge is to see it,  remember it, hold onto the joy when sorrow comes because it will come!  Look for moments to laugh but not at another’s expense.  To laugh deeply, purely, joyfully!

It’s almost Monday……….hurray! Any I say that joyfully!

It's Monday....I choose.....

It’s Monday….I choose…..

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One-Thing-At-A-Time-Day

What a concept! Who even thinks about doing one thing at a time anymore? I sure don’t. As I write this I am working on goals for my staff, texting my son, thinking about weekend activities, putting lists together for next week……and the thought processes go on.

What would happen if life slowed down long enough to not multitask? A better question might be, what if we slowed life down long enough to do one thing at a time. What would the outcome be? Would our work be more complete, thorough? Would our relationships be stronger? Would our stress levels decrease? I am so compelled by this thinking that I’ve decided to try it. I am not sure I am capable of a whole day of it….. oops there goes the text sound that needs an immediate response….. I’ve already failed.

My example of single task thinking comes from Jesus! Jesus is the ultimate example of leadership. When Jesus focused, he focused. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus returns to his homeland after quite a trip of healing and miracles! People were excited to see Him, thousands of people. Imagine the parade and celebration – We have parades when the Steelers win the Superbowl! I am betting there isn’t a player on the team who would stop and focus on one person’s needs in times of celebration! Jesus stopped in the midst of the celebration of His return to focus on one 12 year old little girl who was dying, Jairus’s daughter! Though there were thousands of people, expectations, demands, requests, concerns, Jesus prioritized the importance of the tasks surrounding Him and chose this 12 year old child to focus his time and energy. I can just imagine the warmth of his eyes and calm of His voice!

So, I begin again to only focus on one task at a time. To prioritize what is important. I will not be saving lives today but I may be investing in important relationships and tasks. Calmly, deliberately, focused, and with joy!

Focused Deliberate Joy!

Focused Deliberate Joy!

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Fresh Ideas

ImageHow do you change the world when you are out of fresh ideas?  Where do you get your inspiration?  As leaders, many times we get so caught up in day to day activity that we do not take the time to dream.  We forget to be innovative, fresh, and find excitement in what we do.  

It is important to dream even when you don’t think you have the time.  Put time on your calendar, make an appointment with yourself for creative time.  Take the time to retreat and don’t feel bad about it.  The only way to take your company or your position to the next level is to take the time to plan, think, reflect, and dream. 

Make and appointment with yourself and respect that appointment as if it were with the most important person in your life.  It could be the difference between that promotion or staying status quo.  Stay up with the competition and even surpass them by making this one simple appointment.  Reaching the top is a process.  It has to happen everyday!  What books are you reading, who is your mentor, who are you listening to for growth?  

Getting fresh ideas and renewed energy takes time that you have to make for yourself.  Day to day operations can be draining.  Care for yourself and let your creative juices flowing!  Let me know how you plan to renew! 

You’ve reach the top….now what!

You are hired as a first time manager.  First day of work you meet the people you will be managing.  Most are older than you.  Obviously all have seniority at your new company.  A couple of your team members actually applied for the job you were hired to do.  Wow, sounds like a tough first day.

How do you handle a situation like this?

  • Never walk into this type of situation with a chip on your shoulder.  Everyone knows you have lots to prove.  Copping an “I’m the boss” attitude” is the last thing you want to do.  You are going to get the cold shoulder from some.  You are going to be observed closely.  Everyone is going to want to know what the new guy/girl is going to do.
  • You will have those who want to get close to you right off the bat.  Beware!  Walk slow.  Take your time getting to know your staff.
  • Be careful of those who want to give you the dirt on the department.  Learn the personalities of your staff on your own by having conversations with them.  Asking questions.  Finding out what their job responsibilities are.  What are they passionate about?  Ask the right questions to see if they are cup half empty or half full kinds of people.  Walk slow!
  • Don’t start making changes until your staff is comfortable with you.  Some of the toughest changes are personnel.  You many inherit staff who are trouble makers, or who are where they are because they are the weakest link and no one knows what to do with them.  Watch and listen for 6 months minimum before you start making major changes.
  • Find out the personalities of your staff and their leadership styles so you know how to manage them.  It is important to help your staff grow into the best they can be.  Figure out what motivates them to be productive.  This all takes time and patience.  Be patient and take it slow.

Attitude is everything!  Be positive, helpful, compassionate to create a safe environment for your staff to trust you and to grow!

Decide, Don’t Decide or………

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Someone said to me today, “you can choose to make decisions, you can choose not to make decisions, or you can choose to be indecisive.” He went on to say, “I appreciate your ability to not only make decisions, but to then to make things happen”.  Isn’t that what its all about?  Choices?  Name a time in your life that you didn’t have to make a decision.  

You had to decide to drink from a cup or a bottle, to play ball or sit on the sidelines, to get married or stay single, to have children or not, to work in an industry that is fulfilling or work at a job that is just a job.  You’ve made decisions your entire life whether you wanted to or not.  Some are good, some are not so good but they are all still decisions.  

As simple and common sense as the concept of making decisions is, it is one of the hardest and easiest things we do on a day to day basis.  We make impulse decision, thought out decision, we just act at times without making decisions at all and go with the flow…….  What is at the core of the choices we make?  Is it our culture, our beliefs, what our parents taught us?  Is it all of these things?  What do we do when we make poor decision? Do we blame others, take the heat, ignore them and hope no one finds out?

This is the one my son seems to choose the most!  Pray mom doesn’t find out!  :)  

Decision making, I am convinced, is a continuation of our character, our attitude, our heart, and our soul.  It is external proof that we have a conscience. That we want to make a difference in the world, the country, our communities, or our homes.  Our choices make us good parents, kids, employees, leaders, friends…… They tell others who we are and who we want to be.  

What is the decision you are struggling with or celebrating today?  Is it a job change, family issue, health issue?  How do you decide, how to choose? Do you know what you don’t know?  Do you ask questions to find the answers?  Do you pray about it, ask others to pray with you? Do you just go with the flow and see how it all turns out?  Whatever you do, own up to your decisions and if you don’t like where they’ve taken you, make a U-Turn and decide to try again.  

Not deep words, not prophetic or new…….but words that have meaning. A choice to share a heart that chooses to love, care, respect, ask questions, and own up to it when the choice isn’t all it should or could be. 

Live with your choices and choose how you live……..then make it happen!

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