Monthly Archives: November 2011

The 360 Degree Leader

You don’t have a leader title.

You may be in the middle of the organization, or at the bottom.

Up until now, you’ve been told that you can’t be a leader. That only comes when you are promoted to something with a title.

I’ve never believed that. But, somehow, we are told this lie over and over again.

In The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization, John C. Maxwell wholeheartedly convinces you that this lie is untrue. You can lead from anywhere in an organization. In fact, sometimes you can lead better because of the fact that you don’t have a title.

I loved the way that he talks about the influence that you have in the organization. Often, without a title, we don’t realize the influence we have. However, many times, the people in the middle are the ones who can come up with the best ideas and the most productive ways to truly change. You also have the ability to be a valuable source of information to higher level leaders, who are no longer in the day to day happenings of the organization.

John takes you through a very detailed outline of 360 degree leadership. From the myths, to challenges, practical principles to lead up, across and down in the organization, and emphasizing the value of a 360 degree leader. This is a well thought out book with real life, practical examples of how to make a difference.

There were two main principles that stuck with me throughout the book.

“Your underlying strategy should be to suport your leader, add value to the organization, and distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack by doing your work with excellence.”

“What matters is that we are willing to do what it takes, to make a positive impact wherever we find ourselves in life – to add value in any way we can to others.”

These are basic principles, but they resonate with learning to be a leader where you are. It is your choice. John does a great job of explaining it and helping you understand it in a new way. However, now it is up to you to put it into practice.

I have highly recommended this book to many people and will continue to do so.

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Masks

I don’t like masks. I never have.

I’m not sure where it started. Possibly from the clown masks we wore for Halloween so many times when we were kids. Did anyone else think they were creepy?

his nose looks big from head on

Image by uglyagnes via Flickr

We had the homemade clown costumes in multiple sizes, and that’s what I always had to be for Halloween. The adults thought they were cute, but I didn’t like it.

Or maybe it was the time that my friend’s Dad put on an old man mask and chased us around the outside of their house. I knew it was him, but something about him in that mask really disturbed me. I wanted him to take that mask off.

The fall always makes me think of this, as masks are everywhere for Halloween. It makes me think of the masks I have worn throughout my life.

The mask of trying to appear to be the perfect “Christian” to please other people instead of God, even when I didn’t believe many of the same ideas they told me I should.

The mask of trying to fit in with others and be popular because others told me I should care about that.

The mask that said everything is perfect (when it wasn’t), and never sharing my deep concerns for fear of being judged

The mask that my marriage was healthy, when it was about to fall apart.

The mask that pretended being out of shape and overweight did not bother me.

The mask of self-worth when deep down I thought I wasn’t worthy

The mask of confidence that hid feeling like I would never be good enough.

The mask of caring what others thought of me rather than worrying about what God thought of me.

I can honestly say that I don’t struggle with these masks anymore. I have learned that being authentic and sharing our pain and imperfections is so much more freeing than trying to be something we’re not. And honestly, I never liked the masks. I knew they weren’t the real me. It just took me a while to find out who I was, and be willing to take the masks off.

Have you struggled with wearing masks? How are you learning to live more authentically?

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Thankful….

Thanksgiving Tray

Last year, I updated my Facebook status every day in November with what I was thankful for. This year, I am combining them all. My list can go on and on and on, but these are some highlights.

I am thankful for

My renewed faith and relationship with God

My incredible husband of 14 years

My handsome and super fun boys

My Mom who continues to amaze and support me

My sister and brother

My nephews and niece

My extended family, including Aunts, Uncles, cousins, and in-laws

An amazing, grace-filled community called The Orchard

Beautiful friends

Our Compassion child, Peter, and the lessons he teaches us

Wonderful workout buddies and coaches who push me to get stronger

A career that I love

Our home

The ability to dream

The ability to create

The ability to learn new things

New acquaintances and friends

New beginnings

Grace, grace, grace

Strong people who have supported me when I needed it

Leaders and coaches who are investing in me and helping me grow significantly

The variety of unique relationships in my life

My lessons this year in understanding how short life really is

The blessing of writing

Technology

14 years with my Dad, who is still teaching me lessons through his example over 25 years later

Hugs

Sunsets

Nature

Music that touches my soul

I am so thankful for so many amazing blessings in my life. Have a wondeful Thanksgiving!!

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When was your last date?

When was the last time you went on a date with your spouse?

My husband and I dated for a long time and were married for six years before we had our first child. We went on dates as a married couple all the time. Of course, we didn’t think of them as dates because it was just what we did. We spent time together. We played golf every weekend. We loved traveling when we could.

Then, we had kids.

All of sudden there wasn’t much time for being alone anymore. I didn’t think about this, as I was so happy to be a Mom and learn all about this wonderful new little baby who made us a family. Our priorities shifted. It wasn’t as essential or as easy to go out to dinner all the time, or to go to a movie, or to play golf. Every waking minute we were not working, we wanted to spend with our son.

We also didn’t live near family when we had our first son. So, there were no grandparents to watch him so we could spend time together. And finding a babysitter at that young of an age wasn’t something I was very interested in. We simply stopped making time to be alone as a couple.

Obviously, this is something that happens to most couples when they first become parents. It’s natural and is good to get a schedule and routine with your child. And treasuring all of those “first” moments is something that you can never experience again. We didn’t want to miss any of it.

Unfortunately, the pattern of not making time as a couple continued throughout the years. Once you stop dating each other, it’s easy to forget how much you liked it and needed it. My husband would try to tell me, but as a new Mom, I was focused on one little guy instead of both of the men in my life.

I look back now and realize that we should have continued to make time together, even if it was short, simple dates for dinner. We do that now and it makes a world of difference. Yes, it is much easier now because the kids are older. And life does not seem so incredibly chaotic as it did when the kids were young.

Is it easy to carve time in your schedule to date? Usually not.

Is it easier to just stay home and relax without planning a date? Most of the time.

Is it worth it to carve out time to be with just your spouse without your kids? Absolutely!

What are some of the unique things you do to ensure that you keep a regular date night with your spouse? I’d love to hear from you.

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Seven more weeks…….

40th  balloon

Image by sasastro via Flickr

This hit me the other day while replying to someone on Twitter. I only have seven weeks left in my 30’s. Wow.

The old me would be really sweating right now thinking about all of the things I HAVEN’T done yet that were in my plan. Bigger house, better car, more retirement savings, less debt, more saved for the kids’ college funds, a more prestigious career, having started something very impactful, etc. Don’t get me wrong. Some of these are things we have been working on and have made significant progress from a few years ago. But, the new me is okay with where I am now and where I am heading. And honestly, some of those things don’t matter at all to me anymore.

Have I done many of the things I would have liked to do before my 40th birthday? Yes!

Have I done anywhere near what I thought I would have done by this upcoming bithday? No.

But that’s the beauty of where I am in my life right now. My faith is stronger than it’s ever been. I have learned that God sees me in a way that nobody else does. And I am learning to see myself how He does. It’s incredible what a difference that makes in your priorities, what’s most important, and how you live your life.

I’m also learning to see life differently, which means I am no longer walking in a straight line trying to get from Point A to Point B, where I used to think I should go. There’s an entirely different dimension that I never anticipated or thought of, and it is so freeing to live in it.

The one thing I have made significant progress on is in getting healthier. I started this process in June and wrote about it here. I decided that getting healthier was something I was going to focus on during the last half of the last year in my 30’s.

That was my main goal. To eat healthier, workout regularly and have more energy. Did I want to lose weight? Absolutely! But I was not focused on the number. I had to develop a healthier lifestyle. The direction I was continuing to head was bad for me both physically and mentally.

I am very excited to say that I have made significant progress. I am down more than two sizes, workout 3-5 times per week, and eat  much healthier. I feel great!  I am so thankful for the amazing support system I have with my husband, friends, workout buddies, and many others who have encouraged me along the way. I’ll post more about this before the big day in a few weeks.

And for now, I will be enjoying the next seven weeks by continuing to work on being healthier, as well as enjoying the holidays with family and friends. I am no longer afraid of the big 4-0!!

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Kids

Having kids is a blessing. I am thankful every day for these amazing human beings that I have the honor of being called their Mom.

What I was not prepared for was the havoc they would impart on our marriage. When our first son was born, it was amazing . We were in awe. We were instantly in love with him. We had never experienced anything like it. We felt closer as a couple. I loved watching my husband with him. It made me fall in love with him all over again.

Baby toes

The responsibilities that come with learning how to be parents, however, can be overwhelming. We had no idea what to do with our baby who would not sleep in his pack n play, crib, bassinett, etc. But we worked through it. It was stressful, but we figured it out.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my husband was struggling somewhat with my attention now being focused on the baby. I wish I would have understood that better, so it would not have spiraled into what it did. He was starting to miss that attention, and I didn’t want to hear about it. I was working full time and losing sleep and every minute was scheduled or consumed. That was the beginning of many more years of drifting apart, which I wrote about here.

We made it through the first year or so okay. I knew our relationship was different, but was so caught up in being a Mom that I forgot to be a good wife.

After our second son arrived, things really got hard. I openly admit that #2 ROCKED my world. I had finally gotten into more of a routine, and now it was absolute chaos! I was tired, stressed out, and didn’t feel like I had one minute of free time for myself, let alone to work on our marriage. Rick started to become hardened to my lack of interest in him, which resulted in us drifting further apart.

I did not realize that he needed things from me that I wasn’t giving him, and in turn he wouldn’t willingly help me above and beyond what was required.

It led to a cycle of feeling very alone. I didn’t realize it because I was getting some of that needed love met by the boys now. I truly was making Rick feel like he wasn’t needed. Which was never true.

We also had some issues creep into our marriage that I was never prepared for. We have sinced worked through those issues, and you will hear more about our journey in the months to come.

What I do know is this. Kids are a gift from God. They will also require you to work harder at your marriage than you ever thought you would have to. But, it’s worth it.

My kids are at a great age right now (5 and 8). The challenges our kids bring change with each milestone they pass. However, what we are continually working on is making sure that our marriage is a priority too, and that we don’t forget that we are a couple first.

I know this is not easy. It was incredibly challenging for us for a long time. But, you will never regret it.

 

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Filed under Encouragement, Marriage, Persistence

Beauty

There is something breathtaking to me about seeing the beauty of different landscapes from a plane. 

It reminds me how small we really are in this world.

It reminds me what an unbelievable job God has to be there for all of us.

It humbles me.

It reminds me that where we live is such a small part of this earth.

It reminds me that there are so many people in our world.

It overwhelms me and draws me closer to God at the same time.

When I see new areas of this beautiful earth, it reminds me that this is nothing compared to what heaven will be like.

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Always and never

Always

Never

I use these words more than I ever realized. These two words have the ability to spike my husband’s blood pressure. He absolutely cannot stand it when I use them. Why? Because I typically use them when we are in confrontation or argument mode, and they are directed at him.

Are these two words ever used properly? Does my husband ALWAYS do something? Probably not. Does he NEVER do something? Probably not true either.

I’m not sure when I started using these words. I know from English class that you shouldn’t use them. But somehow they creeped into my vocabulary over the years. And I have made a conscious effort not to use them anymore.

So what about you? What are the words or phrases that irritate your spouse? What efforts can you make to change them?

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Community

What does the word community mean to you?

 This word keeps coming to me over and over again. I think it’s because I have found it again. I think I lost it for a long time.

 Maybe in the past you used the word “group” or “club” when you thought of something you belonged to. We are so familiar with them when we are young. We go to school together, we play sports, get involved in extra curricular activities, and strive to fit in somewhere. What we longed for was to do life together, in a community.

 Looking back, I realize how being involved in these communities helped to keep me accountable, and I was living life with these people on a regular basis.  I could not miss practice or a performance without someone wanting to know where I was. I was required to keep moving forward.

 Somewhere along the lines, though, we lose the importance of this concept. Part of it is getting out on our own and trying to make our own life. Another part of it is our mobile, relocating society. Many of us no longer stay in our hometowns and start a life there. We move to a new location. We have a hard time meeting our neighbors because we are too busy. We detach ourselves from people because it requires work to develop new relationships and communities. Everybody seems to have their own agenda, and not be as concerned about others. And quite honestly, life is hard! Starting a career, being in the workforce, getting married, having kids – these are all things that help us keep a selfish perspective.

 I read a great book called ‘Refrigerator Rights’  about how so few people feel close enough with their friends and neighbors to go in and help themselves to something in their fridge without asking. This is due to so many reasons, and I have been at the point where I didn’t feel like I had any friends or neighbors that could do that. It was a very lonely time.

 However, this idea is starting to show just how effective it can be in my life. Why? Because it makes you accountable, it makes you feel good, and you feel supported. There is something unbelievably comforting in knowing that there are people you can call when you need them, or who are praying for you regularly. There is nothing like having a goup of people who are pushing you to be better, whether it’s regarding your health, spirituality, fitness, work, or any other area of your life. You can drop your kids off when needed, you can offer to take someone else’s kids for them, and you can be there for them when they need you. You can get together regularly and build relationships with your families.

 I love that we are building these relationships with neighbors and people from our church community, as well as other friends in our lives. It makes an amazing difference in your outlook and your life.

What are your thoughts regarding community? How has this impacted your life?

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I am not (repost from Sept. 17, 2011)

 I am not creative.

I am not an artist.

I am not an idea person.

I am not a dreamer.

These are all things I have said in the past. Many, many times. And I am now starting to wonder when that crucial time was when I decided I WASN’T these things, instead of trying to explore and develop them.

The last few years have been so interesting for me, because I have developed this community around me who no longer allows me to say those things. They no longer allow me to say that I am fine exactly where I am. They continually push me to stretch myself, and to not be satisfied with just existing. And I am so thankful for it.

A big part of this definitely has to do with the changes in my faith, and how I am now viewing myself as God sees me, rather than how I see myself, or how the world sees me. And I am searching for ways to make an impact. That makes an incredible difference in my attitude, overall outlook, and decisions. But, I have also really been thinking and praying and trying to figure out what some of my lost passions are. It has been an eye opening, yet extremely frustrating experience.

How could I say I’m not creative? I played the piano (and flute and tenor sax), sang, and created beautiful music, even if it was not my own. I brought the notes on the page to life. I wrote poems, and short stories. I loved to write letters and notes. I loved to scrapbook, and take photos and capture unique images.

While I am not someone who continually thinks up the most unique ideas, I do have opinions and good ideas to bring to individuals, and teams and organizations. I have experience in many different unique roles and circumstances, and I have my own ideas that work pretty well. How could I continually deny that and say I’m not an idea person?

Why did I stop dreaming? Where are those hidden dreams that I must have had when I was younger? What happened to them? I know they were there once. Why did I push them so far deep inside? Will they ever see the light of day again? Are there new ones to explore?

I had one childhood dream that I do remember vividly. I wanted to be a funeral director. I know. Crazy, right? I think the interest started with my Grandfather’s funeral in the late ’70s. I had never seen someone in a casket before. I was young, and curious. I specifically remember reaching up for his hand, and wanting to touch him and give him a kiss one last time. I wasn’t afraid. I knew where he was. He was with Jesus, and I was happy for him. But, my Aunt slapped my hand away, as I was reaching up for him. “We don’t do that!! It’s not proper.”  I was crushed. I just wanted one more moment with him, and I wanted to know if his hand felt the same.

I also think that I instinctively knew from an early age that I can often be a source of comort to people. What an amazing experience it would be to be a source of calm and comfort to families facing difficult times with death. Of course, I didn’t fully comprehend all of this then, but I do think that I thought I could be helpful to people in very sad times. Unfortunately, experiencing death firsthand when my father passed away, completely scratched this dream. I was fourteen years old, and the thought of having to be around families who were hurting in a way that I now understood, was something I didn’t think I could bear.

I look back on that now and wonder, “Did I really want to be a funeral director?”, “Is that a dream I should pursue?” I can honestly say that it isn’t. But what is interesting is the perspective I’ve realized around it. The part about being comforting to others. And helping others. And making a difference. That is what I’d dreamed of for a very long time.

At some time, however, the dream got pushed to the bottom. And reality and responsibility and expectations for who I should become piled on top of it. And I started to believe the lie that says you can’t follow your dream. You have to be responsible, and take care of yourself and your family. Nobody is always going to be there for you, except for you. And dreams don’t come true, so why waste time chasing them? Why did I not realize there were other things I could do to evoke the same feelings?

I no longer believe those lies. I am continually being challenged to take another step of faith in many areas of my life. One of the things that I am working hard on is discovering my true purpose, and how God wants to use me in a unique way. I feel that something is changing, but I don’t quite know what it is yet. I am taking one step at a time, and enjoying this very interesting time in my life.

I am asking questions. Lots of questions. To people I know, and people I am just getting to know. I am reading many different books on leadership and dreams and amazing memoirs. I attended The Quitter Conference, and Story, both of which impacted me in very unique ways. Both Jon Acuff and Ben Arment spoke about your own unique story, and how nobody can tell it. This really hit me. Yes, they may have done something similar to what you are dreaming. But, they are not you. Your perspective is different. Your story matters! The world needs to hear it. 

So what else am I doing?

I am allowing people to speak truth into my life. Sometimes truth that I don’t want to hear

I am allowing people to start demystifying the entire dreaming process for me

I am searching for the unique in the every day stories

I am taking the time to truly listen to people

I am enjoying the small moments in life

I am looking forward to where this journey is taking me.

What about you? What things are you working to change in your life? What is your dream?

P.S. I was BLOWN away this weekend when I found this link from Jon Acuff’s blog to mine.  I am incredibly thankful to him for being so supportive.

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