DO YOU NEED TO HAVE A CLARIFYING CONVERSATION?

DO YOU HAVE CLARITY?
DO YOU HAVE CLARITY?

Confusion. Misunderstanding. Frustration. So many of the human conflicts we experience at work, with friends and in our own families are the result of a lack of clarity.  We aren’t sure what we’re supposed to be doing? We aren’t sure what our boss’s and co-workers, friends and family expect from us and what we should be expecting from them.

“It’s dreadful what little things lead people to misunderstand each other.” – L.M. MontgomeryEmily’s Quest

A friend of mine reminded me not long ago that having “a crucial conversation” is often the key to moving a relationship forward. I wonder if there are any relationships in your life that would improve if you clarified some things? Any relationships at work? Home?

 “More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.” – Francois Gautier

How can we bring order and clarity out of misunderstanding? As leaders who oversee people, I suggest using the following process to think through the way you might structure your current relationships. Remember, leadership is relationship. I struggle with following through on this (I’m a work in progress:) but I have used this acrostic with some success as a template for training and working with those I lead…C.L.A.R.I.T.Y is a way for me to systematically bring razor-sharp focus to the kind of relationship we have as leader/follower. To have “an understanding” begins with…

C – COMMUNICATION
L – LINESWhen can we meet on a regular basis to give and receive information updates?

Set a scheduled time to communicate each day, week, or month (As often as needed) and then stick to it. I used to work for a non-profit organization that held morning meetings every day. Every day! It was a simple way of getting our team together before heading to our individual (silos) offices to work.

A – AUTHORITYWho will they report to? What will they be given the authority to do/not do? What decisions do they have permission to make/not make? What money are they authorized to spend or not spend?

The word ‘authorize’ derives from a Latin word which means, to increase, to grow. Each person on the team is an extension of their leader. Jesus taught us this when He said to His disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” We’re extensions of Him, we represent Him, receive His authority, power, etc. Such is the leader/follower relationship. Share with them what your priorities are and how their work will contribute to success.

R – RESPONSIBILITYWhat area(s) and tasks will they be responsible for? Whom will they be responsible for?

This refers to a basic job description. Followers need to know from their leaders what is expected of them. When they don’t know, they aren’t sure when they’re succeeding. As their leader let them know what you see as their job and area of ownership.

I – INCENTIVESWhat’s in it for them? How will they be rewarded for successfully doing their job? What will happen if they don’t perform their job or meet expectations?

Again, to have this conversation with your followers, employees, volunteers, etc. is vital for helping structure the relationship. Both you and your team are entering into a set of agreements with one another…a mutual understanding that will either undergird or undermine everything you do.

T – TIME/TOOLSWhat will be their expected time commitments?How much time are they willing to give to fulfill this role? What tools will they need?

I lead a non-profit organization. I work with volunteers who aren’t being paid monetarily. They do what they do for a different reward. But even volunteering takes time and requires resources. But this needs to be worked out, understood and agreed upon. It’s their job to provide their time it’s the leaders’ to provide the tools.

Y – YIELDHow will they know when they’ve been successful? What are the expected results we’re looking for them to produce?

This may be the most important one of all for gaining clarity. Someone has to decide what the relationship is going to be about, right? If it’s a work situation, what do you want them to accomplish? If it’s a personal friendship, what constitutes a win-win for both of you. If it’s family, what will be the purpose of your togetherness beyond sharing the same bloodline?

Remember, leaders push for clarity! Don’t stop til you have it! Now I need to go and take my own advice:)

 

THE SOURCE OF YOUR CONFUSION…

DO YOU EVER FEEL CONFUSED?
DO YOU EVER FEEL CONFUSED?

Sometimes I get confused. Mental fog, I think experts call it. I feel a whirling of emotions flying around inside me that won’t seem to land on anything solid. Did I mention I sometimes feel confused:) Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re distracted, unfocused, not centered emotionally?

Where does confusion come from? I think there are several sources of confusion in our world today.

COMPLEXITY

The sheer volume of options offered within our global society today is staggering…and confusing. Consumers are confused: how are we to choose given so many products to choose from? Parents are confused: how can I protect my children when there is so much more today that can corrupt them? Americans are confused: where’s America headed and what’s happening in our nation? Technology experts are confused: WHAT WILL BECOME OF US NOW THAT STEVE JOBS IS GONE?  We add layers and layers to our lives complicating them in ways that cause mental and emotional confusion.

EVIL

There is a verse in the Bible that states, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” God is not the source of confusion, but the dark side is. There is a dark side, you know? George Lucas said so:) Okay, I”m kidding, but not about there being real evil in the world. I believe in dark forces, spirits, that are “fallen angels” who seek to do harm to mankind. Don’t commit me just yet:)  Satan, the Devil, is their leader and he is a real person. You think I’m confused?  That’s okay:) I’ve seen the damage evil can do in this world. I have no doubt that you have, too. And I think this confuses us. I also think the dark forces themeselves seek to confuse us. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

MULTI-TASKING

My wife and I have a standing argument that never seems to get resolved. She multi-tasks, I don’t…or can’t very well. In fact, I tell her that it’s impossible for the mind to actually do two tasks simultaneously. She disagrees. And in her mind, proves she’s right, every time she answers the phone, puts a casserole in the oven and tells our kids to quit arguing all at the same time. Or so it seems…

I watch all of this unfold but stick to my guns because I still see a linear sequence in each of those events. Any way, I think confusion is brought on by trying to do too many things at once. The reason I know I’m right (famous last words) is because there’s an expert on thinking who agrees with me:

“The main difficulty of thinking is confusion. We try to do too much at once. Emotions, information, logic, hope, and creativity all crowd in on us. It is like juggling with too many balls”. – Edward de Bono

SOOOOOO, HOW DO WE CLEAR AWAY CONFUSION?

PRAY…It does the body good!

SIMPLIFY…It reduces mental stress!

EXERCISE…It re-sets your brain and stabilizes emotions!

CONFIDE IN A FRIEND…It gives you perspective!

DO YOU ‘BUY’ THIS LIE?

 

Are You 'Buying' This Lie?
Are You ‘Buying’ This Lie?

There is a lie many people buy…and it’s defeating them! They die under the weight of this lie:  Here’s the lie…

WORTHINESS = USEFULNESS

In other words, this lie says that how much you’re worth depends on how useful you are to somebody. You’re only as valuable as you are useful. Have you ever heard that? Do you ever feel…that you’re only as good as your last performance?

I believe this is pragmatism at its worst! What is pragmatism? Pragmatism has been called America’s philosophical contribution to the world. Pragmatism is the belief that everything should be viewed in terms of its practical uses and successes. If you’re useful, then you’re valuable…If you’re not useful then, according to some pragmatists, you’re not worth much.

In this kind of twisted thinking human life is reduced to the measure of its usefulness. The less useful you are the less valuable you are. The recent V.A. scandal is evidence. “Useful” people make it to the top of medical waiting lists. Unborn babies are treated as commodities to be discarded through abortion. And the elderly are viewed as dispensable and mainly ignored or worse, made to feel irrelevant.

Another branch stemming from this lie is the equally undignified baloney which says, “You’re only as valuable as you are beautiful.”In this mentality, your worth = your girth (I like rhyming:) Put another way, “If they don’t like your waist, they think you’re a waste.” It’s sad but this attitude is everywhere.

A third consequence of this line of thinking is the often believed logic which implies, “You’re only valuable if you’re likable.” We’re back to usefulness again. If a person likes you, then you become worth something in their eyes; useful. But what if you’re not everything they expect you to be? What then? The sad reality is that you’re deemed less valuable.

An equally pervasive consequence of ‘buying’ this lie is that people confuse NET WORTH = SELF WORTH. In this kind of thinking, self-worth is something to be earned. You must justify your existence and prove you’re worthy “to take up space and breathe in air.” If you don’t produce? Well, then you’re out!

I’ve described one way to live. Allow me to suggest another. I am choosing to live in God’s World not the Pragmatists World. I believe God’s world is more realistic! In God’s world, my worth is not earned but bestowed. My value is based on my relationship with the Lord not on what I can afford. My worth draws its breath from my creator not my behavior.

Personally I believe that it’s not what you do that makes you valuable, it’s what you are: God’s Creation. God doesn’t love you because you’re useful, He loves you because you’re His! God loves you because you’re wonderful…Did you know that? You’re wonderful because you were wonderfully made! David said in Psalm 139:13-14(HCSB):

For it was You (God) who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.”

 
David said he was wonderfully made. So was I. So are you! This means you’re more than your usefulness, beauty or personality. You’re more than your productivity. You’re more than your “To-Do” list. You’re more than your paycheck. Your worth, your value is not conditional. Romans 8 tells us:

“I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in this present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.”

Romans 8 says nothing can separate us from God’s love. Why? Because God’s love isn’t contingent on your being useful or beautiful or likeable; but on His being faithful! The reason nothing can separate us from God’s love is because God separates our worth from our behavior. Do you? Can you? You can and here’s why:

You are not what you do. You are who God says you are!

Wow! This changes my life! As I reject this lie I can go to work and do my job without the pressure of feeling like I have to EARN God’s acceptance by my performance. If I fail today, I am just as valuable as if I’d succeeded. If I succeed today, I’m no more valuable than if I’d failed.   

Here’s my conclusion.  Bottom line: Never base your worth on anything from earth. If you are a Christ-Worshipper then your citizenship is in heaven!

THINK OUTCOME BEFORE INCOME…

THINK BEFORE YOU WORK
THINK OUTCOME BEFORE INCOME

You’ve heard these phrases: Think before you speak. Think twice about it. Henry Bergson’s famous quote: “Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” And, of course, every carpenter’s mantra, “Measure twice, cut once.”

Each of these sayings urges us to plan our work before we do our work. Each tells us to work with our minds before we work with our hands. The principle is stated well:

“You have to think about your stuff more than you realize but not as much as you’re afraid you might.” – David Allen, Getting Things Done

Before we roll up our sleeves and get to work, we must put on our thinking caps and plan that work. Before we contemplate what we’re going to get out of some project (income), we need to decide what we will contribute (outcome). How do you do this? I use a template to help me think through everything from small tasks to organizational-wide meetings I’m running. The template uses the acrostic O.R.D.E.R.

O – OUTCOMES

Before you or I set about completing a task, we need to be clear on what it is we are trying to accomplish.  Would you agree with that? I mean, if we’re not clear on what we’re wanting to achieve, then we’re headed for frustration.

OUTCOME QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF ARE…What do I want to BE, DO, HAVE? What am I wanting to accomplish? What do I want to see change? Once again David Allen speaks to this point…

“We’re never really taught that we have to think about our work before we can do it…Thinking in a concentrated manner to define desired outcomes is something few people feel they have to do. But in truth, outcome thinking is one of the most effective means available for making wishes reality.” – David Allen

 
R – RESOURCES

Getting things done requires resources and tools. Resources enable us to accomplish things. RESOURCE QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF ARE…What and Who do I have to work with? What are my available resources? There are typically 5 CORE Resources we need to get a job done:

  • Energy
  • Time
  • Money
  • Tools
  • People

Leaders think in terms of resources constantly. Thinking through these 5 resources and how much of each you have available will help you in planning for success.

D – DIVISION OF LABOR

Recently, while attending my 11-year-old sons school event, his teacher told the parents that the 5th graders were learning that “many hands make light work”. So, true! It’s the same for adults in the work force, too.

One of the aspects I like to think through on any project I’m tackling are the things I can and should control and those I can’t control. What are my responsibilities and what are someone else’s, in other words.

DIVISION OF LABOR QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF ARE…Who is responsible for what? Who is responsible for whom? Answering these questions allows me to relax about things I can’t control and be prepared for things I can control. It makes the whole task or project go smoother.

E – EQUIP & EXECUTE

Once I know what I want to accomplish (Outcome), what resources are available (Resources), and what my responsibilities are and aren’t (Division of Labor), I ask myself, “Do I know how to do what I need to do to accomplish my designated outcome?” If I do, then I do it! If I don’t, then I begin the process of educating myself so that I can learn what I need to know to do what I want to do.

EQUIP QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF ARE…Do I know how to do this? Do I believe I can do this? What do I already know about this? What don’t I know? Who can I enlist to help me?

R – RESULTS

Finally, I simply inspect the results of my work. Once I’ve begun working, I measure the product while I’m managing the process.

RESULTS QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF ARE…Am I making progress? What progress have I made so far? Am I on track? What is the quality of my work?

“You can only manage what you measure.” – Nelson Searcy

What have you found that helps you gain clarity in your work? How much “think time” do you engage in before you begin a new project?

 

WHEN YOUR WORK QUITS WORKING FOR YOU?

IS THERE PURPOSE BEYOND YOUR PAYCHECK?
IS THERE PURPOSE BEYOND YOUR PAYCHECK?

Emily Carr once said:

“I don’t think you can explain growth. It is silent, it is subtle. You don’t keep digging up a plant to see how it’s growing.”

The longer you stay at one job, hopefully, the more it begins to take on a special significance. The longer you’re there, the less it should become about ‘the paycheck’ and the more it should become about a meaningful purpose. Ideally…right? Ideally…you keep sowing and growing.

But what do you do when your work no longer fulfills you? Boredom sets in. Monotony chokes you. You feel trapped. You used to feel ‘centered’ now you feel ‘cornered’. What can you do? Instead of offering ‘answers’, let me offer 4 thoughts…I believe they can help.

JUST FOR TODAY…EMPHASIZE LEARNING OVER EARNING.

Tomorrow, Jesus implied, has enough troubles. Focus your attention on today. Right now. Pause; concentrate on the present-tense and feel your present-sense.

Who are you right now? How are you defining yourself right now…in this moment? In your present situation? You are MORE than your job! YOU are NOT your job. You are YOU! What are you learning as a person today? Who are you becoming? Reflect. You’re not a human-doing but a human being. Being is learning, doing is earning. Focus on being instead of doing! Breathe in, breathe out. Take a deep breath…Close your eyes…And decide.

JUST FOR THE NEXT FEW MINUTES…WORK LIKE YOU DON’T NEED THE MONEY.

I know you probably do need your paycheck. But pretend for a few minutes that you don’t. Pretend, like a child, that all your needs are provided for from a source outside of this job. Then, refocus back onto your next tasks and attack them with calm peacefulness. Let time slip away. Forget about lunch…or what’s coming next. If the next few minutes became the legacy you leave at your job, what would you do? How would you do it?

FINISH THIS AFTERNOON…MAKING YOUR CONTRIBUTION GREATER THAN YOUR COMPENSATION.

Give more than you take. Period. Finish strong by completing these 5 sentences:

  1. Today I will work on…(Name Your Contribution).
  2. Today I will work at…(Name A Skill You’ll Improve In).
  3. Today I will work with…(Name The Person(s) You’ll Help).
  4. Today I will work through…(Name Issues You’ll Solve).
  5. Today I will work toward…(Name the Big-Picture Future).

THIS NEXT MONDAY…GO TO YOUR OLD JOB A NEW PERSON.

How can you go to your old job a new person? By focusing on how you make others feel. Instead of focusing on how you feel at work, focus on how you’re making others feel. You’re surrounded by people whose feelings, views, opinions and needs are different from yours. You’ll be transformed as you stop staring at your own navel and lift up your eyes to truly look at your colleagues, clients, bosses and suppliers. Work with your mind; try to ‘see’ people, tasks, roles and goals in new ways.

Decide today that this next Monday, instead of going to your job with the mindset, “Here I am!”, walk in with the mind-set, “There you are!” as you smile at the first person you see…and the next…and the next:)

Trust me, even if you don’t feel an immediate difference, your co-workers will! They’ll know something’s different about you.  You’re new in some way and they feel it! Soon, you will, too!

“…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. ” – Paul, The Apostle

 

 

 

 

OVERWORKED OR OVER-WORRIED? (Thanks to Rick Warren for this title)

OVERWORKED OR OVER-WORRIED?
Overworked or Over-worried?

Work is inevitable. Worry is optional. Feeling overwhelmed, overloaded, and overcome with burdens may not mean you’re overworked but over-worried. Being overly-worried about your work or world, not the actual workload itself, is often the cause of intense feelings of pressure, distress, or anxiety.

Belief = Grief OR   Belief = Relief

Our beliefs are powerful. They determine how we feel. Grief or relief can come from a belief. For example, if you believe that you’re going to fail at the task you’re working on no matter how hard you try, then you are naturally going to feel grief or a sense of dread or anxiety about what you have to do. However, if you believe that you’re best effort will be good enough, then you will experience a sense of relief emotionally. It’s all about the belief you’re believing.

So, often people live with a vague sense of suppressed anxiousness but without a clear notion of what is causing their negative feelings. We feel low energy, so we think we’re working too hard. We feel low emotionally, so we assume we need to slow our schedule down a bit. However, I’m learning that sometimes, the problem is not the amount of activity, but the amount of anxiety. It’s not that you’re working too hard, it’s that you’re worrying too hard. How can we overcome anxiety? The scriptures teach us a 5 STEP PROCESS FOR RELIEVING ANXIETY based on Philippians 4:5-9. 

1. REMEMBER JESUS IS COMING SOON…IT’S TEMPORARY!

Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon.

Whatever situation is causing you anxiety, it is only temporary. Tell yourself that truth! And then BELIEVE IT! This will give you hope to cope. No matter what you’re going through Jesus is coming to rescue His children.

2. PRAY ABOUT YOUR SITUATION…GOD IS IN CONTROL! 

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. 

You don’t need a manual on how to pray. Just open up your heart to the invisible God and talk to Him. Tell Him what’s bothering you. Tell Him what you want, what you think you need and leave your burdens at His feet.

3. RECEIVE GOD’S PEACE…LET GO AND LET GOD:)

If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

This ‘peace’ spoken of in this verse actually means that “the peace God Himself lives with every moment will be given to you as well”. Let God give you His peace. Don’t pray and then stray. Pray and then stay…in an attitude of prayer so that this spiritual transfusion of “peace” can flow.

4. THINK THE RIGHT THOUGHTS…RULE YOUR MIND!

And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.

Our thoughts create our feelings. You can either have a thought or a thought can have you! You must stay in control of your mind.  As Horace quipped, “Rule your mind or it will rule you.” 

5. FOLLOW PAUL’S EXAMPLE…TAKE ACTION OUT OF FAITH!

Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.

God is not opposed to EFFORT, He’s opposed to EARNING! We can’t earn God’s love or approval, but we can make an effort to obey Him.  His grace means He will give you the power to practice your faith in Him.

Paul says do these things “and the God of peace will be with you”. May the peace of Christ be yours today!

SELF-AWARENESS KEY TO SELF-DISCIPLINE

 

Self-Discipline
Too Funny:)
The Law of Awareness states, “You must know yourself to grow yourself.” Mindfulness. Awareness. Knowing who you are on the inside. This is called Self-awareness. Increasing self-awareness is the key to acquiring self-discipline.

A few years back God helped me discover a sequence to empower me to increase my self-awareness. I call this THE SELF-DISCIPLINE SEQUENCE:

Define

Impulse

Self-discipline is impulse control. We all have impulses. Unlike animals whose behavior is driven by instinct, human behavior is driven by choice. You get an impulse, a desire to do something; then you choose whether or not to act on it. Not all impulses are good for us. So, we must control them. This is called self-control or self-discipline. Developing self-discipline begins by answering the question, “What is it?” The impulse you’re feeling…what is it? Is it a want? Is it a need? Is it a temptation? Is God speaking to you? What is it? Define it!

Defining the impulse separates you from your impulses. In doing this you step back and analyze your inner desires. You are not your impulses. You have power over your impulses because you have a choice. You can choose to give in or fight for what you value.

See

Consequences

Once you’ve defined the impulse, you must see the consequences. You answer the question internally, “What happens if I act on this impulse or don’t act on this impulse?” As Dr. Phil says, “When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences…whatever choices you make in this world, those choices have results.”

Seeing consequences is an effective way for you to “think before you act”. It’s the moment before you “pull the trigger” of choice. It is the pause in between the stimulus and our response to it. Often, this simple exercise of ‘noting’ in your own mind the intended and unintended consequences of acting on your impulse, can give you energy to make a better choice.

Interpret

Pain

I love the quote that says, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.” At this point in the SELF-DISCIPLINE SEQUENCE, you may be feeling some pain or discomfort. You’ve said, “No” to being impulsive.  Or you’ve said, “Yes” to taking action even though you may not feel like it. This naturally causes pain. Emotional, physical or psychological pain results from inconveniencing yourself.

What you need to do is reinterpret what pain will mean to you so that you can gain mastery over your mind and body. Mind over matter kind of stuff. Answer the question, “How will I explain this pain to myself?” Explain your pain in terms of the gain. That helps you power through it and press closer to your goal. Re-condition your mind to see pain as beneficial not bad.

List

Incentives

When you’re pushing yourself to do something new or uncomfortable, your mind always wants to know ‘why’. Answer this question to yourself, “Why is it important for me to act on this impulse or not act on this impulse?” Remind yourself of your reasons. You have reasons for what you value. And if an impulse isn’t aligned with your deepest values then you need to remind yourself why you don’t need to pay attention to it. Mentally list your incentives. Why do you want to (fill in the blank)?

Next

Effort

Refocus your conscious thoughts onto your next endeavor. Do you have a meeting happening in an hour? Do you have a phone call to make? Is there something or someone in your physical environment you can look at, touch, move toward or dwell on besides the impulse? What? What can you refocus your mind on to get your mind off the nagging impulse? Remember, what you focus on increases. What you resist persists. Stop trying to resist the impulse and just refocus your mind. Answer the question, “What is my next physical action to prepare for my next event?”.

What have you found that works for you in developing self-discipline?