Category: Humor

Slapped in the face with the mirror of “for” vs “from.”

I write two blogs. This one and one for work. This one is called Four4Soaring, as you know, and the one at work is called Friday Food For Thought. I suppose, something about “F” sounds and the word “for” just speak to me. I think it is because I do my best to be ” for” people, “for” my community and “for” my family and friends.

I endeavor to provide both blogs weekly. They are written with the same purpose in mind to encourage, inspire and equip people. They are meant to be “for” people. We have this saying in my church world that is supposed to prove you “get it.” “It” being the whole “Jesus Follower thing” and it is that:

“you are supposed to want something FOR people, not something FROM them.”

That is what I think I am doing, most of the time…

Yesterday, I was kind of riding a high of being “for” people and I really thought I was wonderfully postured to continue down this path of delivering things like:

this blog and my work one

and the leadership quotes I share on multiple platforms

and leading in my areas of our church where I have been asked to lead and grow other leaders….

…..when I was slammed in the face with the possibility that this work I think I am doing is not meeting its intent!

The short version is that someone shared with me that they were not very impressed with my ability to lead and were not interested in receiving anything from me in this regard. In the ultimate irony (you will only get when you read the blog post I wrote to my work world a couple of days prior below) they said I both failed to empower others and be authentically humble. The post was named (and you just can’t make this stuff up) “Be Real, Be Humble and Empower Others to Get Results.” Now if you don’t believe God has a sense of humor, I can’t help you with that, because that, my friends, is both mildly painful and hilarious!

Then I went to my email this am and I saw a message from someone who I happen to live in more than one area of inluence with and it said simply this “Thank you, I really needed this today.” That wasn’t the only such message I received Friday from the Food for Thought, but it had a special meaning to me because I know this person knows me in more than one sphere. It has even more meaning this am, after being told how very unhelpful I am sometimes.

To be clear, this person is not some villain and I am not the hero. I screwed up. I did not do a good job with informing or empowering them. I needed to hear that. I may have even needed to hear the other part about not being authentically humble. I can be pretty arrogant sometimes and pride is something I wrestle with. So this person i right on many levels. I am grateful for the feedback, but what if anything do I do to change what I am already doing?

Which is it? Am I a fraud, a charlatan, or worst yet a “sorcerer” trying to influence and cajole people into liking me? Am I really doing all this to inflate my own ego and be liked? Do I want something “from” people or do I want something “for” people? I’m going to keep asking myself that question and I’m going to ask God to help show me the answer.

Until I get the answer I’m going to keep doing what I feel I am called to do. Until I get more clarity, I’m going to keep trying to be the best leader I can be. I’m going to keep trying to help you be the best leader you can be. The harsh reality is I’m going to screw up, and I am going to do it probably every single day!

(two quick examples: 1: I jokingly told someone to ‘die to himself’ that had literally died last year and 2. I called a guy (and his family) by the wrong name, made a big deal about an event I wanted him (wrong him) to go to and didn’t realize I did it until 4am this morning!) Holy foot in mouth Batman!)

So keep the feedback coming folks because I need help to know the real answer and God may use you to tell me. I want more than anything FOR you to soar. I want you to find light, love and laughter. I want you to find keys to being a better leader in every aspect of your life, just as I try to be.

Those are the 4 Ls to live by and soar by and they are coming each week along with the Friday Food for Thought I share at work. Let me know if this is truly valuable to you, but also let me know if and how I can do better.

Love you guys, and thanks for learning and soaring with me, J

Here is the (now hilariously and painfully ironic) Friday Food for Thought my co-worker thanked me for Friday:

Be Real, Be Humble and Empower Others to Get Results

Over the last couple of months I’ve watched a group of teammates form a team and tackle an enterprise HR project utilizing the new model and all its strengths to create a truly impactful product!

One of the most remarkable things I witnessed through my lens as a “grizzled 20 year HR veteran” is that this team leveraged all the Boeing Behaviors along the way, led by an unlikely set of guides: an early career project manager, an external consultant and a brand new team member!

Although the project required a great deal of cross functional collaboration and expertise, there was no “grizzled veteran” at the helm of this ship. Sure, they brought a few of us along for the ride and they empowered their team to get things done, but they are the ones who steered the ship into the harbor, and they did it precisely from areas of strength that, without their courage, could have been some of their most vulnerable weaknesses – they led with trust, curiosity and humility every step of the way.

To be fair, I’m deliberately not calling out the name of the specific team here because this could describe any number of HR teams I have seen over the last several months, and all of these teammates of mine are fast becoming my heroes.

In an environment rife with change, they created an environment of inclusion and trust and they helped each other learn and grow. They respected the value of the differences on the team and leveraged those to deliver results.

So today’s Food for Thought will feature some wisdom and behaviors I’ve witnessed around empowering and delegating and it will feature this “not so hypothetical but representative” team along with one of the best teachers I have ever listened to on this topic : Craig Groeschel. Much of the Food for Thought below will come from Craig, so I shared some references below to give credit where credit is due.

Food for Thought Item 1 : Be Real and Be Humble to Get Results

Let’s start by examining this team I mention and one of the primary reasons I think they succeeded:

They were REAL

They remembered that they didn’t have to know it all to be great leaders! They were themselves. They got to know each other. They took time to build rapport with one another and with new team members. They laughed and joked all along the journey and shared their fears with one another as well as their triumphs.

Why does this make a difference?

People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.

Craig Groeschel

https://insite.web.boeing.com/culture/pi/784520-702771.jpg

Another reason they were successful was: they were humble and willing to accept that they were the guides not the hero– they assembled a team of subject matter experts and experienced people (aka some of the “grizzled veterans I mentioned) to be the team and bring their best ideas to the table:

Groeschel explains why this is so effective in this way :

We empower people through clarity and trust.

We must be clear on the what and the why, but not the how.

Trust those you empower with the how.

Clarity without trust produces fear and inaction. When you have clarity but no trust, you’re looking over shoulders and causing fear. You hold onto the things others could be doing instead. Fear can paralyze the people you’re trying to lead.

On the other end of the spectrum, trust without clarity produces work without direction. Your team members might be bought in, but they don’t know what to do. They’ll start doing things that might not be important or right. If you want to frustrate someone, give them freedom without direction. Clarity ensures that your team members’ work is aligned with your goals and mission. Your team will know that what they are doing matters. Trust is the necessary net that results in risk-taking.

When your team members have freedom to fail, they have freedom to experiment and don’t have to be perfect.

“Most leaders are trying to figure out the right strategy. The best leaders are obsessed with empowering the right people.”

“You can have control or you can have growth, but you can’t have both.”

“The best way to know if you can trust someone is to just trust them. Craig Groeschel

https://insite.web.boeing.com/culture/pi/784520-834324.jpg

Item 1 Food for Thought Questions:

  • Do we have an ownership problem? If every idea is your idea, your team is simply executing your vision. If they are part of process and bringing their ideas to the table, your team is more likely to embrace it as their own.
  • How can you ask more questions and provide fewer answers?
  • How can you provide clarity and trust the team to get the right answer even if you think you know that answer before they do?

Food for thought Item 2: Delegate and Empower Others

Sometimes, as leaders, we think there’s no way someone could do the job as well as we can.

Is that a leader’s mindset? No!

A leader says, “Eventually, the right person will do it better than I ever could!”

Most leaders delegate tasks. The best leaders delegate authority. Craig Groeschel

Are there other, real life examples of this we can look to?

One company that does an extraordinary job empowering their employees is Zappos. They tell their employees to provide the absolute best customer service—that’s the clarity. How their employees chase that mission that is up to the employees—that’s the trust. Some Zappos employees have felt so empowered, they:

  • Physically went to a competitor’s store to buy out-of-stock shoes for a customer.
  • Sent a free pair of shoes overnight to a best man who arrived at a wedding with no dress shoes.
  • Sent a customer flowers when they found out her feet were hurting after wearing Zappos shoes.

Does extending clarity and trust mean that your team members won’t make mistakes? Of course not! But it’s better to see aggressive, Boeing-Behavior-driven mistakes than passive, safe ones.

Be a leader who takes risks because you believe in your team enough to trust them with your values.

Item 2 Food for Thought Questions:

  • What are some decisions that only you can make?
  • Name at least three tasks or decisions you will delegate immediately.
  • What are three things you are doing now that you can delegate to someone on your team?
https://insite.web.boeing.com/culture/pi/784520-821065.jpg

Bringing it all together:

Start with yourself as a leader. Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I accept that I am a leader, even if I don’t have a formal title?
  • Do I need to motivate better?
  • Does my team have the resources it needs?
  • Do the team members feel valued? Appreciated?
  • Do I really believe I’m the only one who can do things right?
  • Am I threatened by (other) good leaders?
  • What needs to change in me to better trust my team?
  • Is the culture I influence around me empowering and healthy? Does it align to Boeing’s Behaviors and Values? If not, how can I change that?

Lastly, ask yourself : How can I take all the Food for Thought questions shared in this article into next week?

  • Into 2019?

What is one thing I can do different starting next week?

I hope you find this valuable, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, and remember, if for any reason you don’t find this helpful…it is all just Food for Thought.

Resources:

Creating an empowering culture part 1

Creating an empowering culture part 2

“The strength of your organization is a reflection of who you empower and trust.” Craig Groeschel

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Flocking around the Christmas Tree

So we bought this thing called a “flocked tree” and I was thinking…someday I would love to Meet the Flockers. Who are these people that put flock – some sort of glue like substance that mimics snow- on the trees? I decided to build a set of questions to ask about these mysterious creatures and the practice of flocking, should I ever get the opportunity:

  • Do you call a group of them a flock?

  • Do they toil, tirelessly, working day and night, i.e. do they flock around the clock?

  • If stores are sold out of these trees, does that mean people were flocking to buy them?

  • If they run out of material does that mean the flock was out of stock?

  • When the flockers leave work, do they have to flock out?

  • What about the security of their factory, do they have to lock the flock?

  • If I got a chance I’d like to ask them all kinds of other things about flock that I can’t post on here because of… well let’s just say I take no responsibility for other people’s flocking related imaginations.

Pepop: A Decorated Veteran of the Game of Life

Some months ago I wrote a story about my grandfather and how he taught me how to be full of CHIT: Curious | Humble | Intentional | Teachable. Today, I want to talk about this World War II veteran and how he has lived a life as a gritty hero, not just of World War II, but of the game of life.

I have seen the documents typed on an old-school typewriter by some nameless clerk, doubtless doing their duty for our country, the paper was worn, brittle,  once durable, once able to withstand being struck so hard by each off-kilter element of typeface, each record is an aging survivor of the decades stuffed in a drawer or filing cabinet God knows where:

Army of the United States: Honorable Discharge 552nd Bomb Squadron

Battles and Campaigns:  Air Offensive Europe, Central Europe, Normandy Northern France Rhineland

Decorations and Citations: European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal

Wilmerton (12)

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I recall looking at the bottom of the discharge papers and seeing the mark of this man I had seen on hundreds of other documents from checks to rental agreements, Dominick Demonaco, a signature etched by a much younger man who must have felt a huge relief that he would get to go home.  He must have been grateful as he signed that none of the bombs he attached went off when he was handling them, that none of the missiles intended for him and his buddies hit and that none of the planes that came in full of holes and live explosives, that forgot to drop when they were supposed to, put an end to both his military career and young life before victory was achieved and his good conduct medal was issued.

To add to our family’s honors, I also had an uncle, Rocco Margagliotti, that received both the purple heart and the bronze star for saving his captain at The Battle of the Bulge. He and my grandfather were best friends but they served in different parts of the war. They grew apart later in life due to family squabbles and drama and that is a shame as my uncle Rocky left us many decades ago.  I take solace in the fact that one day soon, Dom and Rocco will share a Miller High Life in Heaven together, and there shaking her head at them will be Rocky’s sister, my grandmother, Josephine or Jay Margagliotti Demonaco.

Thankfully, unlike the family of my Uncle Rocky, that day is not today and I still get to celebrate my full of CHIT Pepop on Veteran’s Day weekend and not Memorial Day.  I get to think back on his service to our country with pride and thank him for it.

I sure hope I don’t offend anyone, but that service is not the service I am MOST thankful for.

The service I am most thankful to Pepop for is the service to his family.  The way he got up every morning, put shoes that were often too tight and too worn on his broken and aching feet and went to work every day to help support his impoverished family.  I was lucky enough to live with this man, both when I was very little, as a teenager and again as a young adult.  I watched him hobble on those feet and go to physical jobs.  His work was so unlike mine, it involved driving, moving, hauling, standing for hours on end.  Every time he got up from his chair or bed, I heard him suck in a breath and utter a slight curse as his feet sought to betray him.  I also watched him as he walked to work later in life after his eyes gave out and he could no longer drive a beer truck or a garbage truck.  It was then that he embraced his true love (after my grandmother) to make a living, cooking.

Yet even that was a sacrifice, beyond the walking to work, when he arrived he worked for people who did not give him a raise in the decades he slaved in their kitchen.  He was made to pay for the pizza he brought home to us- the mere cost of ingredients to the owners – even on holidays.  Sometimes his employers would give him a free bottle of wine at Christmas as a bonus, but the rest of the time, it was pay as you go.  I saw him sacrifice another way too.  He had to save his creativity for home.  He can make a gravy or as you non-New York-Italians call it – spaghetti sauce- that was second to none, yet he had to make the sauce their way.  He had to make the sausage and peppers their way, and then hobble home and cook for us.

Years prior to his Italian restaurant job, his dreams for doing it “his way” were dashed when a failed attempt to relocate and reconcile with Rocky and start his own restaurant ended in further family separation, Soprano’s level Italian family infighting and the collapse of the former buddies’ business shortly after it started.  I think he tried to make a go of it alone and we basically ate all the profits even as he tried to serve New York Heros to Titusville, Florida’s former “what’s a hero?” sub with extra mayo eating public.

The amazing thing about my grandfather is that he took all this in stride. In times of distress, my grandfather is famous for his colorful phrases belted out in a half chuckle like :

ya’ sista’s a$$ !

ain’t dat som’ $hit? or

you gotta’ be kiddin’ me!?

Yes, that’s my Pepop, utter a curse and move on.  Thank God for what you DO have and move on. Dom is a study in both CHIT and grit. He even takes the same attitude when he talks about his time in the war.  No somber serious recollection of planes flying in with a live bomb hanging off a tattered wing, no urge to come in closer and listen to what he did to save the day.  Not my Pepop. When asked what he did in those situations he said, “we shit in our pants and prayed to God the damn thing wouldn’t blow us all to hell!” and he laughs as he says it.

If you want to hear Pepop’s voice and more stories about his growing up in the depression and WW2 here is a StoryCorp interview Dominick Demonaco my niece did with him.

Pepop got one of the first injuries to his feet as a teenager driving a milk truck in New York City.  When he was a teenager, they used giant blocks of ice to keep the milk cool and he dropped one of those mothers on his young foot! That is probably where all the cursing started and it never stopped! LOL! (oh…did I mention that he still lives on the second floor of his apartment building and walks to the store sometimes?) Dom went from delivering milk to delivering beer, attached and detached bombs somewhere in there, came back delivered more beer, drove a garbage truck as a teamster on Long Island.

He built a house on Long Island and moved his family out there when it was still considered “the country.” I have pictures of he and the family picnicking. My mom and triplet sisters and I moved into that house with my grandfather, my aunts and my uncle when I was a toddler and we lived there, with houses popping up all around us, but still adjacent to some woods, until I was nine and we attempted the failed reconciliation I mentioned above.

On the Space Coast of Florida, years before the first space shuttle launched, the reconciliation failed and the restaurant sank in the swamp but our lives as Floridians began.  Pepop left the Teamsters and never drove again.  Never went to test for his Florida license.  At that point, when he was close to my age as I write this, he said: “I’ve been driving all my life, I’m done.” From that moment forward he cooked and he walked. I’m 50 now. He worked well into 70s, well after he should have. He worked at several restaurants and he was beloved by his coworkers and known as a hard and dependable worker who made people laugh at each and every eatery, including the one that couldn’t spare the free pizza.  They love him too and he loves them, he celebrates occasions there sometimes to this day! Dom bears no grudge, he only holds only the memories of laughter and crazy times with them, that is who he is.

No matter his age, he never stopped taking care of those around him.  What is his is yours. Whether that is a roof over your head, food, money, time- he gives it. He is still doing it today, still helping the family when they need it in some of those same, often non-monetary ways. For a while it has been my turn to pay him back monetarily a little, I have sent him a small supplemental allowance twice a month, for many years now.  When I get a raise he gets a raise.  Every time I talk to him, we have the same ending to our short and sweet conversation- He says: “John thanks for all your doin’ I really appreciate it man” and I say “Peep-it is just my turn I could never do for you what you did for us.” I say “I Love You Peep” and he says “Take Care Kid” (which roughly translated means “I love you kid” in Brooklyn Teamsterize).

So forgive me if I am selfish and his being a veteran in service to this great country of ours is not what I am most thankful for this weekend nor any other weekend. I prefer to forgo celebrating only the good conduct medal and rather like to think of Peep also getting the Golden Spatula for Meritorious Service to his Family.

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Unsunk and unstuck: Open the door to more!

Have you ever heard of the sunk cost fallacy? If you click the link there is a neat infographic that explains it, but it is essentially this:

Time, money, energy, emotion or resources already spent and permanently lost. Sunk costs are past expenditures that are partially or totally irretrievable and, therefore, should be considered irrelevant to future decision making.

I am certainly no stranger to sunk costs.  I am the dude who spent 20 years of his career-defining himself as one kind of HR specialist, avoiding being a generalist at all costs, only to find himself more fully realized and innumerably happier teaching an army of generalists how to tackle projects.  I am also a guy who spent most of his life running away from faith and practicing how to be a cold, purely scientifically-driven agnostic only to find himself embracing faith and leading in a church in the second half of his life. I am the shy introvert who spent decades avoiding meeting new people who is now on a quest to bring people closer together and more in touch with who they were meant to be at work, in a church, and through this blog.

Consequently, I am familiar with the all-too-human traps around sunk costs! I once thought I had invested too much time into reading Richard Dawkins books to be a Jesus Follower or feeling like I built too much “company/career street cred” honing my HR expertise in staffing and workforce to become an HR portfolio manager.  I know the despair of waking up every day wanting to go back to my “simpler life” where I didn’t try to find people to connect with and in need of connection, where I didn’t have to write a blog every Saturday, when my investments were all sunk into just me and my immediate family and closest friends.

My friends, what I have now realized is that those sunk costs had me sunk!  I was drowning in them.  I was mired in a morass of my own self-absorption, intent on getting and keeping what was mine, whether that was a firmly held belief that I could think my way through life, intellectualizing my feelings and casting God and Spirit aside or nesting comfortably in repeating the same victory dance, over and over again, after bringing home one complex staffing or employee service project after another until they all started to blend together into one big, blurred and distorted image of myself as the staffing and services hero of the century.  Why shouldn’t I stay in this niche, after all this is what I am known for, this is what my reputation is built on?  I have all this heavy, artistic clear glass with writing on it on my desk-that must mean something right?! Something, yes…EVERYTHING-Wrong!

What I have now realized is that those sunk costs had me sunk!

In much the same way as my faith and career, my limitations in my relationships with others took on a similar, insular feel.  I have an incredible wife, great kids (the best in fact -sorry other husbands and fathers) and a fantastic family.  I have a few friends and mentors that have been with me since I was a messed up kid.  Why wasn’t that enough?  I had already sunk all that time and effort into making those friends and keeping the threads of my family together, so why should I expand my circle to other people?

This is precisely the kind of thinking that limits so many of us today, it is only exacerbated by social media and the ability to lose ourselves in entire weekends of streaming television and movies.  We choose to invest in the “select few” people we feel “most safe” around.  We deceptively fool ourselves into believing we have expanded our network by gathering surface deep friends on social media and we avoid connection by connecting to Netflix and Hulu. Don’t get me wrong I do all these same things and that is why I am so familiar with the temptation to be drawn into that world.  (In fact, I love to believe many of my freinds out there are much more than surface deep.) I am tempted every single waking hour to just lose my introverted self in the rich worlds of Instagram or Pinterest or soak in the endorphins and “feel good about myself| for all of my many connections measured simply by the number of likes I receive(d) on Facebook. My wife and I are known to suck on the sugary sweet lollipop of Hallmark movies too great excess.  It is so easy to disappear in nostalgia watching an 80’s or 90’s gorgeous TV star fall in love with an equally ravishing former star in a ridiculously luxurious setting, while they try to slide Apple product placements in under your mesmerized nose.  So I am not advocating abstinence. In fact, I would love it if you shared this blog with all your friends on all your social media outlets! (There are some Handy dandy links below. :)- )

A starvation diet from all these things is not what I am calling for.  What I am challenging you to do (if you recognize yourself in anything I am saying) is to balance your diet and add in some new things. I’m asking you to look around you at the doors you have left unopened.  Are you staying in the same job role at work way too long, leaving doors to other careers, companies or cultures that would be a better fit closed? Did someone invite you to an event and you refused to go so you could stay home, “Netflix” and eat a pizza? Did you say more than just “hi” to that person behind the deli counter at the grocery store or the DMV? Did you ask them how their day was? Maybe use their name?  Did someone invite you to church or youth group, but you were “washing your car or your hair” that day? Again, I’m not suggesting you turn your whole life upside down in a day or a week or a month. I’m asking you to open a door or two.

I’m inviting you to pay attention to the doors that are put in front of you, the ones that are begging to be opened.  Notice the bids for attention or emotional connection that people around you are making and respond to them! Engage in a conversation,  go to just one group meeting or event, take one step towards a new role in your career.  Let go of the sunk costs, release the anchor of what is holding you back.  You won’t regret it.  I promise you that what is waiting for you on the other side is better than you could ever imagine.  We are built to be connected, we are built to be in circles with other people and we are made to soar!

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P.S. (…I am serious about what I said above, someone asked me the other day if it was ok to share this-what? it is more than OK! Please share.  If you know anyone who would benefit from this blog, please share it using the links provided. I am writing this blog to reach you and other people like you so they can be inspired and encouraged to find Light and love, be better leaders and laugh in ways they may not have thought possible- so please share. If there are things about this that make you hesitate to share, let me know, I love feedback!)

What my grandfather taught me about being full of C.H.I.T.

There is a hilarious image I have in mind of a cartoonish, slightly more balding version of me, giving myself a Homer Simpson slap on the forehead and exclaiming “DOH!” as I think back on just how many things I got wrong as I was growing up.  For instance, one of the biggest realizations I’ve had is that my Pepop, my now ninety plus-year-old grandfather, was far wiser than I ever gave him credit for when I was a young man and a teenager.

I used to think when this balding, beer and garbage truck-driving, Brooklyn, NY, through and through, quintessentially Italian “welfare wop” (as some straight out of the Appalachian Trail mountain folks I used to know dubbed us), gave me advice, that he was a bit naive.  If I am being really honest, although I worshipped this man, occasionally, I thought that Pepop, who was a brilliant storyteller, was more full of “$hit” than he was CHIT (I’ll explain this acronym in a minute).  This was most true, one time when he gave me the following advice:

“Be average Johnny, don’t be no better than nobody and don’t be no worse”

I remember thinking, as a brash young person, that this meant he wanted me to be ordinary and not stand out or try to achieve great things.  My developing brain could not grasp what he meant as I helped him create garlic-filled culinary delights from my stove-side perch on the kitchen chair.  While I was always anxious to hear his advice, I didn’t listen as well as I could have.  Even as he would share his working man’s wisdom with me, I always had a good bit of my arrogant-“I’m gonna make it outta this hood” filter on.

That kind of chip develops early when you feel like your life is not as good as the one other people are living around you.  Your shoulder gets heavy at a young age when trapped in comparisons with the kids who have the trademark surfer wear and Levi’s and live in the middle-class neighborhood and you are wearing Salvation army clothes and helping your grandfather cook with salvaged veggies from the Publix dumpster across the street.

I now know that was all an unnecessary narrative I told myself in a vain attempt to be the hero of my own pity party story.  I now know that I had everything that was most important right there, exemplified in a man who worked his butt off to help us have a nice Sunday dinner and then came home and cooked it on Sunday with very few complaints and an abundance of joy and laughter.  I now know what he really was trying to tell me. Some of you may not follow Jesus, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that following Him has helped me figure this out, albeit much later than I would have liked.  Whether you agree that He is the answer or not, I hope you appreciate what I recently learned about how to encapsulate this learning from Northpoint ministries.  Here is my re-write of his advice with that knowledge and without the chip on my shoulder.

“Johnny -the key to life is to be full of CHIT at all times. Johnny be Curious, be Humble, be Intentional and be Teachable.” Don’t compare yourself to others.  Don’t try to outdo them.  Don’t think you are lesser than them.  Just be who you were created to be and love others as you would yourself along the way.

(oh…. and “pass me dat oregano,” this needs much, much, much more oregano, always more, never enough, like covering the top of the dark, rich red sauce in a pasture of green amount of the $hit.)

It is not easy to achieve and I fail at it every single day, but I believe it is inestimably worthwhile to try and assume this posture in life.  Are you full of CHIT? What steps can you take to be more full of this posture today? Tomorrow? All the days going forward?

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“Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoys its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”
‭‭James‬ ‭3:13-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Easter A to Z

Before I got past my biases of what Easter was about, it was just another holiday where I got to eat all my kids leftover chocolate. Now, I still dip into the chocolate, but I have a renewed way of looking at it.  I now have a new language for Easter.

Before I knew Him

Easter was

Allegory and ads

Baskets and bunnies

Cadbury and caramel

Dinners and doilies

Easter was

Easily effortless

Frivolously fantastic

Garishly gilded

Heavily homogenized

Impotently Impish

Justifiably juvenile

Easter wasContinue reading “Easter A to Z”

Recipe for a Hallmark movie

1 part 80’s or 90’s TV star – preferably B or C list (sometimes they double this)

1 part lovely single woman who has experienced tragedy, loss and/or heartbreak (or is just profoundly misunderstood by her current boyfriend who is either completely milk toast (or just mean to waiters)

1 part dreamy or dashing single dude who works as a carpenter, farm hand or country doctor (often he is a widower or has had his heart broken)

Mix briskly with sugary sweet dialog and a healthy dash of shameless product placement (Apple I’m talking to you)

Let it rise with a chance meeting, initially they never like each other much (but you can feel the romantic tension in the air)

After it rises, swirl in some extremely minor conflict, not so thrilling story twist and/or an old curmudgeon or sweet Aunt or Uncle character from a rival 80″s or 90s TV show meddling in the couple’s affairs

Bake it into a formulaic, completely predictably plot

After cooling, ice it with some flashbacks or clips of the torn and / or perplexed would be lovers anguishing over the temporary breakup/fight/contrived conflict

Serve with a happy and equally syrupy ending where they kiss/get married/ride off into the sunset while the uncle / aunt character cheers them on

This dish is best served with a compliment of Hallmark commercials that make you ball your eyes out even though you are a grown man and are only watching because you got sucked in by committing the crime of walking by the TV/laying in bed trying to go to sleep and/or wanting to spend time with your wife
Bon Apetit!!!

Better Together (ish) ??

stare

No Capes!

Have you ever found yourself at work, at home or in your community, trying to work through a problem or challenge, only to have someone swoop in, with their cape flapping behind them, and save the day?

Have you ever had a leader or manager like that? A parent? I bet we all have at one time or another. How did it make you feel? Empowered? Emboldened? Full of drive and energy to tackle the next big project? Probably not…

Or maybe, you are one of these caped crusaders? I know I am guilty of this more often than I care to admit. Do you have to be the hero, swooshing in to save the day each and every time, in every aspect of your life?

When I see this taking place, I shout in my head: “No Capes!” see the clip from “The Incredibles” movie, for an illustration of the disastrous effects of “cape wearing” from the people at Disney/Pixar.

I want to give you an interesting question to ask yourself if you (like me) sometimes practice this flawed approach: who are you NOT empowering while your cape is fluttering in the wind? Who is standing on the sidelines while you spike the ball in the end zone? Which of your employees just felt completely sapped of drive and energy as a result of your touchdown? Different way to view it, huh? If you are a leader who feels susceptible to this trap or knows one, a 360 degree assessment can help diagnose whether or not you have a blind spot in this area.

We like to tell ourselves stories.  We like to be the hero of those stories.  What we forget sometimes is that we sub-optimize the people around us with this behavior. We have to sometimes fold the cape up, send it to the dry cleaners, and let someone else get the kitten out of the tree, in order to fully engage and make self-accountable those around us.  Embarking on and investing in a deliberate strategy and plan for employee engagement is often the answer.

When we don’t, we risk burning out, we risk discouraging people..but mostly we risk failing to uncover what someone else has to offer and to multiply our organization’s effectiveness.

In his book, Predictable Success, Les McKeown, states that a culture of self- accountability is the single most powerful characteristic an organization can acquire to get and sustain a state of perpetual success and growth. When leaders shed their capes and let employees or teammates take ownership of their work, they create an environment where people are pulling together rather than one where they watch one person swoop in to push the boulder uphill by themselves.

What are some things you can do to make your organization or team more successful? Ask yourself: who am I leading that can take on more?  How can I equip them to take over some of what I am doing?  Or if that doesn’t seem like a fit, ask yourself how can I encourage them to take on something that they would be really good at, but might lack the confidence or permission to try?
Conduct an organizational and/or team assessment and see if you have any blind spots in these areas that might need to be addressed. Do it yourself with the myriad of online resources available or hire a consultant to come in, assess your group and provide a plan that retires the capes and empowers your people.
It is too easy to get trapped in our “incredible” story about ourselves and miss the “incredible” story someone else is waiting to tell. Often times, that someone, is likely right next to us, waiting for us to empower them to soar! Our organizations are waiting for us to save them by, putting on our coaching caps, shedding our capes and leading them to new levels of success!

 

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