Monthly Archives: September 2015
“You always put a positive spin on a situation. Why do you do that?”
Joel, my LifePlan facilitator posed that question to me. That question caught me off guard a little bit.
“Umm…I responded. It’s just who I am. I don’t dwell on the negative aspects of life. I feel like I can see through the challenges for the beauty that’s in them.”
In my head, I was contemplating, “Isn’t that a good thing?”
Admittedly, I was a bit perplexed by his question and honestly, I’m still exploring that question. Positivity is a trait that family, friends and colleague have described me by. My pride in that probably comes into play.
Fast forward to today, as I am reading Matt Ham’s book, Redefine Rich: A New Perspective on The Good Life. Matt digs into four principles that are represented by the letters in rich. The first one is Recognize Your Broken.
This particular principle causes me to pause. Even after reading the chapter about brokenness, something is whispering to me to “keep exploring” this principle. What does it mean for me? Why am I caught up on it?
Here’s a peek inside the book and Matt’s thoughts on brokenness.
“This process of understanding brokenness is necessary to obtain the outcome of living richly. In fact, I think we need to work on being broken as a way to grow….Here’s the tension. The world says, You aren’t broken; you’re fine. It’s just a phase.”
Here’s what I do know, I pursued and experienced my LifePlan experience with Joel because I was broken. That has been truth that I’ve known for months now and is outlined on my blog here. It makes sense that I was broken prior to LifePlan, particularly if you look into my root system. That was a past that included an absentee father addicted to drugs. It included verbal abuse where I was consistently told that I was selfish for pursuing goals and constant attacks behind closed doors and in public on my character. I had mentors, but I lacked a consistent guide in life. Thus, I navigated life internally and did the best I could, but it did leave me with misplaced self worth.
But, what about now? Am I still broken? After all the discoveries? Even though I have appropriate placed self worth? Even though my level of content is far beyond what it was a year ago?
There’s a small whisper in me that says a gentle “yes….”
I’m also hearing…
“Here’s the tension. The world says, You aren’t broken; you’re fine. It’s just a phase.”
“You always put a positive spin on a situation. Why do you do that?”
So, what is still broken? Is brokenness a big ginormous elephant in the room that can’t be ignored or can be a small aspect of your life that is broken that prevents complete richness? If so, what is that for me? Does it lie in a choice I’ve made? Am I living life on my terms, not society’s? Am I truly pursuing my passion? Is there a lie I’m still telling myself?
What I do know about brokenness is this. It’s a pursuit, one that I might have thought ended with LifePlan, but perhaps it never ends. Life is challenging and there’s likely always going to be lies that we hear and believe. Maybe the pursuit of overcoming brokeness is always there?
My first inclination is to deny that. I find little value in getting caught up in obstacles in life. But, that’s not what I’d be doing, is it? I would simply be defining the broken aspect and overcoming.
Are you broken? Do you understand that brokenness? Who can you seek out to help you navigate that?
The power of learning how to lead oneself is powerful beyond measure.
As a part of Chris LoCurto’s LifePlan process, you look at your root system. This a journey back in time where you examine those factors in your life, particularly in your childhood, that has led to who you are today. It’s impact on your perspective is immense and allows you to continuously dig deep into the “why’s” of your life.
As I navigate the waters of leadership, I am defining what leadership means to me. I’ve learned it is vital to explore one’s own definition of leadership, because the only leader I could possibly be successful at is the one that uses my unique talents and gifts. Leadership cannot always be defined by a pre-determined list of qualities. Take a listen to Marcus Buckingham refer to this in an EntreLeadership podcast.
I found myself looking into my root system to understand the type of leaders that lies at the heart of who I am.
My childhood lacked a consistent strong role model in regard to growth and improvement. I was raised in poverty. With an absentee father whose main committment was to drugs, and a home life that had dysfunction, I was left to find my own resources for navigating life. I sought those out in the forms of books and mentors and they did indeed play a key role in my life. At the end of the day, though, I was left to the thoughts in my own head to be able to break the chains of poverty–both the financial chains and the mindset shackles.
Ultimately, I had to lead myself to break free of those chains.
As an impressionable teenager, I had to…
Recognize when my actions didn’t line up with my professed values.
Seek out knowledge on psychology, sociology and emotional intelligence.
Be courageous as I took on navigating life on my own.
See the mindset that was facilitated in me and recognize I had the power to change that.
Dismiss the lies in my home that attacked my character and self-esteem.
Push away the thoughts that my circumstances defined me.
If we pinpointed the one thing that allowed me to mature past the mindset in my root system, it would be the fact that I led myself.
Fast forward to today. Can I now use this mindset of leading myself to become a better leader? Absolutely! It’s my strength. It’s second nature to me because I’ve had years of life experiences in leading myself.
Now, I will say that all leaders should be leading themselves. I’m not unique in that. I’m just unique in that my root system, and the necessity that I lead myself to overcome it, positioned me to have this be one of my greatest advantages as a leader.
I an not at all saying leaders should only look within themselves when leading others. However, if a leader can truthfully face their root system, digging through all the positives and negatives of that, and become a better version of themselves…I guarantee you, their tribe will respect, trust and follow them with no hesitation. And, they will position themselves to be the authentic leader that can make a difference in the lives of others.
So, for me, leadership defined, begins with “someone who can lead themselves.”
“I want to master life.”
That’s what I told my LifePlan facilitator. As the words came out of my mouth, there was a nagging thought that said “that’s not true.”
It wasn’t until today, after reflecting on a stressful week last week, that I realized how I needed to shift that mindset.
It’s three months post-LifePlan for me. I’ve been reflecting on my the event and my LifePlan, self-assessing where I’m at. The truth is I’m flawed and some weeks I do better than others. Work demands led me to putting in a lot of hours last week, at the cost of exercise and other things that refuel me like reading and writing. We dove into a weekend with a full schedule. Saturday night hit and I was spent. I hit my point where stress was allowing victim thoughts to enter my thought pattern.
I intentionally did three things that changed that.
I flipped through Rory Vaden’s book, Procrastinate on Purpose. I read these words.
- You need to free yourself of the need to feel like you have to be everything to everyone.
- You have to let go of the absurd idea that you owe everyone an explanation.
- You have to learn to flat out Ignore certain things.
- If the only reason you are doing something is because you feel obligated just because someone asked you to do it–don’t do it.
I was busy at the time, in the midst of “finally” doing duties around the house (something I had neglected throughout the week). But, I put these thoughts in the back of my head.
I listened to Michael Hyatt’s podcast, “How to Finally Achieve Work Life Balance” during an early morning run.
I was reminded of what this means to me…my belief that work life balance is living out my values. Honesty with myself, led me to admit that I didn’t live out my values last week by neglecting being a good steward with my physical health and allowing work to consume me. (Which caused frustration with myself because in LifePlan I said my number one thing that caused me to put my breaks on in life is my health–when I’m not taking care of myself, everything suffers). Granted, there were things with work that had to be done, but I was not strategic enough in setting up my schedule in the first place.
The most important intentional move I made of the weekend….saying no to some things Sunday afternoon that were not priority (despite the fact that they felt demanding) and I retook control of my life–control I had given away. I put on my running shoes and hit the asphalt. I came home and prepared healthy lunches for the week. And, I spent some time alone refueling. Did that mean I didn’t get work done? That is true. But, my mindset is healthy and ready to take on the week. And, I’m no longer a victim.
As I mowed the yard Sunday evening, it hit me. What I said in LifePlan was wrong. I don’t want to master life. I can’t control “life” as I had it defined in that statement–outside influences.
I want to master me.
Because here’s the thing. We are human. We are flawed. We become stressed. We are challenged. We even sometimes have to fight a victim mindset. But, we have so much more power than we claim to. We have power over our thoughts. We have power over our victim mentality (even in the midst of stress, which is when it creeps in on me). We determine our actions. We have the power to shift our mindset.We have the power to live our values.
We have the power to master ourselves.
It was time to go to the doctor. His eyes were red. His nose was a faucet and the sneezing was continuous. My son, Jonas, had never had allergies before, but clearly something was going on. Despite it all, he was his typical happy-go-lucky self. As we approached the desk of the receptionist, I didn’t get a warm and comfy feeling. I got a terse “Who are ya seeing?” I heard a huff and a puff as she pecked at the keyboard. And then Jonas looked at her with his red poofy eyes and light-hearted spirit and smile and said “What’s your name?” This changed her world. She replied with her name and it was as if she snapped back into reality. She admitted she wasn’t feeling good and that was the first time she smiled all day. She thanked Jonas.
One moment. One simple question. One simple smile. (Okay, and maybe the dimples on a two-year-old, curly-haired blonde). But, ultimately, it was one human yearning for connection and reaching out in a way that altered the other’s day.
What we say and do matters.
I began reflecting on my own life. Are there moments in time where time stood still for just a moment because someone impacted me in a small, but profound way. Sure, there were times like that. Here’s one of many:
“I am proud of you,” was not a phrase I heard often. Because of the root system of those around me, I really was left to navigate through ups and downs of high school and life by myself….along with a key mentor, my coach. Because I was immature, lacked guidance from home in how to navigate through life, and still hadn’t shifted my mindset to be completely healthy yet, I struggled through high school basketball, even considered quitting at one point. Through discussions with my coach/mentor, I battled through and got a taste of parental guidance. Following the last basketball game of the season, I was walking to the bus for the return ride home. My coach caught me, looked me straight in the eye and with such conviction said “I am proud of you.” I can still feel to this day, the feeling I had from those five words.
Then, I started thinking, how have my words and actions impacted others in my life? Here’s a couple that come to mind.
- In college, I was a sports and news reporter for the local paper. At the time, I was thinking I was going to be a high school teacher and softball coach. I began writing a sports editorial for our paper. Looking back, that was about me. I wanted to share some thoughts and knowledge about the subject. I wondered if people would read my stuff and what they would think. And, one day, I received a three-page hand-written letter from a coach who had retired from the local school district. He replied to much of what I had written in my editorials and then thanked me. My writing was rekindling something in him that was his passion and he was connecting with it again. My editorial was not just about me.
- I used to coach a competitive softball league for high school girls. One of my parents, out of the blue one day approached me and said thank you. I assumed it had to do with coaching her daughter, but it did not. “Thank you for all the running you do. You inspire me and now I am running, too, and I feel great!” She went on to explain that she would see me out running through our small town, which in turn caused her to do some reflecting on her life. I thought my running was just about me. It was not.
Here’s what I know to be true. Our words and our actions, impact others.
That makes sense right? It doesn’t take much to understand that.
But, here’s the thing…
What if we lived every day, every moment knowing that our words and actions impact others in profound ways?
Would we change how we walk? What we say? Whether we smile at others? Whether we call someone by their name? Whether we lace up our shoes and get outside to run? Whether we express gratitude to others? Whether we extend grace? Etc, etc, etc.
Your life matters. It matters every second. And, not just for you. It’s about you, but it’s also bigger than you.