Photo Friday: Overwelmed

Alain_Delorme_totem_bikes_008

Here is a picture of a gentleman who is convinced that one trip is much better than four! Do you feel a little like this guy? Carrying the weight of the world on your back?

Trying to be supermom, superdad, superfriend, superemployee…

The fact is: This never really works! There are consequences. You will suffer from problems like health issues. You will sacrifice other things like time with your loved ones. And many other things that are very important.

So why do we do it? Why do we take on so much stuff ourselves? Why can’t we give it up?

Generally its plain and simple pride and control. We can’t let someone else take care of things. Can’t give it up. Your convinced that you are the only one that can do it right. Can’t take our hands off the wheel and let go. You feel like disaster will happen if you don’t steer things in the right direction.

The fact is: It’s your problem.  Don’t blame it on everyone else. You are the only one that can fix this.

Say no sometime.  Off-load some stuff.  Learn to delegate.  Let others take over.  Let things run by themselves. It will be ok. The world will keep spinning. Your life will be better. You’ll see!

Don’t Lose The War!

You probably have heard the expression- “don’t win the battle and lose the war”. I think this result happens more than we want to admit. And when we lose the war, it can really hurt and cause pain. You forget to look beyond the immediate to see the long term consequences.

coffee cup

There has been a discussion recently on the effectiveness of the War on Poverty started in the Johnson administration fifty years ago. Despite the efforts to wipe out poverty, the overall statistics have not changed much- still about 15% of the population in the US are still at the poverty level. Regardless of the discouraging statistics, I know that there are also real success stories of how government assistance has pulled families up and allowed them to prosper. Yet, there has been a great and unexpected consequence that is far more damaging than the monetary pain.

The assistance has lead to real damage to the family structure in the inner city.

Kathy and I have been working in inner city ministries for many years and we have witnessed this first hand. We see single mothers with large families- sometimes 6 and 8 children. On the street they call this “getting papers” which is getting assistance based on supporting children. This assistance has promoted children born to homes without fathers, families or resources. With the available assistance, the mothers receive more money if they have more children. We see houses loaded with kids. However, in my own neighborhood it is rare to see a home with more than two children. It’s completely backwards. And these inner city kids have a very, very tough future. And the dependency grows and self-perpetuates.

With the assistance, men and families are essentially let off the hook. They feel little responsibility for the support of the children. “Let the government take care of them.” Other programs lead to the ability to distance yourself from family responsibility. Social Security disability is another example. In the past, when a family member became disabled, the family would rally around this person, help them and support them. Now, we let the government take care of them.

So what’s the message in all this? Should we be callous and cruel? Should we freeze-up in our decision making due to unintended consequences? Here is what I think can be learned:

Good ideas are not always good! There are great pragmatic ideas that are not practical or have unintended consequences. Don’t let the “good” sounding option cloud your rational decision making. Consider all sides, think of the future and any potential and unintended consequences. Like the description above, the consequences can actually be more damaging than the immediate problem. If you have a fight in the bread line and someone gets badly hurt then the hunger would have been a lesser problem- right?

Don’t be afraid to make changes along the way! We see programs go on and on that are not really effective. Why is this? I think part of this is a result of dependency but even larger is the fact that someone has their name on it. You have to admit that it’s not working. You have to admit that it’s broken. Sometimes its just pride or politics. Have the courage to admit that it’s not working and fix it!

Nothing has to last forever! If the concept has run it’s course then let it die. Yes, it will be painful to let it go. We tend to get attached to things. They become part of our identity. Be objective and evaluate and let it die if it is no longer effective.

The truth hurts! It can be difficult to deliver the bad news. When a project goes astray and you have bad things happen, the party is over! Many of us do not like to be the voice of reason. We want to stay on the sunny side of life. Let someone else be the bearer of bad news. In order to be a good steward of limited resources you have a responsibility to evaluate things for efficiency. Do the right thing and tell the truth- even if it hurts!

Leaders are empowered to make decisions and we must be objective and consider all of the consequences. I hurt for our friends downtown. They are struggling in many ways due to faulty unintended results and an unwillingness to make tough changes. The human cost of this is staggering. We continue to dig a hole that only gets deeper. Don’t do it! Consider all the consequences for your decisions and be willing to make the tough changes when necessary.

Win the war- people are counting on you!

Have you been the victim of unintended consequences? Have you seen the pain that results from the aftermath? Click on Leave a Comment and tell me your story!

Copyright © 2014. Leading by Serving- Leadership is for Everyone!. All rights reserved.

There is no safety in safety

I have been confronted recently with the reality that safety is really an illusion.  We gather, save, protect, reinforce, double up, and anticipate in an effort to be safe and secure.  Yet, with all our planning and protecting- life will still throw the curve ball at us.

Africa 2009- Sunset on the Zambezi River

Africa 2009- Sunset on the Zambezi River

I have a friend who just found out her mom has cancer…again.  She fought breast cancer years ago and she just found out that its back.  I’m sure her mom has “insurance”.  So what?  Does health insurance, life insurance, annuities, trusts, or savings really help her situation much? She still has cancer.  And it hurts.  Really bad.

So what if you just said- the heck with it!  Live for the day and worry about the problems later.  Irresponsible would be the typical response- right?

I remember hustling downtown to an inner city friend’s house to make a meeting after work.  I was late.  Crazy busy day.  Continual chaos, giant problems and burning wreckage- the day of the construction manager!   Driving into the neighborhood, I immediately see life.  Men relaxing playing checkers on the porch laughing and enjoying the day.  I see a woman talking with her neighbor smiling and enjoying the company.  Kids playing outside with their siblings.  These are people we would say are “in need”.  So who is really the smart one here?  The folks in the neighborhood have little “safety”, however, many live with less stress, less clutter with stuff, and have the opportunity to enjoy a simpler life.

So where are you?  Are you on the porch enjoying the beautiful day or are your running 100 miles per hour trying to save, store and protect?  Are you filling up barns or living life to the full?

Here are a few ways to regain some REAL safety in your life:

Quit your job!  I read recently that the worst thing that you can do for your health is to sit at a desk all day long.  Maybe its time to abandon the big career dream that may be slowly killing you?  Go back to something that makes less money that you enjoy and keeps you more active.

Sell your house!  How much does a four bedroom house weigh?  I think most breadwinners would be able to tell you.  Trying to provide the “dream” is a tremendous thing to carry.  Maybe its time to downsize to something more manageable?

Dump the assets!  Put your money into building the next generation.  Start a trust, pour into young people, give until it hurts.  With wealth comes responsibility and headaches.

Don’t store up stuff!  We are brainwashed consumers who are obsessed with buying things on sale.  We eat way too much.  Food gets old and spoils.  Buy fresh food as you need it and eat healthy.  Buy organic when you can and use the higher food cost as portion control.  Live simply and stay away from the mall.

The pursuit of wealth and safety can cost you your life.  REAL life.  It’s not worth it.  Take care of your body.  Don’t dwell on the accumulation of stuff and live a life free of clutter.  Gather things that matter- friends and family.  Dump the junk that holds you back.  We start with nothing and leave with nothing.  Store up YOUR treasure in heaven!

Do you have strategies to simplify and streamline your life to give you real safety?  Do you think I’m crazy?  Click below on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!

Copyright © 2013. Leading by Serving- Leadership is for Everyone!. All rights reserved.

Do The Work!

Years back, Kathy and I visited my Grandfather when he was sick in the hospital and his health was failing.  During this visit, my Grandfather was of good energy and he shared a quick snapshot of his life and some of his best life lessons.  One thing that he shared was that he believed that you really only have until a child is eight years old to mold them and teach them to behave and be a good and successful citizen.  After they reach eight years old, he believed, you now have a small person who has essentially figured out the world and changing them is very difficult.  Kathy and I were young when this conversation took place and we were in the process of raising our kids.  I am thankful for the advice.  While we were young, we took child raising very seriously.  We disciplined when it was necessary and taught our children to behave, get along with others and excel in their work.  We were not perfect but worked hard at it.  It’s not easy and you can get lazy sometimes.  But with children, you have to do the work!

Morning 004

I have often said that it would be great if they gave you an Owner’s Manual when you leave the hospital.  But instead you are handed this amazing miracle of life all wrapped up in a blanket and off you go!  You may have some babysitting experience and you will certainly get lots of advice from your family on what you’re “supposed to do”.  And… you are likely equipped with the life baggage of knowing what not to do.  And you are way young and just trying to process everything and figure it all out.

You absolutely want the best for your kids.  That is a given.  So what does that look like in the inexperienced parent’s mind?

  1. Provide For Your Family:  I work really hard to give my children the things that they need.  I spend much of my time on my career and work really hard to give them financial security.  Is that what they need or do they need you to spend more time with them?  Is money the best thing you can give your child?
  2. Be Their Friend:  I want to spend every minute that I can with my child and I keep them connected at my side at all times.  Is this providing an environment where you are teaching, leading and parenting or are they really just filling a need that you have?  Have you noticed serious separation anxiety when you leave your child with someone else?
  3. Wrestling Buddy:  I want my boy to be a man and be good at sports so I love to wrestle with him.  Is this really something he needs or is it something you need?  Are you raising up a little bully by getting him “toughened up”?
  4. No Daycare For Me:  I don’t want my child to be watched by anyone else but me.  I don’t trust others- I have had bad experiences in the past.  Is this really a good thing?  Are there social skills that your child may be missing by isolating them from other kids?  Do they know how to interact with other kids?  Can they share toys and play with other kids?
  5. He’s A Good Kid:  My child is a good kid so it’s OK to give him what he want.  If he wants chicken nuggets every night of the week that’s OK as long as he is being quiet and not misbehaving.  So who is eventually going to tell them no?  Who is going to erect boundaries?  Who is the boss?  Too tired is not an excuse here.
  6. We Are Always On The Move:  My kids love visiting others and being up late.  They are used to eating on the run.  They love the adventure!  Really, kids like structure.  They need a schedule.  They want to know the rules and what is expected.  They need sleep.  They need to be able to process what’s going on.  They need calm and normal.
  7. I Never Spank My Child:  My kids don’t need punishment.  They are different than the other kids.  Are they learning that there are consequences for their actions?  Although you may be against spanking, are you teaching your children that bad behavior can lead to big trouble in later years?

Raising children is hard.  It is a full time job.  You must fight the urge to get lazy.  Children are like clay when they are young.  Yes, I believe they are born with unique characteristics, but kids need leadership, structure, direction and boundaries.  They do not do well in chaos.  They need to figure out what the world is all about and chaos does not provide the framework for growth and understanding.

Have you ever considered what a child learns in the first two years?  They are like little sponges.  So what are they learning?  Are they learning that there is order to the world?   Are they learning about authority?  Are they learning about consequences?  Are they learning how to interact with other kids?

I know this.  Good parenting does not come easy.  When done correctly, it will be the most fulfilling project you will ever undertake.  It’s a long and tiring process.  But just remember- you have to do the work!

So what do you think?  Do you have any good parenting advice?  Please press comments and tell us your story!  

Copyright © 2013. Leading by Serving- Leadership is for Everyone!. All rights reserved.

The Cliff

We have been going through some legal issues at work regarding a project that we built several years back.  The process of dealing with this has been very time consuming and stressful.  Watching the legal system in action has provided me with a better understanding of the close relationship between lawyers and insurance companies.  Unfortunately, what I have observed has not been flattering for either party, and I am still trying to sort out the dynamics of the relationships and connections.  I’ll leave this for a potential post later…

Wikipedia

El Capitan- Wikipedia

So, during the process of legal maneuvering on this case and through a very strange and unusual turn of legal events, we reached a point that could have resulted in a real catastrophic event.  We felt like we were on the brink of disaster- ready to go over the cliff!  The events leading up to this point were crazy, but what happened next brought on the point of this post.  In the very darkest moment, when all parties could see the horror of where we were heading, they all got serious and settled the case.  Up to this point it was really just going through the motions- letting everything just run its natural course.  When it got to the point of becoming a nuclear event, then and only then, did we see real action.

This is not the first time I have seen this happen.  Why do we do this?  Why does it take something terrible and catastrophic before we properly address an issue that isn’t just going to go away?  Have you experienced something similar?  Do you have something that could look like the cliff if you fail to take it seriously?

It could be an addiction?

It could be your finances?

It could be an inappropriate relationship?

It could be your health?

All of these and many more situations have the potential to really blow up in your face.  Here are a few strategies that can help you can avoid the cliff:

  1. See things for what they are.  If you find yourself trying to manage a bad situation instead of seeking a final solution you are playing with fire.  And you will likely get burned.
  2. Keep your lights on high beam.  Look down the road and try to see where you are heading.  Consider the future consequences if you fail to deal with the situation now.
  3. Avoid rationalization.  If you find yourself making excuses for what is occurring, its likely there is something that you are trying to bury.
  4. Don’t isolate yourself- get help.  Seek out a friend that you trust who can give you advice and walk with you as you address your issue.  You may also want to seek counseling or engage a professional who is experienced in dealing with your problem.
  5. The longer you wait the harder it will be.  The deeper you progress in your problem the more difficult and complicated it becomes to get untangled and free.  Face your issue and deal with it.  The sooner the better.

Once you go over the cliff your life will be changed forever.  You will have to pay some serious consequences for your actions or inaction to deal with your problem.  Are you ready to face your situation?  Is there someone that you love that is heading towards the cliff?  Maybe this is your call to help them!

Why do we wait to be confronted with the cliff before we decide to take action?  Please click on Comment below and give me your take!