The F Word

When I was in high school I remember sitting frozen by the phone thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

Would I be rejected?  

Would she laugh at me?  

Would she make me feel foolish?  

Would everyone hear about it and think I was crazy?

Was I overstepping my boundaries?

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Sometimes I just couldn’t pick up the phone.  I tried to overpower the thoughts that I had, but sometimes they just won.  I wasn’t good enough.  What was I thinking?  She is way out of reach for me.

I was strangled by the F word.  FEAR.

Now as I look back at it- what is the worst thing that could happen?  She says no.  There may be some laughter and maybe I was overstepping.  Yet, I will never know because I didn’t try.  The F word.

Fear is powerful.  Yes, I am a man and I have been afraid and ducked out plenty of times in my life.

When I should have moved forward.

When I should have taken the chance.

When I could have stepped out and made a difference.

What does the F word do?  Let me give you a few of the finalities of fear.

You Freeze:  Fear stops you from making a decision.  You stop.  And while you are stopping, the rest of the world is moving.  You loose your advantage.  You are now looking from behind.

You Miss The Boat:  Opportunities are an instant.  A moment in time.  When you decide to wait or you decide it’s too risky, the opportunity is gone.  Things change.  You can’t go back to that spot.  It’s gone, quite possibly forever.

You Determine The Outcome:  If you fail to act you know what will happen.  Nothing.  You have decided it.  Maybe that’s what you want.  Maybe the risk is too high.  But one thing for sure,  It’s done.  If you choose to risk the outcome might be good.  Choosing not to risk decides the answer.

Often the root of a failure to act can be traced to pride.  I never loose.  I always come out on top.  What would everyone think if I actually failed?

Yet failure is actually healthy.  It doesn’t feel good when you are in it, but I have learned some of my greatest life lessons through failure. So what do you really learn in failure?

You learn that the sun will rise the next day.  You find out that the people that really love you are still there.   You find out that the F word is mostly in your head.  You find out that faith is the thing that allows you to risk.  Faith in yourself.  Faith in your family.  Faith in a Father who loves you no matter what!  Fear is a product of the enemy.  An old scheme he uses to take away your power.  A way to neutralize you in the spiritual battle that is going on around us.

So what are you going to do?  Are you going to crumble and let the F word decide for you and make your final decision OR will you fight through it and go for it!  Do something risky.  Do something big.  Shake off the F word, have faith and trust in yourself!

So what do you think?  Have you had times when you were overcome with fear?  Have you failed to act because of fear?  What do you do the beat the F word?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

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Power Shortage

“Nobody will ever love you quite the way you want them to.  You just have to let them do their best.”

 

I saw this quote on Reddit the other day and it really hit me hard.  We really are selfish in everything- even in the way we are loved by others!

Why would I expect someone to love me just the way I want to be loved?

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Let’s face it- we are not mind readers and we are all wildly different.  And this does not even address the gender and role differences!  Yet through all of this, I can get to a place of feeling completely misunderstood.  I can sink into this feeling that folks just don’t really care about my desires, my feelings, my happiness.  I’m sure that I’m not alone.

Yet- How could they know?

I believe you can and should know how someone wants to be loved.  The problem is that we tend to default to loving others the way we want to be loved.  If you like words of affirmation, then you assume that everyone else values this action in the same way you do.  If its gifts or money, you are convinced that all you need to do is buy something for them.

 I believe this is also true for managing people.  You can’t expect that a “one size fits all” view of wants and needs is realistic.  I struggle with managers who are one dimensional in their approach to managing and motivating others.  So what do you do as leaders to love better?  How can you make your team feel truly loved and appreciated?  Here are a few hints!

Go Deeper:  If you are seeking to build strength in your team you must work to build a stronger relationship.  This takes risk.  You have to be willing to get past the surface and go deeper.  Lower your guard.  Find out what they are struggling with.  Find out what brings them joy.  By building your relationship, you will strengthen trust and understanding.  You will be able to tap into what truly motivates them.

Be a Noticer:  Watch for hints and feedback that give you a window into the person’s values and priorities.  I am always amazed how some folks can spend a large portion of their lives with someone and still not really understand them.  Be observant and get your mind off of yourself, the money, the day to day junk, the crisis of the day…and truly look at others on your team.  Simply watching and listening can provide you with a huge amount of information about others and allow you to connect with the things that are important to them.  The things that give them self worth and value.

Ask Questions:  Instead of barking out the orders and moving on, ask questions.  Engage your team members in meaningful dialogue.  Ask them for their opinion.  Make them part of the bigger story that you are trying to tell your customers and clients.  When you get your team involved, you are placing value on their opinions and their worth to you and the company.  You are acknowledging their expertise.  Ask them what they want, what they desire, where they see their role.

Gosh- such simple stuff but really powerful!  If you treat your team as if you don’t really care for them- how do you expect them to care for you and your companies goals?  Should you love your employees?   Yes- absolutely.  Should you try to give them what they want?  Yes- absolutely.  Should you make them feel part of the bigger picture?  Yes- absolutely.

If you give marginally to your team you will get marginal results back.  Is that what you want?  Not me.  Life is too short for a mere passing grade.  Get to really know your people and give them what they need.  Need a new jolt of power in your business?  The power is in loving well!

 

Living the Adventure

Last Sunday night, my wife and I went to a party at a friends house.  It was a cool night, at least by North Florida standards.  The house had a great outdoor patio with brick walls and garden areas.  In one corner of the patio was a firepit that turned out to be a very popular spot.  I settled into a comfortable couch next to the fire- I knew I wasn’t moving.  The only distraction was that the fire was a bit smoky.  I knew my jacket would need a wash when I got home.  I was comfortable and drifted away in conversations about books, travel and the restaurant business.

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After about an hour, my friend Ron joined us.  Ron was just beaming.  Ron is generally a positive and upbeat guy but today he was particularly aglow. 

“Ron you look great”, I commented.  He proceeded to update me on what he was up to.  He told me that he was painting (artist) again and that he was really enjoying it.  Ron told me that he has been waking up each morning and having coffee with Jesus before he starts his day.  He also told me that he was feeling good physically.  Ron and I often trade bad back stories as we both suffer from back pain from time to time.  Normal type chit-chat until he made this statement: 

“Joe, everyday I wake up and I look for an adventure each day.” 

He proceeded to tell me about a clerk that he friended who has children and is struggling to make ends meet and how he has been helping her and encouraging her.  He shared stories of how he has been buying the book “Love Does” by Bob Goff and giving away copies to friends and folks that he meets along the way during his adventures.  All along, I couldn’t help but see the delight in his face. 

Ron could easily stay secluded in his world.  Ron is semi-retired and lives by himself.  He could be lonely and bored.  But Ron chooses the adventure.  Ron knows that the world is built on relationships and service.  Ron is not afraid to make the introductions- he has seen how it works!  Ron is not satisfied to stay inside of himself.  He seeks the adventure.  And it has made all the difference.

So how can you live the adventure life?  Here are a few ideas:

Dump the Routine:  Look at ways that you can do things differently.  We are such creatures of habit and efficiency.  Yet, do you want to live an efficient life or a life of fullness and adventure?  Mess with your schedule a bit.  Leave early for work and relax a bit when you get there.  Try new restaurants, new music, new places.  Get out of the rut!  When you change things up you will see opportunities for new relationships, skills and service.

Slow Down:  When you are always in a hurry the world is travelling at the same speed.  Slow down and give yourself time to really see what is going on around you.  I guarantee you will be surprised.  I am often the worst offender of this.  I am so tuned in to speed and efficiency that it really hurts to slow down sometimes.  Yet, I know I have to.  When I am operating at warp speed, I am missing- not gaining.  Tunnel vision will not allow you to see the opportunities to enjoy life and serve others that are all around you.

Be Observant:  By learning to be observant, you will also begin to see opportunities for fun and learning.  You must learn to really look deeper.  Additionally, there are often clues that identify the need for service to others.  It could be a simple frown or some tattered clothing that gives you a glimpse of the trouble that exists.  These clues can be subtle and the ability to see within someone often takes some practice.  You will not always get it right and you may be rejected.  As you hone your skills, you will get better and you will begin to see the impact of careful observation on your life.

Take a Risk:  Adventure and risk go hand in hand, right?  We understand risk in terms of jumping out of a plane, yet we generally don’t get the connection between adventure, risk and relationships.  In order to be allowed into a persons life, someone has take the first step which involves risk.  Simple small talk will provide only the superficial- to get deeper you need to be prepared to ask the risky questions.  Yes, you may get rejected.  However, when the time is right, they will let you in.  And when they do it is beautiful– even if the story is messy.  Now you can serve.  Now you can make a difference.  Now your day has adventure!

Are you tired and bored?  You don’t need an expensive vacation to add adventure in your life.  The world is happening all around you.  Are you going to slow down, change things up, and look for opportunities to make a difference?  Living the adventure.  It’s waiting for you!  

What are some ways that you have found that have added excitement into your life?  Are you ready for some new excitement?  Click on comments and let me know what you think!

4 Tips To Avoid A Freeze-Up

It’s funny how you can look back at decisions and be amazed at your choices.  When you look back it always seems crystal clear.  You think to yourself- “How could I have made such a bad decision?”  It can be downright frightening.  You realize that at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.  You had reasonably good information.  You are not really much smarter now, than when you made the decision.   You think- “How could my judgment be so clouded?”      

 

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 Bad decisions generally require added work and risk.  If you make a bad decision you are often thrust into the clean-up mode.  You must straighten it out and make it right.  This is usually painful- at least on some level. I’ve made some bad decisions and paid the consequences and picked up the mess.   It’s not fun and it can shake your confidence.  You have a difficult time finalizing a decision and you freeze-up!  You just can’t decide.  Here are some tips to avoid the freeze-up in decision making:

  1. Learn from your mistakes!  Have you ever watched a dog with one of those invisible fences in the yard?  They first will get a shock when they reach the barrier and generally that is enough.  They will learn the exact location of the fence and stop abruptly before hitting the mark.  Sometimes we just think it will be different this time and we charge straight for the fence!  Why do we do it?  Even a dog is smart enough to learn.  Somehow we think it will be difference this time.  Don’t kid yourself.  Learn and avoid the pain!
  2. Do your homework!  You must be ready when you are confronted with a similar decision.  If you take the time to really think through the dynamics and results you will likely make a quality decision next time.  Often in the heat of the battle you will not have time to think objectively.  Your vision gets clouded.  Analyze what went wrong and what you could have done differently.  Next time you will be prepared and ready!
  3. Get advice!  I have shared some of my failures with friends and have received amazing advice.  We are all prone to a particular viewpoint and this perspective is not easy to change.  When you share your story you are also inviting someone in to help you unload your burden and help you heal from the damage of a bad decision.  Find a trusted friend and talk it out.  Don’t argue with them even if you do not fully agree.  Take some time and ponder the advice.  It may not be exactly on target, but I can guarantee that there will be nuggets of truth that will lead to reconciliation and healing.
  4. Jump!  Eventually you will confronted with a similar situation and you must be ready to risk again.  Regardless of how much preparation and learning that has occurred, there will still be an element of risk in moving forward.  However, you must move forward.  Avoiding, postponing or failing to act will only hurt you.  Risk is part of life.  You must be ready. 

We all freeze-up sometimes.  It’s a built in defense system to keep us safe.  The key is to recognize the freeze-up and to deal with it.  If you find yourself hesitating, you are likely to be confronting something that you have not completely dealt with.  Being cautious is good- but getting stuck is no good.  You must move forward and get back in the game.  You are needed.  There are folks that are counting on you!   

Do you have any hints to help in decision making?  Click on comment and tell us your story!