direct tag

Have You Aligned or Settled?

 photo credit: Adam Grabeck

photo credit: Adam Grabeck

Author and teacher, Parker Palmer reflects,

“As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations held by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots.” 

Most of us know the angst of trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. It can take a number of different forms.

Regrets are turned into hopes for you.

This is typically a parent or a grandparent – someone in the family. Mom always wanted to be a nurse, so she persuades her son to go to the best nursing school in the area. Dad missed the opportunity to go to law school, so he’s talked about his daughter being an attorney since she was four. Your wife wants you to be the “Jack of all trades” like her father never was – ever. 

Desires or passions are projected onto you.

Your spouse insists you find work that will put you in a bigger house in a better neighborhood with a better car in a cleaner garage. Your pastor sees you as “preacher junior” and talks to you often about bible college. Your roommate desperately wants to hike around Europe for a month; you’ve never walked more than two city blocks. 

Organizational needs are placed on you.

The owner insists he can’t promote you to regional director; the work in this local branch is too critical. Your pastor expects you’ll stay in your role for… well, forever; the church needs you to be faithful. You’ve talked about your desire to develop your leadership opportunities, but there’s not a seat at the leadership table. 

Everyone thinks they know you better than you do.

You’re told what your gifts are. Someone else insists you don’t have the ability to lead strategically. Your supervisor doesn’t see what you believe is true about you: that you can build a team; you can create and produce beauty; you can develop other leaders.

Parker Palmer wrote:

“One sign that I am violating my own nature in the name of nobility is a condition called burnout. Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burnout in my experience results from trying to give what I do not possess – the ultimate in giving too little! Burnout is a state of emptiness, to be sure, but it does not result from giving all I have: it merely reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place.”

This sense of nothingness in your experience may come from a lack of rest – a failure to replenish your soul. However, as Parker notes, you can also serve from nothingness because you’re trying too hard to live into someone else’s expectations, someone else’s values, someone else’s vision for your life. 

Perhaps it’s time to question, explore and discover your innate talents, your defining values and your unique makeup. 

You know the values of the organization where you work, but if asked, you couldn’t really state yours.

Except maybe you’d say you value belonging to something bigger than yourself. Your supervisor talks with you often about the tasks and responsibilities on your job description, but rarely, if ever, talks with you about your talents and skills. You stopped dreaming a long time ago, because someone else has the responsibility of carrying the vision.

Perhaps you do have the self-awareness to know your personal values.

You’re in touch with yourself enough to know your core strengths. You fall asleep at night dreaming, “What if…” kinds of dreams. Not whimsical pie-in-the-sky dreams, but vision – real vision of what could be and should be. 

Pause. 

The reason teams work, the power of community, the strength of any organization flows from a deep commitment to shared values, shared mission and shared vision.

Visions are fulfilled because everyone understands their unique contribution and they “bring it.” It IS powerful to know that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It IS an amazing experience to be captured by the compelling vision cast by someone else. You find “home” when leaders of this vision recognize your uniqueness and call the best out of you, asking you to be true to who you are. 

It is quite a contrast, however, when you realize that what is “bigger than you are” somehow shadows or even buries your truest self.

With this realization a deep, irreconcilable angst settles deeply in your soul, within your truest self. You know your values, abilities, dreams and visions  are misaligned with those of the organization in which we serve or work. You know that your values just don’t quite align with the values of your leader. You realize that your essential skills are underutilized. You feel tired trying to hang on to the vision you see, because it’s just different enough to risk being disruptive. 

What do you do when this is the case? There ARE options.

Open dialog about who you are at your core.

Speak about your selfhood, about who you’re wired to be. Maybe the conversation hasn’t happened because you’ve not started it. It may be time to be courageous, to step up to the challenge and ask for space to be heard. 

Look closely at your talents, your values and your vision. And then look closer still.

It could be that there’s such a relational strain between you and others around you, that your perception of what is true about them or the organization is just skewed…enough. Enough to cause you to find differences that aren’t actually as polar as they seem. Enough to cause you to see preferences as issues of right or wrong. There could be a personal relationship to be healed.

Maybe it’s time to align “you” elsewhere.

Upon looking closely at your talents, your values and your vision, it’s crystal clear: there simply is not alignment between you and the organization; between you and your leader. The courageous conversation may be about exploring other work in a different place. 

Parker Palmer notes that,

“The people who help us grow toward true self offer unconditional love, neither judging us to be deficient nor trying to force us to change but accepting us exactly as we are. And yet this unconditional love does not lead us to rest on our laurels. Instead, it surrounds us with a charged force field that makes us want to grow from the inside out — a force field that is safe enough to take the risks and endure the failures that growth requires.” 

You are a beautiful and capable human being. You have much to offer the immediate world around you. You have unique purpose to discover, embrace, live out and celebrate. 

I’ll wrap this with one more quote. This one from Anne Lamott: 

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”

  • Are you aware of your deepest values, your innate talents, your personal passions? 
  • Are you aligned with the people around you in a way that frees you to live out your truest self?
  • Will you be brave? Will you take the next step to gift us with YOU?

If you’d like to explore a pathway to these steps, contact me. Let’s talk.

Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

Have You Aligned or Settled?

 photo credit: Adam Grabeck

photo credit: Adam Grabeck

Author and teacher, Parker Palmer reflects,

“As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations held by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots.” 

Most of us know the angst of trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. It can take a number of different forms.

Regrets are turned into hopes for you.

This is typically a parent or a grandparent – someone in the family. Mom always wanted to be a nurse, so she persuades her son to go to the best nursing school in the area. Dad missed the opportunity to go to law school, so he’s talked about his daughter being an attorney since she was four. Your wife wants you to be the “Jack of all trades” like her father never was – ever. 

Desires or passions are projected onto you.

Your spouse insists you find work that will put you in a bigger house in a better neighborhood with a better car in a cleaner garage. Your pastor sees you as “preacher junior” and talks to you often about bible college. Your roommate desperately wants to hike around Europe for a month; you’ve never walked more than two city blocks. 

Organizational needs are placed on you.

The owner insists he can’t promote you to regional director; the work in this local branch is too critical. Your pastor expects you’ll stay in your role for… well, forever; the church needs you to be faithful. You’ve talked about your desire to develop your leadership opportunities, but there’s not a seat at the leadership table. 

Everyone thinks they know you better than you do.

You’re told what your gifts are. Someone else insists you don’t have the ability to lead strategically. Your supervisor doesn’t see what you believe is true about you: that you can build a team; you can create and produce beauty; you can develop other leaders.

Parker Palmer wrote:

“One sign that I am violating my own nature in the name of nobility is a condition called burnout. Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burnout in my experience results from trying to give what I do not possess – the ultimate in giving too little! Burnout is a state of emptiness, to be sure, but it does not result from giving all I have: it merely reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place.”

This sense of nothingness in your experience may come from a lack of rest – a failure to replenish your soul. However, as Parker notes, you can also serve from nothingness because you’re trying too hard to live into someone else’s expectations, someone else’s values, someone else’s vision for your life. 

Perhaps it’s time to question, explore and discover your innate talents, your defining values and your unique makeup. 

You know the values of the organization where you work, but if asked, you couldn’t really state yours.

Except maybe you’d say you value belonging to something bigger than yourself. Your supervisor talks with you often about the tasks and responsibilities on your job description, but rarely, if ever, talks with you about your talents and skills. You stopped dreaming a long time ago, because someone else has the responsibility of carrying the vision.

Perhaps you do have the self-awareness to know your personal values.

You’re in touch with yourself enough to know your core strengths. You fall asleep at night dreaming, “What if…” kinds of dreams. Not whimsical pie-in-the-sky dreams, but vision – real vision of what could be and should be. 

Pause. 

The reason teams work, the power of community, the strength of any organization flows from a deep commitment to shared values, shared mission and shared vision.

Visions are fulfilled because everyone understands their unique contribution and they “bring it.” It IS powerful to know that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It IS an amazing experience to be captured by the compelling vision cast by someone else. You find “home” when leaders of this vision recognize your uniqueness and call the best out of you, asking you to be true to who you are. 

It is quite a contrast, however, when you realize that what is “bigger than you are” somehow shadows or even buries your truest self.

With this realization a deep, irreconcilable angst settles deeply in your soul, within your truest self. You know your values, abilities, dreams and visions  are misaligned with those of the organization in which we serve or work. You know that your values just don’t quite align with the values of your leader. You realize that your essential skills are underutilized. You feel tired trying to hang on to the vision you see, because it’s just different enough to risk being disruptive. 

What do you do when this is the case? There ARE options.

Open dialog about who you are at your core.

Speak about your selfhood, about who you’re wired to be. Maybe the conversation hasn’t happened because you’ve not started it. It may be time to be courageous, to step up to the challenge and ask for space to be heard. 

Look closely at your talents, your values and your vision. And then look closer still.

It could be that there’s such a relational strain between you and others around you, that your perception of what is true about them or the organization is just skewed…enough. Enough to cause you to find differences that aren’t actually as polar as they seem. Enough to cause you to see preferences as issues of right or wrong. There could be a personal relationship to be healed.

Maybe it’s time to align “you” elsewhere.

Upon looking closely at your talents, your values and your vision, it’s crystal clear: there simply is not alignment between you and the organization; between you and your leader. The courageous conversation may be about exploring other work in a different place. 

Parker Palmer notes that,

“The people who help us grow toward true self offer unconditional love, neither judging us to be deficient nor trying to force us to change but accepting us exactly as we are. And yet this unconditional love does not lead us to rest on our laurels. Instead, it surrounds us with a charged force field that makes us want to grow from the inside out — a force field that is safe enough to take the risks and endure the failures that growth requires.” 

You are a beautiful and capable human being. You have much to offer the immediate world around you. You have unique purpose to discover, embrace, live out and celebrate. 

I’ll wrap this with one more quote. This one from Anne Lamott: 

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”

  • Are you aware of your deepest values, your innate talents, your personal passions? 
  • Are you aligned with the people around you in a way that frees you to live out your truest self?
  • Will you be brave? Will you take the next step to gift us with YOU?

If you’d like to explore a pathway to these steps, contact me. Let’s talk.

Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

Your Team Wants You to Ask Yourself These 10 Questions about Faking Trust

trust - rope.jpg

The more conversations I have with clients, family and friends, the more I’m thinking about trust these days. Seems there’s precious little trust actually being experienced in work places and homes. Let’s start by defining trust.

My online dictionary states that trust as a verb means: to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something or someone.

Conversely, the same dictionary defines distrust this way: to doubt the honesty or reliability of; regard with suspicion.

My experience confirms that people know quickly whether they are trusted or distrusted; whether their supervisor believes in their strengths or regards them with suspicion. People know when their leader hovers, limits, takes back a responsibility or removes authority. People can sniff out with no effort or conscious process the reality of trust – or not – placed in them. Consider the challenges of trust.

  • Can trust be granted on a trial basis?
  • Is a “wait and see” outlook really trust?
  • Does trust only happen when it’s fully earned?
  • Does trust say: “I’ll trust you ’til you prove I can’t trust you?”
  • Does trust come in different sizes and portions: a little bit of trust, barely trust, trust a whole lot? Or is trust, simply trust?

I remember when our daughter was learning to drive. I’ve looked back and asked myself: Did I trust my daughter to drive to school when her license went from “permit” to the real deal? Did I send her off to school without acknowledging that her training and preparation meant I could trust her to get there safely? If I didn’t trust her ability to do so, would I have allowed her to get behind the wheel of a car? Based on her training and demonstrated skills, I did trust her to drive to school and home again.

What if, in that same season, she had asked me for permission to drive to Chicago from our northern Indiana home on a weekday morning, in rush hour, on toll roads with Nascar-mentality drivers on mission to make their destination on time? If I didn’t trust her ability to make that drive, would I still trust her to drive to school on the city streets of our small town? Yes, I decided I could trust her ability to drive to school, while I knew more coaching was my responsibility to help her navigate the chaotic, erratic and frightening traffic of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

So, is trust given in portions? Maybe so. Maybe not.

If I flag down a Chicago taxi driver on Michigan Avenue, do I trust him or her to navigate the same traffic? Do I trust the Uber driver to get me safely from my home to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport? Yes (Although, think about it, we’re trusting Mr. taxi driver or Ms. Uber, because we trust someone else has vetted him or her.). So, trust does seem to be “proven,” whether we’ve seen the proof or we trust someone else’s standard that these drivers are trustworthy.

Back to the challenge of leadership and trust. When a business manager or church staff leader asks someone on the team to lead an initiative, or they hire a staff member to lead a division or team, does that leader trust that staff member to do the job they’ve been asked to do? Did the staff person believe upon being hired, that they were given trust with the offer to come aboard? Was authority to carry out their responsibility given to that staff person?

Here’s what happens when we don’t actually trust the person to fulfill what we’ve charged them to do:

  • When we don’t actually trust them, we don’t tell them that we believe they are unqualified to accomplish all we originally ask of them. But they know.
  • We limit the scope of their decision-making. Or we over-ride their decisions.
  • We work around them, leaving them out of conversations where their input and opinion should be considered, if not deferred to.
  • We redefine their role – at least in our own minds, shaping new expectations they’ve not processed nor had opportunity to agree to.
  • We realize we must find ways to get work done that we don’t trust them to do, so we either do the work or find others to do it – often without informing the leader charged with the responsibility.

These behaviors and more kick in automatically for many leaders and managers (or in some cases the positional “boss” who is neither a qualified leader nor manager), often allowing us to dismiss any reflection on our reasons for distrust and therefore not acknowledging that we actually don’t trust them. This of course causes us to avoid honest conversation.

Let’s go back to my daughter and my trust in her ability to drive. Let’s say I do believe I can trust her to drive to Chicago and back. BUT – as it turns out, she has a fender-bender on the Stevenson Expressway and she arrives home shaken and apologetic. I have at least a couple choices: 1) I tell myself and maybe her: “I knew I couldn’t trust her to drive in those conditions. I don’t trust her to do it again.” OR 2) “Experiencing a fender-bender doesn’t necessarily make you a bad driver. How about we both drive to Chicago next week? You drive, I’ll ride and coach.”

My decision to get in the car, leaving her in the driver’s seat communicates: “You’re still driving this car. I trust you to be behind the wheel. And I’m here to help you so your competency, and perhaps more importantly, your confidence grows.” IF I micromanage every turn, every stop and go, every passing of another car, my daughter will intuit immediately that although I left her behind the wheel, I don’t actually trust her.

Again, my daughter was trained well to drive a car. I do have control issues.

My daughter is an active learner. But it’s easier for me to be behind the wheel than coach.

My daughter did make a mistake or two. And mistakes behind the wheel of a car or mistakes driving an initiative can easily be the “I knew it moment” for the leader that validates our suspicion and moves us into the driver’s seat.

I’m not all that, but the truth is, I trusted someone else’s training of my daughter and because of that, I trusted her to get behind the wheel of my car and drive on the road with other cars – knowing all the risks of anyone driving were present.

I encouraged her to get in the driver’s seat after a fender bender. I didn’t keep distrust to myself and find excuses why I should drive and she couldn’t. I didn’t tell her she wasn’t ready. I didn’t tell her she wasn’t capable of driving.

I got in the car with her after the fender bender. She was in the driver’s seat. And although I could have been a less directive passenger/coach, I learned to encourage her and celebrate her skill.

I’m not perfect. Neither are you. We’ve all messed up when it comes to trusting others.

Here are 10 Questions to ask yourself about trust and your team:

  1. Did you ever trust them to do the job you asked them to do?
  2. Why have you stopped believing in the people on your team?
  3. Do they know you are for them… or do they sense deep in their soul, you don’t trust them?
  4. In what ways are you communicating doubt or suspicion about their ability?
  5. Have you given them responsibility with no authority?
  6. Do you believe you alone can and will do the initiative or task better, do it “right?”
  7. Do they have to ask you about every turn, every onramp, every stop before they can act?
  8. Would they say you are effectively checking in and coaching or would they say you’re micromanaging them? 
  9. What are you putting in place to help them trust themselves and experience a win?
  10. What steps are you taking to celebrate the ways in which they are trusted… and giving them opportunity to be trusted with more?

I’ve had to ask myself in various seasons of my leadership: What’s going on in me that creates this lack of trust? Am I insisting on proving myself as a competent leader? What do I think I have to prove? Where do I see people on my team shrinking… in their self-confidence? In their joy? In their passion for the work? In their trust in me?

We all suffer from unconscious self-deception. It’s easier to blame someone else and call it wisdom on our part. We’re more prone to prove ourselves than to give others an opportunity to prove themselves. We’re often more likely to play judge than play coach.

Your team is longing to be trusted. They want a seat at the table. They want to be heard with the confidence you want to learn from them.

What will you do with this? Will you ask honest questions of yourself? Will you ask your team if they feel trusted? And when they say no or somewhat… will you listen when they explain why they feel the way they do? We must.

Because people matter. Period.

By the way, if you’re the one not feeling trusted and therefore feeling devalued, it’s fair to ask:

  • Am I behaving in some way that reduces others’ trust in me?
  • Am I blaming someone else for my lack of passion, incompetence or dissention?
  • What step do I need to take to fully show up, to give my 100%?

And when you’ve answered those questions and you feel you cannot “win;” when you know you are not trusted; that you are not acknowledged or valued… well, you have some difficult choices to make. And when you find yourself in that place longer than you want to be – remember, your worth does not come from the approval of others. Your value is not determined by what you do or how well you do it. Your identity is not defined by any job or task. Your worth, your value, your identity rests in one truth: you are created in the image of God. You are an image-bearer. You have innate worth, intrinsic value and a core-to-your-soul identity.

What’s your step in trusting others? How will you evaluate your motives? What do you need to do to be more trustworthy than you are today? And who will you talk with to explore your innate gifting, your intrinsic worth and your core identity?

Let’s Talk

Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

Your Team Wants You to Ask Yourself These 10 Questions about Trust

trust - rope.jpg

The more conversations I have with clients, family and friends, the more I’m thinking about trust these days. Seems there’s precious little trust actually being experienced in work places and homes. Let’s start by defining trust.

My online dictionary states that trust as a verb means: to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something or someone.

Conversely, the same dictionary defines distrust this way: to doubt the honesty or reliability of; regard with suspicion.

My experience confirms that people know quickly whether they are trusted or distrusted; whether their supervisor believes in their strengths or regards them with suspicion. People know when their leader hovers, limits, takes back a responsibility or removes authority. People can sniff out with no effort or conscious process the reality of trust – or not – placed in them. Consider the challenges of trust.

  • Can trust be granted on a trial basis?
  • Is a “wait and see” outlook really trust?
  • Does trust only happen when it’s fully earned?
  • Does trust say: “I’ll trust you ’til you prove I can’t trust you?”
  • Does trust come in different sizes and portions: a little bit of trust, barely trust, trust a whole lot? Or is trust, simply trust?

I remember when our daughter was learning to drive. I’ve looked back and asked myself: Did I trust my daughter to drive to school when her license went from “permit” to the real deal? Did I send her off to school without acknowledging that her training and preparation meant I could trust her to get there safely? If I didn’t trust her ability to do so, would I have allowed her to get behind the wheel of a car? Based on her training and demonstrated skills, I did trust her to drive to school and home again.

What if, in that same season, she had asked me for permission to drive to Chicago from our northern Indiana home on a weekday morning, in rush hour, on toll roads with Nascar-mentality drivers on mission to make their destination on time? If I didn’t trust her ability to make that drive, would I still trust her to drive to school on the city streets of our small town? Yes, I decided I could trust her ability to drive to school, while I knew more coaching was my responsibility to help her navigate the chaotic, erratic and frightening traffic of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

So, is trust given in portions? Maybe so. Maybe not.

If I flag down a Chicago taxi driver on Michigan Avenue, do I trust him or her to navigate the same traffic? Do I trust the Uber driver to get me safely from my home to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport? Yes (Although, think about it, we’re trusting Mr. taxi driver or Ms. Uber, because we trust someone else has vetted him or her.). So, trust does seem to be “proven,” whether we’ve seen the proof or we trust someone else’s standard that these drivers are trustworthy.

Back to the challenge of leadership and trust. When a business manager or church staff leader asks someone on the team to lead an initiative, or they hire a staff member to lead a division or team, does that leader trust that staff member to do the job they’ve been asked to do? Did the staff person believe upon being hired, that they were given trust with the offer to come aboard? Was authority to carry out their responsibility given to that staff person?

Here’s what happens when we don’t actually trust the person to fulfill what we’ve charged them to do:

  • When we don’t actually trust them, we don’t tell them that we believe they are unqualified to accomplish all we originally ask of them. But they know.
  • We limit the scope of their decision-making. Or we over-ride their decisions.
  • We work around them, leaving them out of conversations where their input and opinion should be considered, if not deferred to.
  • We redefine their role – at least in our own minds, shaping new expectations they’ve not processed nor had opportunity to agree to.
  • We realize we must find ways to get work done that we don’t trust them to do, so we either do the work or find others to do it – often without informing the leader charged with the responsibility.

These behaviors and more kick in automatically for many leaders and managers (or in some cases the positional “boss” who is neither a qualified leader nor manager), often allowing us to dismiss any reflection on our reasons for distrust and therefore not acknowledging that we actually don’t trust them. This of course causes us to avoid honest conversation.

Let’s go back to my daughter and my trust in her ability to drive. Let’s say I do believe I can trust her to drive to Chicago and back. BUT – as it turns out, she has a fender-bender on the Stevenson Expressway and she arrives home shaken and apologetic. I have at least a couple choices: 1) I tell myself and maybe her: “I knew I couldn’t trust her to drive in those conditions. I don’t trust her to do it again.” OR 2) “Experiencing a fender-bender doesn’t necessarily make you a bad driver. How about we both drive to Chicago next week? You drive, I’ll ride and coach.”

My decision to get in the car, leaving her in the driver’s seat communicates: “You’re still driving this car. I trust you to be behind the wheel. And I’m here to help you so your competency, and perhaps more importantly, your confidence grows.” IF I micromanage every turn, every stop and go, every passing of another car, my daughter will intuit immediately that although I left her behind the wheel, I don’t actually trust her.

Again, my daughter was trained well to drive a car. I do have control issues.

My daughter is an active learner. But it’s easier for me to be behind the wheel than coach.

My daughter did make a mistake or two. And mistakes behind the wheel of a car or mistakes driving an initiative can easily be the “I knew it moment” for the leader that validates our suspicion and moves us into the driver’s seat.

I’m not all that, but the truth is, I trusted someone else’s training of my daughter and because of that, I trusted her to get behind the wheel of my car and drive on the road with other cars – knowing all the risks of anyone driving were present.

I encouraged her to get in the driver’s seat after a fender bender. I didn’t keep distrust to myself and find excuses why I should drive and she couldn’t. I didn’t tell her she wasn’t ready. I didn’t tell her she wasn’t capable of driving.

I got in the car with her after the fender bender. She was in the driver’s seat. And although I could have been a less directive passenger/coach, I learned to encourage her and celebrate her skill.

I’m not perfect. Neither are you. We’ve all messed up when it comes to trusting others.

Here are 10 Questions to ask yourself about trust and your team:

  1. Did you ever trust them to do the job you asked them to do?
  2. Why have you stopped believing in the people on your team?
  3. Do they know you are for them… or do they sense deep in their soul, you don’t trust them?
  4. In what ways are you communicating doubt or suspicion about their ability?
  5. Have you given them responsibility with no authority?
  6. Do you believe you alone can and will do the initiative or task better, do it “right?”
  7. Do they have to ask you about every turn, every onramp, every stop before they can act?
  8. Would they say you are effectively checking in and coaching or would they say you’re micromanaging them? 
  9. What are you putting in place to help them trust themselves and experience a win?
  10. What steps are you taking to celebrate the ways in which they are trusted… and giving them opportunity to be trusted with more?

I’ve had to ask myself in various seasons of my leadership: What’s going on in me that creates this lack of trust? Am I insisting on proving myself as a competent leader? What do I think I have to prove? Where do I see people on my team shrinking… in their self-confidence? In their joy? In their passion for the work? In their trust in me?

We all suffer from unconscious self-deception. It’s easier to blame someone else and call it wisdom on our part. We’re more prone to prove ourselves than to give others an opportunity to prove themselves. We’re often more likely to play judge than play coach.

Your team is longing to be trusted. They want a seat at the table. They want to be heard with the confidence you want to learn from them.

What will you do with this? Will you ask honest questions of yourself? Will you ask your team if they feel trusted? And when they say no or somewhat… will you listen when they explain why they feel the way they do? We must.

Because people matter. Period.

By the way, if you’re the one not feeling trusted and therefore feeling devalued, it’s fair to ask:

  • Am I behaving in some way that reduces others’ trust in me?
  • Am I blaming someone else for my lack of passion, incompetence or dissention?
  • What step do I need to take to fully show up, to give my 100%?

And when you’ve answered those questions and you feel you cannot “win;” when you know you are not trusted; that you are not acknowledged or valued… well, you have some difficult choices to make. And when you find yourself in that place longer than you want to be – remember, your worth does not come from the approval of others. Your value is not determined by what you do or how well you do it. Your identity is not defined by any job or task. Your worth, your value, your identity rests in one truth: you are created in the image of God. You are an image-bearer. You have innate worth, intrinsic value and a core-to-your-soul identity.

What’s your step in trusting others? How will you evaluate your motives? What do you need to do to be more trustworthy than you are today? And who will you talk with to explore your innate gifting, your intrinsic worth and your core identity?

Let’s Talk

Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

I Don’t Want to Press 3 for Service

Frustrated-man-calling.jpg

You know the drill. You call to make an appointment to service your car, get the dog groomed, schedule your own haircut, renew your license – you name it. It goes something like this: 

“If you want to know our service hours, press 1. If you’d like to know our appointment schedule press 2. If you’d like to make a new appointment, press 3. If you’d like to confirm or change an existing appointment, press 4. If you’ve already had an appointment and have a follow-up question, press 5. If you want to speak to a representative about any other question, press 6. If you’d like to hang up now, press “end call.”

Or it just gets worse: 

You chose #3: “make a new appointment,” then you hear: “If you’d like to schedule an oil change, press 1. If you’d like schedule a full tune-up, press 2. If you’re calling to have your brakes inspected or repaired, press 3. If you’re calling to… “

You get the point. 

In a culture bent on efficiency, one has to ask: for whom is this efficient? Perhaps the car dealer; certainly not the end user. For the customer, it’s sheer frustration. By the end of this call, he or she has either reached for blood pressure medicine or changed service centers; maybe both. 

At a recent training event I was leading, someone shared a picture of a paper sign taped to the front doors of a church they’d visited. The sign read:

“Attention: These Doors Locked at Start of Service. Late Arrivals Please come to the Back Doors and Knock for Entry. God Bless”

What? I stopped and read it again. Then one more time. That’s exactly what it said. Simultaneously, I laughed aloud and felt inner angst, not only for the late arriver, but for every person who read the sign. 

It seems that when an organization is faced with staffing challenges, the need to operate more efficiently, or simply to address a potential problem, the tendency is to create as little change or hassle as possible for the organization. So, the change, and often the hassle, is passed on to the end user: the customer, the guest, the human on the other end of this would-be relationship.

What is the current challenge for your church or organization? 

  • Under-staffed with volunteers?
  • Call volume has increased?
  • Security is a heightened value?
  • Budget is constrained?
  • Other projects, ministries or initiatives need attention?

Consider the following before making a hasty decision or implementing a new system or policy: 

  • First ask: “How did we get here? What created the current challenge? Is there something behind this present challenge that needs to be addressed?” 
    • For instance, was the former receptionist or scheduler a poor fit for the role, or perhaps ill-trained? Maybe the dropped calls, missed messages and long waits for call-backs wasn’t about call volume; maybe it was about staffing.
  • Address the issue(s) that led to the present challenge. Don’t miss dealing with something that may be the “right” fix. 
  • If the original challenge remains, ask: “How do we make this a better experience for our guests or customers?”
    • Maybe a brief menu of choices on the phone is actually helpful: “Our service times are…” “To schedule an appointment…” However, if value is going to be best communicated by staffing a human to answer the phone, make it happen. When the call must go to voicemail, minimize the options.
    • Staff the front doors throughout the service. After all, in the example above – if someone with ill-intent is trying to enter, they’ve been given a back door pass anyway. Not only was the safety issue not addressed, “late arrivers” were inconvenienced (if not punished) by the system put in place.
  • Get ruthless about how you maintain the focus on the end-user experience.
    • Making as little change as possible in the organization’s systems or personnel isn’t the point. It may be that staff need to be released because they’re not in the right role. Maybe more staff need to be hired – whether paid or unpaid. Or perhaps staffing is great, but no one has trained them. 
  • Ask the training questions.
    • “Are we training?” “What are we training?” “How are we training?”
    • “Is the training required? If not, why not?”
    • “Are people getting “it” after they’re trained?” If not, don’t blame the trainee, take a close look at the trainer and/or the effectiveness of the training.
  • Ask: “What’s the increased value for our guests?” “What’s the cost to our staff and systems?” “What’s the outcome if we make this convenient for us?” “And, what is the outcome if we make this convenient for – that is, we prioritize – our guests?”

Perhaps you’re thinking, “So, it boils down to convenience.”

Maybe it does. If our thinking is “That’ll be too difficult for us.” or “We don’t have time to set up that level of training,” then perhaps it is about convenience – for us. 

Which begs the final question… and arguably the first:

  • “Why are we doing what we’re doing?”
    • Was it simply to grow a larger church or serve human people?
    • Was it all about making money or was it about providing a service to human people?
    • Was it to merely make a living or was it about providing great customer care? 

In what ways are you sending people to the back door? In what ways are you requiring people to jump through your hoops? How are your end-users being inconvenienced by your tendency to guard staffing, budget, doctrine…or convenience? 

What other experiences pass the hassle on to the guest / customer?

Join the conversation; add to the list in your comment.

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I Don’t Want to Press 3 for Service

Frustrated-man-calling.jpg

You know the drill. You call to make an appointment to service your car, get the dog groomed, schedule your own haircut, renew your license – you name it. It goes something like this: 

“If you want to know our service hours, press 1. If you’d like to know our appointment schedule press 2. If you’d like to make a new appointment, press 3. If you’d like to confirm or change an existing appointment, press 4. If you’ve already had an appointment and have a follow-up question, press 5. If you want to speak to a representative about any other question, press 6. If you’d like to hang up now, press “end call.”

Or it just gets worse: 

You chose #3: “make a new appointment,” then you hear: “If you’d like to schedule an oil change, press 1. If you’d like schedule a full tune-up, press 2. If you’re calling to have your brakes inspected or repaired, press 3. If you’re calling to… “

You get the point. 

In a culture bent on efficiency, one has to ask: for whom is this efficient? Perhaps the car dealer; certainly not the end user. For the customer, it’s sheer frustration. By the end of this call, he or she has either reached for blood pressure medicine or changed service centers; maybe both. 

At a recent training event I was leading, someone shared a picture of a paper sign taped to the front doors of a church they’d visited. The sign read:

“Attention: These Doors Locked at Start of Service. Late Arrivals Please come to the Back Doors and Knock for Entry. God Bless”

What? I stopped and read it again. Then one more time. That’s exactly what it said. Simultaneously, I laughed aloud and felt inner angst, not only for the late arriver, but for every person who read the sign. 

It seems that when an organization is faced with staffing challenges, the need to operate more efficiently, or simply to address a potential problem, the tendency is to create as little change or hassle as possible for the organization. So, the change, and often the hassle, is passed on to the end user: the customer, the guest, the human on the other end of this would-be relationship.

What is the current challenge for your church or organization? 

  • Under-staffed with volunteers?
  • Call volume has increased?
  • Security is a heightened value?
  • Budget is constrained?
  • Other projects, ministries or initiatives need attention?

Consider the following before making a hasty decision or implementing a new system or policy: 

  • First ask: “How did we get here? What created the current challenge? Is there something behind this present challenge that needs to be addressed?” 
    • For instance, was the former receptionist or scheduler a poor fit for the role, or perhaps ill-trained? Maybe the dropped calls, missed messages and long waits for call-backs wasn’t about call volume; maybe it was about staffing.
  • Address the issue(s) that led to the present challenge. Don’t miss dealing with something that may be the “right” fix. 
  • If the original challenge remains, ask: “How do we make this a better experience for our guests or customers?”
    • Maybe a brief menu of choices on the phone is actually helpful: “Our service times are…” “To schedule an appointment…” However, if value is going to be best communicated by staffing a human to answer the phone, make it happen. When the call must go to voicemail, minimize the options.
    • Staff the front doors throughout the service. After all, in the example above – if someone with ill-intent is trying to enter, they’ve been given a back door pass anyway. Not only was the safety issue not addressed, “late arrivers” were inconvenienced (if not punished) by the system put in place.
  • Get ruthless about how you maintain the focus on the end-user experience.
    • Making as little change as possible in the organization’s systems or personnel isn’t the point. It may be that staff need to be released because they’re not in the right role. Maybe more staff need to be hired – whether paid or unpaid. Or perhaps staffing is great, but no one has trained them. 
  • Ask the training questions.
    • “Are we training?” “What are we training?” “How are we training?”
    • “Is the training required? If not, why not?”
    • “Are people getting “it” after they’re trained?” If not, don’t blame the trainee, take a close look at the trainer and/or the effectiveness of the training.
  • Ask: “What’s the increased value for our guests?” “What’s the cost to our staff and systems?” “What’s the outcome if we make this convenient for us?” “And, what is the outcome if we make this convenient for – that is, we prioritize – our guests?”

Perhaps you’re thinking, “So, it boils down to convenience.”

Maybe it does. If our thinking is “That’ll be too difficult for us.” or “We don’t have time to set up that level of training,” then perhaps it is about convenience – for us. 

Which begs the final question… and arguably the first:

  • “Why are we doing what we’re doing?”
    • Was it simply to grow a larger church or serve human people?
    • Was it all about making money or was it about providing a service to human people?
    • Was it to merely make a living or was it about providing great customer care? 

In what ways are you sending people to the back door? In what ways are you requiring people to jump through your hoops? How are your end-users being inconvenienced by your tendency to guard staffing, budget, doctrine…or convenience? 

What other experiences pass the hassle on to the guest / customer?

Join the conversation; add to the list in your comment.

Want to train your staff AND teams? LET’S TALK

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You could miss this Easter opportunity, but you don’t have to…

IMG_4194.jpg

A few days ago, a pastor asked me if I had any “Easter tips” to share. My pastor friend, like most churches, has begun or already planned their Easter weekend services. Having a few tips isn’t a bad idea. 

This Easter we will all expect new guests, many of them returning to church – any church – for the first time in years. There will be people who appear “new,” but who gather with our faith communities twice a year: Easter and Christmas. Most of us will see more people attend our Easter services than on a “normal” weekend. Because of this, it’s not unusual for local churches to put a tremendous amount of focus on promotion, programming, worship and the sermon/talk. And rightly so – it’s THE capstone of the church calendar, the central celebration of people who follow the ways of Jesus.

But, I’m curious: are you thinking with the same intentionality about how to serve your new guests when they arrive in just a few weeks? How will you approach your guests, expecting that many of them will not be back until Christmas – nine months from Easter? 

  • We may focus on “managing the crowd” and overlook individuals with whom we could connect.
  • We may merely attempt to get through the weekend and mishandle the additional staffing needs that exist.
  • We may merely be “nice,” and not fully “show up.”
  • We may say “thanks for being here” without any expectation – or invitation – for our guests to return next weekend for service.
  • We may assume people are coming in for a “show” or a traditional, annual, Easter service and dismiss the fact that people still enter our building broken, lonely, confused, and searching for hope.

What if we agreed to..

  • staff our teams with more people than we “need,” so we can be particularly attentive to opportunities Spirit opens with individuals we’ll greet?
  • not be so focused on the logistics and details of an abnormally large crowd that we miss people?
  • pray for people before they arrive, as they walk through our doors, as they listen to the Good News of Jesus?
  • meet people where they are, embracing them with LOVE and radical acceptance?
  • intentionally invite our guests to join us the week after Easter?

Here are a few more questions to ask and answer as you plan for Resurrection Weekend:

  • What experience do we want our guests to experience? 
    • Is it somehow unique from every other weekend? If so, how?
    • What do we need to do differently than other weekends because of the unique experience we want or the size of the crowds?
  • In order to create this experience, how many team members do we need on hand? 
    • And what’s our commitment to identify team members who are wired for people and not merely a warm body with program in hand?
  • Rather than merely multiply or add, consider: do we need to disproportionately increase team members in some areas and not others?
    • What about kids’ check-in? New family hosts? The parking lot?
    • What do we expect of staff – any staff, all staff – on this weekend?
  • What opportunity will we provide guests to help us connect with them, to meaningfully invite them to take a step to belonging? How will we do this in the least intrusive way?
  • How will we follow-up? 
    • What systems must be in place following Easter weekend?
    • Who else in addition to staff will make calls, send notes and follow-up with each guest who is identified?

Let’s embrace, not the demands of Easter, but the message of Easter. The message of Jesus, the message of LOVE, the message that “everyone is invited.” No one is left out. No one. It’s an all-inclusive Kingdom. LOVE lives to invite everyone to belong. 

  • What will you do this Easter to invite belonging?
  • What do you have planned?
  • What systems are already in place?
  • What recognition is prepared for new guests?

How are you answering some of these questions? Leave a comment; join the conversation. 

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You could miss this Easter opportunity, but you don’t have to…

IMG_4194.jpg

A few days ago, a pastor asked me if I had any “Easter tips” to share. My pastor friend, like most churches, has begun or already planned their Easter weekend services. Having a few tips isn’t a bad idea. 

This Easter we will all expect new guests, many of them returning to church – any church – for the first time in years. There will be people who appear “new,” but who gather with our faith communities twice a year: Easter and Christmas. Most of us will see more people attend our Easter services than on a “normal” weekend. Because of this, it’s not unusual for local churches to put a tremendous amount of focus on promotion, programming, worship and the sermon/talk. And rightly so – it’s THE capstone of the church calendar, the central celebration of people who follow the ways of Jesus.

But, I’m curious: are you thinking with the same intentionality about how to serve your new guests when they arrive in just a few weeks? How will you approach your guests, expecting that many of them will not be back until Christmas – nine months from Easter? 

  • We may focus on “managing the crowd” and overlook individuals with whom we could connect.
  • We may merely attempt to get through the weekend and mishandle the additional staffing needs that exist.
  • We may merely be “nice,” and not fully “show up.”
  • We may say “thanks for being here” without any expectation – or invitation – for our guests to return next weekend for service.
  • We may assume people are coming in for a “show” or a traditional, annual, Easter service and dismiss the fact that people still enter our building broken, lonely, confused, and searching for hope.

What if we agreed to..

  • staff our teams with more people than we “need,” so we can be particularly attentive to opportunities Spirit opens with individuals we’ll greet?
  • not be so focused on the logistics and details of an abnormally large crowd that we miss people?
  • pray for people before they arrive, as they walk through our doors, as they listen to the Good News of Jesus?
  • meet people where they are, embracing them with LOVE and radical acceptance?
  • intentionally invite our guests to join us the week after Easter?

Here are a few more questions to ask and answer as you plan for Resurrection Weekend:

  • What experience do we want our guests to experience? 
    • Is it somehow unique from every other weekend? If so, how?
    • What do we need to do differently than other weekends because of the unique experience we want or the size of the crowds?
  • In order to create this experience, how many team members do we need on hand? 
    • And what’s our commitment to identify team members who are wired for people and not merely a warm body with program in hand?
  • Rather than merely multiply or add, consider: do we need to disproportionately increase team members in some areas and not others?
    • What about kids’ check-in? New family hosts? The parking lot?
    • What do we expect of staff – any staff, all staff – on this weekend?
  • What opportunity will we provide guests to help us connect with them, to meaningfully invite them to take a step to belonging? How will we do this in the least intrusive way?
  • How will we follow-up? 
    • What systems must be in place following Easter weekend?
    • Who else in addition to staff will make calls, send notes and follow-up with each guest who is identified?

Let’s embrace, not the demands of Easter, but the message of Easter. The message of Jesus, the message of LOVE, the message that “everyone is invited.” No one is left out. No one. It’s an all-inclusive Kingdom. LOVE lives to invite everyone to belong. 

  • What will you do this Easter to invite belonging?
  • What do you have planned?
  • What systems are already in place?
  • What recognition is prepared for new guests?

How are you answering some of these questions? Leave a comment; join the conversation. 

Learn more about training your staff and volunteers. Check out training and coaching opportunities here. 

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It’s in You. And Your Team. Let’s Access It.

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You know it’s good – your leadership, your team, your work, your life – but, there’s a gnawing sense that it could be better. More focused. More replenishing. More you.

I only have a few spots left between now and April. So I’m beginning to schedule spring and summer dates for LifePlanning. One month of the new year is already past. Let’s get your step on the calendar before February is over.

I’m also beginning to book summer and fall training for churches and businesses in the area of Guest and Customer Service.

Let’s talk. Today.

Email me at mark@becausepeoplematter.com or visit me to becausepeoplematter.com

 

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