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Lasagne Lessons

Lasagne. It woke me often last night. Every time I woke – ten, twenty, a
hundred times – dry, sauceless lasagne was all I saw. No, I didn’t have
heartburn; I wasn’t sick at all. Not physically anyway. Instead, a dark
cloud of failure enveloped each plated memory. Turns out my night-long,
Italian pasta dream had continued from a real-life experience just hours
prior… Continue reading

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What’s the Big Deal about a Day Off? Really.

too busy woman.jpg

It’s easy for many of us to just go, go, go. After all, this is the one and only life we have. Once we discover how we’re wired, what our talents are and what our purpose is, it’s time to “get to it,” right? Maybe. But we often burn up the wonder of discovering why we exist because we don’t know how to exist without working every day of the week.

Why is it so difficult for us to unplug? To take a “day off?”

Here are five reasons we often lean in to our own demise.

*Note: if your work is in a church, feel free to replace “work” with “ministry” if that helps you.

1.     We are unaware of the energy we expend. 

My wife, Laura, chides me about my notion that I can always “get just one more thing done.” When I’m in that mode, I’m not thinking about how I feel or what may be required of me after this “one more thing.” I think I can do it all.

Many of us believe we have a limitless supply of energy. We don’t know we believe it, but our behavior reveals the truth. Just one more phone call. One more conversation. A few more minutes of research. Then, although we had an unlimited sense of energy for “work,” we’re too tired to engage meaningful conversation with our spouse, visit with a friend or focus on our family.

Worse yet, a moment here, an hour there – it all adds up. And the cumulative result is sheer, life-sucking exhaustion. But until we crash and burn, we keep going. And going. And going. We keep spending energy. We’re okay, we tell ourselves, this just has to be done. ‘Til we are done.

2.     We confuse the words STOP and QUIT.

I remember an evening years ago, meeting an associate in the hallway who (ironically) asked me what I was still doing at the office. This wasn’t my first day working into the evening; it was my third or forth that week. I suppose with a tone of both pride and martyrdom, I remarked about having so much to do; it was “such a busy season.”

She looked at me and said, “There’ll always be another season. After this one will be another one, and another after that. You’ll have to learn it’s okay to stop for the day.”

But to me, stopping meant quitting. It meant being irresponsible. And it certainly meant I wouldn’t be perceived as hard-working. Maybe that was it – as a perpetual people-pleaser, I wanted others to see me “not quitting.”

Regardless the reason, I’d twisted up these two words together: stop and quit. I believed they were synonymous. But, I slowly learned that I could stop and not quit. The work can always be picked up again. But, I needed desperately to STOP. To take a break. To be done for the day.

3.     We don’t know what to do with “time off.”

Most of what we read and hear about leadership is geared toward how we lead in our business, in our church or non-profit – whatever and wherever is our workplace. We don’t lack for resources related to our work: leading, building, growing, solving, innovating, processing, analyzing, reporting, succeeding. Don’t misunderstand. I want to lead better, build people, grow and develop, solve problems, innovate ideas, process challenges, analyze trends, report and succeed.

But. We know far less about what to do with “time off” from all the above. The risk is that we ONLY know how to lead, innovate and succeed. What else is there?

How do we relax? What does it mean to engage a relationship with no agenda or expected outcome? What does it look like to just walk? How do we nap with a deep sense of peace? Can we simply watch a great movie, take in a play or listen to a concert? How do we STOP and simply “BE?”

4.     We don’t know how to listen without thinking about how we’ll talk about it.

Another challenge with “time off” is that if we actually stop work and everything related to work (email, social media, reading about work), we easily fill the space with other things. Good things, things that are healthy to engage for replenishment: an inspiring movie, reading a novel, sports, travel or time with friends and family. All good. All important to refueling.

But, there is another option for that space: quiet. Blocking time to listen to the Voice within us, to nature, to God. I’ll make this personal for me. Too often my reflective journaling has a subtle but distinct second thought aside from the content: “this will be good to share with my team.” My deep soul work can become a talk tomorrow. The picture of the sunrise during my quiet morning can be taken for my next social media post. Suddenly, I’m not practicing quiet. I’m not reflecting for my soul’s sake. I’m leading. I’m planning. I’m working.

Everything easily gets turned into an illustration, a story, a lesson, a piece of encouragement for someone else. Someone else we lead or feel responsible to in some way. What if we simply listened. Soaked. Dug. Felt. And that’s it. What if our gain in the quiet is lived out rather than talked out? What if our insight is for our own growth and not the next piece of wisdom that makes us a better leader?

5.     We want everyone around us to model our hard-working lifestyle.

Again, with a focus on productivity, high expectations for effectiveness and ultimate success, we demonstrate our priorities for our team. I have to talk about how busy I am, so they are encouraged to work just as hard. I need to set a pace of sacrifice so they understand the stakes are high.

And in doing so, we most certainly convey our priorities. We communicate that work is more important than marriage; productivity is valued above relationship; and the work of our hands trumps the sacredness of our soul.

What myth have you bought into?

Will you…

  • schedule time away from work?
  • honor that time?
  • give yourself to a full 24-hour period away from all work-related efforts?
  • experiment and discover what gives you rest and refuels you?

What else prevents you from taking time for YOU?

Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

What’s the Big Deal about a Day Off? Really.

too busy woman.jpg

It’s easy for many of us to just go, go, go. After all, this is the one and only life we have. Once we discover how we’re wired, what our talents are and what our purpose is, it’s time to “get to it,” right? Maybe. But we often burn up the wonder of discovering why we exist because we don’t know how to exist without working every day of the week.

Why is it so difficult for us to unplug? To take a “day off?”

Here are five reasons we often lean in to our own demise.

*Note: if your work is in a church, feel free to replace “work” with “ministry” if that helps you.

1.     We are unaware of the energy we expend. 

My wife, Laura, chides me about my notion that I can always “get just one more thing done.” When I’m in that mode, I’m not thinking about how I feel or what may be required of me after this “one more thing.” I think I can do it all.

Many of us believe we have a limitless supply of energy. We don’t know we believe it, but our behavior reveals the truth. Just one more phone call. One more conversation. A few more minutes of research. Then, although we had an unlimited sense of energy for “work,” we’re too tired to engage meaningful conversation with our spouse, visit with a friend or focus on our family.

Worse yet, a moment here, an hour there – it all adds up. And the cumulative result is sheer, life-sucking exhaustion. But until we crash and burn, we keep going. And going. And going. We keep spending energy. We’re okay, we tell ourselves, this just has to be done. ‘Til we are done.

2.     We confuse the words STOP and QUIT.

I remember an evening years ago, meeting an associate in the hallway who (ironically) asked me what I was still doing at the office. This wasn’t my first day working into the evening; it was my third or forth that week. I suppose with a tone of both pride and martyrdom, I remarked about having so much to do; it was “such a busy season.”

She looked at me and said, “There’ll always be another season. After this one will be another one, and another after that. You’ll have to learn it’s okay to stop for the day.”

But to me, stopping meant quitting. It meant being irresponsible. And it certainly meant I wouldn’t be perceived as hard-working. Maybe that was it – as a perpetual people-pleaser, I wanted others to see me “not quitting.”

Regardless the reason, I’d twisted up these two words together: stop and quit. I believed they were synonymous. But, I slowly learned that I could stop and not quit. The work can always be picked up again. But, I needed desperately to STOP. To take a break. To be done for the day.

3.     We don’t know what to do with “time off.”

Most of what we read and hear about leadership is geared toward how we lead in our business, in our church or non-profit – whatever and wherever is our workplace. We don’t lack for resources related to our work: leading, building, growing, solving, innovating, processing, analyzing, reporting, succeeding. Don’t misunderstand. I want to lead better, build people, grow and develop, solve problems, innovate ideas, process challenges, analyze trends, report and succeed.

But. We know far less about what to do with “time off” from all the above. The risk is that we ONLY know how to lead, innovate and succeed. What else is there?

How do we relax? What does it mean to engage a relationship with no agenda or expected outcome? What does it look like to just walk? How do we nap with a deep sense of peace? Can we simply watch a great movie, take in a play or listen to a concert? How do we STOP and simply “BE?”

4.     We don’t know how to listen without thinking about how we’ll talk about it.

Another challenge with “time off” is that if we actually stop work and everything related to work (email, social media, reading about work), we easily fill the space with other things. Good things, things that are healthy to engage for replenishment: an inspiring movie, reading a novel, sports, travel or time with friends and family. All good. All important to refueling.

But, there is another option for that space: quiet. Blocking time to listen to the Voice within us, to nature, to God. I’ll make this personal for me. Too often my reflective journaling has a subtle but distinct second thought aside from the content: “this will be good to share with my team.” My deep soul work can become a talk tomorrow. The picture of the sunrise during my quiet morning can be taken for my next social media post. Suddenly, I’m not practicing quiet. I’m not reflecting for my soul’s sake. I’m leading. I’m planning. I’m working.

Everything easily gets turned into an illustration, a story, a lesson, a piece of encouragement for someone else. Someone else we lead or feel responsible to in some way. What if we simply listened. Soaked. Dug. Felt. And that’s it. What if our gain in the quiet is lived out rather than talked out? What if our insight is for our own growth and not the next piece of wisdom that makes us a better leader?

5.     We want everyone around us to model our hard-working lifestyle.

Again, with a focus on productivity, high expectations for effectiveness and ultimate success, we demonstrate our priorities for our team. I have to talk about how busy I am, so they are encouraged to work just as hard. I need to set a pace of sacrifice so they understand the stakes are high.

And in doing so, we most certainly convey our priorities. We communicate that work is more important than marriage; productivity is valued above relationship; and the work of our hands trumps the sacredness of our soul.

What myth have you bought into?

Will you…

  • schedule time away from work?
  • honor that time?
  • give yourself to a full 24-hour period away from all work-related efforts?
  • experiment and discover what gives you rest and refuels you?

What else prevents you from taking time for YOU?

Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

Getting to Answers Without Questions. Really?

Are questions better than statements?

Of course, the “right” answer is “yes.” Which is precisely the challenge of
asking questions: We think we already know the answer. I admit it. I often
do.

When I do, my arrogance spews observations as judgements (This can be
especially true with family or others close to me. Ugh.). My
narrow-mindedness is expressed as nothing more than biting accusation
dressed up as “truth-telling.” And my claim to “truth” leads me to
directives and corrections with little room for push-back or open
human-to-human dialog. This confession is no fun.

Surely I’m not alone in this. 

Look at your own relationships and interactions. In how many conversations
– in your workplace, on your team, in your church, in your home – do you
actually ask questions? Meaningful questions. Too often our dialogs are a
back-and-forth exchange of statements we already share with each other. We
craft questions to draw out… Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

Getting to Answers Without Questions. Really?

Are questions better than statements?

Of course, the “right” answer is “yes.” Which is precisely the challenge of
asking questions: We think we already know the answer. I admit it. I often
do.

When I do, my arrogance spews observations as judgements (This can be
especially true with family or others close to me. Ugh.). My
narrow-mindedness is expressed as nothing more than biting accusation
dressed up as “truth-telling.” And my claim to “truth” leads me to
directives and corrections with little room for push-back or open
human-to-human dialog. This confession is no fun.

Surely I’m not alone in this. 

Look at your own relationships and interactions. In how many conversations
– in your workplace, on your team, in your church, in your home – do you
actually ask questions? Meaningful questions. Too often our dialogs are a
back-and-forth exchange of statements we already share with each other. We
craft questions to draw out… Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

Discipleship as Story: A Shared Journey of What It Is to Be Fully Human

I’ve been to India twice now. On both occasions I took in a trip to Agra to
visit the Red Fort and the famed Taj Mahal. I was traveling with my family
on the second tour and wanted them to experience all I had in my first
Eastern adventure. 

You see, my first tour was with a native travel guide who completely
immersed herself in the history and legacy of her country. She told stories
about the people and events that had inhabited the sites as though she had
experienced them herself. She was connected with the story. She told it as
if it was her own. I listened with keen interest, hung on every word. I was
invited into her world, her history, her life. I not felt I knew her
country and her heritage; I believed I knew her. 

Eager for my wife and daughter to experience the same riveting interaction,
we embarked on the two-hour ride to Agra from New Deli. My eagerness waned
as… Continue reading

direct tag

direct tag

Discipleship as Story: A Shared Journey of What It Is to Be Fully Human

I’ve been to India twice now. On both occasions I took in a trip to Agra to
visit the Red Fort and the famed Taj Mahal. I was traveling with my family
on the second tour and wanted them to experience all I had in my first
Eastern adventure. 

You see, my first tour was with a native travel guide who completely
immersed herself in the history and legacy of her country. She told stories
about the people and events that had inhabited the sites as though she had
experienced them herself. She was connected with the story. She told it as
if it was her own. I listened with keen interest, hung on every word. I was
invited into her world, her history, her life. I not felt I knew her
country and her heritage; I believed I knew her. 

Eager for my wife and daughter to experience the same riveting interaction,
we embarked on the two-hour ride to Agra from New Deli. My eagerness waned
as… 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

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