Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unwelcome Insights From The World Of Reality

Have you ever come to the realization you’re not who you thought you were? 

Maybe it starts as a nagging thought, gnawing at the corners of your mind like a determined beaver chewing on a tree.  The thought doesn’t fit with your internal self concept so you dismiss it.  But, like an annoying children’s song that won’t stop playing, it refuses to go away.

Maybe the realization catches you off guard, smacking you hard upside the head as you listen to a song on the radio or a speaker in church.  Maybe it screams at you in bold print from the pages of the book you’re reading.

My realization showed up last week; an unwelcome insight as I listened to a presentation by business consultant and speaker, Jim Collins.  It was a hard pill to swallow.  In fact I was tempted to hide it in my cheek and spit it out when no one was looking. 

I may have done just that, except for the fact that if I was going to retain my sanity in the upcoming months, I’d have to gulp it down and digest the loathsome thought.

I’m a self-disciplined person.  I’m an organized person.  I’m the only person I know who gets excited looking at Rubbermaid organizers and storage bins at WalMart!

Some call it obsessive compulsive.  Some use the term “anal retentive”.  Whatever label you choose, these character traits serve me well in both my work and personal life.

Enter Jim Collins with his new research into traits that allow businesses and leaders to be successful in a more competitive business environment.

He outlines three leadership behaviours exhibited by enduring companies.  The first is “Fanatic Discipline”.  I make a mental check mark.  Yup, got that one mastered!  I’m so disciplined in my work it leads to deficits in other areas of my life!

He goes on to define “Fanatic Discipline”. 

“A commitment to consistent, consecutive performance over time.” 

He contrasts this with erratic spurts of behaviour with all energy focused on pushing past your limits to get a job done, leaving you too exhausted to meet the next day’s challenge.

I’m stunned.  Crap!!!  Did he have to illustrate it so well?!?  I reflect on my travel schedule.  I pull up my calendar on the Blackberry.  I’ve been so busy I can’t remember where I’d been in the last two months.

Busted!!  My so called "organization" somehow deteriorated into erratic, inconsistent, undisciplined behaviour.  I’m paying the price in elevated stress levels and time away from family.

God is good about bringing us face to face with reality we don’t want to address.  I’m faced with the understanding that I’m no longer controlling my work schedule.  It’s controlling me.  At some point PROactive changed to REactive.

Now it’s time to slow down, reflect, re-organize, re-prioritize, and figure out how to manage more effectively going forward.

What reality is God showing you in your life?  What do you need to reflect on, re-organize, or re-prioritize?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Isaiah 26:3-4 - Carrion Crows - Worry, Anxiety, Panic

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.  Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT)

I’ve written about the importance of spending time in God’s presence in previous posts.  (Check out Mysterious Peace for some words from the apostle, Paul) Apparently I don’t listen to my own advice because I needed a refresher course in peaceful living last week.

I’ve been on an extended work trip in the province of Manitoba.  I had nine days of early morning starts, long driving times interspersed with customer meetings, and evenings spent responding to a flurry of accumulated email.

When I’m not travelling I get up early to work out and spend quiet time with God.  When I’m on a road trip I want to make efficient use of my time, seeing as many customers as I can.  My scheduled quiet time is sacrificed in favour of getting on the road by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m.

Here’s the problem.  I can maintain this pace for a while, but if you keep burning the candle at both ends, eventually the ends meet in the middle, and your fingers get scorched. 

I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic attacks in the past.  Periodically, like a carrion crow swooping down on road kill, panic comes back to feed when I’m in a weakened state. 

I was reminded of this last week as I sat in a hotel room struggling to ward off anxiety and an impending panic attack.  Not exactly my idea of a pleasant evening!

On the plane home for a four day hiatus (before returning to continue the trip for another ten days) I was reading Max Lucado’s book, “Great Day Every Day”.  The following statement flashed on the page like a bright neon sign, “No one can pray and worry at the same time.  When we worry, we aren’t praying.  When we pray we aren’t worrying.” (Page 49)

It’s a thought provoking statement that served as a much needed reminder.  Sometimes I wonder why I schedule myself as I do.  It goes back to one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” thoughts.

Reading Isaiah 26:3-4 and Max Lucado’s statement gave me the “kick in the backside” reminder that often our priorities get twisted. 

We need to take time every day to re-focus our thoughts on God.  When we do, the carrion crows of worry, anxiety, and panic find us equipped to handle daily challenges.  Their attempts to peck at our minds are repelled because we’re focused on God’s peace.

Is your mind fixed on God?  Do you trust Him as your everlasting rock?  Do you need to re-focus your mind on Him to find His peace today?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.  Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lamentations 3:21-23 - Bad Days

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness. (ESV)  Lamentations 3:21-23

Remember the song “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter?  It was played one season on American Idol when a contestant was eliminated.

“...‘Cause you had a bad day, you’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around...”

What about the lyrics from the theme song to the sitcom “Friends”?

“...well it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year...”

Do you feel that way? 

We all have bad days.  The cause might be work, family, health, money, or relationships.  And sometimes those days do go on for weeks, months, or even years.

During these times it’s tempting to shut out the world, curl up in your fuzzy robe and slippers, and throw yourself a pity party.  I wonder if the author of Lamentations started out writing in fuzzy robe and slippers. 

He may have started out attired in the comfort of fuzziness, but soon realized he couldn’t stay this way.  In the midst of his lament he understands he’s not alone.  The people of Israel aren’t abandoned.  God is still there, faithful in love, mercy, and grace. 

If you’re having a bad day that won’t go away, remember we have cause to hope.  Even in the midst of our worst sorrows and trials God never stops loving us and He never abandons us.  God is with us every morning, even on our bad days, bringing us mercy and grace. 

What does that look like? 

It could be a visit from a friend, a “thinking of you” card in the mail, a phone call from a family member, the strength to get out of bed, relief from pain, patience with a child, another day of work, a surprise cheque in the mail...the list is endless.

God’s mercies aren’t limited.  He knows what you need, when you need it.  That is cause to hope.   Praise be to God!

Things To Think About...

What sends you scurrying for your fuzzy robe and slippers?  What mercies does God bring to you during those times?  Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;  His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (ESV)
Lamentations 3:21-23

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Three Basic Leadership Principles

There’s a quote about leadership from John Maxwell that I absolutely love.  “People quit people.  Not companies.”

I had to think about that for a bit.  As I reflected on my own past career choices I realized the truth in this statement. 

Some positions I’ve left related to financial decisions.  The others were a result of poor leadership (that directly affected me) within the organization.

I’ve recently moved into a leadership role in the business world and find myself on the other side of the leadership desk. 

In the six short weeks I’ve been in this role I’ve been reminded of three very important leadership lessons worth sharing.

1.       Everyone needs positive reinforcement, appreciation, and encouragement.

Various factors motivate people to get out of bed in the morning and go to work.  But, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t appreciate acknowledgement for a job well done.  You create a positive working environment simply by acknowledging and supporting the work an employee does.

This lesson isn’t news to me and it probably isn’t to you either.  Here’s the problem…it’s very easy to get side-tracked and forget to show appreciation for the people in our lives.  It takes a conscious effort to offer ongoing encouragement.

2.       Don’t jump to conclusions.  Get all the facts before you make a decision.

This is good advice in business, family, church, and everyday life.  The only way to make a wise, informed decision is to get all your facts straight. 

If you jump to conclusions you may find yourself tangled in knots of misinformation.  Misunderstandings ensue and business or personal relationships may be irreparably damaged.

3.       Always follow through on what you promise.  This is my personal pet peeve.  So many people say things they have no intention of doing.

 If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.  It’s that simple.  There’s no faster way to lose credibility than failing to follow through on a promise.

Things to think about…

What are the leadership principles you follow?  Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.