A Lesson from the On/Off Ramp

mergingI was in traffic today on the freeway and was approaching my exit. It’s one of those that has cars merging on and merging off in the same 75 yards or so. A car cut in from my left, trying to get over to exit, putting his turn signal on at the last minute. I braked and let him in. At the same time a car approached at high speed from the on-ramp to squeeze in front of me with blinker on. I again backed off and let her in.

At that moment, a life lesson hit me. I have been very intentional this year with allowing people to merge with my life. I could try to speed up and keep them out, making them fall in behind my selfish leadership, but I have found this to just make them irritated as they stare with disdain at my bumper.

Allowing people to merge with your life means to be a good listener, keeping an open mind to others’ perspectives, and often deferring to their wisdom that is better than mine. To be a learner. To be unhurried in the process of life. To make someone’s day who is seeking my attention to their need.

I didn’t feel any stress as I pulled onto the off-ramp today after letting the two mergers into my lane, and I think I will continue to be grateful for the merger friends and acquaintances that God brings into my lane of life who teach me something valuable for my journey.

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Would You Describe Yourself as Open?

open communicationI was at a communication seminar last year, where the presenter was encouraging open communication, as opposed to closed communication. Open communication meant that a person was transparent with information about work projects and decisions, but also about one’s self and life. They “got things out on the table.” Closed communicators held information close to the chest, built walls around themselves, and made those around them guess/surmise about what they were thinking. There was an uncomfortable aloofness about them.

Openness is a great character trait and is a very healthy style of interaction with others. People who display openness attract others to their leadership and have an easier time building trust. Friends gravitate toward them because there is a humanness about them that makes others feel comfortable.

Of course, everyone needs boundaries, which determine how much of one’s self goes out to the world, but if you have to err on the side of open or closed, I would recommend being that direct communicator who shows humble vulnerability–and you will reap rewards in relationships!

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The Best Leaders (Spouses; Friends; Etc.)…

leader helping a followerDo these supportive things for those they lead and/or care about:

1. Help prevent you from stumbling. If they see that you are on a path for tripping up, they speak up and caution you against a course that would harm you or your future.

2. Send reinforcements. With the resources at their disposal, they point you to other sources that support your pursuits or ways to help you get unstuck.

3. Meet your specific needs. If you need time/attention/an ear to listen, or if you need a wise word, or a helping hand, they meet you right where you are with what you need.

4. Celebrate your efforts. They notice where you are sacrificing to make something awesome happen, and cheerlead your progress.

5. Help you be the best version of you. They aren’t a YES-person, but a truth-teller in your life to help refine you and help you live according to your values.

You will feel incredibly fulfilled when you do these 5 things to light up those around you!

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What Do You Stand For?

convictions“Conviction” is a word best described as “what you stand for” in your life. We all have them, and they drive our behaviors in all our relationships and in how we spend our time and money. Have you ever given some thought to what your driving convictions are?

Here’s an exercise to do. Ask yourself what motivates you to take action at work to solve a problem, or how you use your discretionary time, or what really gets you irritated when it is NOT happening around you. That most likely is a conviction that has become bedrock in your life.

After that, try to describe it with one sentence, and make it a personal sentence that starts with “I”. Then, show evidence of that conviction by writing down 5 behaviors along that theme. Sometimes people do this from another angle: start with the motivating behaviors first, find patterns, and then label it as the conviction.

My example might be helpful:

Conviction: Improvement/Maximizing

Descriptor: I desire to take everything I’m associated with to the next level of excellence, adding more value.

5 behaviors that best reflect it:

  1. Staying alert to all facets of my organization and immediately thinking of positive changes to bolster it
  2. Keeping a personal self-improvement plan current and expanding
  3. Helping those I coach take their lives/roles to the next level through resourcing them
  4. Thinking creatively about how to freshen up a rut
  5. Expanding outputs of what I learn as broadly as possible

Now, live your life in alignment with your convictions to bring out your best self! It’s your sweetest spot!

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You Are Writing Your Story

writing450Every day, you are writing your autobiography, whether you are putting pen to paper in a journal or not. Every action, every word, every minute spent–all are a part of your history as soon as they come from you. And people are reading you….

So, what kind of book is yours going to be? A tragedy? A drama? A comedy? Probably our lives entail all of those at one time or another, but what would characterize your life overall?

I want to encourage you to think twice before saying that impulsive thought that might be a bit judgmental or harsh–so that you leave good text with that recipient. Think twice before spending your time with mindless pursuits that leave you emptier–so that you then choose to put other people in the priority slots of time. Think twice before posting that picture on social media that is off-color and shows disrespect–so that others can still be influenced by the goodness of your heart and not turned away.

Yesterday’s script is written, and unfortunately, there are no erasers for bad decisions. You can, however, be the hero in your story by asking forgiveness and making it right, which ups people’s respect for you. Tomorrow’s script has yet to be penned. Be a best-seller!

 

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Good Enough?

good enoughWhen someone says, “Good Enough”, there can be a positive or a negative connotation to it, depending on the attitude behind it.

On one hand, it’s good to say that your effort is good enough if you are a perfectionist, and you struggle with completing projects because it typically must pass the perfection test before you call it done and show it to the world. Perfectionism is a trap, and too high a standards for peaceful living. And it can also lead to too-high-an-expectation on others. So, you now say Good Enough, and it’s still probably better than most people’s best work.

On the other hand, it shows an attitude of mediocrity to say Good Enough as a substitute for Excellent. Giving an half-hearted effort, cutting corners, not stretching yourself–these will never make you stand out at work, nor gain you the respect of your family and friends. In this case, you may need to step up your game and pursue excellence to become the high performer you were made to be.

So, which is it for you? And was this blog Good Enough in explaining it?

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Receiving Always Precedes Giving

Give-and-Receive-LoveOdd statement, right? We always hear how it’s more blessed to give than to receive, and that is very true. But have you ever met someone (a subtle way to say, Myself!) who had trouble receiving a compliment, a gift, or assistance with a project? There just seemed to be a block from allowing love to get into their heart.

Not being able to receive love has at its root a dysfunctional self-concept. For some, it’s pride: “I don’t want to be a bother. I don’t want any special attention. I can do it myself.” For others, it’s a poor self-image: “I don’t deserve that compliment. I just want to be by myself. I’m not worthy of loving.”  And it robs the rest of the world from giving to you, which would fill their tank!

But how can you love your neighbor (a foundational commandment) if you don’t allow love to flow to yourself? I think that the reason some people are so mean to others is that they haven’t allowed their own hearts to be melted by the love of others, because of their negative self-talk. That blockade must be removed. And the sun will shine into your soul.

This is a big issue to deal with, with a people-helper like a counselor, who can dig for the root of the inability to receive. Imagine how much more good will flow out of you when it’s going both ways!

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