The Victory in Vulnerability

Today’s topic is a doozy: vulnerability.  It’s not a topic people like to talk about because we don’t like to admit that we’re not perfect.  We don’t like others knowing that we’re not the rock star they think we are all the time.  No, we’re less-than-perfect.  But the good news is that that’s OK.

As much as you may think the secret to success is being right all the time, it’s just as often, if not more often, about being wrong.  But, not just about being wrong, but about your ability to transform the wrong into something very right.  This ability not only makes you stand out as someone who is a leader, it also gives you unlimited power and potential. When you’re able to see beyond the mistake you’ve made to what can be done with what you’ve learned you’ve freed yourself from being someone who just makes mistakes to someone who transforms.

We don’t really have a choice in whether or not we have vulnerabilities, each of us do.  But when we choose to show them to other people it gives us first and foremost a connection with them.  When they see that we’re not perfect, they feel more comfortable with being honest with us about the struggles they’re dealing with.  Think about your relationships.  When you’re acting like you’re always right and always capable and don’t admit any weaknesses to your partner very often your partner tends to resent you for having it all together.  But by being honest with your partner about the things you do struggle with it’s easier to work together to fix the issues and support each other through your personal struggles.

Today I encourage you to reveal even a little glimpse of your vulnerabilities and weaknesses to someone important to you.  Let them know that you’re human and that their support and encouragement matters to you.

“In reality, vulnerability is a strength. All great leaders have vulnerability. So, in order to help you grow into a more powerful and courageous leader, I want you to be vulnerable.”  Darren Hardy

Learning to Lead

Today I wanted to share a few thoughts about being a leader.  You may not want to be the biggest CEO on the planet, the person known around the world for some amazing act or the next president, but in our own small ways each of us wants to be a leader.  And, even more important, each of us does lead, even if we’re not aware of it.  Let’s briefly look at 9 ways you stand out as a leader and ways you can improve yourself and be a better leader in whatever capacity you desire.

You honestly love people: this means you’re happy to help people, encourage them, strengthen them and don’t enjoy cutting them down or hurting them.  You also aren’t putting on a show for the world around, you really love people (well, just about everyone).

You look for opportunities to help: this is one of the things that stands out to indicate that you’re a leader.  When you’re actively helping others people take notice and know you’re trustworthy and reliable.

You inspire people: leaders don’t just give orders, they inspire their people to be better, stronger, happier and lead fuller lives.

You’re available: people know that you’re just a phone call, text or Facebook message away and that you’ll answer them and help them work through the situations they face, or just be a shoulder to cry on.

You give people hope: you’re not one of those glass-half-empty people, you honestly believe that there is hope for the world, that there is a better future for the next generation and that together we can make a difference.

You’re generous: this goes beyond being available and looking for opportunities to help, this means that you’re willing to, and do, go over and above the needs of the situation.  You’re always the first one there to help, first one to bring over dinner, and first to call with support.  You also give with no intention of being repaid for your generosity.

You’re humble: this is a tough one for many people, they like their kind deeds and efforts recognized.  And we all do need recognition, it’s part of our innate needs for life and survival.  Humility doesn’t mean that you’re not recognized, it means that you don’t do things for the recognition and don’t put in the effort to make sure you’re recognized either.

You see the best in others: this is one of my favorite things about being a leader, being willing and able to see what others aren’t willing to see in themselves, and inspiring them to bring out those capabilities.

You share: the world of 2015 is a big one.  The internet and technology gives us so many more options than we had even 50 years ago.  There are fewer limits than ever on our potential.  We each have our own ways of sharing, whether sitting on a board, writing a blog or in a church group.  But each of us does share our experiences, our wisdom and our knowledge with the world.

What will you do to be a better leader today?

Prepared to Trust

This month we’ve been talking about being prepared.  There’s only so prepared we can be, we can’t predict what other people will do, how the weather will change or our health.  Yes, we can be prepared for possibilities, but other than death, change and taxes, there aren’t too many guarantees in our human existence.  But as people of faith there’s another aspect of this all, the spiritual side, the parts of us and our world that connect with God.

When it comes to the topic of being prepared and God, God does put people and situations in our lives to help prepare us for things He knows we’ll face later in life.  But He also asks us to trust Him, that He has our best interests at heart, with plans to protect us, not harm us.  He asks for our trust because He knows that no matter what happens He will be there for us, and throughout the Bible He’s made promises along those lines, even as early as Abraham and Noah.  Those promises continued with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.

When we have a strong relationship with Jesus we’re able to trust that Jesus will be there for us.  When we’re Sunday or Christmas-and-Easter Christians we may not have the foundation of relationship and trust with Jesus to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt we are His and He cares for us.  This week I encourage you to take time to make sure your relationship with God is built on an unshakeable foundation, one that you spend time together each day, one that you rely on His strength and power in times of challenge, and one that helps build you into the person God created you to be a little each day.

“Come before Him with your trust in His promises…with your feet standing on the truth of His Word…and with your heart filled with the power of His Spirit.” Roy Lessin

Finishing the To Do List

This month we’ve been talking about being prepared, and while this week has brought me to the point of eagerly anticipating what next month and the rest of the year will bring, we do have a few thoughts on preparation to wrap up. Today I want to talk about something that preparation isn’t really supposed to be or do. I know, when we talk about being prepared we talk about it in the sense of being prepared (as much as possible) for anything and everything, so that we can cross everything off our to-do lists and be huge successes, but that’s not really what your ultimate goal of being prepared should be. Why? Because there will always be something new to add to your list, a new lesson to learn or new challenge to face.

Which of course sounds completely frustrating and really annoying! It would be nice to just be able to get it all done once, right? But that’s not really how life works. Being prepared means that you’re ready for each *new* goal or task, that you’re able to feel confident waking up each *new* day, and that you’re capable of working through the *new* challenges life presents; not that you’ll ever get it all done.

Being prepared does mean that you’ll make a plan for getting things done though. If we really want to grow and have more victories in our lives we need to learn how to be better, how to deal with new situations, know how we deal with and work through things and be able to get a plan in place to deal with the challenges or get things done. When we don’t understand ourselves, don’t make plans and don’t get prepared we’re wasting lots of opportunities for bigger and better and quicker victories. So get to work on that to-do list this weekend, but be realistic about it and make sure to have some fun too.

“You will never get it all done. Ever” Anne Pustil

Inspiration for Success

Monday in the US we celebrated the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We take time every year to recognize the efforts and bravery of this man and the countless others who stood with him and demanded a better world and that we treat each other better. I love talking about Dr. King every year because not only was he a brave man with a passion for his dream, he did something that many have failed to do: create a large following of people as passionately invested in what he was pursuing as he was. This month we’ve been talking about being prepared and I believe we can learn a lot on this topic from Dr. King’s life and work.

Dr. King did many things well, starting with having a really great dream. Having a dream gave the need to improve the world for all people including people of color wings. It made the need something more than just a sterile set of goals or to-do’s and turned them into something that people could be passionately involved in. As I shared with my newsletter subscribers this weekend, when life is dull and boring we’re not exactly inclined to get things done. But when we’re inspired things seem to go very quickly.

The other key to Dr. King’s work was that he prepared his people to continue on without him. Even though I’m sure that had Dr. King lived longer the movement would have had even more success, Dr King prepared the people who worked with him to succeed without him. No, you never want to leave your dream in the hands of other people, but it’s a clear sign of success and his wisdom that not only was he able to prepare the people, but they were actually able to succeed without him.

What about you? Are you prepared for the next step in your life or are you just dreaming about it? Learn from the wise Dr. King and give your dream wings.

Planning for Fear

One of the reasons that being prepared is so important is because it means that we take a lot of the fear out of the situations we face or may face. When we’re not trying to catch up with what we find ourselves dealing with we’re able to not only work through the problem quicker, we’re able to do it in a better frame of mind and with less stress. Personally, that’s my choice.

One of the reasons the Bible talks about teaching and learning the Word of God is because it means that we’ll be prepared for facing challenges to our faith, and have a few guidelines for what we can do in situations we haven’t experienced before or aren’t sure how to handle it even from a strictly human perspective.

We talk about going through different experiences as a test or as preparation for what is to come because God doesn’t usually find it best to spring things on us, but rather prefers to send us in with tools and support so that we can set a good example and succeed rather than fail. Despite what some may believe, God isn’t one who likes to see us fail or takes joy in it. Usually those failures are lessons we need to learn for what is to come or just to develop us as people.

If you’d rather be prepared for what is to come in your future there are a few things you can do. First read your Bible daily and read other devotionals, blogs or books too. Second, don’t overexpose yourself to the things of the world. Yes, it’s good to know what goes on so that yo aren’t out of touch or irrelevant, but it’s not the goal to be a superfan. Third, take time to educate yourself on things that will add value to you personally or professionally like courses, events and mentors. Spending time working on these pursuits means that you’ll have more foundation and education to support you through your experiences. Finally, make sure you’ve got a good support network to help you with whatever challenges you face. The people in your life and their experiences are some of the most valuable tools you have.

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Psalm 118:5-6

Learning to Love Me

Are you one of the people who have adopted the title this year of “new year, new you?”  As we’re taking this month to prepare for the year ahead I wanted to talk at least today about a very important concept, one that’s not only holding us personally back, but the world at large as well: the ability to accept and love ourselves.  We’ve seen some people around the world finally embrace this with the spread of non-traditional relationships.  Whether you personally agree with them or not isn’t the point today.  No, the point is that we aren’t a world of robots with all of the same parts, preferences, beliefs, habits and practices.  We’re all different.  While we could debate the “rightness” of different relationships for hours/pages, that’s not my goal or intention today. No, today I want us in our own little bubbles to do a check on ourselves and see how accepting we are of who we are.

My partner and I have been together for more than 5 years (I’m bad with math and dates so that’s a low ballpark) and it feels like as we’ve entered 2015 we’ve, or I’ve, made a another shift in our journey together, towards even more openness.  As people he and I are both open to discussing topics without judgment, open in our personal preferences and needs with each other and generally don’t give each other the pressure to be perfect people or conform to fill a role that we aren’t made for.  But as we go into this year it feels like we’re taking another step in communication, in being together and in supporting each other and our individual needs towards an even better partnership.

Why?  Because we’re getting to the point that each of us individually is even more accepting of who we personally are and in expressing that to the world.  Said simply, because I accept who I am even more than ever and am willing to share that with him (and vice versa), we’re closer than ever. In learning to accept, and even more important love, myself it’s improved the relationships in my life and has opened the world up to me in ways that weren’t possible before.  The more I learn about who I am and my role in this world, and then accept, embrace and love those revelations, the better my life around me gets.

Do you accept who you are, do you love who you are?  If not, today is a great day to start, but don’t worry, we’ll talk about this more in the future as well.

“Learn to love yourself. It’s the great rule for being loving with other people.” Robin Sharma