Reality Reflection: Assistants, Secretaries and Support Staff

This week on Wednesday the US took time to recognize the administrative assistants of the world.  All too often it’s a position that’s seen as for average people or those who aren’t very important, and as a result they’re not always treated with the respect they deserve.  It’s not easy being the gatekeeper and trying to keep things straight and efficiently running between the bosses and the customers, but for the most part they do.  So my first encouragement today is for you to give the administrative assistants you deal with a little extra patience and the respect to treat them as humans who have brains and aren’t trying to make your life harder, they’re just doing their job.

The second thing I wanted to talk about today was the reason that people do look down on administrative assistants: sometimes they’re downright nasty. Yes, I said it, sometimes there’s nothing worse than dealing with one.  They can make your life hell for no reason at all.  They can hold up the process of getting things done and they can complicate matters that are really very simple.  Just because you’re a gatekeeper doesn’t mean you have the right to be rude or pushy.  Just because you have a lot on your plate doesn’t mean that you have the right to be short or impatient with people.  No, you may not get the respect you think you deserve, but that doesn’t mean that you should treat potential customers as annoyances.

An administrative assistant’s job is to help, to be the bridge between the boss or other people in the office and the customers.  It’s a whole lot more than just knowing computers or being able to file.  You’re the first person that most people will interact with at the business, and you are responsible for the reputation, image and first impression they create and associate with the company.  Are you living up to the huge responsibility it is to be a great administrative assistant, one that is worthy of all the praise given out this week?  If not, you’ve got an opportunity to do better.

What have been your best experiences with administrative assistants?  What advice do you have for them or for customers?

Alive to Thrive

As we finish out the month and our talk on purpose this week I wanted to make sure that we covered something that’s really important about life purpose: it’s supposed to be a good thing.  Your purpose shouldn’t be something else to add to your to-do list, it shouldn’t be something that ruins your life or the lives of others, it shouldn’t be something that keeps you up unhappy at night. Your purpose should inspire you and motivate you and help you find the best things in life.

Discovering, exploring, following and fulfilling your purpose should improve your life, should help expand your mental and physical boundaries, should reveal more of the world to you, should teach you about yourself, and ultimately should help you thrive in life because your purpose should be something that makes you excited to get up, excited to learn and try new things and willing to work through whatever challenges you’ll face.

If you’ve forgotten what that feels like or have gotten distracted from living and enjoying your purpose I encourage you to take some time off this week to reflect and remember what it is like to have a purpose and how being involved in your purpose makes you feel.  Don’t let the doubts you have or doubters in your life influence your decision to start following your purpose or to pick it up again, choose to do what’s right for you and your life, what makes you feel good about yourself, makes you happy, helps you thrive and makes you appreciate all that life has to offer.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

People of Purpose

Today we begin finishing up our talk this month on life purpose.  I thought we’d take a look at 3 purposes that we each have as people and specifically as people of faith and hopefully find some peace and encouragement that even if you’re struggling with your personal purpose there’s still something you can do to feel like your life has purpose.

Our purpose is to love.  This is one of the greatest gifts you can give and a calling we all have.  It’s not always easy to love nor do we always want to share love with everyone, but all to often it’s what is most needed, and not really costly to give.  Love is one of the most valuable and powerful tools we have at our disposal.

Our purpose is to share hope. So much of the world is struggling to find hope, to find reason to live another day in this world, to face the challenges and darkness that surrounds so much of the world.  As a person of faith you have eternal hope in Jesus.  Not only is this something that most of us don’t share specifically with others, it’s the foundation of the hope that we have in general for this life too.  Even if we only shared some of the more superficial hope we have, not specifically the spiritual hope, we would be able to make a great difference in the world.

Finally, our purpose is to believe in a better tomorrow.  Technically this is a two part purpose: to believe in the better tomorrow and take steps to accomplish it, but if we don’t believe there is room or potential in this world for good, we’ll never get to believing it can be better.  I believe there is a better tomorrow to be had, and that if we all gave it a little effort we’d start to see exactly how possible the better tomorrow is.

Which of these 3 purposes will you work on this week?

Reality Reflection: Delight in the Earth

Do you remember what it was like to run through the fields as a kid or play on the beach for hours? I enjoyed those care-free days so much! Do you get jealous watching your kids do that or have you not introduced them to the joys of freedom in nature? I believe the earth enjoys this play time as much as we did as kids, and it’s important time for both of us. I don’t believe the earth could be as awesome and creatively created if it wasn’t supposed to be enjoyed by us.

Earth Day is really about getting back to our roots and how we were created. Whether you are a person of faith and believe the story of Creation in the Bible or take a scientific approach, we’ve been all been created with very organic means. God didn’t wave a magic wand to create man and woman, and science can prove that we’re made up of organic components. It makes sense that one of the places we feel safest and happiest is in nature (one of the others is with family).

This weekend I encourage you to take time to get in nature with your family, whether your family by blood or the one you’ve created. Maybe you’ll play a football game, maybe you’ll go on a hike, maybe you’ll take paper and pencil and get creative together, or maybe it will be a great opportunity for a picnic. Don’t see Earth Day as just the obligation and reminder of damage that it is, see it as an opportunity and reminder to get out in nature more often, to enjoy nature more and take time for the things that make you enjoy living and make you happy.

Rediscovering the joys of nature can revitalize and reenergize you and help inspire you to work through frustrations you may be facing in your life, and just might remind you of what exactly we’re fighting to save on Earth Day.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran

Perspective on Purpose

Purpose is something that most of us have to work on throughout our whole lives. It’s not something we can complete like high school or necessarily move on from as quickly as a job or house or even a relationship. Our purpose is something that’s intertwined in our whole lives from start to finish, which is one of the reasons it’s so great and so challenging at the same time. When we lose our perspective in life it’s easy to get caught up in and led away by distractions and things that won’t help us complete our purpose.

This is true for many other things too though, when we’re too close to a situation or too wrapped up in our specific beliefs about things we usually miss what’s going on around us or what other truths could be out there about our situations. It’s one reason why it’s so important to get a second and sometimes even a third opinion on the really important stuff in our lives especially if we’re struggling. Even the most aware of us can get caught up or just stuck temporarily in the rut and need some help getting out and seeing how the rest of the world looks.

If you’re struggling with your purpose it could be because you’re so wrapped up in the here and now that you can’t see the bigger perspective, or you’re so focused on the ultimate goal that you can’t see what will have to be done now to accomplish your overall purpose. Either way you could be understandably frustrated with trying to accomplish your purpose on top of all the rest of the stuff that life throws our way.

So make the time to see all of life, get out and try something new, talk to some new people, get something different at the restaurant, bring something different for lunch, watch something different on TV, don’t fight with your partner before bed, read a non-fiction book that will help you with work or purpose and try to see things from other people’s perspective.

“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”  Charlie Chaplin

Teamwork in Purpose

This month as we’ve talked about purpose I know my initial thought, and probably yours too, is that purpose is very personal and individual.  And indeed it is.  We’re all given a unique purpose by God to work on throughout our lives, maybe even several or several parts of a bigger purpose.  And our purpose is ours to fulfill and work towards completion.  It’s not something we can passively hand off to someone else, God gave it to us for us to work on.

However, as I’ve been thinking about purpose and reading about a number of non-profits/charities that are in operation I’ve been thinking about the amount of unnecessary overwork that might be happening.  For a very simple example, do we really need 14 breast cancer charities or would we be more successful in conquering it and supporting survivors if we have one supercharity?  Would more people be reached and supported because all resources have been pooled, or would it be harder to reach people because it’s so big that it’s become a lot less personal?

I think for now the answer is in between these two options, to do what we have been called to do, asking for help if we need it and supporting others in their fulfillment of their mission.  I don’t believe we have to do all things all by ourselves, that’s why we’re not alone in the world.  Don’t feel like you’re called to complete your whole purpose by yourself, instead ask for help when you need it.  There are lots of great people and resources, including those God can send your way, to support you.

“For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.”  Exodus 18:18

Reality Reflections: Titanic Yesterday and Today

Today a little over 100 years ago the passenger liner Titanic sank on its first voyage ever.   I have always been fascinated by this ship and the 1500 of people who lost their lives in the sinking as well as those who survived.  The story of this ship is part of the reason why I don’t go on cruise ships.  You’ve probably seen the movie or read some stories about it, right?  If not you can check out the story here.   As I was reflecting on it this week leading up to the anniversary, it got me thinking about life, failings, and anticipating the future.

The Titanic was a huge success and a huge failure.  It was a huge ship and was completed and did have tons of innovations on it.  However, it also failed spectacularly when it sank.  Titanic has also caused some huge successes for people, like Robert Ballard in 1985 when he found the ship with his team and the major upgrades in safety features added to ships as a result.  Failures are opportunities only if we learn from them, otherwise they’re just failures, and in this case would have just been a tragic loss of human life.

The Titanic disaster is a great reminder that you don’t know when a day will be your last.  All of the people on board thought they had a great visit to America in their future, most of them did not.  Do you really appreciate the life that you have or are you wasting it away?  Are you trying to uncover life’s secrets and go on adventures?

So what of the future? Well, in the news there have been reports of replicas being made, one for a theme park in China, and one for an Australian millionaire.  There’s something about Titanic that has spoken to millions of people over the past 100+ years and will continue to speak to them.  Why would you want to replicate what was a disaster, a failure (and will this one have a legacy curse)?  I think a lot of people will be interested in the new ship because of the history.  The question is whether or not we’ve learned from our mistakes and the ship builders certainly seem to be making it as up-to-date as possible.  Whether or not the people have learned anything is yet to be proven (and in some cases already has been confirmed a failure).

What lessons do you most respect in your life?

Stress and Purpose

This month we’re talking about living our purposes. Have you been working on living yours or at the very least making plans and changes for how you can do so in the near future? Today I want to talk about a topic that doesn’t really seem to align with living your purpose, but absolutely does: stress. Yes, it can be very stressful trying to live your purpose, especially if you don’t have a lot of people in your life who believe in you and support you at the very least emotionally in your life. Life purpose is something that we each have but most of our purposes are tied in with other people’s purposes. We’re not islands, we’re meant to work together to make the world a better place. But when that teamwork breaks down or isn’t in place, we’re stranded on our own trying to get it all done, and that can be really stressful.

It can be stressful as well to know that you’ve got this big calling on your life and feel a bit overwhelmed by all that’s involved in fulfilling and living it. If you’ve got the (potential) support in your life and still feel stressed about your purpose maybe you’re trying to do too much at once or don’t have any plan for how to fulfill your purpose. Yes, sometimes it is scary to sit down and really outline a plan for how to start fulfilling your purpose, because it makes it that much more real. But life is so much more fulfilling when you’re living on purpose, and you’re making a positive difference in the world too!

Even us introverts need people to support us in living our purposes and in life in general. Don’t believe the lie that you can get through this life on your own, reach out and ask for the help that is readily available and waiting for you to accept it. If the people in your immediate life aren’t willing or able to support you, there’s a whole world of people just a few clicks away who are more than ready and willing to encourage and support you. Say what you will but social media has lots of good-hearted people on it that you can connect with and find things in common with them; people who are invested in making the world a better place, and even people who have similar purposes to yours or purposes who would work well in support of yours and your purpose in support of theirs.

Choose this week to begin conquering the stress related to purpose in your life. Reach out to people, ask for help, make a plan and believe in yourself and your ability to fulfill the purpose you’ve been tasked with.

The Protection to Fulfill Your Purpose

It’s not easy to live your purpose some times. Some of us are called to do dangerous things, go dangerous places or work with dangerous people. And even if we’re not, we usually face obstacles to fulfilling them and people who don’t want us to succeed. It can be discouraging to be in these situations and be trying to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives. The good news is that not only do we not go through our lives alone, we’re not without tools to overcome the challenges we face.

Who goes with us? First and foremost God goes with us. He has promised to never leave us alone, and while we may not see or feel Him working in our lives and supporting us, He is always there! God also sends people into our lives to support us. Some people will support us physically or in person, other people will support us through prayer. Both types of people are valuable, and we do need both to be fully supported and be able to make it through the challenges we face.

Second, we have personal gifts, tools, and abilities that God has blessed us with to use while learning, exploring and fulfilling our purposes. God would not give us a purpose to live without providing us with the tools we need to do it, or at the very least the ability to get the knowledge we need to make it happen.

Finally, God knows that we will face opposition, pain, hurt and hatred throughout our life journey. The good news is that He also sends protection in the form of His angels, special people on earth and The Armor of God to protect us and help us in our times of need. If you’re feeling resistance to fulfilling your purpose or in your life in general, take time this week to reequip your armor if necessary and reconnect with God and the people of protection He’s put in your life for such a time as this. Don’t give up yet, the best is yet to come.

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”  Ephesians 6:11

Reality Reflection: Tax Day

In just a few days once again the day arrives for the majority of Americans to tell the government about their earnings over the past year.  It’s an annoyance for some, hassle for others and annoyingly large complication for others.  I’m thankful that we live in the day of computers and great programs we can use to figure it all out and don’t have to do it by hand, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy working through it either.

We know why taxes are necessary: so that things like police, water, sewers, roads and snowplows help us live the lives we enjoy so much.  Not to mention paying the salaries of the leaders and military who serve around the world.  I believe taxes do have a purpose, but I can also agree that sometimes they don’t seem proportionate or accurate given all factors.

But when we think about our purpose and taxes I’m reminded that there isn’t always logic involved in things, nor do they always move in the direction and speed that we expect.  That’s reality.

So while I do my share of complaining and lobbying to get them lowered, I pay my taxes.  I would much rather pay taxes than be without the services and people we often take for granted.

As already mentioned I enjoy the technology we can take advantage of to do them, and even though it’s a bit of a hassle I don’t want to pay more than I have to and I appreciate knowing the factors they use in determining taxes.  To relieve the stress of this time a bit, I make it a point to do as much work as possible to prepare for them throughout the year rather than having to deal with it all at once in February/March or, heaven forbid, April.

If you’re rushing to get your taxes done this week, or even if you’ve already finished them, I encourage you to take just a minute to appreciate all that you get as part of them or because of them.  America’s a pretty great place when you think about all we’re blessed with.