Tag: self-awareness

Why I Don’t Like Lent

Last week was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  I was in Florida and John was in Thailand when he wrote this in an email:

Can I let you in on a secret?  I’m so much more a Christmas guy than an Easter person; I know it sounds sacrilegious, but I love THAT part of the story, cuz of the hope and the joy (and the presents)… And the absence of all that ‘sin talk’ and the beatings, trials abandonments and crosses.

There’s a little scene where the two unlikely heroes of the Lord of the Rings, Sam and Frodo, are hiding and near death, and Sam says, “Do you think think they’ll ever tell our adventure, Mr. Frodo?… ‘Maybe Sam, but this is the part where the children will say, skip this part, Dad, I don’t like this chapter.‘”  I know how Frodo feels, on Ash Wednesday.

My response? Me too, me too, me too!

Lent is the part of the story that is ugly and messy and requires humility and self-examination and I’d really rather avoid both thank you very much. Continue reading

Trick Mirrors and Other Spiritual Phenomena

I’ve always told my family and friends I have killer spy skills (as in “good”, not assassin-like).

I like to think I could be the female Jason Bourne.

I love Europe. I love the idea of running and jumping over rooftops. I like driving fast. What more do I need, right?

Well, with these spy skills, I’ve discovered a conspiracy of epic proportions. If you’re a guy reading this, it may not be your post, but if you’re a woman this will probably change your life and you’re welcome.

I’ve discovered that there is a conspiracy among shop owners of stores with women’s clothing. They are all buying TRICK MIRRORS that make you look better than you really are! I know this from first-hand experience.  I shop “virtually” with my daughters and I am not blind or unrealistic. I send pictures to both Katy and Maggie for their approval. Continue reading

Four Words That Can Change Your Day

The other day I was driving back home after dropping a friend at the airport.  On the highway someone merged in front of me into the right lane going about 30 mph.  There was another car in the left lane next to me so I had to slam on my brakes to avoid running into the creeper-merger.

I may have yelled the “i” word in frustration and anger.

As I eventually was able to pull into the left lane and speed past the offender I looked to my right and saw what appeared to be a young Somali woman hunched over the wheel, anxious, timid, and clearly unsure of where she was going.

And four words smacked me upside the head: Continue reading

Selfies and Three Alternatives

Selfie: A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

A friend of ours, Renee Stearns, included a great insight in their Christmas letter this year.  She wrote this about selfies: “Taken from a vantage point only as long as arms-length, it’s sometimes too close to make sense of what’s going on in the picture.  The perspective is somehow off.”

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So much of what is on social media is small and distorted – what we want others to see and believe, or the worst that someone else has discovered and exposed.

When it’s a profile picture, or a fb post, or one mistake, or a Tweet, it’s just 144 characters, or the shot of one moment.  Behind each is another story, a larger picture of lives being transformed by God’s grace.

Journalling is one practice that can help us correct the distortion of selfless.  I journal in the form of a daily dialogue with God – reviewing the previous day (which often involves confession and praise) and praying through the coming day’s activities.

The last week of each year, John and I take time to read back through our journals for the year and look for themes, lessons, failures and signs of growth.

I know, I know.  Some of you are yelling at the computer screen “Leave me alone!!  Stop guilting me!  I’m not a %$#@* journaller!”

If the idea of keeping a traditional journal makes you want to run screaming into the night, may I suggest 3 alternatives?

1.  Gratitude journal.  Just keep a running list of the gifts of each day. It’s short.  It’s painless and physically writing them down a practice that has made a huge difference in my attitude. I keep this in addition to my regular journal. The way to give thanks in all things is to notice each small thing.photo-68

2.  One Line a Day journal.  Summarize or record one highlight a day for five years and look back at the entries from year’s before. All you have to do is write a sentence a day.  Maggie and her husband Austin also found one that has a question each day and one line for each of them to respond on.

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3.  Once a year journal.  In it write the highlights of the previous year, and your hopes and dreams for the new year.  I know one couple that does this together on their wedding anniversary each year.  Together they read the previous year’s entry and each person writes their reflections for the current year. IMG_1480-2

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“Our years come to an end like a sigh . . . ” says Psalm 90, “so teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”.

Just a handful of the barest facts can be enough to rescue an entire day from oblivion—not just what happened in it, but who we were when it happened. Who the others were. What it felt like back then to be us.  Fredrick Boechner

What alternatives can you think of that help you with perspective?  What helps you be more self/God/and others aware?

How to Discern What’s Real (A Resource for Leaders and others)

This looks flat doesn’t it?

NOT.

Every time I ride this part of this bike path I have to down-shift one.  Because it is actually a gradual, but definite, incline.

Looks can be deceiving, but when I know that truth I can adapt.

Sometimes reality is hard to discern.  Sometimes it’s difficult to accept.  And sometimes we just want to deny it.

This guy looked responsible.  Healthy.  Devoted.

Not so much.

We had a perception of his character that was not rooted in reality.

Whether it’s stress, or circumstances outside our control, or sin,

facing reality and responding is a crucial part of our formation into people who look more like Jesus.  And a crucial part of leadership development.

All that to say, I have a resource to share with you.

I’ve been helping facilitate some online classes called Leadership Institute for Transformation (LIFT) offered through the Willow Creek Association.  The class I’ve been involved with for several co-horts is called Leading For Results.  It was created and is taught by Dr. Henry Cloud, using a book he wrote called Integrity.  One of the key challenges we talk about in this class is facing negative realities and adjusting.

Here’s a little taste.

We talk about 6 sources we can use to get an accurate picture of reality and then provide this tool for self-evaluation.  Take a look at each source, consider what you have in place, and  the suggested activity.

1. Direct relationship with God

a. Mechanism currently in place:

b. Suggested activity: Spend some time in prayer asking God to remove blinders and biases regarding your ability to see the reality around you.

2. God’s word

a. Mechanism currently in place:

b. Suggested activity:  Read 2 Peter 1:5-8. Consider whether you have been truly integrating these characteristics into your leadership as planned in the first week.

3. External truths

a. Mechanism currently in place:

b. Suggested activity:  Reflect on what you have been learning from different sources of information. What does this say about your currently reality?

4. Internal Truths

a. Mechanism currently in place:

b. Suggested activity:  What’s your emotional barometer registering? What are sources of anxiety, joy, stress, peace? Find a place to write, or talk with a friend to name these realities.

5. Other people

a. Mechanism currently in place:

b. Suggested activity:  Take something that you’ve noticed or learned about yourself, or your current situation. Interview a trusted friend or colleague to give you feedback on the same topic. What do they see?

6. Your life

a. Mechanism currently in place:

b. Suggested Activity: Reflect on your overall results as a leader. What were you producing 5 years ago? Two years ago? How have you grown since then? Where would you like to grow?

c. Suggested Activity: Consider doing a 360 degree interview.

Leading for Results is only one of the classes offered.  Each course is 7 weeks long.  At the beginning of each week you receive an assignment that may include watching a video, doing some self-evaluation, a little reading, and interacting on the on-line Discussion Board.  In addition, there are two virtual classrooms each session when everyone is online at the same time interacting around material being presented.

Starting June 11t I’ll be facilitating a class called The Leader’s Soul, taught primarily by Mindy Caliguire.  You can find out more about all the LIFT classes here.   We’d love to have you jump into one!

OR…if you’re on the fence, you can join me and participate in a Virtual Classroom on May 23rd at noon CST.  Just sign on as a guest.

© 2017 Laura Crosby

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